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Tiny houses provide entry to housing market

Sunday 15 Jun 2014 5:33 p.m.

There's nothing unusual about Shaye and Tom Wilson enjoying a cup of tea in their kitchen. But what is unusual is that their kitchen takes up half their home.

They live in what's known as a "tiny house". It's just 15 square metres and is on wheels.

"It came together really nicely. I think it just suits us really. We've kind of designed everything in here, so it works really well for our lives," Ms Wilson says.

Some would say it puts caravans and motorhomes to shame. It's beautifully presented, equipped with a full-sized tiled shower and toilet.

They have room to store, sleep, cook and live. People can't help but be surprised when they visit.

"I think they are really thinking, 'Wow I could live in this place.' I have heard a lot of people say that. They are surprised at how spacious it feels inside," Mr Wilson says.

But what could be the best thing about this tiny house is the price. From start to finish it cost $25,000 to build and last month's power and water bills were $20 each.

"For us it works perfectly because we are building a house on this land and it's going to take us a few years, so we will be here for a while. And in the end, what we spent on this will be what we would have spent on rent and we've still got this at the end of the day," Ms Wilson says.

So could downsizing be the answer for house-hunting Kiwis? Top Wellington property developer Ian Cassels believes so.

"I think New Zealand needs to change the way we do housing completely. We pay far too much for houses," he says.

He has developed a new type of prefabricated modular housing and believes the factory-made apartments are a perfect solution to this country's housing issues as they are efficient and they can be easily moved.

"There's so many places you can put them. You can elevate them above supermarket car parks, put them on roofs of buildings, put them next to railway stations."

Each two-bedroom flat can be bolted on top of others to create a block of three.

Initially Mr Cassels plans to build 2000 of them and spread them around the country.

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