Grand Designs Australia

Inside the tiny Grand Designs Australia home built on a tiny budget

Building a house isn't just for those who have plenty of cash.

A smaller budget can often encourage some pretty radical thinking, leading to groundbreaking results.

That's if you're willing to roll with the punches, of course, like this week's homeowners on Grand Designs Australia.

Electrician and stay-at-home dad Tom Naulty and GP Zewlan Moor wanted to build a modest home for their young family - five-year-old Ramona and Reuben, 12 months.

Unlike many Grand Designs, a fancy home wasn't part of their plans. They wanted something inexpensive and uncomplicated to go with a laidback lifestyle.

To kick start the project, they found some cheap land in Ocean Shores, New South Wales, just up from Byron Bay and overlooking the freeway.

They enlisted the help of award-winning architects Melody Chen and James Hung, who are known for their very distinctive style - think small, simple and straightforward.

 A big part of keeping their budget down was keeping the layout lean. Tiny, in fact - the property is less than half the size of your average Aussie house.

"I got a bit obsessed and started reading architecture books," Zewlan said. "I just read this one about small houses and thought, 'That's what we want to do, it suits our lifestyle'."

Their budget of $450,000 meant keeping the house small and using low-cost materials throughout - mainly chipboard and concrete - as well as Tom doing the electrics and project managing.

The simple layout consists of a garage, three modest bedrooms, one bathroom and a compact kitchen.

The living area opens onto a cosy lounge, with a mezzanine above housing Zewlan's office hideaway.

With no air con or fans, fresh air circulates 24/7 up through the internal decking, aiming to inject an outdoor feel throughout. 

It's topped by a translucent roof, bathing the house in natural light.

The couple hit a major obstacle when the bank - funding the majority of the project - reassessed the home and decided the decking didn't count as indoor floor space.

Their loans were instantly slashed as the bank cut the value of the property, leaving them with a $100,000 short fall.

In the end, the killer design didn't come cheap, but they got there.

The final budget came in at $570,000, significantly over their estimate, but the result sees simplicity effortlessly mixed with a striking presence.

It might be small, but it packs a mighty punch.

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