Liam Culbertson and Rachel Newby didn’t have much building experience but that didn’t stop them from constructing their own tiny home. Using recycled and salvaged materials, they erected a 67 square foot home in the Gunai district of Gippsland, Victoria in Australia, and it cost just 420 Australian dollars, or $320 American.
In a film made by Happen Films, Newby and Culbertson detail their building process. Culbertson said, “We basically wanted to challenge the idea that you need a whole lot of high-tech tools and skills and knowledge to be able to build a house.” They found recycled building materials in dumpsters and on the Internet, and sourced almost everything for free. They did have to buy six things: cement for the foundation, steel bracing tape, wood glue, hinges, and chains to prop open the windows.
One of their best finds was a tarp “still in its packet.” They’d used reclaimed paper insulation but then didn’t have quite enough to cover the roof. In a supermarket dumpster, they found the tarp to cover the roof. The duo initially hoped to build the entire house with hand tools alone, but in the end they also used an impact driver and a power drill. “We had to learn everything as we went,” said Culbertson. They built the home in a span of three months.
Newby and Culbertson live in Wurruk’an, a community of others who have also built their own homes. One family owns the land and lets others reside there rent-free if they help take care of the land, plant vegetable gardens, and construct infrastructure. There’s an eating area and communal bathroom and shower on the property, so Culbertson and Newby didn’t include a kitchen or bathroom in their tiny house.
Their tiny home provides them with space for quiet time, a sleeping loft, and a place to store their belongings. Culbertson said, “Living more of a shared communal lifestyle means we can get away with just a really small house.”
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