This week’s Home of the Hunter isn’t set in a specific location because the environmental sustainable tiny house is on wheels and can be relocated anywhere. The “tailor-made trailer” was built by Angie and Clay Francisco and their client named the house “The Joy Box.”
The Franciscos have worked hard on what they hope to be the first of many tiny homes in the Hunter.
The parents of three built this home together for a client while juggling other jobs. Clay is a master builder and Angie works in corporate communications.
“I wanted to get into (building) tiny houses,” Angie says.
“We talked to a client about it, and her desire to have one matched with our desire to build one.”
Their client wanted to be able to open the door to the house and feel right at home, without having to fold down a bed or do any manoeuvring. Many tiny homes require work, e.g. wind down a bed from the ceiling or unfold a table from a door.
“She wanted it simple and user-friendly,” Clay says. “You can come home from a party and go straight to bed.”
The Joy Box is off the grid and fully powered by the sun. The solar package alone is a 3 kw solar system with batteries. It can go without sunshine for up to four days. The home can also plug into the main grid if need be. It also comes with a composting, waterless toilet.
They have installed two 90 litre fresh water tanks under the trailer, which will be pumped into the home when the tap is turned on. Water from the shower, washing machine and dirty dishes will be collected into a 110 litre grey water tank under the trailer.
“It’s self sufficient in a holistic way,” Angie says.
In NSW Australia, the maximum width of a trailer is 2.5 metres, and this house trailer is 7.2 metres long and 2.4 metres wide, not including the draw bar.
Their client needed it to be light and easy enough to tow with a 4x4 vehicle. Angie did a lot of research to keep the house as light as possible while also making sure it was structurally sound.
“It’s got to be lightweight, but it’s got to be able to stand high-force winds,” she says. “We used steel framing, (which is) lightweight, much lighter than timber.”
Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s any less comfortable or fashionable. It has all the creature comforts. Along with a bathroom and tub/shower, it also has a kitchen, laundry, reverse-cycle air-conditioner, full-sized fridge, wardrobe, and queen bedroom.
“It’s a tiny mansion,” Clay says.
Rather than having a ceiling, they used timber framing and exposed the beams and rafters. Clay sourced clear pine for this without knots in the timber, making it stronger. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing, it adds to the spaciousness.
The house is sound proof and incredibly insulated. It has heaps of storage, created innovatively. The kitchen kickboards serve as cupboards, and the custom built lounge has storage (and can also be used as a single bed).
Clay’s particularly proud of the detail that went into the carpentry.
“You don’t see any fixings; it was all drilled and plugged. Everything was concealed,” he says.
He and Angie had some help along the way, including two apprentices, a plumber, electrician, a structural engineer, trailer fabricator, a solar contractor and professional painter. They estimate each tiny home will take them about three months to build.
“It’s fun, so fun,” Angie says of the job. “From a business perspective, we’ll build customised tiny houses, but we can treat it more as customer manufacturing rather than bespoke. (This means) we’re not constantly doing quoting.”
Like the consideration and craftsmanship, the ethos that has gone into this tiny home is admirable.
“We’re both passionate about this because we’re adding a type of housing to the market. A lot of people buy spec homes and live their whole life paying the mortgage,” Angie says. “It’s not about working to pay off your debt, it’s about living more simply. (With a tiny home), you’re not working hard to keep your home running.”