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So many of us dream of quitting our jobs in the city going off the grid and escaping to a beautiful country property The couple that we’re about to meet have done exactly that and with a lot of style let’s go check out their place G’day Paul! Hi Bryce. Nice to meet you. Hey Annette, how are you? Good, thanks.
Lovely to meet you both. This is a tiny house that looks like it is prepared for anything isn’t it? [laughs] Sure is! Tell me a little bit about all of the stuff that you’ve got going on here because it looks like an eclectic mixture of all kinds of off-grid technology. Yes, we’ve got the solar hot water, solar electricity, and I got the biogas and rainwater collection So we’re all completely set up for off-grid living And what was it that actually inspired you to look into all of these different technologies? Well we were really passionate about renewable energy So we really want to make sure we make that switch to that just to be carbon free Yeah, we just want to have a really low carbon footprint So we were living in an apartment lifestyle in Sydney and being in apartments you can’t put solar panels on their roofs We were even putting a solar panel on the balcony to get started and a DIY home biogas, it didn’t quite work out very well because it’s very hard to get cow manure in a city Yeah, that was that was like and we’re always going out camping Yeah, we tried to steal some cow manure from a paddock, but that didn’t work out too well either. Yeah, yeah, so in the end we were like you know what lets go live in nature, and lets go live off renewables off-grid. It’s really wanted to do and we fell in love with prices for this especially the one Lucie in New Zealand yeah And that inspired us to build our own so instead of getting a mortgage or anything We just just yeah just build a tiny house and went off grid and we haven’t looked back We love it. Especially in the Byron area. Exactly. Cute little surfing town. And you actually built your whole tiny house using the renewable energy on-site didn’t you? That’s right. Yeah power tools will run from the solar power. Yes. Yeah, we knew we wanted to be off-grid on some farm lands, so We knew we need that power up front to be able to run the tools so We just have them from some guy in a truck just deliver it both from the middle of a field and we just plugged in and away we went. Well I’m really interested to see the tiny house But first I would love to have a walk around the outside and have a look at how all the different systems work. Sure, definitely. All right So first off we have your solar hot water. Yeah, using evacuated tubes. It’s pretty efficient we get so much Sun here We could have gone for a simple model But we wanted to use the vecchio tubes in case we get really overcast because we’ve got no backup Hot water solutions so even on an overcast or on the winter it’ll still work fine. Now one of the things that I have never Seen in a tiny house before is a biogas digester. Talk to me about this, I’d love to know how this works. So yeah, how it works is it’s just a big bladder of water and Bio material so like your food scraps and or like garden waste or anything that will break down from the warmth from the Sun It just gets the bacteria going which just munches it all up and turns it into methane gas Which then we use for cooking. That is fascinating! Yeah, it’s cool And so how much gas is essentially produced like have you ever run out of gas when you’re trying to cook something? So it’s early stages, and it’s summer here, so it’s really efficient at the moment, but so far It’s been perfect never run out of gas we’re not feeding it too much actually or maybe only like a Liter of food scraps a day. So we can feed it up to six liters a day, but we’re not doing that at the moment. So it’s probably a liter or two liters a day and so far It’s been fine like yeah, and there’s a by-product you get liquid fertilizer out of it as well Which you can use then for the garden. And then speaking of the gardens you are in an amazing location Yeah, how did you actually come to find this parking spot for the tiny house? We found that space through friends who are living in this area and they were just asking around for us because they knew that we were about to build up a tiny house and We also were looking for like not only a spot to build the tiny house But also for spot to live and it turned out that this land Like facilitated everything for us, so yeah, it just worked out really well for us And then tell me about the solar setup on the tiny house how many panels do you have? How much storage do you have? Where do you store it all? So we just ordered from an Australian company on their website, and they just delivered it and It’s six panels total of 1. 86 kilowatt And we’re storing that into some deep cycle batteries 20 kilowatt hours I believe and that’s then running a full kilowatt inverter for your standard off-the-shelf appliances That is a lot of power for a tiny house, and that’s also a lot of batteries to store So I’m guessing they’re not set inside the house. Where are you actually keeping those? Yes, we’re keeping them outside the house and just a little makeshift shelter. I’ll show you Here we got the batteries and up here we got the inverter Yeah, runs all our house, all our electrics. For the amount of energy that you’re using in your tiny house this must be overkill Yeah, for right now in the summer definitely without a doubt, but for winter will get really interesting right see how it goes I’m sure it’ll be fine though, yeah Yeah, I should imagine it will be fine, that looks very serious And then of course the other missing part of this equation right now is water storage. Oh yes. Yeah, so here. We’ve got a 10,000 litre water tank that we collect just from our tiny roof We use it for drinking showering washing laundry, and the grey water gets used on the gardens. 