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Canberra man builds granny flat in parent’s backyard – hold the presses

By Mike Jeffreys - 19 November 2014 9

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ABC Online reports that “In an effort to live a simpler life and avoid the large debt that comes from buying a home, Andrew Clapham is paring back and joining the tiny house movement”.

“He has begun to build a tiny house in his parent’s backyard in Canberra’s north, which he said would eventually look much like a log cabin”.

But wait, there’s more “The typical tiny house is built on a trailer… putting the maximum width at 2.5 metres”.
Hmmm “Tiny houses on trailers”… that strikes a chord.

That would be what the Americans call “Trailer Homes”.

Here in Australia we have “Caravans”.

This local angle is apparently not one Elise Pianegonda who reports this story for the national news bringer is aware of.

She has had to go to the US to track down where Andrew first gained inspiration for his novel idea.

Elise provides a useful link for readers to: Related Story: Downscaling to a tiny house to find big happiness
Here we learn about Dee Williams.

Following a health scare, Dee decided “The American Dream” – which included a thirty year mortgage – was all too much.

She decided to downsize and… “What Williams ended up with was a small, cedar-clad house the size of a parking spot. That’s meant that she has had to downsize her life and her number of possessions (which currently stands at 305). She’s also given up on a few creature comforts.”

“‘I don’t have running water, so I don’t have a shower unless you count me washing in a basin,’ says Williams, now author of The Big Tiny. ‘I shower at work or at the neighbour’s house or I shower at the gym. I don’t have a refrigerator, I use a cooler. I buy perishables in small quantities often. I don’t have a lap pool, I don’t have a billiard table, I probably couldn’t fit a keg of beer in through the front door. There’s lots that’s not in there.’”

Dee finishes up with a good old fashioned homily – basically Granny’s “count your blessings” revisited: ‘Ultimately, all that has helped me see that I’ve got plenty. I’ve got everything I need and I’m not really wanting. And when I do find myself kvetching because I don’t have a shower, for example, that’s a part of life.’

‘There’s a certain myth that we should be 100 per cent happy all the time, but in fact if we really believe that, we’re going to be pretty miserable at least some of the time because life isn’t meant to be perfectly comfortable. A good solid B average, 85 per cent happy, that’s a pretty good mark in life.’”

Of course Dee doesn’t go without showering – she just uses someone else’s.

Just as Andrew is using his parent’s property – the really expensive part of owning a home in Canberra – but dressing that up with a lot of claptrap about “sustainability” and how “he would love to see the tiny house movement gain a bigger following in Australia. ‘I’d like to see a lot more people living within their means and being happy about it,’ he said.”

Of course Andrew is living within his parent’s means just as Dee is reliant on others for hot showers, refrigeration, an area to entertain etc.

Dee doesn’t mention toilet facilities.

She does say she doesn’t have running water, so a flushing water closet is probably out of the question.
I noticed a group of trees in the background.

If she does go in the bushes that makes her even closer to nature than Andrew, who plans to build an outhouse.
An outdoor dunny – now there’s an idea.

Wonder if Elise who wrote the article has ever heard of those, or can we expect another piece on the newest breakthrough in Australian home planning?

Many years ago a close relative was living at Kiama with the love of his life in what we called “The Heidi House”.

It was even prettier than the one Dee built and had about the same level of amenities.

He was part of a group who had decided to forsake the city and go for the simple life.

My favourite throw it all away and live the simple life hippy was the ex-advertising man who had decided to build a stone cottage.

Fortunately the advertising business had paid well enough for him to buy his own front end loader and import the stone, but there he was: living the raw, back to nature existence.

I sympathise with Andrew and others like him who can’t get their own place.

The price of real estate is the problem, not the cost of the dwelling.

Perhaps Andrew and others like him should give some thought as to why that is the case in a country with so much land?

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
Canberra man builds granny flat in parent’s backyard – hold the presses
Maya123 12:06 pm 22 Nov 14

dkNigs said :

This is huge in the states now, it’s pretty much taking advantage of laws for mobile homes and caravans, and building a small efficient minimalist apartment with wheels.

Some interesting examples of this. Some are more practical as homes than others.
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=tiny+house+movement&biw=1389&bih=1030&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=_uBvVNHQBsHM8gWf1IHgDw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8QsAQ#imgdii=_

dkNigs 10:28 pm 21 Nov 14

This is huge in the states now, it’s pretty much taking advantage of laws for mobile homes and caravans, and building a small efficient minimalist apartment with wheels.

wildturkeycanoe 4:50 pm 21 Nov 14

It’s a great idea but land cost IS the biggest issue. If you could buy a block up to a hundred clicks away big enough for a caravan or hut and not owe six figures it might be a great thing. Unfortunately you wouldn’t be able to work from home because the NBN will not cover rural areas such as that. No power, water or sewerage makes it impossible to survive without expenses such as water carting, solar power etc. If that dream was available with all the amenities and within stone’s throw of the city center, the price will triple what is was as a bare block of dirt, and it will be in N.S.W.

rosscoact 11:19 am 21 Nov 14

Getting back to the OP, there are plenty of trailer size tiny houses with full and complete amenities that have much more serviceability than a caravan. For a good example have a look at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSzgh3D7-Q0

The example there has a full size kitchen including a stove and fridge, composting toilet, sleeping capacity for four etc.

