Ingrid Stanway was living in a rental home with her mother when she was struck by a bright idea. Then single, 41, and crippled by mortgage debt, she decided to go it alone and build a tiny home for the debt-free future she coveted.
Inspired by DIY videos, Ingrid’s big dream made up for her lack of carpentry experience. Starting in 2016, she bought a trailer on a 5-acre plot of land in Western Australia, naming her new project “Tiny Tootz.” So began her two-year labor of love.
“I am so grateful for what building my tiny house has done for me,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I’ve become financially more independent. I own my own home outright! I no longer have large mortgage or high utility bills. My footprint is small and my consumption has drastically reduced.”
“Six years ago, I was crippled in debt by my mortgage, forced to work away in the mines to pay for a house I didn’t really want,” said Ingrid, posting her story on Tiny House Talk, a blog sharing inspiring stories and ideas on affordable housing options.
Having decided to build a tiny house of her own, she said, she borrowed some tools, watched endless DIY YouTube videos, and read books of inspiration.
She ended up having to double both her time allowance and her budget, but says the latter is due to her taste for “little luxuries.”
Tiny Tootz, a home on wheels, was constructed from a wooden frame with a mezzanine level for Ingrid’s sleeping area.
On the ground floor, she built a fully equipped kitchen, including a dishwasher and microwave, a bathroom with a full-size shower, a staircase with integrated storage, and a seating area by a large bright window.
Giving purpose to every nook and cranny, Ingrid fit a wine rack beneath the stairs, a potato box under the washing machine, and built extra deep, double-layered drawers for cutlery, stationery, and other miscellaneous items.
Ingrid then injected some personality into Tiny Tootz with a cowgirl-and-equestrian theme in the decor.
“With just my two hands, two plastic trestle tables, and a really good ladder, I was moving in!” Ingrid wrote.
She said it was, and still is, by far the “best decision” she ever made.
“My confidence in my abilities to achieve my dreams is unwavering because of it,” she wrote.
As time went on, Ingrid extended her property outward.
Building a deck from an old caravan chassis, she added extra seating. Most recently, she built a red-brick path leading up to her front door.
While acknowledging there are a couple of drawbacks—such as exposure to the weather and having to clean the outside of the home “like it’s a car”—Ingrid wouldn’t change tiny home life for the world.
“I’m still making changes [and] improvements as I go … but despite that, there isn’t a day go by that I’m not extremely proud and grateful for my gorgeous little piece of home!” she said.
Ingrid documents her daily life as a tiny home owner, on Facebook and Instagram. She has even written a book, titled “Tiny House That Built Me,” recording her journey so far to build her house on wheels.
“This is my personal story of the journey and struggles I went through building my house solo, as well as the steps of the build and then the realities of what living tiny is actually like,” she wrote.