Tiny house in oz

Building a tiny house in oz


Quick bathroom break

Before continuing the tour of regulation road. i thought we would stop for a quick bathroom break. There has been much discussion of tiny houses Australia Facebook page this week about bathroom options. More specifically, The options available for toilets. Warning: this post contains a subject matter which some readers might find distasteful. Although i will do my best to write it as polite as possible, if this kind of thing offends you. Stop reading at this point. After lots of researching, there are a number of options.

Some have the option of separating the liquid waste from the solid waste. This is done via the seat. Apparently this method makes it odourless. I.e it is the combination of liquids and solids that make human waste smell. Most composting toilets have this options

Option 1: camping toilets These are basically the toilets you take camping. They usually consist of  seat attached to a foldable stand with a bag or bucket underneath. One does their business, then the waste is either buried or placed in a compost bin at a later date.

what I’m talking about:


Pros: Cheapest option, foldable, portable,

Cons: dealing with the compost material, ongoing cost of biodegradable bags, disposing of human waste without access to land for compost bin/bury it.

The verdict for tinyhouseinoz. Maybe… i like the cheap option. If you built a container around it so it would be hidden and maybe added a seat cover no one would be the wiser. However, steady access to land to dispose of the waste might be a problem. As well as that unpleasant job! Phew!! Don’t think i could get over doing my business into a bag. Daily!!

Option 2 DIY Compost toilet. 

These are the ones that most tiny houses people  I know use. it is known as the sawdust method. This puts the compost bin in the toilet to start doing its job. You do your business and instead of pushing the flush button. One simply puts a layer of sawdust on top. You can also use a variety of other  natural elements like peat moss and grass clippings. One the bucket is full one simply uses it in the garden or buries it.

What I’m talking about:

Pros: compost starts immediately and is self-contained, relatively cheap,  no need for land, no sewer hook up, waterless, turns waste into fertilizer

cons: smell, a fan or vent will be needed if liquids and solids are combined, aesthetic  issues doesn’t look like a normal toilet, some visitors/ people may also have issues with the sight of your previous business, continual source of sawdust etc which may be a problem

The verdict for tinyhouseinoz: a real possibility. My only worry would be disposing of the compost.

Option 3 no bathroom

Just a warning:  this is the most distasteful part.

The title says it all. Since space is at premium in a tiny house some tiny house owners are choosing not to have a bathroom altogether. Not an option for tinyhouseinoz, legally to make it habitable it she needs a bathroom but seeing as how people have done it i thought I would explore their choices. One simply forgoes the bathroom and goes . True camping style. There are devices that make it easier for the girls such as the go girl or the shewee. Ill stop there!

Pros: cheap, no water or sewer needed, no plumbing,

Cons: where do i start? Smelly, wet feet, need access to private area, what about Family Or visitors?

Verdict for tinyhouseinoz: Don’t think so! Legally to make it a habitable house i think i would need some sort of toilet

Option 4: commercial composting toilet

These are units that are commercially available. They retail for around $500-2000 depending on how many gizmos you want, whether you want it to be connected to the main sewer. Some are just upgraded cousins of the diy composting toilet with a compost heap built into the unit. others have an external compost heap located outside the house. But most of these units need at least an electricity supply for an unbuilt fan and/or heating element. Some divert the liquid from the solids, some  are emptied by a tray at the bottom. Some even divide the liquids and solids putting the liquids in a tank with water ready to fertilise.

What I’m talking about.

The sun mar


The biolet


There are others but these are the main ones available in oz right now. Please do your own research based on your needs.

Pros: compost is contained so no need for external compost bin on some units, no or low water usage, looks more like a toilet for visitors, no need to handle smelly stuff.

Cons: need electricity supply, expensive , some need compost tank installed in ground so plumbing is needed.

Verdict for tinyhouseinoz: if it was the right unit maybe. There are so many options out there for these toilets. I would need it to be self contained. Maybe fir a future project or christmas gift but the expense always trips me up.

Option 5 incinerator toilet. 

These toilets take your human waste and burn it at high temperature.

What i’m talking about. The main one is  incinolet.


Pros: no water, no sewerage system , no plumbing

Cons: reading the reviews was quite an eye opener, it smells a lot, burns for 40 minutes after you press the level, hot seat, prone to mechanical problems, huge electricity bills,  and not to mention very very expensive.

The verdict for tinyhouseinoz: I originally planned to get one. But was aware of the bad reviews it gets from everywhere. Or of the burning for 40 minutes. But i like the idea so if in the future the negatives were resolved i would get one.

The plan for tinyhouseinoz:. After all the research this week. I think i will go with the tried and true diy compost in the short term while saving for a commercial unit composting toilet if i don’t like the first option. I have never been comfortable with using fresh water to flush down more water. 95% of human liquid waste is water.) During the research i read that Aussies waste as much as 12litres every time you push flush. Somethings to think about.

