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Tiny homes wheel around building codes

Tiny homes are an answer to the housing crisis, according to manufacturer Colin Wightman who makes them ready to go for ...

Tiny homes are an answer to the housing crisis, according to manufacturer Colin Wightman who makes them ready to go for around $54,000 for a 25 square metre cottage.

Tiny homes on wheels could be the future, with caravan park site rental as low as $100 per week.

Caravans don’t need building consent, and generate virtually no compliance costs with detachable links to holiday park plumbing and power.

Spring Creek Holiday Park near Blenheim had their first application for an ‘eco-cottage’ on wheels, with the manufacturer winning assurance from the Marlborough District Council that no consents were required to park it permanently at a plumbed and wired site.

With the usual detachable power and sewerage links, no extra costs were involved. If the cottage owner wanted to make a more permanent connection, a registered plumber or drainlayer had to do the work.

When 76-year-old Dennis Greer sought permission from the Marlborough District Council last week to site his 25-square metre house on wheels at the holiday park, he was told he would need various consents including stormwater discharge and it was likely to cost him more than $5000 in compliance costs.

It's the wheels in the chassis frame that qualify the tiny homes as caravans, and therefore free from building codes.

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It’s the wheels in the chassis frame that qualify the tiny homes as caravans, and therefore free from building codes.

The manufacturer of Greer’s tiny home, Colin Wightman of Christchurch, went into bat for Greer and pointed out to the council officials the home was, in fact, a caravan.

“That cleared the way,” Wightman said. “Caravans don’t need any building consents. This is a caravan, effectively. The power, water and septic are all detachable fittings, like a caravan,” Wightman said.

He said Greer had the option of more permanent plumbing, and would need a drainlayer for that. Provided the caravan park itself passed its sewerage inspections, Greer’s tiny home would be legal in the eyes of local authorities.

Tiny homes can have cool interiors. The Greer home interior would be similar to this.

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Tiny homes can have cool interiors. The Greer home interior would be similar to this.

“This is the way of the future,” Wightman said of his $54,000 tiny homes.

“We can’t keep up with demand. It’s a logical solution for the housing crisis. Trailer parks are huge in the United States where it’s an accepted part of their culture. We’re making them for caravan parks all across the South Island because they’re perfectly geared for that setting.”

“Caravans have no building code, and you’d freeze your arse off in most of them, they’re just a tin box even the $100,000 ones.

Tiny home ensuite. The caravan park plumbing and wiring connections can be detachable, or more permanent fittings in ...

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Tiny home ensuite. The caravan park plumbing and wiring connections can be detachable, or more permanent fittings in which case a registered plumber would be needed.

“We’re setting the standard for these homes, with full insulation including under-floor, double glazing, proper headroom and liveable width inside … the demand is coming from Airbnb, farm cottages, granny flats as well as holiday parks. With combined power and gas it’s possible to go off-the-grid in them,” Wightman said.

Spring Creek Holiday Park manager Andy Collingwood said Greer’s tiny house was the first they had considered at the popular camping ground.

“We have around 70 sites and about 40 of them have long-term residents in caravans – people staying six weeks or more. There’s a lack of accommodation in the area and we’re fairly strict about who stays. A lot are contract workers and they need written work references, even the self-employed contractors,” Collingwood said.

Theoretically Wightman's tiny homes can be towed on their own wheelbase, but this one has a longer  journey to its new site.

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Theoretically Wightman’s tiny homes can be towed on their own wheelbase, but this one has a longer journey to its new site.

“We have a good bunch here. In Mr Greer’s case, he can choose how he links to the sewerage and power, and would come under the campground’s compliance. Anything else he needs from the council is his business.”

Collingwood said the rates were $100 per week plus power for a long-term stay, and $35 per night short term.

The Marlborough District Council building control group manager Bill East said “the Tiny House (vehicle) fits into the activity that does not require a building consent”.

Tiny homes take on a more permanent look once a deck is added and the owner settles in with a barbecue and a few pot plants.

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Tiny homes take on a more permanent look once a deck is added and the owner settles in with a barbecue and a few pot plants.

“Any resulting effect (if any) on the existing effluent system will be an issue for the property owner to address,” East said.

[“Source-stuff”]