ONE young Cork woman got fed up with spiraling rents that pushed her house-owning dream ever further away... so she decided to create her own ‘tiny home’ for around €10,000.
Deirdre O’Sullivan, 32, had been paying €700 a month to rent a tiny fisherman’s cottage in Passage West.
Spiralling city centre rents had pushed her to this area, but when that rent was increased to €900 (excluding bills) she made the decision, like many others, to move in with her parents.
“I made the move back home to Blarney to save for a deposit and I am very fortunate that I had that option. Two years on, I had managed to save a deposit towards building on my parents’ land but my income wasn’t high enough even for a small mortgage, which left me pretty deflated. And while I have a wonderful relationship with my parents, I was really missing my own space,” she said.
Deirdre is the owner of the well-known Style 25, which specialises in hand-painted kitchens and furniture.
“During the summer, I collected some furniture from customers of mine who were building and living in a mobile home while doing so.
“At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but it must have struck a chord because three weeks later, I had bought my own mobile home.”
She moved in around a month ago, and so far so good.
“As well as having my own space again, it is cheaper than renting and allows me to continue saving. And, to be honest, the whole mobile is bigger than some apartments I have lived in.”
Temporary structures above a certain size may be subject to planning permission. Deirdre bought her mobile home on Done Deal from a dealer in Fermoy and it’s currently on a section of her parent’s land and just two minutes from her workshop. All in, it cost her €10,000, which she borrowed against her savings.
“Because the entrance to the plot was too narrow, I had to rent a crane for the day, a big expense but I had budgeted for it. I bought the mobile for about €6,000 including delivery. The crane was about €1,000 and a family friend did the ground works. The only other big expense was the stove.
“The mobile is 35ft x 12ft and I chose this particular one because it was the only one within my budget that had double glazed windows and I didn’t have the budget for insulation/cladding. The whole time I was very conscious of not over-spending as I also see this as an investment and I hope to sell it on when the time comes.
“It has a very generous master bedroom and a double spare room. The shower room is a great size too, compared to others I had seen online. The living area is open plan and has more than enough space for me.
“Everything else I did myself, painting, flooring, etc. It didn’t take long, I only worked on it in the evenings and I enjoyed every minute of it. If I were to have focused on it full time, it would have taken about a week, so it is a very manageable job for anyone a bit handy.”
She ripped out all of the built-in furniture to create more space and so she could make it her own with pieces she had collected over the years.
“The only thing that stayed in the living area was the kitchen but a lick of paint transformed that. I moved in about a month ago and it has surpassed my expectations.
“I was preparing myself for cold nights and compromises. But the small stove heats the whole place. The water is heated by a gas boiler, which is connected to a gas canister, that also supplies the cooker. I had the gas connected by a registered mobile home gas installer. The stove was also fitted by a registered professional, I wasn’t taking any chances.
“I don’t have a washing machine, I use my parents’ which works fine for me.”
The businesswoman is looking forward to Christmas in the mobile and plans to stay there for two years.
The experience so far has also impacted on the type of house she wants to have and, like many others who are part of the global ‘Tiny House Movement’, Deirdre realises that, long-term, less is more: “I had worked so hard to save some money that when I was told that it still wasn’t enough, I honestly thought at that point I didn’t have a hope as I couldn’t physically work any harder without making myself sick.
“But I gave myself a talking to, and realised having a house isn’t more important than my welfare, and I certainly don’t need one to be happy.
“It is so easy to get caught up in the whole process, but once I took a step back business got better and I now have a home, albeit a very different one than the one I had in mind.”
She said she has learned that her needs are small, and that less is often more: “I will remember that when it comes to building my house. I don’t want a mortgage that will determine the way I live.”
All pictures by Deidre O'Sullivan.