23 March 2019

Tiny House Festival Australia .. this weekend!!! Thanks, USA

The Tiny House Festival Australia is being held this weekend (March 23-24th 2019) at Bendigo Racecourse in Central Victoria. The event is showcasing vendors and suppliers, work­shops, guest speakers and screenings, plus tiny houses and vans on display. Investigate the lives of those who want a simpler and smaller life.

Five years ago, there was little information about tiny homes in Australia. Now we know that with a third of greenhouse emissions coming from build­ings, living in an eco-friendly tiny home drastically reduces one’s carbon imprint.

 Mobile Tiny Home, Ringwood

History of the American Movement In 1970 artist-architect Allan Wexler pursued the idea of living in a compact space, helping him promote his art. In 1973 authors Loyd Kahn and Bob Easton released the book called Shelter which advanced the idea of living in a compact space more widely. Other authors like Henry David Thoreau and Lester Walker became advocates for the tiny house movement. In 1990s, artist Andrea Zittel used the concept of the tiny home in her work which became another inspirat­ion for the movement. In 1997 author Sarah Susank published the book The Not So Big House which promoted environmental protection.

In 2002 the Small House Society of America was created. And a dec­ade later, Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. was founded by Jay Shafer. Shafer then created a second company called Four Lights Tiny House Co. His first design was only 96 sq feet, and he was soon creating tiny homes on wheels. His colleagues Nigel Valdez and Shay Salomon published their guides of the small house movement in 2006 while Greg Johnson published his memoir in 2008.

In 2013, Austin Texas wanted to help the homeless so they created a Tiny House Solution. From there in 2015, Tiny House Collaborative was promoted and founded to help educate oth­ers on the fine design of tiny homes. In 2016, legislation was passed in Kalamazoo Mich­ig­an that allowed the tiny homes to be altered, to help those who wanted to live a smaller functioning lifestyle.

The average house size for an American family used to be 1,780 sq ft/ 165 sq ms in 1978. This had almost doubled by 2007 when the average family house­hold grew to 2,662 sq feet/247 sq ms for a normal house. But a tiny home averages c400 sq feet/37 sq ms. Compare to Australia. After WW2, 969 sq feet/90 sq ms was an average family house in Austral­ia. Only in recent generations did the floor space creep up until the average new house built in 2016 was 2508 sq feet/233 sq ms.

Open, light filled kitchen living area 
Study/bedroom upstairs

In Australia,  to  make the formal living room less squashy,
family time in summer can be enjoyed on a veranda

So what are the financial, lifestyle, maintenance, environmental and recreational advantages of tiny houses?
A. They can be owned faster than normal mortgages
B. Some tiny homes can be made on wheels for easier travel.
C. They are less expensive to build and easier to maintain.
D. Tiny homes can be more creative with storage.
E. They can be built from eco-friendly, recycled material.
F. They use solar & wind power better than standard homes.
G. Designing a tiny home is simple, and it is easily upgraded.
H. Having a tiny home on a property can create more outdoor space for family and animal fun.

The Cost of a tiny home in the USA can range anywhere up to US $100,000; fac­t­ors that affect the pricing are size, design, mobility, interior design and the materials used to build the tiny home. Overall, building a tiny home is definitely less expensive compared to getting a house mortgage for a fixed rate and a 30-year loan. It is a way to save on overhead and long term expenses. Adding solar and wind power to utilises natural resources, and a manageable septic system is built so the expenses are relatively small.

Who wants Tiny Houses in Australia?
Since the first tiny house groups appeared on Facebook in 2013, such groups and pages have proliferated. The original Facebook pages, such as Tiny Houses Australia, have 58,000 followers, and new groups have emerged since. In cities with expensive housing costs, tiny houses could be part of a solution to the perennial housing problem, as well as improving urban density and environmental sustainability.

Since 2015, most of these tiny houses were mobile and only 20% were intended to be permanently in­stalled in the land. Most of those preferring rural locations wished to build a perm­anent house, while those wanting urban locations preferred mobile houses. As a result of urban land costs?

