Tiny homes are becoming so popular, a Sydney builder is swamped

Sponsored by Tiny Home Solutions

A home office, in law accommodation, teenager’s retreat, guest bedroom, Airbnb to rent out, somewhere to stay while you’re renovating or doing a knockdown rebuild, a weekender to put on your family farm or even somewhere to live longer term, off grid. These are just some of the many ways to use a tiny home and, the more I learn about them, the more I think why wouldn’t you?!

While tiny homes are really starting to take off in Australia, they’ve been the norm in other countries, like America, for a long time. Wally Gabrael, of New South Homes and Granny Flat Solutions, has decades of experience in the construction industry, and had been following the tiny living trend with interest. It struck him that tiny homes would be a great solution for some of his existing customers who couldn’t afford or didn’t have space for a granny flat. Wally leased a factory in Sydney’s northern suburbs for 12 months as a trial and started manufacturing tiny homes. And they’ve already outgrown it before Tiny Home Solutions’ official launch this month. “We’re now looking for a much bigger factory!”

Wally explains that as one of the original players in the Australian granny flat space, he’d experienced a lot of people looking for a combination of something smaller or indeed more temporary. There are also many people who can’t build a granny flat because of bush fire or flood zones. And some just can’t comfortably fit a granny flat because they need to be set three metres from the boundary.

But the largest demand has been from people in rural areas wanting to put a tiny home on their farm to give them the option to stay there, or to rent out as an Airbnb. Being that the tiny homes are on wheels, Wally now sees the potential to expand state-wide, outside of Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle areas where he currently builds homes and granny flats. “We could even go Australia wide,” he says.

Wally Gabrael is excited about the potential of tiny homes

He and his team have already learned more about tiny homes than they ever dreamed and it’s clear that refining their designs is something he’s genuinely excited about. While they already know a huge amount about building houses which can be transferred to tiny homes, the real sticking point is keeping things lightweight, because they have to comply with road rules when they’re being transported between sites. A tiny home can’t weigh more than 4.5 tonne.

But road rules aside, there’s currently a real lack of legislation around tiny homes which means they’re an option for many people. That and their relatively low price of around $120,000, fully kitted out. And while actually taking the plunge into living tiny full-time isn’t something Aussies have fully embraced, with property prices and interest rates as they are, surely it’s only a matter of time? “As a permanent home, it’s a relatively new concept here, but there are so many part-time and temporary uses that work for us,” says Wally, who pointed out you can also sell your tiny home when you no longer need it, and in his experience, they don’t lose much value at all.

Although some people will always prefer the permanence and value added to your property of a granny flat, there are many advantages to a tiny home. There are less rules over where you can put them, they’re cheaper (granny flats start from around 140k), you save thousands in council fees and site costs and it’s much quicker (currently 3 months from Tiny Home Solutions compared to around 9 months for a finished granny flat). You simply need a solid base to park one on. A slab is ideal, but some road base or gravel at a minimum is recommended. Tiny homes can be super green too, with solar power, grey water options and true off-grid capabilities. And being that they’re on wheels, you can rotate and move them on your site as and when you please or it suits the weather!

In terms of where you can park them, they’re pretty much governed by the same rules as caravans, and in terms of occupancy, the same rules as Airbnbs (no more than 60 days straight and not more than 180 days out of the year). Of course you’d be unwise to do anything that upset your neighbours so consideration and common sense are always advised, Wally says. And you need to notify the council to connect your tiny house to the sewer. But that’s it!

Surprisingly, there are currently no construction standards for tiny homes either, but as a point of difference and to increase their credibility, Tiny Home Solutions will be voluntarily building theirs to Australian standards. “This gives people peace of mind they’re buying their tiny home from a licensed builder and to a high standard, despite that not being a requirement,” says Wally.

James Treble is Tiny Home Solutions’ brand ambassador and you can meet him at their launch event in Sydney

Tiny Home Solutions have teamed up with TV personality and interior designer James Treble as their brand ambassador and Wally says it’s the perfect authentic partnership with his wealth of knowledge and genuine excitement for the tiny home movement. James will be involved in many design aspects of the homes and is looking forward to showing customers around at their launch event next month.

Wally is excited about the potential of this new arm to the business. At a time when other builders have closed down post-covid, he says he and his directors have always been sensible financially and invested money back into the business, funding the expansion themselves. They opened an impressive showroom in Sydney in 2021 and things certainly aren’t slowing down any time soon!

Your chance to see tiny homes up close for yourself

Tiny Home Solutions are holding a fun open day at their Waitara HQ near Hornsby, on Saturday 2 March. You’ll be able to see five tiny homes for yourself (a very rare opportunity in metro Sydney!), meet James Treble, talk to the experts, and enjoy free coffee and activities for the kids. They’ll also be giving away more than $75,000 of tiny home build discounts.

From 10am to 3pm | Saturday 2 March 2024 | 90 Pacific Highway Waitara, NSW 2077.

Register free


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