Could you downsize to a Tiny House?


In November last year we posted a blog about Tiny Houses.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Tiny House Movement, it has been growing in popularity over the last few years, particularly in the United States, where many lost their homes during the recession. Simply put, it is a social movement, where people downsize the space that they live in. However, the movement isn’t only about finance, it’s also about looking at the way you live your life and taking steps to simplify it.

With home ownership seeming to creep further out of reach for many, could Tiny Houses really be a solution to housing affordability for some? Can living in a Tiny House declutter your life? Will it allow you to live a simpler, eco friendly lifestyle?

Well, Bryce Langston and Melissa Nickerson, are embarking on their own Tiny House journey that may just answer some of those questions.

With the support of a small design team, they will be designing a tiny house, uniquely built for New Zealand conditions. It will be sustainably constructed, completely off grid, will generate it’s own electricity and capture it’s own water and, will treat it’s own waste materials.

Their entire journey, from design and build, to their first six months of occupying the Tiny Hpuse will be documented on film and also shared on their project’s website

We caught up with Bryce to check in on the build progress and talk about the challenges and surprises so far:

Q. What stage are you currently at with your design & build?

Our trailer is currently under construction, and we are just working out the final few details on our drawings before we begin framing. It’s been an incredibly challenging design process, as we are trying to make the house as eco-friendly as possible, which means we are very limited in regards to the materials we can use. We also have a lot of people following our project and so we feel a great responsibility to really get the design right.

Q. Biggest challenge and/or surprise so far?

There’s no question that the design of a Tiny House isn’t easy. Each and every element has to be well considered and thought out and every millimetre of space has to be well used. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been designing some of the off-grid elements into the house as many off-the-shelf systems are not easily downsize-able. A great example of this is our hot water. From the beginning, I have been against using gas in the house, primarily because I am heavily against fracking, so the use of a gas califont wasn’t really an option for us. As we are electrically off-the-grid (and with a small PV system), it was difficult for us to heat with electricity, and most solar-thermal systems are too large and very heavy. So, when you are creating a small, mobile structure that has to be under a certain weight, there are a lot of limitations. You’ll have to wait and see the system that we have eventually designed for the house.

Q. What do you think will be the biggest adjustment you’ll have to make once you move into your tiny house (compared to your lifestyle / living situation now?)

I think I’m going to have to learn to be a lot tidier. I won’t be able to cook dinner, walk out of the kitchen and forget about doing the dishes. I’ll certainly have to be a lot more conscious of anything that I buy. All in all, there are many minor changes and adjustments that I will have to make, but I think they are all changes that will make a positive impact on the person that I am.


Q. The tiny house movement seems to be just as much about a way of living, as it is about the actual houses. What tips would you give to people who want to try and live a more simple, eco friendly lifestyle, but don’t yet have the resources to make their own tiny house?

One of the reasons a Tiny House helps us to live an eco-friendly lifestyle is that it puts us in a space where we have to be aware of everything that we are consuming, not just in terms of material possessions that we bring into our lives, but also (as we will be off-the-grid) the energy that we use, the water that we consume and the waste that we generate each day. Of course, you don’t need to live in a small space to make yourself aware of these things. Experiment with water and energy conservation, try having trash free weeks, set yourself goals for not purchasing new items. If you do need to buy anything, consider purchasing something second hand, or up-cycling.

Q. In your opinion, what’s the biggest benefit in building & living in a tiny house?

For me, it’s really about freedom and security. I love the idea of owning my own home, and I especially love the idea of being able to accomplish that dream for the equivalent amount of money as a few years rent. The implications of that are of course a lot greater. When you live in a house that is mortgage and rent free (or at least very little land rent), with no utility bills and growing some of your own food, money is no longer all absorbed by the basic necessities of life, but can instead be focused on other things, such as travel, and enjoying life. I believe that’s a huge benefit.

Undoubtably, it’s also about living a lifestyle that is congruent with my values, changing my consumption habits to tread lightly on the earth, and also freeing up my time to do more of the things that I love, with the people that I love.

We look forward to watching Bryce & Melissa’s Tiny House build progress over the coming months. To keep up to date with the latest news on their project, visit the official website

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