So when I first got serious about this building project and started reading and listening and meeting all of the other wonderful people on board the tiny house movement, the idea of a blog came up. There are some amazing blogs out there, documenting builds, lifestyle changes, challenges and successes, my newsfeed is filled up daily with them! They’re inspiring and a wonderful way to share information and ideas, but there’s also, at their heart, a bit of a conundrum.
In Australia, according to all of the local council regulations that I’ve read, there isn’t really a legal way to live in a tiny house. If you plan to build a secondary dwelling on a block of land, then it has to meet building regulations (which tinies rarely could) and be connected to services such as power, water and septic. Many people choosing to go tiny don’t want to be connected to services for one reason or another, and so for those two reasons alone tiny houses aren’t well suited to be classed as separate ‘dwellings’.
Given most tinies are built on trailers and have wheels, the other option is to class them as caravans. Now, according to council regulations, living in a caravan counts as camping and you’re not technically allowed to camp on your own land for more than 28 days in a year. I can only assume this is to prevent squatting and shanty towns popping up all over the place without proper hygiene systems in place, etc. Either way, it complicates things a little.
So the tiny isn’t a house, but it isn’t a caravan either. This is where the grey area comes in and the most feasible option I’ve heard comes up – to class the house on the trailer as a ‘load’ (only semi permanently attached to the trailer it sits on) that is being stored in the backyard/on the block, whilst you technically ‘live’ in a big house or somewhere else. (Can you see where the secret is starting to come into play yet, or is this all sounding like mumbo jumbo? Don’t worry, it’s taken me close to two years to really wrap my head around how people do this and to attempt to explain it to other people).
This strategy relies on some discretion on the part of tiny housers, as council won’t allow people to live in these trailers, even if they are allowed to ‘store’ them somewhere. That means by blogging and sharing information, tiny housers are also creating evidence that could result in councils kicking them off properties or realising that people are living illegally. It’s a fine line between incrimination and enlightenment. At this stage I’m not worrying too much about the details, this post could go on and on about the tricky business of getting (and keeping) neighbours onside to prevent reporting, the danger of fly over scans that council use to map out changes to the land, etc. But as I said, I’m all about the baby steps at the moment. Right now, I have a building project to concentrate on, and the living part of it is future Saree’s problem. Who knows how long it will take, or where I’ll be in a year’s time? Who knows if I’ll end up with something that I could live in even if I wanted to? This adventure is full of unknowns, it’s kinda half the fun to be honest.
Until then, I’m going out on a limb and spreading the excitement and my lessons from this whole thing. This is a secret that needs to be shared.