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The Simple Life: From Little Things…

Emma Macdonald

For our latest Magazine, people who have gone back to basics – a homeschooler, a tiny house dweller and a kitchen garden cook – explain their lifestyle choices. 

It is small – tiny in fact. But it is perfectly formed. And Lachlan Richardson and his girlfriend Paung Khaing fit well in their “Tiny House” in O’Connor. There’s even room for their attentive pup Riley although he can’t get up the ladder to the loft.

The home contains a living space measuring around 10 square metres. And upstairs, the loft is large enough for a queen-sized mattress and a few carefully collated belongings artfully arranged in shelves across the walls.

For the pair, the tiny house is both a labour of love and a lifestyle choice. They built it together in 90 days for the grand sum of $6,500. It nestles in a far and sun-drenched corner of Lachlan’s mother’s back garden.

Lachlan, 22, first became inspired to get into the tiny home movement about two years ago when he built a shipping container studio for his mother in the backyard, to the left of where his own tiny home now sits.

Lachlan is the first to admit he had no skills in the building trade, but he used YouTube videos and was given direct advice by builder Paul Lynzaat who mentored him through the process. He says he has learnt an incredible amount through trial, error and experience.

Once the shipping container was complete—at a cost of around $45,000—Lachlan mulled over the experience. He thought of things to do differently, smaller, more cheaply. In fact, he became a little obsessed with the concept of building and living smaller.

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He returned from an overseas
trip and his mum gave him the go-ahead to start his own tiny house experiment in the remaining backyard nook while his brother moved into the shipping container.

He and Paung worked their day jobs—she at Sweet Bones Bakery 
in Braddon, and him at Thor’s Hammer surrounded by all sorts 
of recycled wood—before arriving home to labour through the night on the tiny house via large floodlights.

“It was hugely fun and satisfying but also pretty exhausting,” according to Lachlan. Lachlan is the first to admit he had no skills in the building trade…

The home does not have a kitchen or bathroom but an electrician neighbour did all the wiring to bring power to the place.

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Now the pair cook and shower in the main house but spend most of their time enjoying the privacy of their own space. They have the room and ideas to build a bathhouse when their budget permits. “Studio” spaces such as theirs do not require development approvals.

Meanwhile, Lachlan has set up a business selling pre-made 
tiny houses and is keen to encourage others to consider the environmental, economic and social benefits of reducing their footprint on the earth.

“We are both minimalists and we try not to consume too much. With tiny houses, you are reducing 
the land you need, the space
 and building materials, and, by necessity, the stuff that you usually keep with you in a house…all our possessions have meaning to us.”

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Meanwhile, Lachlan’s mum Edwina is also thrilled with the outcome. “It means that I can have my two adult sons living with me but it means we can all have our own independence.”

Lachlan has escorted around 300 interested parties in tours around his home and says he is intrinsically interested in small home design. In the future, he would like to delve further into helping potential tiny house owners find suitable land.

“I’d like to help people connect so that those who want to build tiny houses can access the land they need. There is only so much land out there so there have got to be better ways to help people share that resource.”

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The couple intend to further modify their space and are keen to help others on the journey. And when they come home from their day jobs, they often unfurl a futon mat on the living room floor and stare out at the expansive garden before them which, for Lachlan, “feels like a sanctuary.”

“I always look forward to coming home,” says Paung.

For more on their work you can go to www.90dayhouse.com

All photography by Martin Ollman

This article originally appeared as part of our The Simple Life article in Magazine: Back to Basics for Autumn 2017, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

  • Jessica Conway

    Great article! I’m liking this Tiny House idea more and more. Hopefully we’ll see more people building these home for others, as I am not ready to wield a circular saw or try and make a 90 degree corner.

  • Oscar Torres

    This is awesome! I’ve only just recently watched a couple of documentaries on tiny houses and am so intrigued! I’m just about to finish a bachelor in architecture and do carpentry on the side so got tools to get more involved when i finish my studies.

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