Tiny Home on Wheels from Recycled Materials in Australia

Dear Lloyd,

I’ve been meaning to write you this email for some time now, it feels long overdue.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for the inspiration that I have taken from your books (specifically Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter) which have helped lead me on a wonderful journey of DIY carpentry, natural building and constructing my own tiny houses on wheels from recycled materials. This book was the first time I’d ever seen a tiny house on wheels (8 years ago) and it blew my mind! I love the concept of being able to build and own my home without crippling debt, as well as separating land and home ownership. It has provided me with an ethical, soulful, affordable and flexible housing solution as a stepping stone to something bigger and more permanent in the future, as I know that I do not wish to raise a family in such a small space and am now getting into my mid-30s. Building my first tiny house took me out of the office as a left-leaning progressive town planner and into the world of creative carpentry and the DIY makers movement where I could lead by example and walk the talk. I’ve also now run workshops and helped on many other sustainable building and tiny house projects since taking the leap.

I designed and built my house in the eclectic woodbutcher’s style, which I know you were a part of pioneering in the ’60s and ’70s. A mix of recycled doors, windows and lovely cedar, Oregon cypress and Baltic pine, much of it old-growth timber reclaimed for free from old houses here in Australia. I even ended up with a beautiful geodesic dome lead-light window, a result of a carpenter mentor with a very mathematical brain who came up with the design and helped me to build it — but lesson learned, I don’t think I’ll be making too many more domes. Waterproofing them effectively is certainly a challenge…

Here is a link to some photos and a video tour of my first tiny house and recycled bathhouse in Byron Bay: www.livingbiginatinyhouse.com/tiny-home-with-bath-house-made-from-salvaged-windows

I’m now building a second tiny house, intended to perform better in the tropics, with 14 opening windows. I plan to keep building a flock of them and eventually save for an acre or two where the land is cheap, water is warm and the surf not too crowded, using the tiny houses as rentals and flexible accommodations for myself, friends and family. The things I have learned building recycled tiny houses and other sustainable building projects will empower me to one day build a larger (but still modest) home utilizing cob and other earthen building methods mixed with carpentry. I will of course prioritize a large workshop/shed/studio and productive gardens as I’ve been on the permaculture pathway for over a decade now. I’ve also taken much inspiration from the tour of your homestead on YouTube filmed by Kirsten Dirksen, I got my girlfriend to watch it with me last night and she loved it. You and your wife project so much wisdom and happiness in the way you live and balance time and energy.

We have a lot in common and it makes me so happy to have you as one of my many older and wiser building mentors, even though we have never met. Thank you for showing me what is possible. Keep up the good work!

Much appreciation from down under.
Emmet Blackwell

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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