Clad inside and out

A sense of progress and this build might actually end! Also tomorrow from 5-7pm it is a mini small-house warming to share with the public our little project and to farewell the main builder/designer/teacher/yoda – Javi. Please come if you are around, to the north end of Tilley Rd.

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The Happy, simply home is now clad inside and out! All the doors and windows are IN and the only thing before beautifying is the roof, gutter and inside floor. Once all that is done then it is just the finishing touches and if you are about aesthetics or making things look nice as much as me… it is virtually done!

Since the article in the paper the other day there have been numerous visitors come and visit the sight. So many people come enthusiastic, inspired and wanting to know more – it is just beautiful and perfect the outcomes I could have only dreamed of. I am only sorry I don’t have time to spend with people at this moment as I now only have one more full day with the main builder and designer – Señor Javier Carrasco…SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Come next week when I will be still working on it but have moved in I am very keen to meet and greet anyone/everyone who would like to know more about simplicity, self-sufficiency, sustainability and total satisfaction with less. It is a wonderful part to play in a community and to interact and learn from it as well.

Today is farewell to local lad – Dan who came to us after loosing his job on the eve of the build and has been an amazing contributor, not only with his building skills but also with his easy-going attitude and gentle demeanour. Dan you are a super-star and thank you so much for so much!

Dan - usually on hands and knees

Dan – usually on hands and knees

We are now down to a hardcore group of four – Javi, Nicola, Dave and I so if anyone wants to come in and help out your would be very welcome!

Happy, simply.



Not always happy or simply but certainly abundant and fruitful (in learning and experiences)

A day of frustrations and intricacies (and absences – me!)

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The original plan was to have been done in 10 days but circumstance has dictated more days and we are still at an amazing place for 12 days…

We know not everything will go to plan – but plans are made to be changed.

However the pressure cooker of trying to get something finished in time before the builders and volunteers leave has been intense. Really I don’t think I am advantage to the project around the building as my stress comes out and stresses everyone else!

In reflecting a bit today, as I was in Wellington doing my other work, would I do this again like this? Not a chance. Am I glad I have done it? Not completely. But has it been a meaningful, learning and amazing experience – hell yeah!

In terms of the Happy, simply. – a lifestyle model and education project, there could be no more significant contribution to the home component that what we have done – bringing people and community together to produce something that is as sustainable, collaborative and connected as can be.

My biggest concerns are for the well-being of the people who have volunteered working on it daily, tirelessly, or for those who have supported us always with pressure and impossible deadlines.

While Happy, simply is kind of misleading for this component of the project – since it has been largely complex and often stressful it does make for the most abundant and fruitful learning opportunities and experiences… go team

Lets see what this amazing amalgamation of builders, volunteers and community can do in the remaining two days while we are all still together!

Happy, simply.


Volunteers are rich

Happy, simply. is a community project not just a housing project. The inclusive way the home gets built is just as if not more important than the final product – especially if it doen’t get finished!

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I am unable to thank the volunteers and contributors enough for this project. It has been a huge undertaking (not so much for me on the building side) for all involved. Let me show you what this project is about by me looking through one of our volunteers, Linley.

Linley is a friend of mine from my hometown in Adelaide and she saw I was building a small house as a part of the Happy, simply project. She said she would come over for the project (which was meant to be 10 days) to help out and learn!

Since arriving Linley has not only worked each day on the build-site from 8am to at least 6pm EVERYDAY but also then done all the background stuff like preparing food for meals, organising materials and other countless and thankless jobs.

online article photo

Credit: Randall Walker/Kapiti Observer

How can you ever pay someone like this who does something like that! However… in the 10 days Linley has been building she has gone from an active observer to training others, doing independent projects and adding ideas and advice to the build. Linley heads back to Adelaide tomorrow – thank you for all and happy sharing your experiences and now building knowledge and skills!

Tim from SHAC and I - to original brain childs of the Happy, simply home...

Tim from SHAC and I – to original brain childs of the Happy, simply home…

We also said farewell to Tim today from SHAC – Sustainable HAbitat Challenge who was one of the very early brain-child’s of the project, especially in the housing front, and also put Javi and Mireia in touch with me for them to design and build the amazing-boat-trailer-home!

