What are tiny houses and are they really for me?

Fred Schultz's tiny home. Picture: Contributed.
Fred Schultz's tiny home. Picture: Contributed.

The tiny homes beloved of TV lifestyle networks promise an easier, more compact lifestyle. But could you really have one in central Victoria?

Are tiny houses really that cheap?

Tiny Houses Australia founder Darren Hughes said the average cost of self-built tiny houses was $10,000 to $50,000, or up to 80,000 for those made by a professional builder. 

“Once you do downsize you only retain the things you need for that day, plus those special things you need in life – that family heirloom you inherited from your grandmother, for example,” Mr Hughes said.

Won’t council have some strong views about my tiny home?

The City of Greater Bendigo’s Susannah Milne said the council had never had any inquiries about tiny houses, though she encouraged anyone planning to build one to have a chat with city planners to help navigate planning and building codes.

She said tiny houses with wheels should be able to use the city’s caravan parks.

“If a person wanted to move onto a property with one then they would have to go through the planning process,” Ms Milne said, noting people could not camp on their property for more than 21 says without a permit.

Fred Schultz shows off his tiny house.

“If you were going to come into town and stay at a friends place for a few days we would not care. But we would want to talk to you if it became a more permanent arrangement.”

A number of tiny housers told the Bendigo Advertiser anecdotal accounts of people living in metropolitan areas doing deals with landowners on the outskirts of cities, without telling councils. The Advertiser heard no such stories about central Victoria.

“Generally, if we were to find out because the neighbors were upset, then we would approach you and ensure we were going through all the appropriate checks and balances. It’s all about ensuring safety and amenity,” Ms Milne said.

Could I really live in such close quarters with my family?

Mr Hughes and his partner decided they would have a year-long test run in a caravan – to make sure they would not want “to kill each other”. Everything worked out and the couple’s tiny house plans are going ahead.

Castlemaine’s Fred Schultz lived in a tiny house he built for his family.

“I think we did it well. I don’t think every family is suited to tiny house living,” he said.

Mr Schultz said the more people in a house the more compromises needed to be made.

“Everybody needs to be pulling together. But for us, we always knew what (our daughter) was up to, she was always within earshot. And there’s a beautiful kind of connectedness that you have,” he said.

A tiny house. Picture: Darrian Traynor, Fairfax Media- Getty Images

A tiny house. Picture: Darrian Traynor, Fairfax Media- Getty Images