Acquiring skills by building tiny homes

Trainee builders in Dunedin have worked together to create a tiny home and their handiwork could soon be viewed by the public.

Dunedin Training Centre owner-operator Norm Roos said the first batch of students had completed their 13-week Level 3 course and the result may well be displayed in hardware store car parks.

The next group of students had started work on a tiny home and Mr Roos expected to run the course six times next year.

The course was designed to equip students with a range of skills. They could then apply for apprenticeships, gain entry-level employment or go on to more study.

Mr Roos said trainees also learnt how to manage a project.

The new course started at a handy time for some students, in June, when their careers were affected by upheaval connected to the coronavirus.

Ruth Chettleburgh (41) is employed casually at the Dunedin City Council as a lifeguard and Covid-19 restrictions this year resulted in her having more spare time.

The course had built her confidence and she could see the appeal of constructing a tiny home for her own needs.

The students worked off a set of plans that they modified, she said.

Dunedin Training Centre students (clockwise from bottom left) Kevin Markham, Sharon Davey, Brian...
Dunedin Training Centre students (clockwise from bottom left) Kevin Markham, Sharon Davey, Brian Satake, Lee Anthony, Ruth Chettleburgh, Janis McCarthy, Brian Hwangbo and Riki Washington built a tiny home as part of their course. Absent: Ethan Duval. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

The house was 8m long, 3m wide, 3.5m high at the front end and 3.2m high at the back.

"I reckon there’s enough room for you and your dog in there," Ms Chettleburgh said.

Byron Murgatroyd, a pilot, is part of the next group.

He has experience as a safari bush pilot in Botswana, but his dream job with Air Milford in Queenstown came to an end when Covid-19 grounded the aviation industry.

He was looking for work and noticed the building course.

Mr Murgatroyd (34) had dabbled in construction before and found the practical work rewarding.

He was pleased to broaden his skills "while waiting for my aviation career to pick back up again".

He lived in a 6m house bus with his dog and said he could work at building his own house.

The tiny home built by the students doubles as a roadworthy trailer.

Mr Roos said elements of the course would be refined and he expected to be able to get the cost of the build down to about $50,000.

He said it was important for trainees to be aware of costs and timeframes and to plan well.

Plumbers and electricians had also contributed to the project.

Students had a video recording of how their project progressed and, if they wanted to produce their own tiny homes, they could consider the best materials and customise for their own needs.


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