The not-so brain-childs of the Happy, simply home

The not-so brain-childs of the Happy, simply home

Oh so many people to thank and not enough blogs to do – plus thank-you’s are usually pretty boring unless you know the people so my point in this blog is really about active citizenship, community participation and the ‘richness’ of volunteering – not only for those who receiving the volunteering but those who do it.

Here’s to volunteers and volunteering!

Happy, simply.


PS. I do have a cool one-pager on the richness of volunteering that I will have to share someday…

Front Page!

We’re on the front page of today’s paper!

‘House project on (a) roll’

So tonight’s blog is have a read of the article… – and see us still currently on the front page –

front page kapiti observerActually it is a spot-on article for what the project and the build is trying to complete. Great journalism and wish there was more accurate journalism like this for the polio work I do!

Have a read of the article and join our celebrations today for this recognition and for the model to be seen as it hopes to be.

Small summary of the day and photos:

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Today is day 10 – Completion (in the original plan). But as you will see we are not quite there.

There have been a few hurdles put in front of us such as people and places pulling out last minute being the critical one and mostly being a semi-pro builder short. This means everyone is learning, which is great for the project, but not so good for the completion date.

However by this Friday for the small-house warming we will have some sort of home to celebrate ready to be lived in (in some sort of shape or form) and still not sure exactly where either…

Happy, simply.


It’s a wrap!

Unfortunately not meaning finished but just wrapped in the wonderful waterproof but breathable membrane!

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We are getting there… piece by piece we are moving towards completion. I still have no idea if this means it will be completed by the last possible day which is Thursday – by then my nerves and care will have been shot and finished anyway!

comfortable paintingI finally managed to spend a whole day building, finally, and not having to source materials or do too many updates/emails. My first job was the wonderful task of painting all the wood on the trailer in Jeff Purple – yesterday I called is Murray Purple when Murray is obviously red (from the Wiggles). By the end of it I did feel like a 7-month-old not being able to support my own neck from having to paint from under the trailer (house). Still I’m very glad it was me as wouldn’t want to subject anyone to the torture of it all and it was also the first time I was actually painting for myself and my own home!

Still my role is just minor to all those who came out today and each had their own projects, challenges, learnings and success.

Today’s gains:

  • We have a loft!
  • We have some outside cladding complete
  • The home is now wrapped in it’s own special gor-tex like jacket – never knew homes needed it
  • I have a water-capturing roof!
  • We have a back deck

The really special component of the day is watching the volunteers interact and share lives with each other and then the people who pass by completely intrigued and integrate with the concept, ideas, practicalities and educational hopes of the project.

It was a long day but such a wonderful beautiful fulfilling way to spend it – I hope so for the amazing team of volunteers today as well. Thank you – Javi, Dan, Kora, Linley, Nicola, Tim, Tukaha, Dave, Jude, Fiona, Sarah, Patrick and Paul – and to all those who come out each day throughout.

Happy, simply.



What will become of the Happy, simply. home?

It kind of felt like progress and success today!

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We had a bunch of people all doing things and we now have a ceiling and a roof with insulation!

As you will now see we have the outside cladding painted and I like to call it – Murray colour – named after Murray the purple Wiggle. At least it is bright, fun, happy and not boring or subtle!

We also had a few guests today:

  • Stan the solar manStan to solar guy who filled us in on all things solar;
  • Gill from Habitat for Humanity who has been a great support for putting me in touch with people and suppliers as well as Habitat being a great organisation that gives low income earners a chance to be warm and dry in the NZ winter as well as run overseas volunteer programs – just go to their website! …
  • A number of local people who have heard about it from somewhere and are keen to see what it is all about

The most common question from passers by seems to be what are going to do with it when it is done?

At this stage the idea is evolving but I am SEARCHING for a wee spot 7m long, 2.5m wide and 4.2m high. I will only get to live in it for the month of March as I have to return to Australia in April and then I am off working in polio eradication for the rest of the year.

So here is the call out – I would love to live in the Happy, simply home for the month of March somewhere in Paekakariki where it is being built. Anyone in the community keen to host a fully self-sufficient, sustainable and simple home for the month?