10,000 liters again That sounds like a huge amount of water storage for a tiny house on wheels But then I guess you have to take into consideration The fact that we are in Australia and drought is a big thing here isn’t it? That’s right Yes So in the spring we actually Had like four months of no rain at all so it’s gonna be interesting to see how the tank holds up once It’s spring again or once we have a drought again. So how long have you actually been living in the tiny house now? It’s been three weeks Three weeks? Yeah, not long. So not a huge amount of opportunity to test all of these systems but how is all of the stuff working for you so far? brilliantly It’s really great. So yeah, we have enough water at the moment. We have enough power we have enough gas Yeah, it’s all good at the moment and from renewables so we’re pretty happy Yeah, excellent. We should we go have a look at the actual house now then yeah So what materials did you use in the construction of this house? We used Cypress and Cedar for the outside, Cypress for the floorboards And also pine for the windows and the door and then lightweight plywood for the interior cladding You mentioned lightweight, here in Australia you can build to a maximum of four and a half ton so weight Considerations really are a big deal in the tiny houses here aren’t they? Definitely yes So that’s why we only bought lightweight materials And it was always big consideration when actually buying materials or when we thought about what to use for like the outside for example Or the inside. Well, I would love to have a look inside the house and check out what you’ve done.
Perfect. Let’s go inside, okay? This is super spacious in here isn’t it? Yeah, it’s good Yeah What length is this tiny house because this actually looks a lot longer than a lot of the other homes that I’ve seen here in Australia. Yeah, it’s 8 meters long. Right. Yeah, so obviously when you’re battling with weight building an 8 meter long tiny house That’s a pretty big decision because it’s very difficult to build under weight and eight meters long So what was the thought process that actually went into the length of this tiny house and the design in general? I don’t know. [laughter] We wanted it long? Fair enough. That’s a reason too Actually, we wanted it to be Seven meters long like the initial design was like just seven meters But then we found out that we can go up to I think 12 meters legally here in Australia so we thought, eh might as well just add just like one meter. Yeah, so that’s what we did But yeah now a weight issue became a bit bigger because obviously it’s long and now that We still don’t know how much we actually weigh, so Yeah, so we hope we are below 4. 5. But even if we are over It’s no big deal. Actually like you can if you get it like a professional company to come do it They don’t care about your weight. Just like yep. No worries Yeah, it’s no big deal to be honest and so we are right now here in your lounge and your office Yep, yeah well It’s lightweight this couch, and we wanted it to be pretty and we thought about building our own then we had a little bit of time pressure because you really wanted to move in and we didn’t want to build our own couch because We’re no furniture makers We just thought it would add to the whole process of you know of not being able to move in very quickly So yeah, we just ended up buying a couch, I suppose. We did build this office table. It’s a fold away table and It’s small enough for the tiny house. It’s big enough for Paul and to do his work. Now the workspace here That’s really important for you, isn’t it Paul, because you actually work from home in this tiny house. Yeah, that’s right I do IT support from home, so it’s really important to have a decent desk so I can work from yeah And get good internet here, and then Great sized kitchen space that you have here Yeah, there’s a little DIY build we wanted it to be really lightweight so we made it all from plywood so it’s very very light and pine and Yeah, it all came together within a couple of days I think one of the really interesting things that I notice about this kitchen as well is that you’ve got both an electric induction Element as well as the gas hob that’s right, so the induction is for daytime use so when we have a lot of Sun and yeah, we can just use the induction because we have excess solar energy that can easily be used for cooking during the day and at Night time when there’s no Sun or if it’s overcast and we will just use our gas cooktop Which is then powered from our home biogas. Very clever having that multiple use there. Definitely, yeah it’s been handy . So behind us here. We also have a lot of storage space Yeah, we definitely wanted to utilize all the storage under the staircase um so we built Our drawers ourselves, so that’s just for pantry use and for our groceries and Then we have some space that’s all