Till next time.


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Tiny house Thursday: Ella’s little yellow door

First up.. Ella’s little yellow door. This is the house that first started it for me so It made sense to start here!! Ella was in a similar position to myself! Ill let her tell you
The more I perused Craigslist housing for an area I fancied living in and the more I thought about the work that goes into surviving with $1000 rent, the less my floaty, creative, work-to-live ways seemed likely to tick the necessary boxes.
So started her (and mine) tiny house journey. Ella started her tiny house in September 2011 and completed it in a little more than a year.
In summary,
 Bathroom Ella used a galvanised horse trough as a bath. As well as a copper pipes and shower rod. Which service as both water source and a shower curtain rail.  She is using a old fashioned compost toilet. She has no sink and facet though. A combination of where to put it and drilling another hole in her trailer. I love the idea of a horse trough! Given that it is lighter than a normal bath and the metal looks great with the wood. Check out the photos with on her blog below!
Floor plan: Ella used tumbleweed fencl floor plan. Which uses a main room at the front and a bathroom/kitchen at the back next door to each other! She seems to have modified it a little. she used space in her main room for the kitchen and hence added an extra room ( what she calls her pink room) I love the bay window of the fencl but don’t know if I could use some of the main room. I need open space! She uses the traditional fencl sleeping loft.
Electric/plumbing  Ella used professionals for both her electrical and plumbing so not much information is supplied. She uses an rv water heater. But I don’t know where her water/electricity comes from or goes in the case of grey water. Because she has a composting toilet there is no black water.
Kitchen Again not much information, she had her kitchen counters made by a friend first. it looks like a simple faucet and circular metal sink. Ella uses a traditional portable camp gas two burner which you poor alcohol straight into.
Name best coming from her! Interestingly little yellow door, does in fact have a yellow door! I’ll let her tell you why!
 I chose the name Little Yellow (Buidhe Bheag) because to me, yellow means sunshine, daffodils and California. In Gaelic, the colour yellow (buidhe) is often used as a positive emphasis symbolizing happiness, luck or beauty. A person who is “pretty, yellow” (brèagha, buidhe) is very pretty indeed, and the phrase “I am yellow” (tha mi buidhe) means that one is well, happy or satisfied.
Check out her little yellow door at http://littleyellowdoor.wordpress.com/
Next time: we continue where to park tour! Can I park tinyhouseinoz on private land?
Till then

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Succumbed to the suggestions of social media.

Ok. Well I have given in to the social semis pressure. tinyhouseinoz now has its own Facebook page and Pinterest page!! The links are below if you would like to follow on and share!!

Speaking of social Media. A few worthy pages to follow. Especially for those who are in oz.

1) Tiny houses Australia.


This page, has been amazing for ideas, rants and generally connecting with after tiny houses being build in oz. The tiny house movement is tiny pun intended) here in oz with only about 5 or 6 of us currently building a tiny house. It’s been great to have each other around putting out ideas, helping each other’s obstacles, giving opinions, and generally conversing about tiny houses. pop on over and join the community. Tell them I sent you!!

2) tiny Aussie homes

This page belongs to a gold cost fans who are  approaching the finishing line of finishing their  tiny house. Been amazing to watch the progress as it it documented!!! There is also a tiny house get together planneas when this is finished. A great resource for me as their house is similar design to what mine will be!  You can find them at


3) tiny abode.


Beck is a fellow Sydney sider who is just starting her tiny house build. Have yet to find out more. If you are in Sydney you may even get to help build. Follow her at the above link.

This is so much fun i think I’ll do it every Thursday. Tiny house Thursday!!

till next time.

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A follow up from last week

Just had an early morning FaceTime with Angela and Paul at tumbleweed. Re the $500 extra, workshop and other stuff

1. The $500 fee
They used the standard line that it takes their architects 30 hours to convert the plans and aren’t prepared to waive it. The good news is that they WERE prepared to waive the fee for the fencl and the wigby since it is already done. But weren’t prepared to tell me how to get the metric plans online without getting the $500 added on.

They were prepared for an Australian architect to do it. So if anyone knows one please let me know and maybe we can throw them some work! . They were also prepared to split the fees if more than one person bought the fees. They also had a few questions about Australian design regulations so an architect would help with that side as well. Get in touch with them or me if you are and would like to help! Maybe if someone does we can get the fee removed!

2. Workshop
We didn’t talk lots about the workshop but he did tell me that it is presented by a an Aussie and a NZ’der. Didn’t tell me who though! We had a laugh, he didn’t know about great Tasman rivalry! I must have made a face when he said NZ!! Dangers of FaceTime!

