This post is also available in: Français
Building A Tiny House On Wheels
Kellee and Cedric’s Self-Build Tiny House Project
By Holly Grattan & Simple Life Builders
Kellee, Cedric and Lexie from Simple Life Builders have recently taken minimalism and sustainability to the "next level" by following their dreams and joining the "Tiny House Movement". They are currently building a tiny house on wheels.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
We are a French-Kiwi couple, passionate about making the most of our lives by following our audacious and sometimes crazy dreams. Our latest adventure is pausing our successful businesses (Kellee’s Hair Design and Riviera and What to do Riviera/Antibes) in order to pursue a dream which is aligned with our values by DIY building our very own tiny house on wheels.
What got you interested in tiny houses and where did the idea come from to build your own to live in full-time?
We were obsessed with watching tiny house programs and documentaries. We fell in love with the idea for quite a few reasons. The fact that it forces you to become more minimalist has always been a pull for us, but the financial and freedom side of the tiny house movement has been the biggest. Tiny house living usually means no mortgage (or low mortgage for some) which enables more freedom. The fact that our little home is on wheels means we can move it!
Can anyone do this?
Absolutely! It certainly isn’t for everyone but there are huge benefits. There are so many choices around design, size, price and whether you choose to build with a professional or DIY. We chose to build ourselves because Kellee has a passion for the building industry and secretly has quite a bit of skill up her sleeves. Kellee has been a builder’s hand and worked for a design and build company so this project is perfect for us.
Tell us about the legislations surrounding building a tiny house on the Côte D’Azur/France.
https://tinyhousefrance.org/ Is an amazing resource for information around tiny house legislations in France, but it really boils down to your local council. Tiny house classification is still very much a grey area in France and some councils are happy to welcome tiny house living, some, not so much. Tiny Houses are generally classed as “fancy caravans”. To take your “caravan” on the road you need to be under a certain size, height and weight.
How did you find your land to park and live in your tiny house? Have you rented or purchased the land?
At this stage we are lucky enough to have land with family, but it is very popular to rent land. We may look at buying land later and build a bigger fixed home. We love the fact we would be able to live in the tiny house whilst constructing the fixed home.
How much did you budget for your tiny house? How much are tiny houses in general?
Due to the fact we are building ourselves we are saving a lot. We are looking to spend somewhere between 30 – 40,000€. This is for a very good quality, medium-high spec mini home. The price range is huge! You could probably build a tiny house for 15,000€ using mainly second-hand materials. It is quite common to spend around 60 - 70,000€ or more if you were to build with a professional company.
How did having a four year old child impact your decision to go ‘tiny’? How have you designed your space with your daughter in mind?
We think it's amazing that she is watching her parents build a home with their own hands. She is adorable and always talks about her “tiny house camping car” (her affectionate name for it). She has her own toolbox and can happily spend hours playing with the wooden offcuts, mud and sawdust whilst we are building. We have designed the tiny house with her in mind in the way of privacy and safety. We have a full height walkway that will go between the 2 mezzanine bedrooms. Her bedroom will have an option to close completely or be semi open.
You run the group @FrenchRivieraMinimalism where you talk about sustainable living, recycle, reuse and using less of the world’s resources. Tell us how you plan to bring these elements into your tiny house life.
We already do many things around recycling, composting and aiming to purchase with a minimalist mindset, but here are a few elements we are bringing into our build.
-Composting toilet (which apparently doesn’t smell!)
-TPO roof which you can safely collect and filter rainwater for both household use and drinking.
-We are using 12 or 24 volt lighting and electrical products where we can.
-Eventually we like the idea of going with solar power but initially we will be attaining power traditionally.
-Currently we have a huge supply of vegetables and fruit from the garden which is something we love and will continue when possible.
-In general, tiny house living equals a lower carbon footprint.
-Most of our materials for the build are eco-friendly.
Tell us about the process, what you have learned and any if you have had to overcome any problems so far.
We have definitely had plenty of challenges! Everything takes much longer than we anticipated and as much as you try and be organised with materials, we always seem to forget a little something. A huge amount of self-education has gone into this build, there are so many questions every day, but we get there with the help of the internet/YouTube and Cedric’s family, who are amazing. We have designed the layout and framing plans ourselves with safety and lifestyle in mind.
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
- Feel the fear and do it anyway!
- Don’t worry about other people’s judgement if it’s something you really want to do.
- Don’t shortcut on your research.