Green Living

These homeowners share their new-build tips for tiny houses

Owners of a very stylish tiny home on Waiheke share their hard-earnt new-build tips and what they’d never do again. Take a tour of this home below

Meet + greet

Willem van den Bergh, 38 (architectural designer), Kate van den Bergh, 36 (designer and mum), and Leo, 5 months, plus Alba the cat.

New-build tips:

  • Sketch your plans over and over again. Envision how you will use every inch of the space and really think hard about what you need to include in your home to make it somewhere you will love to live.
  • Source cheaper materials online before you start your build. It will save you a lot of money! Look for end-of-line tiles, carpet offcuts, half-used paint tins etc. These may be useless to anyone building a larger home but just the right amount for a tiny house.
  • Invest money in a good trailer as this is your home’s foundations.
  • If you are using a builder, hire someone experienced in building tiny homes and get references from previous clients.
  • Visit as many tiny homes as you can to get a good feel for the space. Stay overnight if possible. Living in a tiny home does take sacrifice and it isn’t for everyone.

Honesty Box

What would you never do again?

  • Dig our own trenches by hand with the wrong tools!
  • Pitch a two-man tent on our newly cut ‘clay’ driveway when it was due to torrentially rain overnight. Oh, the mess! That was a low point. We were working there over the weekend and had no access to utilities.
  • Decide to give DIY tiling a go in our bathroom when we’d chosen a very difficult tile and a complicated layout.

One thing you’d change?

We had to design the home before knowing where it would be sited. If we’d known, we would have added another window above the couch so we could see more of the bush out the back.

Most memorable experience in your home so far?

Bringing Leo home from hospital and introducing him to the trees and birds and his nursery.

Lessons learned

  • Determination and hard work can get you anywhere. Be innovative and don’t give up on your dreams of owning your own home.
  • Building smaller helped us create a better quality of life. Build smaller, build cheaper, save money.
  • You don’t need much space to create a happy home.
  • Life is a lot less complicated when you are surrounded by less stuff.

Total cost

$176K ($96K for the house build plus $80K for the consents, site works, tanks, services, landscaping and deck).

NB: The septic and stormwater systems were built big to cope when our future home is built at the top of the section.

See more of the Waiheke tiny home below


You can keep up to date with the family’s tiny-house adventure on Instagram: @buildingtinyauckland

Shops & suppliers

Decor and art Thea Ceramics, Flox, Jay Lloyd, Curiously Creative
Cot Global Baby
Sarking HermPac
Blinds Window Treatments
Words by: Esther Gordon. Photography by: Claire Mossong.

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