According to surveys, the average New Zealand resident makes just over $41,000 annually but spends 160 percent of their income. Add that statistic to the difficult housing market after the Christchurch earthquakes, and out emerges a situation where few can afford to buy their first home. Galvanized by these obstacles, builder Paul Hennessy started Park Homes, a company that designs small, earthquake-resilient starter homes.
Hennessy’s first house, Papa #1, is 430 square feet, which means it just misses the 400 square feet and below benchmark that would classify it a tiny house. Hennessy didn’t want the house to feel like a tiny house, but more like a typical home with hallways and corridors. The front door opens into living room and kitchen, and a hallway takes visitors to the bathroom, an office, and a bedroom – no sleeping lofts typical of tiny houses in this home. Under the stairs that lead to the front door is a dog house.
Passive design played a big role in Papa #1: a “super efficient heat-recovery ventilation system” and nearly air-tight construction means the home is energy efficient. It’s also well insulated with structural insulated panels (SIP). The sleek black look of the outside of the home is achieved with aluminum composite panels. Removable panels at the bottom of the home hide trailer wheels so the home can be moved around a piece of property.
Since the home rests on a trailer, it is earthquake resilient. According to Park Homes, “In the event of an earthquake, a Park Home will move independently of the ground, saving it from most of the devastating effects that many fixed houses suffered from the Christchurch earthquakes. Specific areas of the base are attached to stabilizers that remove any potential tire wobble or vibration, yet still ensure that the Park Home is not hard fixed to the ground.”
Hennessy’s wife Pascale designed the modern interior. One nifty element in the kitchen is it lacks a hood over the stove; instead, Pascale placed a slit into the wall behind the stove that can suck odors outside. Cleverly-placed storage areas, such as underneath the bed, also open up the house.
Images via Park Homes NZ Ltd Facebook