Rory and Paulette's Tiny Houses

Rory and Paulette's Tiny Houses

"I think the best part of being off-grid and having solar is just the freedom. Both the financial and physical freedom to do what we want and that we can share this with our family. Our minimal footprint on the earth and just be who we want to be– and hopefully be an inspiration to others to live this kind of life. It is possible. You can do it."

Tom's Tiny House Interview Reading Rory and Paulette's Tiny Houses 13 minutes Next Morgan and Jessica's Yurt

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"Beautiful Bay of Plenty Morning this morning. Fog's just lifting. We've had our morning coffees and we're off to see Rory. I'm really excited to see Rory's place. He bought two and a half acres outside of town here and built a beautiful tiny house on top of a truck trailer. He then bought one of our Freedom Kits. And then his Mother moved on and his brother moved on which I'm really excited about because I just love it when you have these family endeavours, because I don't know if you know it but GridFree is a family business and I just love that side of it. So, join me while we go and check it out!"

"G'day, Rory." G'day, Craig. How're you doing? "Hey, good. What an amazing spot!" Yeah, thanks man. Welcome to our little bit of paradise. Come and have a nosy. "Yeah, keen!"

I'm Rory. And I'm Paulette and we live here in the Waikato with our daughter Taila and um, yeah, we're living tiny! I guess we sort of started becoming aware of our impact on the planet and that the way we're living wasn't ideal. We didn't want a mortgage. We wanted to be more sustainable and somehow we ended up with a truck and then a B-train set of trailers that were going to be our new home! We like this area because it was mainly central. We just love the views and everything about it and the opportunity that it could give us to live the lifestyle that we wanted to achieve. We've now been here about 18 months and it was a bare block of paddock and so it's been a lot of work to develop it to where it's come to now and still a lot more but you know, you gotta start somewhere. So uh, this is our bit of paradise.

Down the far end there we've got mum's place a little tiny and a cabin below in front of us here we've got our Nordic inspired grill cabin. "I like that." And uh, down the hill as you came in you probably saw my brother's place. "Yep, saw that!" Um, obviously the solar kit! Three sets of panels there and the solar shed just behind and around the corner, we've got our glass houses and all our
orchard and trees and stuff.

Having the family here is actually pretty good. Mum's in a different scenario than us, you know, she had a big fancy house and decided that, 'Na, this isn't the way to live', and we had a piece of land here, she needed somewhere to live after she sold up so it just worked and she loves it. And my younger brother like he'd been trying to get on the property ladder for ages but renting and trying to save for a home just doesn't work anymore. So he bought a little house and now he's there and and he's, maybe he'll buy some land one day but until then he's got somewhere he can live and we can help him out so he can save. Because we're all sort of quite like-minded now we all gel quite well together, which is cool, and great having the ability to, you know, Taila our little three year old can go to mum's for the day or for overnight. Even for an hour, you know. 

Just go and play with her for a bit and then Ryan's got a six-year-old daughter Mila who's here every second week so they get to play together as well. Yeah having Nana here is awesome for them and she loves it as well because she gets a lot more time with her grand-children than she usually would. And we've each got our own areas as well so it's– we're not in each other's faces all the time we've got our own spaces.

Cool so this is our lounge area– I've tried to keep it, sort of nice and open. "Yeah." Put a heap of windows in here. Cargo nets just for storage of bean bags just to get get them off the floor and utilize the space. "I like that, that's a great idea. I love the solid wood benches in the kitchen." Yeah they're quite um, quite neat. We're a big fan of Redwood, so we found a chap in Morrinsville who has some slabs and we got them cut up and another mate I know did all the layers of resin on them so they came up really cool. "Yeah they look good eh." The cupboards and stuff for the kitchen all this plywood. "Yes. Like the plywood look, keep it nice and simple, nice and strong. Looks great!" Yeah, it's come up not too bad– the shelf up the top is another addition for storage again and Paulette's got all her preserves and stuff up the top there. "Cool fireplace." Yeah the Little Honey! It's a, yeah, neat little fire– perfect for this size space. Give it 20 minutes and it's good to go and it's got the little oven on top as well so if you want to break some bread you can. "Yeah, I saw that. That's quite neat eh." Yeah, really neat feature.

Um, as far as challenges on the life side. I guess we had a bit of a transition didn't we. We kind of had a couple of years of this is, you know, what we were doing isn't how we want to live, so we started downsizing and getting rid of stuff that we didn't want. I guess when we moved we had to downsize again because we put everything into a container while we were building this at my Mom's place. Challenges since then has probably been working out what we need in the space and sorting through that stuff that you have from life. Yeah, that you think you're going to need but you don't really. And of course, we moved here with emptiness inside so we took six months to get our kitchen, we were two months without a bathroom.

I think for resources yeah, um, old Bryce and his– Living Big in a Tiny House. There's such a varied range of people, different houses, different situations, some of them are plugged in some of them are not, so that's a really good place to start and a lot of people have I think. Yeah feel free to ask people or join Facebook pages or, yeah follow YouTube channels that are along those lines and there's information out there. People are more than willing to help especially when they're in that situation. This comes as part of the, part of the off-grid living, yeah, helping others out.

