GF Connections - Interview with Elite Tiny Homes

GF Connections - Interview with Elite Tiny Homes

There's a whole lot more to living off grid than just setting up solar. So today we're starting a new series where we visit other off-grid friendly businesses that you might encounter in your off-grid journey. Today we're at Elite Tiny Homes with Dan and Sally and they're going to show us around.

There's a whole lot more to living off grid than just setting up solar. So today we're starting a new series where we visit other off-grid friendly businesses that you might encounter in your off-grid journey. Today we're at Elite Tiny Homes with Dan and Sally and they're going to show us around.

"I'm Sally from Elite Tiny Homes." "Hey I'm Dan."

"We're based in the beautiful Waimauku near Muriwai beach West Auckland, where we specialise in designing Elite tiny homes on wheels. After working in the tiny home industry for several years we built our own tiny for personal use - the feeling was addictive! So it was a natural progression to create our own business and we've never looked back! Our goal at Elite, it's our core mission, to really help those who are finding it hard to get on the property ladder.

We know it's tough out there, so we want to have a price point that is obtainable to a wider range of clientele. So for us we get a real buzz from being able to make that dream come true. We have six base models that we like to use as a blueprint." 

Billy: "So six designs is quite a few has it always been that way?"

Sally: "No, we started off having two base designs, we quickly noticed that clients really want to be able to highly customise their design. So now we have six they are all uh pick and mixed from our clients into what they really wanted the outcome to be of their final build. Because it's the fun of tiny houses, is being able to really get them exactly how you want them." 

Billy: "So let's say I'm a customer looking to build a tiny house with you guys what's the first step?"

Sally: "So the first step would be get to know you what you want where you located. Yeah it' be really lovely to be able to show our clients through so if you come into the workshop we can show some of our other builds um go over our plans so you can see exactly what it looks like on paper as well. From there once you've chosen with you're going to be going for the larger 29 square metre or the smaller 24. Then you're able to choose your flooring, your bench tops, your colour scheme, and that's really fun bit! And also adding add-ons such as solar panels, uh decking, bathtubs, so that's where the sort of design and creative aspect comes into it. 

Billy: "Wow, it's real stylish in here."

Dan: "Yeah yes so this is our Maui design, that's our smallest tiny house. It's under Ranger or Hilux and you can legally tow it on the road just just like a normal caravan. 

Billy: "Aw, cool!"

Dan: "It's 7 m long by 2.4 M wide."

Billy: "Yep, this house seems really geared towards an off-grid setup could you take me through some of the more important features that your off-grid customers ask for?"

Dan: "So we have this fireplace here we have gas oven, gas califont, gutters for water, and yeah you can park it up pretty much in the middle of nowhere."

"So tell me a bit about the design of your bathroom?"

Dan: "Yes, so it's the smallest bathroom we can pretty much get in our tiny house. 
It's got everything you need got full size shower, it's got sink, this one's got two windows, heated towel rails, extractor fan, powerpoints, and composting toilet the brands Bambooloo."

Billy: "Oh yeah, is that a common option?"

Dan: "Yeah, actually it's the most common option. These custom made steps they made by a local cabinet maker called Mum's kitchen, our client can choose if they want shelves or if they want rails for coat hangers.

Billy: "That's a pretty big kitchen for a tiny home."

Dan: "Yeah, well we got this full gas oven so it's perfect for off-grid living, we've installed it a few times and people love it, yeah, you don't need splashback cuz that's the feature." 

Billy: "Oh, there you go, cool! So it's quite an aesthetic design especially with all this wood, what inspired it?"  

Dan: "A lot of European houses got these trusses so it's actually a feature but also helps the structure makes it more solid and looks cool! Yeah, that's our full size loft. So you can comfortably fit your queen size mattress, we have two USB power points on each side. And our clients actually requested to extend the platform so 
usually where you see the fridge that cuts off."

Billy: "Oh that's cool, so it sounds like you do a lot of custom designs and modifications. Is it quite easy to do that extension or ..?"

Dan: "Yeah, yeah we always try to make our customer happy so if they request 
something we try to make it happen."

Billy: "So once you get one of these tiny homes to site what sort of set ups involved?"

Dan: "So you will need two LPG bottles, so that's your califont, your hot water, and your cooking, so that's your water connection. So depending if you have a connection already on the site or you going to collect from your water tank. And that's your caravan plug for power so again depending if you you know using your solar panels or you already have water electric connection on the site. 

Yep so when we installing the solar panels for our clients we work with them, we get them to design the we call it mini mini tiny house which is little utility shed which got the same matching timber on the outside and it's designed so you can have your hybrid units, you have your LCD screen, you can see all the you know information about the panels, and your batteries on the bottoms. And once we get to the site we plug everything together put the batteries inside and then we just plug it in with the extension cord and it's always working no issues!

My client said about the GridFree solar kit, the key feature for them is they don't need to spend a lot of money up front. They like they can get upgrades in the future you know get more batteries or solar panels and it's affordable."

