Tiny Homes a Challenge to Property Developers and Builders

With Tiny Homes easily able to add accommodation without the need to develop more land they are certainly topical and affordable for many of us.

As the ABC is suggesting not all councils see them in a positive light. They are either granny flats or caravans without wheels. Either way they not only require approvals in a permanent location, but challenge council planning controls.

Perhaps Tiny Homes are also a challenge to property developers and the housing and construction industry, with potential to disrupt their business model. Do Developers and Builders have any influence over local government? Of course they don’t, or do they?


Councils have had a hard time for decades defining ‘permanent structure’ only because they can’t control it as easily if it isn’t permanent. If you own a caravan, you can ‘store’ it in your yard indefinitely. You can use it to store things, put it on stands, etc but perish the thought you’d let anyone sleep in it! I’ve known many people who buy vans just for this purpose - vans that are wired to the mains and have all the amenities to the extent it would be a few days work to get them back on the road, if possible at all. Like many things, councils will act if there is a complaint but in my experience they don’t seem to care if it is out of sight and out of mind … Tiny homes probably up the visibility a little, if for no other reason than they are still a curiosity. Not many people think a 30 year old Millard is a curiosity …

Councils must be working for someone; seemingly less and less it is the rate-paying customer :wink:


Perhaps this “vehicle” could be used as a tiny home?


Still will cost rego. The article says it is equiped with a variety of musical instruments, including a pianola, and a pipe organ! Mobility could be a big plus here if the neighbours aren’t into loud music?

On a less exciting note: (in B flat minor)
Are we now at 2.5 persons per dwelling? We were at greater than 3.5 in 1960.

Reading between the lines there is a hint this is one of the most significant factors that has driven housing demand ahead of population growth and immigration gains.

Of course smaller family units fit more readily into smaller dwellings. There is a stat somewhere else I can’t find just now that says the opposite about dwelling size over the same period. Houses and units have doubled in size over the same period.


I don’t understand the angst Councils have about people living in caravans, even on their own property. Here is an example: Caravan man Roland Gopel found guilty of illegally camping on own property


Having worked for a council on the development side of things … there’s problems with inadequate housing, which despite people claiming they can look after themselves, comes back to bite. By ignoring or condoning them, they then claim Council has “approved” it, and now demand services, compensation etc. Not all Councils are unfeeling behemoths, but bitter experience is making them less willing to bend or turn a blind eye.

There’s a group of people who want to live “free”, camp permanently on public land, use public toilets, make no contribution to the community. I know a few. They might be ignored, until people complain they can’t get into the public toilets for “residents”, the Footy Club asks to have people living in the grandstand removed. It is a big problem where I live now.

There are people who think because they own the land they can do what they want on it, regardless of the neighbours. One of the towns Council administered had a number of “temporary” dwellings (about a third of the town) - shipping containers, humpies, old busses, old caravans - they were loath do to anything until a complaint was lodged. Then they gave them 18 months and developed a “park” at the race track where they could move to water & sewer if they didn’t up grade their dwelling. Most were paying only a General Rate as they claimed their land was “vacant” and not connected to services. But neighbours were sick of them using their bins, pooing in the yard, pinching their water, and jealous that while they built or bought a house, these people were living “cheap”. You could buy land for $5k, to build a house cost another $400k

Tiny houses - usually illustrated sitting in landscaped grounds - would only be economical in urban areas on tiny blocks (or tiny backyards). Council’s worry in that regard is a household with multiple tiny houses covering the backyard (a commercial enterprise) and the problems of such density and temporary services connection.

The mining boom bought these problems - to get around Boarding House regulations developers were submitting house plans for (the straw that broke the camel’s back) 16 ensuited bedrooms! As one Councillor remarked, she has never met a family with 15 teenagers. It was designed to be rented by a company for worker accommodation, but disguised as a family home. Granny flat applications rose, one family requesting 5 in their backyard - again designed for rental to mine workers, not their ancestors. Then came the problems (complaints from neighbours) that each of these “Grannies” came with 2 cars plus boats, caravans, the Work 4x4 covering the footpaths & kerb on both sides of the road, blocking driveways. Council then decided that each unit would have to provide 2 car parks on the land, which then made it very difficult for families of genuine Grannies who could no longer drive.

Proving that it is a very complex question.


Perhaps going in a different direction will solve the housing problem. Really big buildings with tiny living spaces (three cubic metres per citizen-unit - slot 'em in lengthwise). :wink:


If the ABS census data is to be considered, there is reason to suggest there should be no problem at all. There is no genuine need for Tiny Houses or even more dwellings.

Keeping it simple the 2016 census data showed we have 2.6 people per dwelling. The average dwelling size was 3.1 bedrooms. (It is probably greater as larger dwellings are simply noted as four bedrooms or more.) Simple maths is that we have 0.5 spare bedrooms per dwelling, and that’s assuming none of us share a bedroom with anyone else. Children, partners etc.


