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They Built a Tiny House & Skoolie in New Zealand

Mati and Luli moved to New Zealand about 7 years ago and lived for a time with a woman in her treehouse. During that time, they discovered they needed far less than they originally thought and got the idea to build a tiny house! They built the entire thing from the trailer-up, and did it using reclaimed materials for around $18,000 USD.

We had the privilege of interviewing the couple, and you can read more of their story below and take a tour of their home first, and then their bus conversion. Enjoy!

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Their Tiny Home From Reclaimed Materials & Bus Conversion!

We got into tiny living because lived for 5 months in a 5×3 m (16.4 x 9.8 ft) tiny house, which was in the middle of a bush at tree height, and we discovered we did not need much space to live comfortably.

Life is more about experiencing the outside, enjoying the views, and being immersed in nature.

The downsizing and decluttering aspect of going tiny was also attractive for the lifestyle we aim to live.

So we built our tiny house from scratch, even the trailer, using lots of recycled materials and reclaimed wood, doors, and windows.

After building the tiny house, we also converted a school bus into a small apartment (not a motorhome), in which we are living now.

The tiny house took approximately 10 months (while working 40h/week), and the bus took 4 months (almost full time).

We do not live on the road, but we spent a sabbatical year travelling with the bus using savings.

After discovering this alternative way of living, it has absolutely changed our lives for better.

Connecting more with the outdoors, feeling more free economically (due to low rent pay), and being more conscious about our consumption (what and how).

When you live in a small space, you think twice about what goes in.

One of the hardest parts of tiny living was that we did not have a washing machine for a long time and had to do the laundry outside. It was a bummer.

But the most rewarding part of living tiny is that we go to sleep knowing we are not paying 60 % of our salary on rent.

And the outdoors, of course, it is amazing to have a coffee looking at a million dollar views, and with no neighbours!

If you’re thinking about going tiny, do not doubt it and go for it! We are convinced everyone can build their own house, and trust us, doing it will be one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences you will ever have. Ask for help if you do not feel confident in any part of the building process. There is a big community out there ready to help.


  • Mati and Luli realized after a stint of living with a woman in her treehouse, that they didn’t need nearly as much, or as much space, as they thought.
  • That’s when they were inspired to build a tiny house using many reclaimed materials. It took them about 10 months to complete their home and most of the materials were found free or reclaimed.
  • The house is about 21 ft x 8 ft.
  • After living in the tiny house, they wanted a new adventure, and purchased a bus to convert.
  • Working on the bus full-time for four months, they were able to transform it into a beautiful home on wheels.
  • They spent a sabbatical year traveling New Zealand in their bus.

VIDEO: Amazing Ultra Low-Cost Dream Tiny Home!

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

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