What inspired Ecospace?
The first seed was planted many years ago when my 3 brothers, my late father and I were talking about creating a business that we could do together in the future, thinking outside the box. My father was a builder, and although when I was younger it was the last thing on earth I probably wanted to do, At some point or another it just made sense for us brothers to follow in his footsteps as builders, especially after he passed.
It was my older brother Steve who is in a completely different industry now, that sparked the conversation of sustainable off grid housing solutions. Container homes were popular at the time, this would have been around 2009 / 2010 from memory, and this idea just sat in my head like a burning intuition from when I started my apprenticeship in 2012, throughout my career as a residential builder, until saved enough money to take a leap of faith and follow my intuition to bring this idea to life around early 2018.
I had already started my own construction company "GBARR construction" a couple years before which was doing really well, but I just felt so much more passionate about the Ecospace idea.. It excited me and I thought we could create much more of an impact in the industry doing that, versus the residential renovation game that I was in.
Being of Maori descent, and an avid nature lover myself, practicing Kaitiakitanga and looking after the environment as guardians as best we can all added to this decision to start Ecospace, and give it a crack!
What do your clients value most about their tiny homes?
I think our clients definitely appreciate the quality and warmth of our tiny homes and cabins, as well as the sustainability aspect which seems to be a big plus for our clients. We're proud to be one of, if not the only builders using Formance SIPS panels commercially which means we definitely have a unique point of difference in the market, building very energy efficient tiny homes that perform over the lifetime of the building.
Are your homes suitable for off-grid living?
Yes, absolutely! We pride ourselves on being completely flexible to adapt to clients needs, and off grid options are a big part of our enquiries. We have a really cool little tiny home project in progress with our South Island branch called the 'Rakiura' tiny home, and also an exciting new project in progress heading to Raglan which will be a completely off grid Papakainga built on Maori land overlooking Manu Bay.
What is your current favourite design?
I would feel like I'm cheating on the other designs if I picked a favourite!.. Haha. I guess at the moment though because it's new, and also because I really love the gable style architecture which seems to be really popular at the moment, the Rakiura concept is a really cool design that I love. Being completely off grid and self-sufficient is another really cool nomadic feature that I love as well.
As tiny house builders, what are the most important elements of a tiny house?
Maximising space efficiently!! Living in a tiny home you need to have maximum storage space, making use of every nook and cranny in the kitchen, stairs, bedrooms obviously, and also figuring out the clients wants and needs, and creating something custom from there to suit their lifestyle is key.
Are there any trends you’ve noticed over the past few years in the Aotearoa smaller living community?
I would say the whole tiny house / tiny living industry at the moment is trending!! Massively!! It's very evident from events like the tiny house expo which grows year on year that this tiny home industry is here to stay, and becoming more and more popular to Kiwi's from all walks of life.
What’s next for Ecospace?
Immediately for this year, While our base is up and running smoothly in Auckland, I want to help our Christchurch team grow and become more visible in the South Island. I think our tiny homes will do really well down there especially suited to the colder climates of the South Island, as well as our designs. I plan to launch a Wellington build partner before the end of the year to service lower North Island as well with ease, and then I just want to keep innovating new designs, and optimising our current systems end to end to make things more efficient all round. We eventually would like to get into slightly bigger prefab and modular concepts housing down the track, but nothing bigger than 80m2. I have a few other exciting ideas that I'm hoping to get underway in the future to help our people get into affordable housing, but I'll save that for the next Q & A! :)