Sally: "Some of our clients have also said that they feel a stronger connection to nature by being off-grid. They are, you know, reliant on the sun and so for them they just feel a lot more grounded um and being able to live with more freedom that's something that keeps coming back with our clients which I think is a gorgeous sort of key outcome from using solar."

Dan: "Installing the GridFree solar kit, the manual makes it super easy. I think 
my three-year-old son could install them, like but no honestly anyone can do it it's 
very simple very user friendly and it's easy!"

Sally: "For me it's super hassle free when I need to call GridFree, I'm always blown away by the young men and ladies at the end of the phone - two of them are actual engineers! Which to me is so rare to have an engineer sitting on the telephone line but that's exactly what you need because some of the most specific intricate answers that I'm inquisitive about they're able to answer right on the spot! It's awesome!

Welcome to our workshop! This is where we build our tiny homes."

Billy: "So how early on in the design process does the customer need to notify you that they're going to go with solar?"

Sally: "The design doesn't get altered due to the fact that the tiny home gets transported to the site and that's when the solar gets installed, yeah. So whether it needs to be roof mounted or whether would be piles in the ground, design factor doesn't matter which is perfect for us.

Billy: "So this is quite an impressive trailer do you get these locally?"

Dan: "Yes we do, we get local engineering company who makes custom trailers for us. My favourite feature about this one is that you can remove this complete draw bar, you can just you just need to go underneath unbolt few bolts and then you can fully remove it put it underneath or somewhere else and the tiny house looks a lot more tidy." 

Billy: "So it sounds like sourcing from local businesses is really important to you guys?"

Sally: "Yeah it is, it's something that has always been um really key within our business. There's so many um fabulous local um people that facilitate our industry, so we're luckily enough to have uh good relationships with them, they help us we help them, and it's something we're really proud of. 

One piece of advice that I would give to our clients is try before your buy. One of our designs is on Airbnb in the beautiful Raglan. It's called 'Coastal and Surf Escape' it's only $178 a night and what we do is we will pay for your entire stay if you end up buying through Elite." 

Billy: "So what's your favourite part about building tiny homes?"

Dan: "Oh that's a good question, every tiny house I would say it's different but I really like when my client ask me for something almost difficult, something unique, you know? Like we had the previous standing house after a full custom door and I reckon definitely stands out it's something really beautiful."

Billy: "So what's different about this one?"

Dan: "Well this one's the same design like you just saw it's got way bigger bathroom." 

Billy: "Ah yeah, oh is that the door you're talking about?

Dan: "Yes so this is made by my mates company, made out of recycled western cedar."

Billy: "Yeah, well looks really nice, it's got quite a bit of a different finish in the kitchen?"

Dan: "Yeah, so client they wanted engineered stone like a bench top, they want a full size electric oven with gas stop, the main thing is the bathroom, we can go have a look inside if you want?"

Billy: "Well this is a lot bigger!"

Dan: "Yeah, it is! Our client want to have bigger bathroom, which means they can have a smaller lounge. So everyone's different but you got the big bathroom, you got your washing machine here, heated towel rail, LED mirror, and full size shower with tiles."

Billy: "Oh that's cool, is this where the toilet's going to go?"

Dan: Yes so we left the toilet last cuz they're going to do it at the site. But you got the plumbing done, there's a water supply and yeah it's ready to go!"

Billy: "So what would you say Elite Tiny Home's biggest point of difference is?"

Dan: "I would say the fact that I'm from Europe we applying more European designs, European fashion style, and I think we affordable as well."

Sally: "So my favourite part is when I can see my customers are genuinely happy about the dream tiny house and the making the dream come true! It's such a buzz for us um and just between you and I, the tiny home industry the clients who are involved in it are really the best! They, they're wanting a simpler lifestyle they're eco-conscious they're after a smaller footprint. It's it seems to attract some really beautiful people with core values which are similar to Dan and I's. So for us it's it's a perfect match. 

So off-grid living to me is just a simple way of living they you're not relying on anything. The reduced financial costs are something which uh gets really highlighted for us and there's also areas where you can't connect to the main 
power source and that's where GridFree really comes in in spades. There's a lot of people wanting to slow down their lifestyle and live more rurally not be in the in the traffic or the rat race so much. So being able to live off-grid has skyrocketed and I think there's no greater time than now do we need need that. 

In terms of expansion for the company we currently have five workers we would  be looking to increase that number um the demand is there. But we also want to stay small enough so that we're really involved in each build. If you expand too quickly too soon there's often an element of personalisation that can get missed. In terms of geography we may look at expanding into other regions, um we love the Hawke's Bay Area um perhaps down to Motueka where I'm from in the South Island. There's a lot of demand for tiny homes down there uh the options are really endless but the future is looking really bright!

If you'd like to reach out to either myself or Dan or any of the team at Elite jump on the website or pick up the phone we'd love to have a chat and we' love to show you around!