Tiny homes: The answer to Auckland's housing crisis?

The Kiwi dream of owning a home is slipping out of reach for many Aucklanders, but there's one solution that could offer some hope. 

Tiny homes are being dubbed a solution to restore housing affordability in New Zealand's metropolis. They're mobile, compact, reasonably priced, and environmentally-friendly. 

Gina Stevens, the creative force behind Build Tiny, believes tiny homes are the best option for those who are struggling to get onto the property ladder in Auckland. 

"There are lots of reasons to opt for a tiny home. The cost is one of the big things for a lot of people, but they have lots of other benefits too," she told RadioLIVE. 

"They're portable so you can take them with you if you move cities."

Ranging in price from $100,000 to $120,000, tiny homes are a fraction of the median price of $699,000 Aucklanders are paying to get their feet on the property ladder. 

Inside a Build Tiny home.
Inside a Build Tiny home. Photo credit: Build Tiny

For those who want to live off-grid, Build Tiny offers a solar package for another $16,000 to $17,000. 

"We've got quite a few young couples that are looking for their first step onto the property ladder and aren't able to afford a house at this age," Ms Stevens said. 

While tiny homes may appeal to first-time home buyers, she said they also attract retirees who want something simple to live in, as well as middle aged couples who don't want to pay a huge mortgage. 

Tiny homes are also "a lot more environmentally-friendly" just in the fact that they're small so they require "much less building material", Ms Stevens said. 

"We build them locally [in New Zealand], building with as much local material as we can."

Just a caravan in disguise?

While they may look cosy, comparisons have been drawn between tiny homes and caravans, with questions raised about what exactly sets them apart. 

Ms Stevens said tiny homes are an option away from caravans which "can be cold and rickety". 

"They feel different from a caravan in that they're built from traditional building materials including sold wall lining, cladding, and double-glazed aluminium windows.

"This makes them much warmer and stronger than a caravan."

The small homes are about eight metres long, which Ms Stevens said is the average size in New Zealand. The width of them is similar to a caravan at around 2.5 metres wide. 

"The difference between a tiny house and a caravan is in the height," she said. 

"The tiny house is much higher with a mezzanine floor where the sleeping area usually is. From the ground up they're about 4.2 metres high."

Tiny homes are also being used as a solution to red zoned land where building permits cannot be given due to safety concerns, Ms Stevens said. 

A tiny home has been set up as an Airbnb on Waikawa Beach on the Kapiti Coast on a piece of coastal land in an erosion zone, she explained. 

"The owners of that property wouldn't have been able to put a regular batch down there so it's an awesome solution for them."

Specially-built trailers are designed to tow tiny homes, but to be safely towed on New Zealand roads the houses' weight is limited to 3.5 tonnes. 

Custom designed homes are also available.