for fridge And as well as some shelves for chopping boards and other things. I really like how in the space as well You’ve also left your steel framing exposed. Definitely wanted to leave it exposed because I think it’s the skeleton of our house So I think we should like leave it open for everyone to see. And then behind me here We have your bathroom. Yeah, that’s right. This is a really Decent-sized bathroom for a tiny house. Yeah, even managed to fit your washing machine. That’s right That’s our old washing machine, and it’s running fully off rainwater and solar power Yep, and you’ve added some really nice DIY touches in here haven’t you? I love your green wall and this beautiful little Basin. That’s right. It’s from a supermarket. It’s just a salad bowl You have done a great job transforming that into an object of beauty bin Really good-sized shower as well It’s a standard sized shower. It’s 900 by 900, and yeah, it totally serve the purpose now Tell me about your composting toilet. Yeah, because it looks like the eventually constructed this one yourself as well yes We did yes so we copied a design. We found online and just constructed It ourselves using pine wood now the compost that actually comes out of that Are you able to use that in your biogas digester? Going by the home biogas recommendations. They recommend not to do it if you’re going to use it as a fertilizer in your garden because it could introduce pathogens But it was an idea that we thought of a way of getting rid of all our waste really But so on the property right now you’re composting your humanure separate to everything that’s going into the biogas Yes, because we want to use it for fertilizer for the gardens, yeah And of course your humanure is perfectly safe to use on the gardens. Eventually it just requires a little bit more. That’s right Yeah, it takes six months to one year yeah now over here in your storage loft No shortage of clothing storage is there? that’s right. wow That’s all our hanging clothes up there Also, we’ve got like camp gear or winter clothing And that’s it really yeah, and then your sleeping loft is just up here behind us Yeah, we take a look at that. Yeah sure yeah after you What a welcoming little space this is I really like how you’ve actually Found enough space to store all of your clothing up here as well. Majority of our clothes are up here actually Yeah, it’s cool. Works well. So tell me about the loft design. Yeah, so we went two point eight meters long and we use the same floorboards that we use for the floor and Yeah, it’s plenty big enough for sleeping and we store majority of our books and clothes up here, so it’s cool We built the shelves ourselves as well, so it’s custom-made to the size of the loft. Oh, yeah again It’s really a lightweight plywood like everything’s as lightweight as possible Yeah, so how does it feel every day to be waking up in a space that you know you’ve built yourself Amazing, yeah Really cool. Pinching ourselves every day. Yeah. Now, there’s a lot of technology That’s gone into this house as well the solar systems all of the off-grid utilities This could not have been a cheap project to have achieved It was alright actually so including all the off-grid it came to sixty five. Not the off grid, Just the house is 41 came to that’s all mostly DIY build But yeah wow that really is very impressive considering the amount of utilities that are actually connected to this house and the amount of Functionality that you’ve been able to build into this space yeah, that’s right some will year-round living for two people weren’t comfortably so yeah We’re already happy, so what does the future have in store for you both? I guess you find out I think We will be enjoying our tiny house for a little while since we just finished building and just moved in so it’s gonna be Great to live in it to live off renewable energy and to produce our cooking gas and yeah to enjoy living without a mortgage and Also without paying utilities, so that’s gonna be great and you get to enjoy this beautiful land here this beautiful Area as well, so yeah, I think This is what’s going to happen next it’s perfect space for us. It’s not too small Although it as a tiny house, but it really feels it feels big for us and both of us. We don’t have any Builder background we’re not like carpenters or anything like that so I think if we can do it anyone can do it and It takes a lot of time and research and probably effort and also motivation and times To do it, but yeah, I think it’s quite rewarding actually because you end up with the space you completely build yourself It’s just a really rewarding journey, I think and the difference that we pay in rent from Sydney apartment we worked out we would have completely covered all expenses within three years That’s pretty cool. Well I am so impressed with what you have managed to accomplish here in this tiny house all of the off-grid Features that you’ve built in and the fact that you did it all yourself is incredible Thank you so much for sharing your home with me. You’re welcome welcome. Thank you. Thank you Here in Australia the Sun is such an abundant resource in terms of its ability to create power Heat water and do so much more in the case of this tiny house couple They have done an amazing job of utilizing that resource and giving themselves Off-grid in their own beautiful tiny house, and that is a wonderful accomplishment You.