So this is sort of our rumpus room slash bedroom. "Yeah." Um so down here we've kind of got, you know, some bean bags for sitting and listening to music. Stereo's down there. Our bed's up here. "Hey that's cool." Looks a little bit dodgy. Kinda like a floating bed. But we can just pop it down we go to bed and pop it up so we got enough head clearance so you don't knock yourself out and then just ladders up either side. "You engineer that yourself did you?" Yeah, yeah I'm not the world's best welder but it hasn't fallen to pieces yet, and again more Redwood. "Yeah, yeah, looks great! And a Spiroloc fireplace." Yes the little Spiroloc. Yeah that hums. Too hot sometimes– another good reason why we put opening windows which you can't see but um, let a bit of the heat out let it breathe and helps in summer as well. "Great."

Changes to daily life– since having our daughter I haven't gone back to work at all. I've been volunteering a couple of mornings a week at a local organic veggie garden. Um, I had no experience with gardening previous to this lifestyle and we want to grow our veggies. So, I talked to them about having the opportunity to come and learn from them, volunteering my time and I maybe just take my daughter down there with me and she plays with their kids so she gets that social time with them as well, while I get to learn things and help them out, which is really awesome to help out some in your community as well. Going back to an office job for me, never happening. No way. You know, my work is here doing what I can here and being able to get out there and play. Yeah and and I think we're all a bit more tied to the land like doing things to sustain ourselves, so that's sort of become more of the daily. I came from town. You know, moving to rural was a big step and a big transition, but there's no way I'd be going back. No way now.

So here we've got our wee bathroom. The classic composting toilet. Yeah, yeah that's again just all made out of a bit of bit of plywood a little bit of Redwood. We sort of wanted the emphasis on a nice big shower so that's 1100 by 1200 I think, and again Redwood trims, but just keeping it basic and simple and as open as we can. And the corrugate is just nice and easy, obviously, it's all clean, clear and don't have to worry about overlapping joints or anything like that, so. "So how'd you find the composting toilet?" Pretty good really– I know there's people that are like, 'Don't want to be near those things', but they're really simple. It's just basically a bucket and, with some carbon material inside. As long as you cover your business, doesn't smell and it's really easy. And obviously, no water. So water usage is way down or it's non existent for the toilet anyway, which is great. Yeah, yeah.

So we purchased a Freedom Kit and mum has a Freedom Kit as well and my  brother also has a Freedom Kit. As far as install goes, yeah very straightforward. Looking through the instructions from GridFree– it's easy. There weren't any times that you're like, 'What does this thing do', or anything it's just, just easy. So we went with GridFree because you're off-grid specific. Obviously other companies do offer that as well but they're mainly grid-tied so knowing that that's your focus gave us confidence that the kind of kit you're going to provide was fit for purpose.

Cool so obviously had the two sets of four panels that came originally with our Freedom Kit. "Yeah." And the little shed behind it's got the eight batteries and five kilowatt inverter and then we thought we'll get another set of four. "Yeah I can see the newer model panels." Yeah. Shame they don't match, but that's okay.

I think our experience with GridFree is, has been great. I mean, it was easy to make contact and get the information we needed. Product arrived in good condition and in the specified time frame. The support's been great– I have asked lots of questions, especially integration with the wind turbine which is yet to arrive. Yeah, we couldn't, couldn't really ask for better really. "Yeah." And we've already recommended it twice at least because we've got Julie and Ryan both with the system. GridFree is definitely that company that we're recommending because it's so easy.

Yes, this fire was just built by a local chap. Um worked at a fabrication shop so we thought it would be a good, good addition for something to put in here and keep warm and yeah. Cook some food and some pizzas maybe. "Yeah, I like the tire rim at the top there to centre the flue." Yeah, yeah. We're trying, trying to reuse what we can and it actually works really well as insulation from the amount of heat that comes out of the chimney. Mmm. "It'd be nice on evenings, sit down here, have the fire going." Oh, it is. Got the beautiful view. Yeah. I love it. Every little project because we've done it all ourselves. It's all just been a, 'Yeah this is awesome,' you know, that we've done this. We haven't got someone else to do it. It's all been us. It's not perfect but, you know, it doesn't need to be at the end of the day. Yeah. But yeah every every little thing has been awesome. Yeah and really added to a lifestyle that we really want to live.

I think the best part of being off-grid and having solar is just the freedom. Both the financial and physical freedom to do what we want and that we can share this with our family. Our minimal footprint on the earth and just be who we want to be– and hopefully be an inspiration to others to live this kind of life. It is possible. You can do it. Yeah.

Wow, what an amazing piece of paradise Rory has created here for himself and his family. Us here at GridFree are so proud to be part of his journey to self-sufficiency.


Check out the Freedom Kit that Rory and his family use here. You can also browse all our kits, or get stuck into our Knowledge Base to learn all about off grid solar.