Demographically, interest in tiny houses was focused on single women over 50; in fact they were the fastest-growing demographic for homelessness in Australia. This was due to widowhood or divorce, employer bias against older women and lack of superannuation savings. And older single women could locate an independent tiny house on property belonging to an adult child.

When buyers wanted to reduce overall debt or to downsize, normal housing was often too expensive. Environmental sustainability and the backlash against the McMansions of previous decades was strong. But what did this mean for urban planning? There were significant bar­riers, particularly a] inflexible planning schemes and b] the cost of land. This might indicate local governments needed to become more open to the idea of tiny houses as an alternative to blocks of flats for increasing density.

Architects, consultants, planning professionals and acad­emics collaborated on the Tiny House Planning Resource for Aust­ralia 2017. It aimed to assist planners, policymakers and the community understand the tiny house movement and its potential to contribute to greater choice in housing supply and diversity. Yes, tiny houses were just one end-of-the-housing-form continuum that didn't suit all demographics. But the increasing interest showed local govern­ments needed to broaden their thinking.

Mezzanine floor bedroom
small, but well fitted

A tiny, but well fitted bathroom and laundry

"The tiny house on its own freehold lot has to be a way to enable ease of financing. "If a local government is serious about affordability, planning regulations need to change to enable freehold titling and increased density without having to go through costly and time-consuming development approval processes."

Researcher Catherine Foster has travelled across Australia to document how 21 architects made functional tiny houses in c90 square metres. Her book, Small House Living Australia 2017 outlined the floor plans that worked.


Parnassus said...

Hello Hels, While admitting all the ecological and economic advantages of a small house, I prefer to be the last of the dying breed who prefers large ones. Although it is true that I have a lot of books and a lot of stuff, all of which I use and enjoy, I simply like being in larger spaces, even if they are empty.

All of these tiny houses look "modern" or even strange on the outside (as is the case with many concept cars), which makes them seem appear even smaller and often dreary. In my collection of house photos I have a number that show very small houses that still possess flair and style.

However, I do agree that there are many problems with newer large houses, which seem to contain much wasted space and to be badly designed, both inside and out. Had I the choice, I would pick a larger, commodious old house.

Deb said...

I too would not choose a Tiny Home, but I agree that 2 adults living in 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and 3 living rooms is insane. Go for a Californian bungalow instead - 2 bedrooms, 1 large living room and 1 bathroom. And install solar energy.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I live in a flat andam currently de-cluttering it of years and years of teaching stuff and finding new homes for some of my many books. But a Tiny House wouldn’t fit my books, let alone me.
A friend of mine in England actually bought a BIGGER place after the kids had left, so they could come and stay with their families. I’ve been to her old home and that, if anything, was the Tiny Home. 🙂

Hels said...


I believe the Tiny House Movement focuses on singles or couples who don't want to cripple themselves with mortgage payments for the next 30 years, are committed to preserving the environment and plan an uncluttered, organised retirement. It is not for everybody!! Flair and good design, inside and out, will make you much happier.

Hels said...


The irony is amazing. Californian bungalows were the inter-war _resolution_ to families who needed great quality housing.. our parents loved them. McMansions only appeared in the 1970s and 80s when people wanted hugeness, but didn't care about quality design.

And you are spot on about reducing your carbon footprint.

Hels said...


Over-cluttering is a problem for everyone :( Partly we find it too difficult to throw out stuff that no longer fits, or is out of date, or is no longer useful. But the other part is designing the house to handle what we really need to keep. Books are not a problem for tiny houses since all the walls are totally empty and bookshelves are unlimited.

But if you have too many bicycles, motorbikes, car repair equipment, masses of large computers, 20 printers and six bunk beds, they will have to go.

bazza said...

We are empty-nesters now and are rattling around in a large house which we love but will probably down-size before long. I think we would have been happy in a much smaller house when were first married.
It strikes me that many of these lovely Tiny Houses will become second homes for many people which would kind of defeat the original purpose!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s powerfully pervasive Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Hels - Bazza may well be right about becoming 2nd homes. Not sure what the planning situation would be here - but I could manage in one of those if I was in the woods, or out in the country ... but I guess I'd like a town house too! Interesting to read about - thank you - cheers Hilary

Jenny Woolf said...

