Work, play, live - Architecture NZ
Work, play, live

Work, play, live

Portable buildings for New Zealand families and businesses.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Like many of us, James and Ahna Brownlee were hardworking parents providing for their family and getting it done. Also, like many of us, they dreamed of owning their own business; something that allowed them to parlay Ahna’s people skills and James’ building knowledge into something they could call their own.

So, the couple took a chance on a franchise business and in a couple of years had built it into a successful venture. Then came time to take a break. They sold the business and made a plan to take 12 months off.

“One night, about three months into our year off, we were sitting around talking about the growing popularity of tiny homes and container homes and how there must be a better way of filling that need in the market; that’s when we had a lightbulb moment.

“We had built a couple of transportable buildings in the past, so some online research into the types of transportable structures available and further discussions around what we believed was a need for a good quality, good looking product at a price point that was accessible and Podlife was born,” says Ahna.

Podlife Pods can be customised to suit any application, whether that be a sleepout in the back yard or used as a bach for holidays.

Podlife: whatever you need it to be

Ahna says she and James have designed the ‘Pods’ themselves and they’re constructed to a very high standard.

“They look simple but a lot of thought has gone into them. It is important to note that these are not repurposed containers, they are a new-build product designed to meet the New Zealand Building Code.

“Every Pod comes double glazed and insulated as standard. In fact, because they’re so well insulated we don’t add mechanical heating/cooling, but that can be retrofitted by the owners if they wish. We’ve also sourced an extremely high-spec paint finish for the exterior, it’s the same paint type as used on the Golden Gate bridge, so it will stand up to our harsh coastal environments.”

The Pods are built in Podlife’s own Whakatane factory to clients’ individual specifications based on a range of set designs.

“Currently, we have four models—a 5m2 ‘minipod’ along with 10m2, 15m2 and 17m2 options. The minipods can be fitted out as a transportable bathroom or kitchen and are proving really popular in this format with campgrounds. With the larger models, we can incorporate kitchens and ensuites, making them ideal for various uses.”

When you need extra space for a studio or home office, Podlife Pods can be a convenient, consent-free option for your site.

Podlife: unparalleled flexibility in the smallest possible footprint

The Pods are also proving popular as a home office option and for sleep outs, although they do require building consent if you wish to add a bathroom or kitchen, says Ahna.

“More and more people are also choosing to live in the Pods full time, so we have options where we can incorporate divisions for bedrooms and add a bigger kitchen, if they’re needed. Because they’re supplied as a fully finished building, if compliance is required, it will most likely be for the site-specific elements of the project—and Podlife can manage this, on behalf of the client, all over New Zealand.

“We carry out a site assessment prior to delivery to ensure there is suitable access to the site, although we have craned pods into place over houses and can even use a helicopter if needed, so there really isn’t anywhere we can’t get to.”

As the pods are designed to be static structures, they do differ to the legal definition of a tiny home, however, Podlife does offer a mobile option, which can be mounted on a trailer.

“If the particular chosen model is in stock, then we can turn it around in as quickly as a couple of weeks to arrange transport to site. If it’s not in stock, then build time and delivery will be approximately eight weeks from the time the order is placed.”

Learn more about the pre-fabricated, transportable building options for your next project.

Recommended reading