The size of the beastThen from April on I have a few options of what will happen to the Happy, simply home… ideally I would love for it to be somewhere fairly public and for as many people to use and experience it over the course of the year so not just for one person but as many as possible. I’d love to see people come and stay in it for a night or two and get a taste for the happy, simple, sustainable lifestyle. There have been a few offers from around the place but I think best would be if it can remain in the community it was born in – Paekakariki, but nothing jumping out just yet…

Then when 2014 rolls around I hope to be back in Aotearoa New Zealand living and working with the usual nomadic trip/volunteering for a few months of the year, as is the nature of my ways.

I would love to hear suggestions, thoughts, ideas, initiatives on what you think would be best for the Happy, simply home. While I have lead and funded this project I defiantly don’t feel like I own it as it has been put together but a community of people and ultimately should be shared with a community of people.

Over to you… what will become of the Happy, simply. home? …

Happy, simply.



Progress – but only because of so many others!

It feels like progress…

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skeleton nearly doneJavi the wonderful Spanish designer, builder, good-guy has been saying to me just you wait it will grow quickly… I have been waiting and I am not good at waiting but today wait no longer as we have a skeleton and it is being wrapped up in it’s amazing pro clima membrane which is like a super gor-tex jacket for houses (all donated I must say to from pro clima).

Today in a nut-(house)-shell: the team grew with some more volunteers on the ground and a wonderful all-star appearance of Alex the builder; we received sliding door, glass door and windows – thank you locals from nulook windows & doors; IMG_0887we cut timber too short (Dave actually ;)) which now requires a new strategy; we have been eating fairtrade organic all-good bananasIMG_0899 and supplied by bread and scones from the Paekakariki Beach Rd Deli; had the presence of Patrick from Cycling Advocacy Network mainly for building but also lets us know how we can enjoy riding more often; had a bride pass through on her walk to her wedding; IMG_0897had interviews and photos with the Kapiti Observer (due for print on Monday); have been joined by collaborator and influencer Tim from SHAC – Sustainable HAbitat Challenge; just generally enjoyed being with other people who are learning and doing; and taking on the challenges of building a home!

Amazing how happy and simple a day can when you look at it as people getting together to do something they are all interested in… Having said this it is from an outside perspective as it is in essence HARD work physically and mentally.

It is a constant struggle to thank people but I have highlighted just a few of so many who have done so much in contributions and support so please have a look at who they are know that they have been incredibly generous and unquestionable in their giving with no expectations – just humbling and amazing…IMG_0873

Here are a few others on top of those named so far:

  • Sustainability Trust for floor and ceiling insulation and their curtain bank
  • Bunnings Porirua who helped with timber we couldn’t source and kicked in a bunch of screws
  • Placemakers in Paraparaumu who have been very understanding with our last-minute requests for the things we can’t so without
  • Dulux for a bunch of paint and supplied that will come in handy when we reach that point
  • Karma Cola also from All Good that have been keeping us alert with fairtrade real cola nut cola
  • Radio@ctive who I had a great interview with the other day and have always supported my crazy ideas and initiatives – listen here to the interview I had with them on Tuesday

There are more and I will name them all as I go along and then there are the volunteers who not only work 8-14 hours a day (like yesterday) but also help with food, cleaning, organising, etc but I will reserve a big flowery email for them!

Have a listen to the podcast about Happy, simply. and also a bit of polio stuff I do outside building a 10m2 home and will be in touch again tomorrow!

Happy, simply.


More than light bulbs…

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I remember reading a report once that read the average energy consumption of a human in the western world is split up something like this: energy pie

The thing that boggles my mind a little tonight is how much stuff you need to make a house… Now I can’t remember how the breakdown of this stat goes so it is not well referenced (but I can reference it tomorrow when I have more brain power and time) but housing we always try our hardest to use energy efficient lights and transport we now know that riding and public transport can make a difference but the one we neglect the most is stuff.

The beauty of a small 10m2 house is you can’t have stuff, nor need it, nor want it – this is the beauty of choosing simplicity where you can have more in your life with less – family, community, people, places, nature, interaction, connection, etc and it is not based on needing things to make yourself feel good. As ‘they’ say the best things in life are not things. This I know this and have spruiked it for a long time but what I didn’t know is much stuff you need to build a house!

