Happy, Simply - A Lifestyle Model and Education Project. - Tiny House Blog

Happy, Simply – A Lifestyle Model and Education Project.

happy simple life

Debt free – healthy, happy, and with lots of friends. Where the best things in life are not things, where less is more and, where just enough is plenty!

The lifestyle model includes:

  • Sustainable living – shelter, food, water, energy, transport, waste, environment
  • Community participation – volunteering, active citizenship
  • Education – learning, simple sustainable choices, self-sufficiency, and rich experiences

A model for life and an educational project to learn from with information and inspiration.

Of most interest to the Tiny House community this website will be the Happy, simply home – a 10m2 house built by a group of volunteers using mainly reused, recycled, or left-over materials in two weeks for under $8000 NZ ($6700USD).

To live simply is the ultimate sophistication and luckily I have been fortunate to live and learn from the world’s poorest who, unfortunately, don’t get to choose simplicity, but are masters of living simply and being more connected to their families, communities, and the environment around them.

Simplicity has so many amazing benefits to the individual, the people around them, the environment, and towards a more just and connected global community. This was the starting point that I wanted to have a home that implemented these ideologies in a tangible way through a dwelling to live in and be an active part of a community.

inside drawing

After traveling to almost 60 on top of my native home of Australia, I stumbled upon a town named Paekakariki (where the girls are cheeky – as the local rhyme goes) and fell in love with the surrounding beach and mountains and also the community. It’s a small but distinct community that cares about where they live and those who live within the community. I was there this time last year and then had to leave for the remainder of the year. I returned in late January to set up the Happy, simply project and the home.

final look of house

I held a community meeting to share my idea and listen to the community. I tried to find a place to build, a team of volunteers to work, and sources of materials and resources locally available. From that first meeting I had enough interest to put plans into action. A Spanish couple created the first designs.

floor plan

After many changes in venues, materials, people, and of course plans we decided to build a 10m2 home on an old boat trailer. We wanted a design that could be moved easily due to my nomadic ways and to avoid a couple of council regulations like a having a toilet.

outside drawing

On February 16 we started building with a group of 10 volunteers, two builders, a designer and not much else!

In an incredible two weeks of stress, joy, mistakes, creativity, and everything else possible we had a completed home ready to live in with loft, decks and a whole lot of learning, laughter, and love poured into the foundation and structure of the Happy, simply home.

labelled measurements Structure Drawing - prop 2 framing

I can now live almost completely self-sufficient with:

  • Solar power to run some lights and charge a laptop
  • Water capture for drinking, cooking and cleaning
  • Passive lighting and heating
  • Bio-compostable toilet
  • Worm farm
  • Cycling for transport – and public transport if further afield and
  • Well connected with the community around me who saw the birth and raising of the Happy, simply home


The building process was truly amazing with so much to learn for the participants and so much interaction with the community and others so they now have a point of reference to the home – ‘I saw it when it was just a boat trailer’ or I remember seeing it when the door arrived with a catflap’, etc… and they also have an affinity with it and feel connected to the home – just wonderful!


People can read more as I blogged on each day of the build: http://happysimply.wordpress.com/

So in all it was not such a simple experience in building your own home on an old and wonky trailer with left-over wonky wood, but it was certainly a rich experience that now gives me the opportunity to live my ultimate dream of being happy, simply. It also now allows me, as an educator, to share this experience and model with others so they can adopt one or more of the components into their lives for more happiness, simplicity, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and of course happiness!

Happy, simply.


Footnote: I actually have to leave the Happy, simply home in a few days because of a volunteer assignment I am doing overseas until December, but the Happy, simply home will be open to the community and others to experience for a night a taste of the happy, simple way of life and components until my return next near…

Happy to answer questions in the comments if you have any – thanks!


the guys

IMG_0819 IMG_0820

building together


framing walls

online article photo


IMG_0897 the group IMG_1165

kapiti observer inside next to stairs kapiti observer inside view kapiti observer outside on deck kapiti observer working at desk


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sparky - April 21, 2013 Reply

Great article. I’d love to be able to participate in something similar!

    d'Arcy - April 22, 2013 Reply

    Make it happen. I really didn’t do anything special other than organise a few like-minded people and some resources. It is not easy or instant but plant the seed and see who will come along for the ride with you! Guaranteed lots of experiences, learning and laughs!

Audrey - April 21, 2013 Reply

Good on you! That is awesome! Very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing!

southernrata - April 21, 2013 Reply

Great to see a New Zealand example for a change. Not that it’s obvious from the article. Try this


Dwills - April 21, 2013 Reply

I would like to pose a question that may have an obvious answer I just don’t really know what it is. In this article D’Arcy talks about community, but then mentions his nomadic life and that is one of the reasons he went with a mobile trailer. How do nomads fit into an established community?

    d'Arcy - April 22, 2013 Reply

    Great question Dwillis and happy to answer that one. Community is something I strive for when being in any place. As a self confessed nomad my involvement and depth of being involved in a community is usually short and surface level. It is not the same as someone who lives in that community for a long time and with a lot of depth. I sometimes yearn for that intimacy and quality of community but at the same time I love being the pinch hitter and coming into communities, learning, sharing and being active even just for a short period and with a strong sense of sustainability – not creating a dependancy or negative feelings. Personally I see it as different to the usual community involvement, not better or worse. However I do hope to be a regular, long term, active participant in Paekakariki!

Happy, simply. build – the video! | Happy Simply – lifestyle model & education project - April 21, 2013 Reply

[…] to see the blog featured on the Tiny House Blog here – http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-house-concept/happy-simply-a-lifestyle-model-and-education-project/ and the hundreds of folks from around the world who have had a look at Happy, simply. – a […]

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10qm Lebensfreude | wohnbu.de - April 22, 2013 Reply

[…] Ausser das der Trailer eigentlich mal richtig gut aussieht. Und das ist ja auch was. Ausserdem gibt’s viel Bilder vom Bau und ggf. gibt es ja auch Familien die das hier lesen und einfach nur was für den Ferienwohnsitz […]

Patrick Morgan - April 26, 2013 Reply

I had the pleasure of working on this volunteer community project with d’Arcy. I learned heaps about building, materials, tools and community projects. D’Arcy is now back in Australia, and has generously allowed people to stay in the tiny house. So tomorrow we’ll train and cycle to Paekakariki and stay a night. I’ll report back.

Esse Vebe - April 26, 2013 Reply

Love the design and exterior colour. Is there room for two?

lucy - April 28, 2013 Reply

Love to see a NZ tiny house featuring! and in Paekak no less!

Br. Curt - April 28, 2013 Reply

What a wonderful design, and almost all recycled materials! I’m putting your design on my list of a few others on my list to make a final choice for my tiny home on a trailer. Very nice!

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