Which home is right for you? Tiny or prefabricated?

In recent years, the tiny house movement has gained momentum worldwide, with New Zealand no exception. These pint-sized dwellings offer an alternative to the traditional housing market, providing an eco-friendly, minimalist, and often more affordable, way of living. If you’re thinking about building a tiny home here, here’s what you should consider.

Before starting your tiny house journey, it’s crucial to understand the legalities around tiny homes in New Zealand. It’s essential to check the latest building codes, zoning laws, and permits required in your specific location. Local councils have varying rules, so thorough research is key. It’s also worth checking with your mortgage lender, as there are sometimes specific lending criteria for ‘portable’ homes.

Choosing the right location for your tiny home is also paramount. New Zealand offers an array of picturesque settings, from tranquil rural landscapes to vibrant urban areas, so you should also consider factors such as accessibility to amenities, proximity to work, and personal preferences. Additionally, think about land tenure – whether you want to buy, lease, or park your tiny house on a friend or family member’s property. While many people find tiny house living fulfilling, it’s essential to think about your long-term plans. Consider resale value and what you’ll do if your circumstances change. Are you prepared to move, sell, or rent your tiny house if necessary?

Images - https://onokekopuha.com/

Tiny homes come in various shapes and sizes, but in New Zealand, a tiny home is typically classified as a dwelling under 30 square metres. Think about your lifestyle and how it aligns with tiny house living. Are you just starting out on the property ladder or are you downsizing, to embrace a minimalist lifestyle? Tiny homes require intentional living and organisation. Consider what possessions and activities are your essentials to you and how you can adapt your lifestyle, then decide how much space you need and create a design which maximises functionality and comfort. Look for space-saving solutions, such as foldable furniture, roof space beds, and efficient storage.

As with any other home, ideally you want your tiny home to be north-facing so it reduces heating costs and makes the most of the sun’s natural warmth and light. If you’re eco-conscious, consider incorporating sustainable features such as solar panels, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems, along with passive heating and cooling techniques. Going off-grid can be an attractive option for those seeking self-sufficiency and a reduced environmental footprint.

Although tiny homes can be more affordable than traditional houses, it’s essential to establish a realistic budget. You should factor in construction costs as well as ongoing expenses – such as maintenance, utilities, and insurance. 

When it comes to building your tiny home, while DIY may be more cost-effective, hiring a builder ensures quality and compliance with building codes. Our trade-qualified builders are also aware of compliance and consenting requirements, which can save you both time and money in the long run.

Image - https://onokekopuha.com/

Joining the NZ tiny house community, or attending tiny house events, can provide valuable support and resources, through connecting with local enthusiasts, online forums and social media groups. You may gain insights, share experiences, and find solutions to common challenges.

Tiny house living isn’t without its challenges. New Zealand’s weather can be unpredictable, and living in a compact space with limited resources may require adjustment. Prepare for these challenges mentally and emotionally and have contingency plans in place. If, after all of that, you’re starting to think a tiny house may not be your solution, perhaps a prefabricated home is.

Hawke’s Bay Homes specialise in prefabricated houses as a solution for anyone hoping to save time and money on consenting and building their homes. NZCB Hawke’s Bay president Mark Roil, from Hawke’s Bay Homes, says prefabricated buildings are created in large-scale factories, meaning no weather delays and better quality control during the building process. “Prefab homes are a turnkey solution, giving you certainty of on-time delivery and budget, alongside minimisation of site disruption and better security during construction. Not to mention no need for expensive, unsightly scaffolding!”

Mark also highly recommends prefabricated homes for rural and remote locations, as builders don’t need to commute every day, which immediately reduces carbon emissions. Hawke’s Bay Homes’ prefabricated buildings are also more sustainable, Mark says.

“We practice waste minimisation through standardisation of parts and careful, efficient use of all materials,” he says. “With a prefabricated building, it’s easy to increase efficiency and reduce waste through clever planning and innovative designs.”

Some prefabricated building companies, including Hawke’s Bay Homes, also manage consenting for you.

Regardless of whether you go for a tiny home or a prefabricated one, building your home can be a rewarding journey, but it requires careful planning and consideration. Stay informed about the latest regulations, design a space that suits your needs, embrace sustainability, and connect with the right experts to make your dream a reality.

For help with your next building or renovation project, use the Find A Builder search function on www.nzcb.nz

Images - https://hbhomes.nz/

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