When David Clark returned home after spending months living and travelling around North America in a converted vintage van in 2018, he and friend Ryan McCormack noticed a ‘serious gap’ in the market.
‘There were no thoughtfully designed and high-quality tiny houses in Australia,’ Ryan says. ‘The idea of combining my background in design and project management with Dave’s experience as an architectural builder started to make a lot of sense.’
Together, the duo channelled these ideas into their business, Base Cabin, which creates architecturally designed tiny homes on wheels designed to be transported on a trailer and wheeled into place. At just 15-square-metres or less, they can be moved anywhere and connected to water and electricity with standard extension cords and hose plug connections.
Initially, the co-founders were met with mixed responses (and some hesitation!) when they first started approaching architects. It took a certain level of bravery to take on their design brief – to fit the same functionality and amenity of a typical house into a tiny, portable dwelling. Even more so, when you consider that the build couldn’t weigh more than 4.5 tonnes – a requirement for towing the structure on roads.
Ben and Nancy of Melbourne-based firm Studio Edwards were the first architects keen to take on the task, and this collaboration lead to the first Base Cabin: an impressive A-frame build that successfully fit everything from a cosy bedroom, to a surprisingly spacious kitchen, living space and bathroom tucked into the warm and simple interiors.
While the original (now award-winning) design was developed as an ideal weekend retreat for two, Base Cabin have since gone on to collaborate with other architects to create three additional cabins, each one offering a slightly different design solution — the Fowler and Ward design, for example, was created with families in mind, and is able to sleep up to four.
The most affordable tiny home, from the Shelby Lenehan series, starts at $84,000. But each one is fully customisable, giving clients the option to work with interior designer, Lauren Egan to adapt the layout and finishes inside to suit their personal needs.
The builds also have a focus on sustainability. By nature, they have a smaller impact on the environment thanks to their compact size, and Ryan notes they all come ‘solar-ready’, complete with double-glazed windows and quality insulation ‘reducing your future energy costs once your tiny house is up and running’. Alternatively, you can even opt in to one of their off-grid solar system packages from the start.
‘We can build a tiny house in under 13 weeks, from when a client confirms they are keen to proceed,’ he adds.
‘When we initially started the business, it was solely focused on short-stay accommodation designs, although we’ve seen shift over the past 12 months to a lot of people looking for more permanent living options, whether it be a weekender and or as their primary house. This has come about due to the ever-increasing build costs across Australia but also the lead times and beauty of being able to transport tiny houses anywhere.’
Some of the company’s most interesting builds have seen them transform one of Studio Edwards’ tiny houses into a pool house on a ‘stunning property overlooking Bells Beach in Victoria’, while another is currently being used as yoga studio up in Port Douglas.
Ryan says this kind of housing could have a valuable role to play as emergency accommodation, and they’re easily movable, making them ideal to escape bushfire zones or high-flood areas. Or perhaps (if your block has the room) a tiny home could accomodate families looking to embrace multi-generational living. The options are endless — and Base Cabin is all about allowing people to create their ‘own adventure, wherever you want it to be’.
Learn more about Base Cabin here.