And for more go to tinyhousebuild.com

It certainly isn’t for everyone but it is possible to be completely self contained for very little money and very little land

puggy 10:51 am 21 Nov 14

OpenYourMind said :

I can already hear my fellow IT geeks groaning, but wireless is where it will be at.

Don’t worry, every radiocomms engineer is also groaning. The original NBN never intended to get FTTH for every house in Aus. Wireless for rural areas was part of the mix. Wireless for urban? Forget it. Too many users for the available frequency spectrum. Even if spectrum availability wasn’t an issue, the number of cells and therefore base stations required would be huge. And, all those basestations would be connected to the backhaul network via fibre running down every other street anyway.

OpenYourMind said :

Harden have just had a wireless setup installed for the town. Each connected house has a special antenna and gets 100 megabit upload and download.

Wireless is perfect for Harden, given its location and population density. No arguments there.

OpenYourMind said :

Much of the argument for faster bandwidth, while dressed up as telecommuting etc. is really just about people watching TV better. That’s not really a nation building investment, is it?

You’ve never had to monitor a critical piece of infrastructure remotely, have you?

OpenYourMind said :

So, it’s not that fibre to the home is bad, it’s that it’s too expensive to do and may well be matched (at least in required capability) by much much cheaper solutions.

The cost of spectrum management is not trivial. The cost of a simple basestation is not trivial, it’s probably over $300k each. As well as equipment costs, you have to factor in cost to buy/lease the land on which the basestation – and its equipment shed/unit – sits.

m_ratt 10:30 am 21 Nov 14

OpenYourMind said :

As an example, Harden have just had a wireless setup installed for the town. Each connected house has a special antenna and gets 100 megabit upload and download.

And how much throughput does each house get, when every house is attempting to use their connection ?
That’s the problem with wireless – it’s a shared medium, which means that the theoretical maximum speed is shared across all users, resulting in lesser performance for all.

OpenYourMind 9:05 am 21 Nov 14

The NBN was never a good idea. There’s nothing wrong with the basic concept, Hell, I’d use it if it was offered to me. I understand the beauty of fibre (especially for big trunk lines etc.) and the aging nature of our copper network. But here’s the thing: Fibre to the home is just too darn expensive and an unnecessary expenditure when measured against the future. I can already hear my fellow IT geeks groaning, but wireless is where it will be at. As an example, Harden have just had a wireless setup installed for the town. Each connected house has a special antenna and gets 100 megabit upload and download. The base station in Harden connnects straight into the Sydney Melbourne fibre trunk.

Much of the argument for faster bandwidth, while dressed up as telecommuting etc. is really just about people watching TV better. That’s not really a nation building investment, is it?

So, it’s not that fibre to the home is bad, it’s that it’s too expensive to do and may well be matched (at least in required capability) by much much cheaper solutions.

watto23 4:29 pm 20 Nov 14

qbngeek said :

It would surely help in many ways if businesses in Australia considered setting up shop somewhere other than in major cities. In today’s IT landscape there is little reason why an office needs to be located in a city when you can do pretty much everything online.

This is especially true for office workers. There is no reason why telecommuting cannot work, however many businesses refuse to make it the norm.

It is also very possible for many businesses to operate out of regional towns meaning cheaper leases on buildings, cheaper housing for employees and, in my opinion, a better standard of living.

Telecommuting while possible still has many pitfalls due to awful network connectivity. But in terms of just needing to use a computer to type and email and a phone, then it works well. Try transferring that big file back to head office and you let it go while you make a coffee, go for a walk around the block or eat lunch.

That is why the NBN was ideal, there was going to be few internet black spots. A company could specify the bandwidth you need for having a remote presence and a connection to suit could be ordered and paid for.

qbngeek 3:45 pm 19 Nov 14

It would surely help in many ways if businesses in Australia considered setting up shop somewhere other than in major cities. In today’s IT landscape there is little reason why an office needs to be located in a city when you can do pretty much everything online.

This is especially true for office workers. There is no reason why telecommuting cannot work, however many businesses refuse to make it the norm.

It is also very possible for many businesses to operate out of regional towns meaning cheaper leases on buildings, cheaper housing for employees and, in my opinion, a better standard of living.

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