The other interesting statistic is that on census night there was also 1.04million unoccupied dwelllings, that are not included in the count of bedspaces.

There may be other places some of us live that are also not captured in the stats. Certain types of Retirement or Nursing Homes might be one. Although the word occupy might be a better choice than the word live.

This all suggests a significant surplus of permanent accommodation. Are there some other factor/s here? Is there a mismatch between location of housing and where the work is? Are Tiny Houses a solution to this as well as the reality that many of us do not want the upkeep of a large and expensive house or apartment with bejewelled Body Corporate fees?

The need for Tiny Houses to be properly serviced and rated is no different to a properly approved extension or Granny Flat. Ten of our 22 near neighbours have Granny Flats or second dwellings. No doubt some of these are invisible to local govt and the ABS.


It does mostly boil down to lack of parking imho, followed by probably noise issues.

There isn’t the infrastructure typically about the place to deal with such high density living (and funnily enough where there is apartment complexes tend to be an actual thing).

My mind is still blown that to sell new apartments etc a 2BR has to have 2 WC’s (and probably a separate laundry to boot)!


Grand Designs host Kevin McCleod when recently interviewed on the ABC quipped,

Perhaps in the style and size of a house many of us are the victims of our own vanity, and a desire to keep up driven by marketing images of what perfection should be.

Our new houses or appartments are now twice the size of a new house in the 60’s. Our houses more fashion accessories than investments loose value faster than a termite colony can move in.

Is it little surprise some seek to step away from this flawed thinking and seek independence in a Tiny House?


Part of this has to do with changing demographics when a 2 br is purchased by or a room is let to non co-habiting people. 2 brs, each self contained is going to be more marketable than a flat designed for 2 seniors or a young couple. The concept of personal space and privacy has also evolved over the decades from the community bath to what we experience today, and even that varies from country to country (culture and traditions and ‘wealth’).

Other aspects I find curious are the increasing absence of bathtubs and high density properties offering but a single car park when many/most people with cars have 1 per adult rather than 1 per family. That is compounded by the tandem car parks common whereby to maximise the garage space and have 2 parks per flat, one car is always blocked in by the other.

Those might be ‘1st world problems’ and could be trivialized by some, but I can understand why free standing dwellings, no matter how compact, that resolve those annoyances would have a following.

It has not been common for our metro properties to actually lose value excepting during brief respites to their inflating prices. Since buyers do look for new, flash features it is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Once upon a time houses were left for decades without any refurb, only to find rotting wood, insufficient old dangerous wiring, and all sorts of problems. In these days we seem to be more amenable to decadal refurbishments where many of these problems are rectified in the process, so it is not all bad.


The increase in the value of property and most notably in the larger metro areas is the land, the land and nothing but the land. It’s no doubt under written by the other three L’s - location, location, location.

The evidence behind this is the rapidity with which houses are pulled down and replaced with higher density or for select locations 110% renovations and extension. It seems contrary we can find capacity in the services for these developments and new larger homes, but not for an increase in density from Tiny Homes.

The high cost of land is another driver to seek alternatives for low cost independence, despite the issues noted with council and services. There is certainly a precedence in the caravan set of retirees and those with relocatable homes that have been able to live low cost and often beach front. Although now any of these sites in good locations are also being lost to greed and development.

Edit: I do appreciate that some of us also value the physical asset on a piece of land for being sound and in good condition. I have had the misfortune of needing to deal with a number of different properties and their disposal over the previous decade or so. These have been in a variety of locations between large urban areas and the bush. The agents and market is often discounting the value of the fixed asset, older houses (more than 5-10 years old) for both style and age. There is little premium attached to features that cost the previous owner including higher ceilings or solid masonary block construction, vs fake render. Even older houses despite wonderful style and features and often in sound condition are seen as liabilities by the market as a whole. Or bargain opportunities as disstressed sales for the TV house flipper set. Agents appear to not want to deal with these except at a discount to be sure they can turn them over. No doubt there is scope for a whole Choice topic on real estate market valuations vs true replacement cost or value of the home on a block of land.


I live on the Central Coast. My husband’s family have lived here for four generations and recall the beach shacks used by local families who came out from the town to the beach for holidays. They had to either live with or scare off the resident carpet snakes. The families basically squatted there for a month or more. However nearby were more permanent residents, often WW1 vets, who wanted to simply be alone. I think many people born in the 50s might recall similar situations. Out of sight or tolerated, these damaged men were allowed to live out their lives in the dunes, the hills and the mountains in their shacks.
We have moved on from that time, but I think Tiny Homes is a good step for a society that cares about its most vulnerable people.