I sure wish Tiny homes were more popular in Britain. Our planning laws are very strict and I don't know anyone who's ever had permission to put one up permanently. I'd really, really love one. We even have some land we could put it on but not even allowed to have a shed for agricultural use there.

Hels said...


the retired or semi-retired empty-nester generation is growing and growing! Joe and I are also still rattling around in the large family house, which was a bit too big when the children were at home, but now it is ridiculously big.

Here is the problem - Joe loves the location of our house and doesn't want to move. And I won't live in a flat. So although a tiny house would probably not work, substantial down sizing certainly would.

Hels said...


right! lots of people have long had beach or bush houses that were pretty simple and cheap. But what happens if Tiny Houses become second homes for people who, until now, only needed one house? That would certainly add to the carbon footprint, not reduce it!

Hels said...


Good that you mentioned that. I understand why planning laws have to be carefully draughted and supervised... otherwise greedy landlords would offer desperate families cheap, nasty and inappropriate accommodation. But local councils need to understand modern housing needs and modern solutions, and need to make their planning laws more family-friendly.

Joseph said...

My sister lives in a big one-room unit plus bathroom that represents the tiny concept overdone. The gardens and games rooms are lovely, but they aren't private.

Hels said...


thank you...that should remind us. Small spaces, use of recycled materials, and powered by renewable energy are not enough. The resident needs his/her own independence, privacy and dignity.

mem said...

I am a bit dubious about Permanent living in Tiny Houses. The main reason is the inevitable mezzanine fro sleeping in . I think the opportunity fro falling when half asleep are just too great and dangerous fro older people . I work with a lot of people who have had falls and it can be quite soul destroying as well as physically injurious. I actually thing that the development of lifecycle house which can be large when you need them and can the be made smaller and even earn an income as you agee is the way to go. Maybe you and Joe could actually get an architect in to make your home into an asset rather than a burden ???

Hels said...


that is absolutely true. Even going up ordinary stairs becomes an effort with age, let alone holding on to rungs and climbing vertically.

There are two solutions to avoiding a mezzanine or second storey; a] put everything on the ground floor, and make the house wider or b] or install an elevator bed that is raised by a motor during the day and dropped to ground level at night. https://www.treehugger.com/tiny-houses/urban-tiny-house-tru-form-tiny.html

The Latest News Daily said...

Does a a tiny home in the USA average at 400 sq feet/37 sq ms? This all-in-one cottage is only 16 sq ms. The miniature house has a design bathroom, sleeping area, beautiful kitchen and a living room! This project is a really unique and great concept. The house has a lot of space and the couple can look at the stars together from their bedroom.

The living room is not large but very cozy. Enjoy cooking in it and the bathroom is also large. This could also be a great holiday home. The cost to build this cottage is 20,000 euros. Save up this amount and there will be no need to take out a mortgage.

See the photos on https://thelatestnewsdaily.com/this-all-in-one-cottage-is-only-16m2/ and

Hels said...

Latest News

the photos look excellent, thank you. The kitchen and living room would be perfect for a holiday home for a couple, or a proper home for a single adult. But I would not want any more people than that.

Darren Hughes said...

Hi Helen,

I wanted to thank you for the story you wrote about Australia's first EVER Tiny house Festival, that we ran in Bendigo, Vic last March.

I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I am running the Biggest Tiny House Festival Australia has ever seen, Tiny House Festival Australia at the Bendigo Racecourse, on March 21st and 22nd 2020.

I am the founder of "Tiny Houses Australia" and have been running the online 'Tiny Houses Australia' community for the past 7 years.

Darren Hughes
Event Director - Tiny House Festival Australia E : Info@TinyHouseFestivalAustralia.com
Tel : 0416 127 009

Hels said...


I am so glad you are running the Tiny House Festival Australia at the Bendigo Racecourse on March 21st and 22nd 2020. Hopefully it will be very successful and fun filled.

See my next blog post on Tiny Houses in this blog on Saturday 14/3/20.