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The building of a tiny Tiny House BY JASMINE STUART (aged 15) PHOTOS BY CATHY STUART

When I was little, I remember watching my parents (mainly Mum) renovating our house and wanting to help, and being excited watching it all come together. I never imagined that I would be building my own house, albeit a tiny one, in the not too distant future. Larni and I met early in 2016 at a denim upcycling workshop and soon after decided we would like to build a tiny house together. She wanted a private study and sleepover space at home in her backyard, I wanted the challenge of a much larger project than I had worked on before in woodwork, and we were both keen to learn new skills in design and construction. An important consideration for us was to build the house sustainably, both environmentally and cost wise, by making it (as much as possible) out of waste materials. We are both in year 10 and have gained basic practical skills in woodwork and metalwork at school, but had no idea of the time and effort a tiny house would require.


Photo: Danielle Lloyd-Prichard


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The first step was to find someone with more experience to help us. Ian, a family friend of Larni’s and a registered builder, was kind enough give us his time and use of tools to mentor us through the build. We met a couple of times to start

Jasmine (sitting) and Larni with their almost complete Tiny House. Extensive use was made of waste materials, including old jeans for the denim wall and seat covers. Old jeans also make great builders’ tool bags!

planning and designing, but were at a bit of a dead end as we needed our materials to start making plans, but needed our plans to know what materials to source. We also wanted to build it on a trailer so had size and weight restrictions. We sent out an email through Transition Newcastle asking for materials and through that met welder Cayde. After sourcing a second-hand trailer and some donated seconds of aluminium tubing, we got together with Cayde and Michael (another friend) to start building the frame, 2.7m by 1.8m and 1.9m high.

Upcycling We also began sourcing other materials, with one very good find – light packing crate timber that Mum and I were able to take straight off a rubbish pile. This became very important for cladding the house and keeping the weight down. Other materials we found or were given included old corrugated sheets, small weatherboard pieces, timber from a brightly painted old pontoon Ian had in his shed, discarded pieces of acrylic which

we used in the windows and door, pallets that were used to make one of the beds, old raffia blinds that will be used for some wall lining, left over wool insulation batts, old jeans to create a denim wall and to cover the milk crate seats and cushions for the beds, and plywood for the floor and wall bracing.

Multi-purpose We learned that in a Tiny House, the aim is to make things have at least two purposes, due to the very limited space.

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Our bunk bed has the top bed hinged, so it can be lowered to form a lounge, the denim wall made from old jeans has pockets and loops on it for storage, the sink will double as a bathroom basin, the seats are covered milk crates that can be turned upside down and used for storage when travelling and we plan to build a bench with a fold up section that will be the table.

Hands-on The race was on to prepare everything, so we could ‘build’ the tiny house on the weekend of Transition Newcastle’s Fair Share Festival. All we had to do was finalise our plans, source all our materials, build the frame, pre-cut and finish all the cladding, frames, trims, floor and roof, make our windows and door, sort out internal furniture and lining, group and label everything and transport it to the festival… and all in under three months! Through all the building jobs, Larni and I were able to use heaps of power tools, which was slightly scary but mostly fun. We used a drop saw, grinder, circular saw, jigsaw, bandsaw and lots of drills. We


Clockwise from above: The team try the roof on for size; scrap timber and acrylic windows; Larni works on the frame; discussing construction with builder, Ian; cladding begins at the Festival.

also learned a lot about building, with so much more needed than you originally think of or notice in a project.

cushions, it was fantastic to see it all come together. We still have more work to do to finish inside, but are looking forward to taking it to some sustainability festivals to show people what we’ve done, and hopefully inspire other young people to take on a project like this. It’s been challenging and fun and we’ve both learned a lot. We are grateful to all the people who’ve helped us achieve this, in particular, Ian Dawes, Cayde Tasker, Michael and Sue Mattey as well as our families and everyone who helped at the festival. 

Festival build As we were preparing for the ‘build’ at the festival, Better Homes and Gardens learned about our project and they came to film us. This was exciting as we’d never been on TV before, and great that they were supporting us in wanting to inspire our generation to use waste creatively. The building at the festival was a lot of fun. We finally got to see all the preparation and hard work from everyone pay off. Although it was a bit crazy with the TV crew there and lots of people helping with the building as well as making the denim wall, bunk bed, shelf unit, milk crate seat covers and bed

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Links & resources 

Fair Share Festival

Timed to coincide with National Recycling Week, the Festival is a weekend of inspiration, education, community building, creative actions and entertainment. Organised by Transition Newcastle. 

Transition Newcastle (NSW)

Part of the global Transition Network, demonstrating that we do have choices to create local sustainability.

The Owner Builder magazine #199 Feb/Mar 2017 - tiny house  

This wonderful little tiny studio on wheels was built by two teenagers, Larni and Jasmine. It is a testament to the ability that anyone can...

The Owner Builder magazine #199 Feb/Mar 2017 - tiny house  

This wonderful little tiny studio on wheels was built by two teenagers, Larni and Jasmine. It is a testament to the ability that anyone can...