March 14th 2018

March14,2018  -  MAV Offices, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD

HowCare Interest Group met with more than 30 people representing councils and interested bodies, to discuss the issues around housing affordability, tiny houses, and current initiatives.


The meeting opened with introductions, and confirmation that all delegates had a copy of the Tiny House Planning Resource 2017 - A Place For Tiny Houses - prepared by six groups based in Queensland - ESC Consulting, The Tiny House Company, Plannery Co, Shelter, Griffith University, and Tiny Consulting.  Followed a discussion of the Tiny House movement, the concept of Tiny House on Wheels, and various projects described in the resource document  - the overall program and links to relevant sites and data are here:

                MARCH 14th, 2018

10.30 am 1.    Welcome/introductions

10.50 am
2.    Context/scope (Tom Danby  0425711935 )

Directory -
Tiny Houses - - Bryce Langston
THoW builders - - Grant Emens ( NSW ) - Fred Schultz - Ric Butler - Ferne King - Elle Paton

- - Heather Shearer  Griffith University
Small Houses -

 - Sally Wills. - - Tafe design competition

11.10 am
3.   Council Experiences
            - Judy Clarke ( Mitchell Shire -Transition Town Wallan project )
            - Footscray/VicRoads - Launch Housing project - Steven Lionakis
            - Jan Stewart ( Mt Alexander project and Tiny Homes Foundation project )

11.30 am
4.    Public Experience ( to date and in 2018 )  

  [ these next two sessions to underline the huge public interest and demand ]
Jan Stewart - May CBD special exhibition of Tiny Houses
Jodi Rashbrook - proposed ATA Sept THoW expo

Kulja Coulson - Sanctuary Magazine f
Darren Hughes - Tiny House Australia

  speaker on Australia at 2018 US THoW annual convention. 14,000 member facebook group convenor, tiny house builder.

Lunch Break 12.00 - 1.00 pm

1.00 pm
5.     Tiny House - Council Liaison and Consulting    

Janine Strachan  -   Green Design Solutions

Pubic Consulting - - Kate Trivic

1.20 pm
6.         Australian Tiny House Association ( maturing of the industry )
            -  Jan Stewart - Tiny Non Profit -  

-  Briefing on the
            -  introduction to NOAH ( virtual certification ) -

1.40 pm
7.    How Can Councils Address Housing Affordability through Tiny Houses?
            - 1. unlock low and medium density suburbs through tiny secondary dwellings, 
and cluster housing -  - QShelter

            - 2. unlock vacant land through bylaws changes .e.g.: Tiny House as Caretaker proposal -

2.00 pm
8.    Trial Councils: - councils prepared to trial THoW models and how they will address this ( rent , caretaker, etc )

2.20 pm
9.    Next Steps - call for more pilots, discussion, .....

In Summary, this meeting was an expansion of the first short meeting, more information was presented and it was particularly of note to hear about - 

  • the scale of work, and the degree of community consultation required in the Launch Housing project;
  • the stages in planning and council involvement in the Wallan project;
  • the scale of the Alternative Technology Association’s involvement in energy and sustainability innovation, and depth of interest their members have in housing issues;
  • the size, and degree of activity, of the various tiny house public interest groups, particularly their use of social media, and their growing participation in council supported information nights and events;

After the lunch break, Janine Strachan gave an detailed professional presentation of her tiny house on wheels building project, which included her data on its ability to meet energy efficiency and bushfire zone design regulations. This prompted discussion of the Victorian building codes, caravan regulations, and of the bushfire safety issue.

The second last session recapped the original tiny house as caretaker proposal and triggered more discussion on the current caravan bylaws, and the diverse approaches to affordable housing being tried in councils. 

The last session saw the formation of a small interest group prepared to examine ways to trial using Tiny House on Wheels on vacant land as a housing alternative - shown above.

My personal conclusions:

Review of Regulations

From this meeting, the first session, and from other correspondence, it is clear that councils are engaged with the issues around affordable housing; are quite well informed about alternatives like a Tiny House on Wheels; and are supportive of innovation - but have as their primary responsibility the implementation of existing by-laws, planning and building regulations, and relevant community safety rules and recommendations.

Suggested Action Point : as no major issues have arisen in these meetings, and as a working group has been formed, it may be the time to approach politicians and public policy groups with the aim of gathering support for changes to the regulations.

Caravan Classifications

A recurring point of discussion was how Tiny Houses were different from caravans, with emphasis on construction materials used, internal volumes and air flow, house like fittings and breadth of services and sanitation. In parallel, there were discussions on the justification of caravans attracting short stay limits, with the lack of long term livability being a frequent comment.

Suggested Action Point : could a second tier be added to the caravan regulations such that Tiny Houses that meet specific design and construction regs, are recognised as long-term living residences, and then would be allowed renewable 12 month stay permits? 

My thanks to all who have attended and contributed to these meetings and discussions

Tom Danby


© Talah 2018