Guild Session: Tiny House Living with Ali and Belly
Imagine a sustainable living system, focusing on working with natural rhythms to create a simplified, off-the-grid lifestyle. A home in tune with your needs and nature’s cycles. Sounds like something straight out a permaculture handbook, doesn’t it? I believe it is reasons like this that people from all walks of life (particularly permies!) are flocking in droves to the tiny house movement.
Imagine waking up to see the birds playing in the trees through your loft window. Taking two steps downstairs to put a pot of water on the stove; water that was collected from own your roof. Surveying your beautifully custom-made, mortgage-free space before taking your steaming cuppa outside, and pausing on the steps to take a moment to appreciate life, and this place where you happened to be parked at the time.
Our latest Designers Guild session featured a Tiny House talk by Andrew Bell and Alicia Crawford Bell. This session had an unprecedented 521 people interested through Facebook, and it was exciting to see that enthusiasm carry over into a group of people fascinated with learning about creating their own debt-free – and in some cases – off-the-grid dream homes.
The night introduced us Ali and Belly (the couple behind It’s a Tiny House), and they picked up that energy and ran with it, giving us a well-prepared and engaging talk. We started the evening sketching plans for our own dream tiny house and then sharing it with other guild members. This was a great way for us to break the ice and get us thinking about own space’s needs before getting down to the nitty-gritty with a slide show explaining many of the details behind their tiny house build.
I think the idea of a $20,000 house, built in three months, with no experience, and off the grid was an ah-ha moment for many of us. Ali and Belly did an amazing job of guiding us through the process – from the good: hammocks in the living room and roos in the yard, to the bad: not being able to get the too-tall house frame out of the workshop, and how to deal with cloth nappies when you don’t have a washing machine.
They were delightfully candid about their life choices. From ending their crowd-sourcing campaign because of negative feedback, how they went about founding a landowner to host them (physical posters in the chose, area was much more efficient than Facebook in this case), to the legal grey area that is living in a “mobile” home – and all of the technicalities behind living off-the-grid with solar power, and a water-tank feeding off the roof.
Next, Belly walked us through their “tape house”, marking out their tiny abode on the floor in the hall we sat in, and talked through the placement of different features. He discussed what products were working well for them, and how they were slowly evolving the house to care for their growing family.
Finally they topped it off with a slideshow of details of the build, and of course how the finished product looked, before Ali and Belly answered all questions the eager audience had for them. Their enthusiasm for the project, great sense of humour and encouragement to try it ourselves was truly inspiring.
We discussed the uniquely Australian take on tiny homes. Australia has really jumped on board the American based tiny house movement but made it our own, evolving it for our environment and our values. We examined how living in a tiny house means that you will spend a lot of time outdoors and how to make that work for your lifestyle. We also spoke about how many tiny houses are not as mobile as we might have expected, and that they can be more of a home you can move every few years rather than a caravan to take road-tripping. How you must pack up of your house, solar, water tank and all, get permits to travel and even the struggle to get insurance.
We finished the evening with a prize draw, giving away several issues and a subscription to the wonderful Pip Magazine to some lucky winners, before engaging in hearty conversation and networking with the people around us. We got to share and enlarge on what we learned and how that had changed our tiny house plans and dreams from a mere hour or two before.
I want to thank Ali, Belly, and Laila for sharing their insight and knowledge. I can’t imagine more lovely people to introduce us to the concepts and realities of tiny living.
If you would like to learn more about Tiny houses check out their Facebook page. There is also an Australian tiny house page and they recommended Fred’s tiny houses in Castlemaine and Rob Scott of Hollyburton farm or start your own design with Sketch Up.
We really loved having so much interest in this Guild session. If you have any session ideas or a topic you would like to learn more about, we’d love you to let us know at [email protected].