Australian couple Shona Macpherson and Barlo Smith have recently completed their very first Tiny House, featuring all the comforts of a regular size home with the added benefit of a large outdoor deck. After dedicating 20 years of their carpentry and joinery business to building large decks and renovations, they have turned their hand to the tiny house movement. Dubbed Sowelo, this 19 sq m (208 sq ft) tiny house comfortably sleeps up to six guests and boasts two loft bedrooms with sky lights, a lower level lounge with sofa bed and 8 meters (26 ft) of outdoor decking.
"We have been following the tiny house movement over the past 3 to 4 years or more in Canada, Europe and the US," Shona Macpherson and Barlo Smith tell New Atlas. "We loved the idea of offering an affordable option for a large range of people. The land and property prices in Australia have sky rocketed over the last 5 years and this makes it very hard, particularly for young people, to get a property or home of their own. We have two teenage daughters and thought there would be many others that could look to owning a tiny house, that does not need council approval or development application costs and would allow for a better and more sustainable way of living. The ability to move the tiny house if situations changed and have an asset that could be rented out or sold etc."
The Sowelo tiny house is built by Macpherson and Smith from their solar-powered property, with certified FSC rough sawn ply wood, which has been tried and tested in various Australian climates, including the Snowy Mountains region with yearly temperatures ranging between -10 degrees Celsius (14° F) in the winter to above 40 degrees C (104° F) during the summer.
"Barlo and I love working together and have done so for most of our lives," says Macpherson. "Building tiny houses from our property has allowed us to build with a very light environmental footprint. Powered by solar energy we use a lot of cordless tools as battery tech is very economical and efficient. Using new lightweight, sustainable building materials that are plantation-certified and as sustainable as possible has allowed us to incorporate all our design ideas into functional, contemporary design with a minimal focus."
The home is built on a 4.5 tonne engineered trailer to meet Australian legal standards and measures 8 m (26 ft) long, 4.3 m (14 ft) high and 2.5 m (8 ft) wide. European birch FSC-certified film-faced ply was used to build the kitchen cupboards, bathroom vanities and under stair storage. In addition, 80 percent recycled polyester was used for the home's insulation, no volatile organic compound (VOC) emission glues and low or no VOC paints and coatings were used throughout the home.
"There are weight, length and height restrictions on legal tiny houses in Australia," say the builders. "We have spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure we stay within the legal requirements and inspection compliance. This allows the buyer the advantage of knowing their tiny house is built professionally and to all the legal classifications. For a tiny house to be legal in Australia it must be built on a compliant trailer. This allows for the advantage of not needing to have a development application and the cost saving associated with this."
The Sowelo tiny house boasts a modern living room with a large sofa bed, two elevated loft bedrooms, a full size kitchen with stainless steel all gas stove and oven, full size energy efficient fridge, large stainless steel sink with pull out hose tap and push-to-open drawers (no handles required). The home also includes a foldaway dining table with two bar stools, push-to-open under stair cupboards with clothes rack, bathroom with rain shower, bath and toilet (composting toilet is also an option), hand basin, vanity with large mirror and washing machine.
The tiny house also features a cozy nook area ideal as a quiet reading area or study, abundant external decking, a grow-wall with integrated watering system, large windows, doors and skylights with good airflow throughout the entire home and an energy efficient convection panel heater. The Sowelo home is designed to be north facing for passive solar efficiency in Australia and can be installed with solar roof panels.
"We have incorporated a grow-wall system option for our tiny houses," says Macpherson. "This system has removable, individual pots and an integrated watering system, allowing people whether in the city or country to have access to growing vegetables and plants easily. With the option for solar off grid power and composting toilet, we feel our design is not only stylish and practical, but offers all the luxuries of modern life in a beautiful and affordable package."
A Sowelo tiny house complete with the outdoor decking will set you back around AUD 120,000 (about US$87,670). Macpherson and Smith also build a range of other custom tiny options, with single room modules starting from AUD 30,000 (around US$22,000).
Source: Sowelo Tiny Houses
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