“There is nothing more beautiful than living a simple life in this complex universe!” – Mehmet Murat ildan
I had always imagined living simply – from a very young age I had always wanted to build my own home, during my teenage years I spent time looking at mud brick building which was popular around the area in which I lived, I had even been lucky enough to participate in mud brick building during the construction of the Eltham Community Centre. I even planned on building a mud brick dwelling in my families back yard although I never got this project started.
To me it made sense to live in a small space, the homes that I lived in growing up were all modest (or should I say typical) and represented everything that a family needed, somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat and somewhere to wash – what more than this does a person need? In a traditional family home you also have a feeling of being connected to each other.
During the 1950’s houses in many parts of the World grew larger, in the 1970’s some US States even legislated the minimum house size as a way to stimulate the economy and provide jobs, large houses needed more materials, cost more to heat and cost more to maintain this it was thought would ensure employment for many more Americans.
In Australia we were not immune from similar thinking and in 1988 the first version of the Building Code of Australia was released which included minimum ‘room sizes’ for many areas of new dwellings, under the guise of ‘Health and Amenity’ the building code aims to make new homes ‘comfortable’ by providing sufficient ‘space’.
So why am I telling you this ? – When I purchased my block in Tasmania I had always planned to use this as a place to ‘come back to’, just as an adventurer has somewhere to return to and plan the next journey to me this was an important place that could offer security and respite in difficult times.
My original building plans included a storage shed of sufficient size to lock up possessions not needed while travelling and a small timber framed cabin, and when I say small I mean small at less than 10 square metres this was going to be a real tiny house.
The cabin I hoped to build was called a Weebee which was designed by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, their founder Jay Shafer was a significant contributor to the small house movement and it was this small house that I thought would suit my needs perfectly.
Despite my best efforts this tiny house could never be, the Weebee is designed as a trailer house that would normally reside semi-permanently in either a caravan park or as a second dwelling on an existing property – either way I was not allowed to build something like this, the Council wouldn’t allow me to live in anything portable and once the height went over 2.4 metres it had to comply with the Building Code… remember we mentioned the Building Code. My cabin now needed to be larger, meet all the current energy ratings, standards for light, ventilation AND minimum sizes for habitable space. The Building Code also requires that a ‘habitable dwelling’ has somewhere to sleep, somewhere to cook and somewhere to wash yourself AND your clothes, and with a requirement that the bathroom can’t open directly onto the kitchen, you need a laundry trough (a legal requirement) and bedrooms needed to be a minimum size my small cabin very quickly (more than) DOUBLED IN SIZE.
One of the other issues that came with building a larger cabin is that I can no longer physically build it myself, with larger and higher walls it is just not practical for one person to build – this has taken away the ‘built something myself’ opportunity too which was quite significant and something that I have carried since a young age – as building the cabin will also take longer than I had hoped (and also cost a lot more money) the only logical thing was to BUILD SOMETHING ELSE.
Over the last few months I have discovered something called a ‘camping pod’ – A camping pod is basically a tent made out of timber and this I hope will satisfy my short term needs for accommodation and also my desire to build something on my own.
Camping pods come in an amazing range of sizes and can also have bathrooms and small kitchen spaces, what I hope to build is very small by comparison of some that I have researched but if this works out to be successful I may even build a few as other options for accommodation.