12 Oct 2017

Big plans for Taumarunui tiny houses

7:30 pm on 12 October 2017

Tiny houses are being trialled in a King Country town as a solution to a shortage of student accommodation and work for tradies.

Paora Smallman works on the tiny house protoype

Paora Smallman works on the tiny house protoype Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Taumarunui social worker Briar Hickling and recently graduated carpenter, Paora Smallman, noticed some students were struggling to find accommodation in the town, which has two tertiary providers.

They believed tiny houses could be the solution and won funding from Vodafone to explore the idea further at the company's headquarters in Christchurch.

"There are a lot of parents and caregivers ... who really can't afford bond and rent to send their young people away for study," Ms Hickling said.

"This gives them an opportunity so a young person can be placed sooner before their course starts and connect them to the community where they are learning."

Christchurch builder Ben Ingledew is helping the pair build their first prototype. The house, constructed out of timber and salvaged cladding, was a first for him.

"Normally [I do] great big, flashy, architecturally designed houses on the hillside," he said. "This really is a first, but it's great."

Ms Hickling's employer, Thrive Trust, hoped that students would eventually be able to purchase or rent the buildings to live in.

Mr Smallman said the tiny houses would also provide another benefit for his hometown - employment. It was hard for young tradespeople to find work in the area, he said.

"There is not a wide range of work, a lot of it is to do with retail," he said. "When it comes to building there really isn't that much."

Mr Smallman said he had big plans for the tiny houses.

"The end game is to be able to produce these tiny houses and pump them out for students," he said. "It's not really a business, it's more of a social enterprise."

The protoype house will leave the workshop tomorrow to have the roof lowered onto it.

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