I spent 19 months travelling Asia, Europe, North America and then living the “Australian dream” doing a snow season with Holly in Whistler, Canada. Eventually the two of us landed in the UK. Holly’s father, Rupert, had sadly passed away the previous year and so we moved to the UK and lived with her mum, Ali, for five months, supporting each other as a family.
With goal two seemingly still financially out of reach but bursting with tons of architectural inspiration from my travels across the globe, I hunkered down in Ali’s little thatched roof Hobbit house and began dreamily designing a small house structure to sit on the block back home. Each morning I’d wake up, eat my breakfast, sip my tea and work on my relationship with Kevin McLeod (Grand Designs). I’d then boot up the laptop, email dad the latest ideas and concepts for his thoughts and then jump into Sketchup, easing into the design process with Kev’s dulcet tones murmuring in the background.
A mishmash of somewhat directionless hand drawn concepts of dwellings utilising containers, trailers and compact slabs littered Ali’s dining table and the remaining CAD files were beginning to clog up my laptop’s desktop. It wasn’t until at some point during this repetitive daily ritual, the algorithm decided it had finally worked me out and YouTube spat a recommendation my way – Living Big In A Tiny House.
Living Big then consumed my world, Kev’s now obnoxious drawl was being kindly drowned out by the chirpy kiwi-accented Living Big host, Bryce, who had somehow figured out the secret to being invited graciously into random strangers’ tiny houses for a cheeky little snoop. Originally my design concepts had been constrained to small structures due to serious budget limitations, however, after bingeing Living Big my perception of small space living had changed and I was embracing the opportunities that came with that. All I needed now was a way to fund this crazy idea.
After seeing the progress and passion I had developed for the idea, dad emailed me one day with a proposal. A year and a half earlier he had retired at the ripe young age of 80, he was now living with the love of his life, Elizabeth, on the Mornington Peninsula. He had sold his house and business and after paying off some substantial debts he had a modest sum of money to see him out into retirement.
He proposed that he’d loan me a significant portion of his retirement money to buy the block and then a bit more to help fund the initial stages of the house construction. I was utterly overwhelmed to say the least. This tremendous offer generated so many conflicting thoughts, many of which revolved around dad’s age, retirement goals and the uncertainty of an elderly person’s health. After months of discussions back and forth, he convinced me that the investment would be for his own benefit. That being the joy he would get from watching his son complete what he had done so many times before in his life, creative expression, through the design and construction of a house.