Thinking big with a tiny house
To celebrate their son’s six month’s birthday, Jackie Ward and her mother took the youngster out for a drive. That short journey changed their lives when another driver ran a red light, hitting their car at speed.
Jackie suffered spinal, chest and leg injuries. She’s still on crutches, five months later.
“Sometimes I am in a wheelchair. I am recovering but it is taking time.”
Fortunately, Jackie’s mother and baby Wycliffe – now 11 months old - escaped relatively unscathed but the incident had a lasting impact on Jackie and husband Robb’s outlook on life.
Jackie, Robb and Wycliffe
The couple are both well-respected musicians and opera singers. She’s studying at Sydney Conservatorium for her Masters and Robb has a doctorate in music art, has been a university lecturer in music, and is now a high school music teacher.
The couple are much sought after solo singers but also work with well known orchestras and opera groups.
The family currently rent in the Schofields growth area but they want a tree change and they want to live in a tiny house in the Hawkesbury.
Tiny houses, are exactly that, small compact houses usually not much bigger than your typical caravan. But globally sales of the small residences are booming as people increasingly dismiss the so-called McMansion large house and look for a smaller more energy efficient space to call home.
McMansion - no thanks say Jackie and Robb Dennis
“Living in Schofields, I have never been more acutely aware than I am now of the impact of building on the environment – the waste, use of materials and resources,” says Jackie.
“We see building rubbish blowing down the street, and there have to be so many storm drains because there’s no greenery to hold water when it rains.”
The family are on the hunt for a place to put down roots and they are looking in the Kurrajong, Bowen Mountain and Grose Vale areas.
In Australia, tiny houses can get away with not having to go through all the onerous local council planning stages as long as they are on wheels – so essentially they are classed as caravans.
The shell of the family’s tiny house is being constructed by specialist builders in Victoria and measures 8m long by 2.4 metres wide and 4.3 metres high. There will be two separate loft areas for sleeping and a lounge and kitchen area on the ground floor.
Jackie says tiny houses tick all the boxes for the family.
“The typical cost for a tiny house is from $60,000 to $120,000. If you do the interior yourself it is at the cheaper end. Our shell is going to cost us $30,000 and then we will do the interior ourselves and use locals too, so there’s a good chance we can provide tradies who are out of work with some work too.
Tiny houses are increasingly popular the world over
“In a couple of years we can save up for a dream tiny house and do all the custom things we want.”
Jackie put a post on Facebook locally about the hunt for a site for their tiny house. They have had a good response and have met with several people in the Kurrajong and Grose Wold areas who are interested in having them on their land.
“It’s really encouraging. Some people get tiny houses because they don’t want to be in one place for too long but we are looking at this long term. We want to leave our house in one spot for a length of time.
“For us it’s not just about a home, it’s also about being part of a community and playing a part in the community, creating new friendships and hopefully also contributing by, for example, giving music lessons, or gardening, or even helping look after property.
“Often the way we all live, there is this low level stress all the time and I think some of that can come from the burden of having too much, so a tiny house relieves a lot of that stress. And really, most people only use two or three rooms in their house the majority of the time.
“One big thing is for us to escape the rental trap, that’s become more important because my husband had to take eight weeks off work when I had the accident. It concentrated our minds. We want to have flexibility for those things important to us.”