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWe have done our absolute best with this place, especially considering the very tight timeframe, to build this thing and source as many of the materials as possible from leftover, used, wasted or eco friendly / enviro conscious items. Even still it takes a lot of stuff – it is amazing. We have totally taken over the next door neighbour’s yard, filled the weavers place with the things that need to be kept inside and just generally have stuff everywhere…

I hate to think of the resources needed to make an average house that is now 30% bigger with 30% less people living in them in the past 30 years (that fact is sourced from Dr David Suzuki!).

Honestly I am really proud of the team and my efforts to make something that will have such a small footprint before it is even lived in that will then be self-sufficient with renewable energy, water capture, bio-compostable toilet and edible garden.breaking down pallets to use the wood

These are the beautiful lessons I am learning that I never expected and from just saying lets do it and have a go!

Just wish I hadn’t been up since 6am and now going to be at 11pm!

Happy, simply.


And we are dancing…

We have a floor!

We have a floor!

Can’t speak on the build from first-hand experience tonight as I was away all day in Wellington ridding the world of polio (trying to chip away at it anyway – with a little success as I do have a presentation to the Parliamentarians on March 12!).

Anyway the crew were hard at – Javi, Dan, Linley, Nicola, Tukaha, Dave and a mix of people who come in day to day.

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Again the day was met with challenges as I got an urgent message to find a jockey wheel as the trailer was starting to become unbalanced while putting up the walls, not so sure on how or where to find such a thing but I am starting to learn the role of the site manager or the people who have to make sure the stuff is there so the others can build – tough and stressful job I do have to say.

However the day must go to the building team who are out in the beautiful but bright and tiring sun each day and toiling away at the significant task of trying to build a home on an old boat trailer!

I have to leave it there tonight so I can be at 100% tomorrow – and more stress-free to deliver on the parts I am in charge of!

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAA big muchisimas gracias to Javi the designer and builder who not only manages the building each day but also the calculations, the estimations and the patience of giving people a quality learning experience so they can take a step towards building their own home or skills useful to them in the future. Javi you are doing an amazing job (but he can’t ready this as he has no internet access of have time to look online!!!).

Apparently we are half way at day 5 of 10 for the build! Lets see how it goes!

Happy, simply.



A community-BUILDING project

While I have spent most of the past 24 hours away from the build site it doesn’t mean I haven’t been contributing… (well I haven’t in the build and only put in my token 3 screws and cut some wood).

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A project like this needs relationships. My main role has been to beg, borrow, sleaze  con and coerce anything and everything from people, not really and nicely put it is communication and relationships. With an interesting and altruistic concept you have to build the image and make it of worth to others. The poster, the pdf, the emails, the phone calls, the text messages… they are all as much of the project and build as the actual physical components to it.

All Good bananas - happy and simple of course

All Good bananas – happy and simple of course

The beautiful thing is that people are good, kind, helping and generous. Basically all I have to do is create a space for them to put those atributes into something for ultimately my gain but also for their self worth and purpose. We love helping people no matter who we are and when given opportunities to help we more often than not cherish them.

I am completely overwhelmed each and every time anyone has contributed to this project. Already it is a huge list of people who have added to this in some shape or form… I am trying my best to capture all of this generosity but honestly it is difficult as it pours in from everywhere. Just a couple of examples – we have building supply places giving us things, local cafes giving their end of the day goodies, the volunteers of course, people who know people, expertise, accommodation, support and never ending goodwill and encouragement – a very privileged but slightly scary position to be in when other do so much for you.

A proper and decent thank you will happen but for now I am just in awe of how wonderful and fantastic so many people have been and we haven’t even got walls on our home yet (but half the skeletons have been made!).Javi teaching the ways

Many, kind, heart-felt thanks and gratitude to those so far with a lot more humbled thanks to come!

Happy, simply.



A little list of thanks thus far without thanking individuals yet (as that is a whole other long list…): Sustainability Trust, Habitat for Humanity, Bunnings Porirua, Pro Clima, Dulux, Cycling Advocacy Network, Paekakariki Woodoven Cafe, Nullok Windows and Doors, Kennett Brothers, Radio@ctive, Kiwa House, Chalkle, Paekakariki weavers group, All Good bananas and Karma Cola, builders, communities, citizens, Paekakariki and massively the volunteers…