Christchurch homeowners mortgage-free by 21

Music 13/07/2016

At the ages of 19 and 21, Andy Sutherland and Taylor Rosie-Forrester are mortgage-free first-home owners - here's how they did it. 

The pair hand-built their own first home to avoid wasting money on rent, and say it could be the answer to combating the country's housing crisis. 

But their cosy one-bedroom home has just one catch - it's on wheels. 

"Renting is dead money, so we came up with the idea of, 'Why don't we build a small house on wheels so we can move too?'" Ms Rosie-Forrester says. 

The pair began building their small home in January. It started as a trailer, and seven months later at a cost of just $15,000, their home is complete. 

"We looked at how much it would cost for a year of renting or flatting for two people and we thought, 'What else could we do for with that amount of money?'" Mr Sutherland says. "So we came up with this idea, and we did it for less than we would have spent for one year of renting." 

At eight metres long, 2.4 metres wide and 4.2 metres high, the small home includes all the features of a regular home - a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and even a log-burning fire. 

Made out of recycled materials, every little piece has a story. 

"The floorboards came from Andy's great-great-great grandparent's first house, and the china used in the mosaic around the fire too," Ms Rosie-Forrester says. 

Running on solar power for electricity, gas for cooking and the fire for heating, the home has few ongoing expenses and the added bonus of an extremely small carbon footprint. 

"Working as a builder I could see so much waste in the construction industry, and I thought there must be better uses than just in the skip and then to the dump, so I just started collecting a lot of material and I ended up building this entirely out of recycled stuff," says Mr Sutherland. 

"We're completely off the grid."

Across the globe, thousands of people are turning to living in small homes. The movement began in the US after a large number of people lost their houses in the global financial crisis. 

And as many Kiwis struggle to scrape together enough money for a house deposit, small homes are on the rise here too. 

"It's just so good and especially knowing that we will always have a home, we can go away for as long as we want and we haven't lost it, it's affordable and it always here," he says. 


$7,000 for trailer 

$3,000 for solar 

$5,000 for recycled materials