A young Tauranga couple are building their dream home for no more than $40,000 with help from builders and volunteers.

Leo Murray and his wife Tara believe tiny houses could provide a solution to the housing crisis and are hosting the first workshop in New Zealand that will attempt to construct a house in two weeks.

The workshop, which started last Saturday at The Arty House in Te Puna, had 15 participants who had travelled from as far afield as Sydney and Perth.

They would learn new skills under the guidance of a building team headed by expert Ben Garratt who had travelled from Canada and was the foreman on the global model earthship project in the Coromandel in 2015.


He had built 15 tiny houses on wheels.

When the Bay of Plenty Times visited the site at Te Puna yesterday, the sound of upbeat music blended with the sound of power tools as people got down to business.

Mr Murray, who is a DJ and sustainability adviser, said land home ownership was a priority. They were aware of the challenges people faced trying to enter the property market.

He lived in a rental at The Arty House property which was just over 1 hectare. Likeminded people stayed in other shelters.

"We are on the land and have jobs and lead normal lives."

Self-sufficiency was a major goal, "we don't want to play into that same kind of debt like our parents had". "We can make a few sacrifices in terms of not having a giant house with a giant mortgage . . . so the tiny house movement became quite appealing."

Maia Bailey who has zero DIY skills is being tutored by Ben Garratt on the tiny home build that is taking place at Te Puna. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
Maia Bailey who has zero DIY skills is being tutored by Ben Garratt on the tiny home build that is taking place at Te Puna. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

The Murrays bought all the building materials and food for the crew. They hoped to buy an avocado orchard in the future and place the tiny home on it. Mr Garratt, a builder and electrician, said the design of the tiny house was contemporary, edgy and fun.

"The tiny house is technical and beautiful; it is a natural building. There was macrocarpa on the walls; our floors are gum, the ceiling is poplar, the exterior is redwood, and the interior walls are larch and cypress."


They decided to buy the timber and wool insulation locally despite the fact it cost more.

"There are no chemicals in the building."

The design plan encompassed a patio with sliding doors, living room, kitchen, bathroom and a mezzanine loft, he said.

"It has this big feel inside because the roof is so high, the house is 7.5m at the base and 9.5m at the height."

He estimated the tiny home would cost $100,000 to buy new.

Terra Builders owner Geoffroy Pointe from Tauranga said he was offering his experience as a "tiny house build is an easy way to access the property as the property market is out of control".

"It's great as each of us has one workstation every day and I started on the floor while the other builders did the framing."

He would then progress on to the roof and insulation.

A lot of the materials were waste or recycled items."

Maia Bailey from Taranaki said she would be calling her iwi when she got home.

"I am interested in the Maori housing network affordable housing solution and the tiny house is an idea I'd like to propose to the iwi in Taranaki to look after our kaumatua. It would have to be an eco-village concept where each one had their tiny home and being Maori we have heaps of whanau, so you need a big cooking area and a separate toilet and shower block.

"That is what brought me here. I love it; it's amazing."

She had no experience in DIY but was now confident with power tools, had put up timber framing and "I made a pizza oven yesterday, and we used recycled bottles as the base".

Tiny House Workshop open day


at The Arty House creative community

372 Wairoa Rd, Te Puna

From 2pm, at 3pm - 4pm presentation streams

5.30pm potluck and music

Suggested koha $10