Guide to Buying Your First Tiny House on Wheels
With a growing trend of people living in their cozy tiny house on wheels (THOW), more and more people are considering the idea of going tiny. With that in mind, we have put together this complete guide to help you through the process. In this article, we will cover everything from regulations to design so you can make an informed decision before taking the plunge into your new home!
Let’s start with the key question: is a tiny house on wheels legal in Australia?
Are Tiny Houses on Wheels Legal in Australia?
Tiny houses on wheels have become an increasingly popular way to simplify your life and travel with the luxury of a home. However, some people may be wondering if it is legal to live in a tiny house on wheels in Australia. The good news: it’s legal, and by building your small house on wheels, your home isn’t subject to council approvals (e.g., development application).
The tricky part is that there are certain requirements that need to be met before you can officially live onboard your own little home. It depends on the state that you’re in.
Tiny House on Wheels: Legal Specifications
Technically, a tiny home on wheels does not require a building permit since it qualifies as a vehicle. The number one consideration is the size: since your tiny house on wheels is technically a caravan, Australian legislation mandates that it should be road-ready. The limitations are around 2.5 metres wide and 4.3 metre high. The weight limit is around 4.5 tonnes.
However, different councils in different states have varying attitudes towards houses on wheels. For more information on which states allow tiny homes on wheels, check out the next subheading!
If you’re thinking about setting up camp on private property (yours or your relatives’/friends’), don’t forget to get in contact with the relevant council.
What States Allow Tiny Homes on Wheels?
New South Wales
According to the Fair Trading Act of 1987, long term residence on caravan parks are legally permitted.
There are laws protecting both tenants and land lessors in Queensland. You can rent parking areas for both short (42 days, which can be extended for another 42 days) and long term.
If what you had in mind is more akin to roughing it out, beware: Queensland is a strict state when it comes to camping. In Queensland sleeping in your vehicle is prohibited unless you’re parked in designated campgrounds.
In South Australia, you have a choice between living in tourist and residential parks, depending on your needs and preferences. If you’re planning on staying in South Australia for long periods of time, a residential park might be your best bet. Don’t forget to have a lawyer take a look at the terms and conditions of the residential park before moving in.
If you’re just passing by, South Australia offers a wide variety of tourist parks that offer much-needed amenities such as grey and black water dump stations, showers, and laundry areas. Some tourist parks even offer free WiFi!
Want to save money? Choose from the wide variety of free campsites in South Australia.
You need a permit to camp, keep, or occupy a caravan in private land in Tasmania. Just passing by? Tasmania has a wide selection of camper parks to choose from.
Thinking about setting up shop in Victoria? Caravan parks are your best bet. Victoria’s laws have clauses that protect both park owners and owners of small houses on wheels. According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, if someone who stays in a caravan park for around 60 days or more has proof that they are there on holiday, they are not considered a resident.
Western Australia’s laws also allow you to live in your tiny house on wheels, as long as you set it up in a designated residential park. For more specific laws on caravanning, check out the Government of Western Australia.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny House on Wheels?
If you’re seriously considering building a tiny house on wheels, the next logical consideration is budget. Much as we’d like to give you a straightforward answer, it’s a pretty big range: some budget builds can set you back around $10,000, while some luxury projects can cost up to a whopping $100,000!
The costs that come with a tiny house on wheels depend on a couple of factors. If you’re drafting a comprehensive budget for your build, here’s a quick list of particulars that you should definitely consider.
The costs of building a tiny home can vary wildly, but depending on your floor plan and chosen materials, $200 to around $500 per square foot is something to start with. The more complex and personalised the floor plan is, the more it will cost. If you’re thinking about contracting the services of a construction company, asking for a price estimate per square foot is a good starting point!
The materials that you use for your tiny home can contribute to your total costs. Your roof, doors, and windows will account for a chunk of your expenses, but remember not to skimp on quality! When it comes to a tiny home, it’s always about the small things: your choice of floors, ceiling, and fittings are also huge factors that can affect your budget. On the other hand, it’s these factors that turn your tiny house into a cozy, wonderful home for you, so the cheapest option might not always be the best.
Features such as solar panels, water storage, and grey water systems will allow you to take your tiny home off-grid for a period of time. These features come with their own costs, so if this is something that’s important to your build, don’t forget to count off-grid features in.
If you’re working with a construction company, keep in mind that a customised floor plan is also generally more expensive compared to a pre-designed floor plan, so if you’re attached to a specific design, talk to your builder about how it could affect your costs.
Getting Started: Building Your Tiny House on Wheels
Your tiny home journey starts with the first step: getting in touch with people who can help you make informed, smart choices from this point on. Good building professionals will listen to your needs, and provide you with a couple of options that are all suited to your needs and preferences.
Get in touch with us, and we’ll answer all your questions and provide a cost quote that’s within your budget.