At the start of the year Michael and I bought a 1961 Bedford SB3 that we are currently converting into a home. We had toyed with ideas of alternative housing for a while but they always seemed like far off dreams. It wasn’t until Michael’s sister and her husband began work on their Tiny House that we thought ‘We could actually do this.'
We started searching the Internet for the perfect bus, character and reliability were at the top of the list. Much sooner than we anticipated- we found her. The bus was located in Christchurch where we live, but was well out of our price range, however we figured having a look wouldn’t hurt and it would at least give us an idea of how small the space was that we were dreaming of occupying. The moment I caught a glimpse, it was done. The bus was already a motorhome, but it was not designed for full time living, plus what would all this be if it wasn’t a challenging project?... A few days later the old girl was ours, and after several weekends of hard work she was an empty shell ready to be re-imagined.
Why would you want to live in a bus? This is a very good question.
Let’s start on a practical level. To make any ground in the music industry you have to tour. Last year we toured the states for three months, the year before we toured NZ three times and Australia once. This interruptive lifestyle means you spend most of your life away from ‘home’ but still paying rent, or on the odd occasion having to give up your house and find a new one on return. Now we own a ‘house’ that we can leave parked up for any length of time that will (hopefully) be waiting for us on each return.
Affordability. I don't need to explain why this costs less than a four bedroom home ;) We will also be completely off the grid (no more power bills) and can either traipse around New Zealand staying at free campgrounds if we have the travel bug or find somewhere more permanent to park it up if we want to stay put.
Environmental responsibility. Other than running our electrical system off sun power, being such a small space, once insulated it will be very efficient to heat. This house will be tailor made to meet our needs and nothing more. We are bringing new life to a structure that would otherwise eventually decay by recycling it into a liveable space, all while reducing our footprint. ‘The average American house consumes about three quarters of an acre of forest and produces about seven tonnes of construction waste. It emits 18 tonnes of greenhouse gasses annually and would definitely not fit into a single parking space.’*
Lifestyle. With less house to maintain and pour money into, a tiny loan to service and almost non existent overheads, we will have more time and money to live our lives- something too many people are unable to do with the financial strain that home ownership brings. With money matters aside, we are having to significantly reduce our belongings leaving room only for what is necessary. I am excited to see how that changes our outlook on life, possessions and contentedness.
Finally, because it’s fun. This is not just a house to live in, it is a project and a legacy. We want to show that a small home can be beautiful, comfortable and functional. It has been so interesting going through the subtractive design process (not asking what you could add, but what you could take away) and I believe at the end of this, it will be as much a work of art as it will be a home.
“I imagine nobody’s list of necessities is ever going to quite match anybody else’s. Each will read like some kind of self portrait. I like to think that a house built true to the needs of it’s inhabitant will do the same.”
-Jay Shafer - The Small House Book.
If you are interested in the practical side of the project, or are looking into doing something similar yourself, please leave a comment below.
- *Reference Jay Shafer “The Small House Book.’