Rob Scott and his family of five own a 180 hectare organic farm in the Macedon Ranges, just outside of Melbourne, Victoria. The family has a huge passion for organic farming, permaculture, animal husbandry, alternative building and holistic living. Rob started out building ‘tiny houses’ at the farm eight years ago as extra bedrooms for his children. He now runs workshops in tiny house building and builds custom designed tiny houses for clients.
What is a tiny house, and why do you build them?
A tiny house is a dwelling small enough to put on a trailer or a truck. I was always building cubby houses as a kid. And when our third child arrived we eventually needed another room. I had an old Dodge truck, and I thought building a room on that was the easiest option, out of necessity: no plans, no foundations.
What do tiny houses mean to you?
Tiny houses minimise space requirements and confine your needs to one room: you can cook, eat, socialise, sleep and wash – for example by sinking a small bathtub under a trapdoor in the floor. It’s about simple design, without limitations.
How do you think permaculture, tiny houses and global sustainability relate to each other?
A tiny house has a smaller ecological footprint than a conventional house. With a smaller space you minimise the materials used, and raise your awareness of needs and possessions. Tiny houses are usually mobile, allowing them to be orientated to take full advantage of solar passive design. And they can be moved to fit in with rotational cycles and development zoning. They can also have many uses: as bedrooms; self-contained homes; and as WWOOFer or even bed and breakfast accommodation.
A tiny house is also an achievable project for anyone. We outsource so many aspects of our lives. Whereas building a big, conventional house can feel daunting and unachievable, people can feel empowered to build their own tiny house, especially after attending a workshop or with help from a handy friend. It’s a do-it-yourself attitude that can inspire and spread.
What advice would you share with people interested in going ‘tiny’?
Go for it, you can do it! At the moment you don’t need council permits or plans, and the low cost means no mortgage either. If you’re not sure about design and structural integrity, attend a course, surf the net or employ a carpenter to help. Freedom to create and build is in your hands.
Check out www.hollyburton.com.au and ‘studio trucks’ on Facebook for details on workshops or to order a bespoke studio truck