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BURSTING AT THE SEAMS

By Alana Saunders

Looking to downsize, add an additional income stream or create extra space at home? Discover the versatile benefits of container living and the tiny house movement, proving size isn’t everything.

Have you noticed that ‘minimalism’ and ‘living with less’ is getting a lot of air time lately? There is a palpable thirst for sustainable living and eco-conscious lifestyles, a throwback to authenticity and a renewed focus on what really matters. A quick Google search confirms this, with searches of ‘minimalism’ increasing by a whopping 230% from 2016-17 worldwide.

Enter the tiny house movement, a recent architectural trend which has seen thousands across the world adopting a more minimalistic and sustainable way of living. Whether you are looking to save money, add an income stream via Airbnb or simply add more space for visitors, tiny houses offer an innovative and costeffective solution, plus the chance to create a true architectural masterpiece.

CONTAINER HOMES

As the name suggests, container homes are made from shipping containers which are refitted for use as modular homes. From simple, affordable tiny homes to a luxurious, tricked-out complex made up of over a dozen containers, there are endless options for these custom box homes: houses, granny flats, shops, hotels, offices, the list is endless.

The key benefits of a shipping container home are the cost and time efficiency, with most container homes costing less than $30,000 and construction sometimes less than seven days. Container homes require much less energy than the average home, reducing your energy bill and greenhouse gas emissions. Also, living in such a small space means that you can only fit the things you really need in your life, reducing your waste and environmental footprint. Lastly, the modular effect of container homes means they’re highly versatile and customisable in terms of your design tastes and budget – ideal for anyone wanting a hands-on role in building their dream home.

Australia has several established container home providers including Melbourne-based Archiblox, Sydneybased Container Homes Designer Domain and Lismorebased Container Build Group. Rubix Modular in Brisbane offers a range of container homes and workspaces, as does Cube Modular Homes in Perth, which sells container units priced from $29,500. Other companies, such as Brisbane-based Gateway Containers, sell standard containers or those with only a basic fit-out, enabling DIY homemakers the opportunity to save even more money by effectively building their own home from the shell up.

TINY HOUSES

Australian houses may be some of the largest in the world, but consumers are beginning to buck this trend by trading in their master suites and rumpus rooms for something smaller, more affordable and environmentally friendly: the tiny house.

Tiny houses can range anywhere from 36 – 150 square metres in size. These micro dwellings come with some great perks – they’re inexpensive and low-maintenance, freeing up time and money for other things and making way for a simpler, unfettered way of life. Extremely versatile in their design and usage, they can be used as your primary home, for a growing family, housing parents, an office or studio, a games or pool room, nanny or au pair quarters, temporary accommodation while you’re renovating or perhaps an Airbnb dwelling for rent.

There are a number of specialised Australian tiny house providers catering to the growing demand, including Fred’s Tiny Houses in Castlemaine, Victoria, Designer Eco Homes in New South Wales and the Tiny House company in Brisbane. Sydney company Big World Homes just launched Australia’s first flat-packed, DIY tiny home. Complete with the internal fitout, including a living room, bed, running water and a plumbed bathroom, the portable home can be built by two people in a few days using a hammer and drill, and sells for $65,000

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