Candid Tiny House – Bree & Lucas
After several years of researching and two years of building their tiny house on wheels, there were still some things that Bree and Lucas wish they knew before they started.
The conscientious young Brisbane couple set out to build themselves an ecologically friendly off-grid tiny house in Bree’s parent’s back yard, knowing that it would save them money in the long run because they could afford to house themselves without getting a loan.
Bree and Lucas knew that they needed to keep the entire weight of the tiny house under 4500kgs, and that they wanted to build on a long (7.8 meter) trailer, so they searched for weight-saving building supplies.
In the search for a very light-weight wooden external cladding material, Bree and Lucas ‘branched out’ so to speak, on their choice of wood. Paulownia is super low density and therefore lightweight and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to save on their weight budget of 4.5 tonnes for the whole build.
However the paulownia had a few extra tricks up it’s sleeve which caught Bree and Lucas by surprise and slowed down their build by many months.
It’s a thirsty type of wood and absorbs water at every opportunity. It warped and buckled only weeks after being installed, resulting in the couple having to strip to exterior cladding off, salvage the pieces that they could and re-install it.
Bree reflected that paulownia “is marketed as essentially being waterproof, and being used in boating… And obviously it must get sealed, which makes it perhaps really waterproof then, but I thought ‘waterproof’ would be waterproof.” †
So despite all their research, there’s no substitute for experience and their experience told them (and was well articulated by a helpful professional painter) that you need to prime every surface of the wood in an oil-based primer and many coats of paint before installing it, in order to get a properly water-proofed exterior cladding.
And that’s not to say that the paulownia didn’t work out for them, in the end. It’s beautiful!
Once they heard from an expert the correct installation instructions and they got their hands on all the right materials to make sure it was absolutely water-proofed, they knuckled down to fix the problem. And their paulownia cladding has created a stunning aesthetic, inside and out.
A cosy cottage-style tiny house on wheels with lead-light windows, weatherboards and a pitched roof looks very welcoming and is so light-weight that it allowed the couple to make ‘weight-splurges’ on other areas of their tiny house – like their hardwood floorboards and tiled shower floor, for example.
Their tiny house also boasts lots of other innovative design choices, including pull-out stairs in their kitchen cabinets, a hoist-able loft space, a bump-out for the bathroom vanity over the trailer’s A-frame draw bar and much more.
Thankfully, with every tiny house project that is completed and discussed candidly, we all get a bit wiser on the tiny-house-building frontier. We can learn from each other’s experience and draw from an ever-increasing pool of hard-won knowledge.
Their conclusion: “It’s not so much that we didn’t know what to do, it’s that we didn’t know what questions to ask”. So once you know what questions to ask, you’re well on the way of finding the right answers.
To hear more about their experience with paulownia and Bree and Lucus’ tiny house design process, including their building budget, tune into the Candid Tiny House podcast. To see an in-depth tour of their inspiring tiny house, check out the video below.
Follow Bree and Lucas on Instagram @dream.plan.do.repeat
† In a quick Google of the question ‘Is paulownia wood waterproof?’ The first website response confidently asserts of paulownia: “The timber is water-resistant, it is exceptionally stable, withstands warping, breakages and deformations. The timber is with fine structure and silky smooth surface, without blemishes (knots).”
Fred’s Tiny Houses 2021 ©
Date received trailer: April 2019
Date started working on house: July 2019
Date moved in: April 2021