Jasmine on the Tiny House Project (from The Owner Builder magazine)

The latest edition of the Owner Builder magazine has an article about the Tiny House Project written by Jasmine.

Here’s the text of Jasmine’s article (but see the article for the photos and layout).

When I was little, I remember watching my parents (mainly Mum) renovating our house and wanting to help, and being excited watching it all come together. I never imagined that I would be building my own house, albeit a tiny one, in the not too distant future.

Larni and I met early in 2016 at a denim upcycling workshop and soon after decided we would like to build a tiny house together. She wanted to move out of home into her backyard, I wanted the challenge of a much larger project than I had worked on before in woodwork, and we were both keen to learn new skills in design and construction. An important consideration for us was to build the house sustainably, both environmentally and cost wise, by making it (as much as possible) out of waste materials. We are both in year 10 and have gained basic practical skills in woodwork and metalwork at school, but had no idea the time and effort a tiny house would require.

The Owner Builder magazine The first step was to find someone with more experience to help us. Ian, a family friend of Larni’s and a registered builder, was kind enough give us his time and use of tools to mentor us through the build. We met a couple of times to start planning and designing, but were at a bit of a dead end as we needed our materials to start making plans, but needed our plans to know what materials to source. We also wanted to build it on a trailer so had size and weight restrictions. We sent out an email through Transition Newcastle asking for materials and through that met welder Cayde. After sourcing a 2nd hand trailer and some donated seconds of aluminium tubing, we got together with Cayde and Michael (another friend) to start building the frame, 2.7 by 1.8m and 1.9m high.

We also began sourcing other materials, with one very good find – light packing crate timber that Mum and I were able to take straight off a rubbish pile. This became very important for cladding the house and keeping the weight down. Other materials we found or were given included old corrugated iron sheets, small weatherboard pieces, timber from a brightly painted old pontoon Ian had in his shed, discarded pieces of perspex which we used in the windows and door, pallets that were used to make one of the beds, old fine timber blinds that will be used for some wall lining, left over wool insulation batts, old jeans to create a denim wall, cover the milk crate seats and cushions for the beds, and plywood for the floor and wall bracing.

The race was on to prepare everything, so we could ‘build’ the tiny house on the weekend of Transition Newcastle’s Fair Share Festival. All we had to do was finalise our plans, source all our materials, build the frame, pre-cut and finish all the cladding, frames, trims, floor and roof, make our windows and door, sort out internal furniture and lining, group and label everything and transport it to the festival! And all in under 3 months!

owner-builder-tiny-house_page_3We learnt that in a Tiny House, the aim is to have things have at least 2 purposes, due to the very limited space. Our bunk bed has the top bed hinged, so it can be lowered to form a lounge, the denim wall made from old jeans has pockets and loops on it for storage, the sink will double as a bathroom basin, he seats are covered milk crates that can be turned upside down and used for storage when travelling and we plan to build a bench with a fold up section that will be the table.

Through all the building jobs, Larni and I were able to use heaps of power tools which was slightly scary but mostly fun. We used a drop saw, grinder, circular saw, jigsaw, bandsaw and lots of drills. We also learnt a lot about building, with so much more needed than you originally think of or notice in a project.

As we were preparing for the ‘build’ at the festival, Better Homes and Gardens learnt about our project and they came to film us. This was exciting as we’d never been on TV before, and great that they were supporting us in wanting to inspire our generation to use waste creatively.

The building at the festival was a lot of fun. We finally got to see all the preparation and hard work from everyone pay off. Although it was a bit crazy with the TV crew there and lots of people helping with the building as well as making the denim wall, bunk bed, shelf unit, covering the milk crate seats and bed cushions, it was fantastic to see it all come together. We still have more work to do to finish inside, but are looking forward to taking it to some sustainability festivals to show people what we’ve done, and hopefully inspire other young people to take on a project like this. It’s been challenging and fun and we’ve both leant a lot, and are grateful to all the people who’ve helped us achieve this, in particular, Ian Dawes, Cayde Tasker, Michael and Sue Mattey as well as our families and everyone who helped at the festival.

From the Owner Builder magazine, (February/March edition, 2017, pages 26-28)

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Jasmine and Larni’s tiny house on national TV
  2. Two girls and a tiny house
  3. Photographic reflections on the Fair Share Festival
  4. A passion for upcycling
  5. Parenting for a better world
  6. What’s your parenting style?

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
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