Seven small homes (and why the 'tiny movement' is growing) - Architecture NZ
Seven small homes (and why the 'tiny movement' is growing)

Seven small homes (and why the 'tiny movement' is growing)

If you’ve watched any of the numerous TV programmes about tiny homes, you’ll know that the tiny house movement is a huge phenomenon in the United States – and its impact is being seen here in New Zealand now too. We explore the movement and check out seven of the best small and tiny homes around the country.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

What's the big deal about 'tiny'?

Small and tiny houses are a growing trend in New Zealand right now, spurred on by the high cost of housing and the desire to combat urban sprawl. People are also much more aware about the impact humans are having on the earth’s resources or they want to live a simpler life, with less time cleaning and maintaining a home and more free time to do other activities. 

Small and tiny homes have also become the ideal alternative to the contemporary Kiwi bach because they are relatively inexpensive and can be transported and sited just about anywhere if they operate off-grid.

The process of designing small/tiny homes is different than designing a typical permanent home, although similar principles apply in that you’d ideally want to fit in with the local environment and the site, enjoy the views and work with the direction of the sun.

However, a tiny home isn’t technically ‘a building’ but a recreational vehicle, which means it sits under the jurisdiction of the New Zealand Transport Agency. So, instead of obtaining a building consent under the building code, a tiny home has to comply with road transport codes; specifically dimensional limitations such as height and weight, so it can easily and safely travel on New Zealand roads.

The ‘official’ size of tiny homes is somewhat debatable and really depends on the country in which you live and the permits that make a home transportable. In New Zealand, the typical tiny house on wheels is usually less than 2.4m by 6.1m, with liveable space totalling 11m² or less, for ease of towing and to exempt it from the need for a building permit. 

The width limit for light trailers is 2.5m (with exceptions) and 2.4m is a practical maximum width for building specifications, allowing 50mm outside of the wall-frame for cladding and exterior fittings. (The New Zealand Transport Agency has fact sheets with the requirements on its website.)

The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 93m² but, again, the size is debatable, so we’ve compiled some of our favourite small/tiny homes from around the country for you to make up your own mind – in no particular order.

#1. Nook Tiny Home by Red + Black Construction

Nook Tiny Home has to be one of the cutest tiny homes in New Zealand with its timber-clad gable form and a unique drawbridge deck that folds down to reveal a glazed living space.

Designed for off-the-grid living, with a footprint of just 6m x 3m, the relocatable home can be transported on a trailer or become a permanent fixture on piles, with prices from around $94,000 to $120,000 with solar power.

Nook Tiny Home by Red + Black Construction.

#2. Petite Maison by Urban Function Architecture

Perfectly named, this small 80m² pavilion form still feels comfortable and generous to live in as a holiday home or permanent dwelling. The front elevation of Petite Maison is carved out with smaller niches that create shelter, private decked areas and that maximise the stunning views across the ocean and the Kaikoura ranges.

Clad in a combination of burnt and natural larch timber helps the exterior to blend into its glassy hillside location. The home has all the high-performance specifications you’d expect to see in a larger home but was built on a cost-effective budget.

Petite Maison by Urban Function Architecture.

#3. Vogeltown Tiny Home by Inline Design & Build

At just 64m², this dark timber tiny home is the current dwelling of a builder and his family while he plans to construct a larger house on an infill site in Wellington’s hillside suburb of Vogeltown.

Strict requirements meant they had to site the house on the section to a specific size and arrangement, because the property has Council amenities – storm and sewer mains – underneath. 

#4. The Boathouse by Novak + Middleton

This a small retreat on the coastal edge of Hongoeka Bay, north of Plimmerton, overlooking Mana Island, has a large open-plan space where various functions can occur. It can be opened up on three sides, maximising exposure to the sea and land, or closed down with large sliding screens. Off this central space is a small kitchen and a bathroom, with a mezzanine floor above for sleeping.

The strong uncomplicated form with gabled ends creates a sense of shelter in close connection with its environment and captures the spirit of the New Zealand boathouse.

The Boathouse by Novak + Middleton.

#5. Pakowhai Rd Tiny House by Architecture & Interiors

On a transitional site in Hawke’s Bay, a unique tiny home came to life as an architectural firm’s experiment to see if a transformed 40-foot shipping container was a cost-effective alternative to a new build.

Designed as a transportable dwelling, with a footprint of just 28m², the design imagined the container transformed into a house for one or two permanent occupants, ideally, or for use as a holiday home.

Pakowhai Rd Tiny House by Architecture & Interiors.

#6. Kimimoko Tiny House by Condon Scott Architects

Located on a suburban street within Wanaka, this NZIA award-winning small house is defined by its ambitious 30m² footprint, a simple gable form and a black rain screen. The one-bedroomed home cleverly packs a lot into a small place without compromising on the scale of the living areas or wasting any space. 

It incorporates passive house measures and structural insulated panels, so virtually no additional energy is required to maintain a consistent level of thermal comfort in response to the Central Otago climate.

Kimimoko Tiny House by Condon Scott Architects.

#7. Akaroa Bach by Makers of Architecture

This warm and comfortable holiday bach in Akaroa sits on the top end of the small house category with a footprint of 91m², but we love the original character of this home, which, due to the steep sloping site, is linked to the road via a black bridge. 

The two-storeyed bach is orientated to face north overlooking manuka bush and rural farmland, making it the perfect place for relaxation and retreat. Built with CLT, it takes the simple and optimised design of the architects' Warrander Studio to provide a functional, flexible and space-efficient home. 

Akaroa Bach by Makers of Architecture
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