Still unsure about which plans to go with. What attracted me to tumbleweed was that fact that it looked more like a house, rather then a box on wheels. Pondering over the next week. In the mean time it is back to rules and regulations!!

Till next tiny time

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A break from the law: a week of yay’s and nah’s

A bit of a curveball this week meant that regulations had to be put on hold.

The week started with much excitement. Tumbleweed ( the company that owns the plans I am building off) announced that they are doing an October workshop In australia!! to say i was excited is an understatement!! These workshops help you design and build your own tiny house! This was great news for me!! This road of tiny house planning is a long lonely one and I was excited at the prospect of meeting other tiny housers in oz in person as well as hearing what tips etc tumbleweed has to say. some of us discuss tiny houses on a Facebook page (thank you tiny houses Australia – you save my sanity at times) but it will be great to meet in person!! Looking forward to it!!

The next day, while researching these workshops, I found out that tumbleweed has added a few extra fees on top of the price of their plans. One of these fees includes a $500 fee to convert into metric measurements!! Yes $500!!! , considering the plans are already going to cost me $900 Upwards. I thought this was an unreasonable fee especially when you take into account that they have already done this for several of their clients ( for free I might add) and that the USA is one of three countries that use the old measurements!! The workshop itself is over $250 even with the early bird discount!Once it is done it shouldn’t need to be done over and over again with every plan that is sold!! Am I right ?? Or am I just over thinking it?? The amount seems especially high. $100 I might reconsider, but $500??!! That’s nearly half the cost of the plans!! Other things I could spend that money on in my house!!

So, unsure of weather I will stick with the tumbleweed plans. there are a number of options. Including buying the plans in imperial ( saving money but costing building time ) buying another tape measure in imperial measurements ( is that possible here in oz??) paying someone to do it all for me ( costing money but saving time). Another downside of converting it is when other people are involved, not just. Aussie  plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc all work in metres/cm. Lot of fuss and work for something that should be free already come with the plans!! Can you tell I’m annoyed!! Appealed to tumbleweed to change the fees. So, to be continued…

Thanks to the Facebook page.  I was alerted to a similar design for a tiny house for $10 , yes $10!! Originally went with tumbleweed because they were offering me a deal that can’t be missed ( as the house I am intending to build is one of the first in oz) but they have reconsidered that offer as well. This design is very very similar to the fencl, but with a more flexible approach. The inside is entirely your own design. I am not design/arty minded in any way whatsoever so designing my own from scratch was out of the question. But this may be a better compromise. These plans seem less detailed than tumbleweed ones though. To modify/change the tumbleweed plans would be an added fee!

Oh the decisions…

A big tiny house shout out to tiny houses Australia Facebook page for all of their ideas , conversations and for lending me their listening ears this week  during my rant sessions!! This journey toward tiny house living is made so much better for all of you. i will try and put the link below, if you are on Facebook , come join us. I promise it’s not all me ranting!! If you search tiny houses Australia you should get it!! If the link doesn’t work!!


Till next time…

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Is it legal? Caravan regulations

We continue our road trip down regulation road. Next stop caravan regulations. This part is fairly big so I’ll separate  it into two parts. Tomorrow federal trailer regulations for caravans but today the caravan itself .
Although the state determines trailer registration, it is federal laws which govern everything else I.e safety, lights, door placement, grey water systems etc
But firstly a definition. You may have noticed I use caravan instead of tiny house.  According to federal laws, a caravan is “an enclosed trailer, which is intended for use as a mobile home or living quarters when parked.  So legally, a tiny house is a caravan.
To me this was great news. It meant that tiny houses, as long as they comply with technical requirements, are legal.
So what are the requirements for a caravan. There are a few regulations.
Bathroom (excuse the subject matter)
Every vehicle which is equipped with any lavatory basin, closet, urinal or sink must comply with the following standards.
Except in the case of a caravan, the contents must be emptied into a tank carried by the vehicle. Such tank must be effectively ventilated by means of a outside pipe.
Regardless of whether a tank is used, the emptied contents must contain
 ” non-inflammable and non irritant chemicals of such character and in such quantity as to form at all times an efficient deodorant and germicide in respect of the contents of the tank, closet or urinal as the case may be ” (Australian design rules 42/00)
 Finally no basin or sink can drain into any tank which closet or urinal empties. I.e separate tanks and/or plumbing  for for sinks and toilets.
Doors: must be either outward swinging or sliding doors.  One has to be on the left hand side or at the rear.
Fire extinguishers:   the caravan must have a fire extinguisher in accordance with Australian standards.
Windows: At least half of the windows must be capable of being opened or the caravan must have an alternative method of ventilation.
I believe that’s all for federal regulations regarding caravans. Next time the caravan trailer itself. But as always please obtain your own legal advice if you are considering building your own tiny house.