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  • Writer's pictureAtiqah Nadiah Zailani

Get Inspired to Build Your Own House

When others do such a great job that you want to do it too.

idea inspiration

I am certainly not the first to attempt building a house, or the first to try squeezing my life into a small space. Plenty of others have successfully done either or both of the above, and it is from them that I drew inspiration and nerve from.

The first thing that got me seriously considering embarking on this project was a news article I came upon in my newsfeed, about a woman who singlehandedly (with a bit of help from her mother) built a gorgeous little house in Hawaii:

Kristie Wolfe

Kristie had, prior to this, built another tiny home from reclaimed materials worth USD 3000 in Idaho, USA, mostly as an experiment. She saved so much money from living with less that she then decided to have a second tiny home - a vacation home, in Hawaii no less!

The second home, along with the land and the transportation and traveling costs from Idaho to Hawaii during the build, all came up to roughly USD23,000, and it is sublime.

Who wouldn’t want to build their own house after seeing this?? And if she (and her mom) can do it, then why can’t I? (Though I doubt my late mother would’ve appreciated me making her do manual work, bless her soul).

I've since found out she’s now built yet another house, and this time it is an actual Hobbit house!


Following that revelation, I discovered entire YouTube channels and television shows dedicated to the tiny house movement sweeping across America, Europe, and apparently New Zealand too. Here are some of the ones I’ve enjoyed:

Jenna and Guillaume built their own mobile, tiny home and documented the whole process in detail. Once completed, they then set off on a journey, taking their house on a 25,000-mile journey across the US and Canada. Along the way, they stop to check out and film other tiny houses by other people. The couple has since parted ways, but Jenna continues to live and travel in the tiny house and updates the blog on her adventures.

Bryce travels across New Zealand in search of the best tiny homes he can find, and is also working on his very own mobile home (which he documents as well). The videos are well-produced and features a lot of interesting people and the variety of designs they come up with. Sometimes he goes back and revisits the same people to find out how they’re doing after a year or so, and that’s when you hear the nitty gritty of how this lifestyle is working out.

Ana White is a self-made carpenter who built her own house with her husband, and loved it so much that she decided to continue building houses for other people. She also builds furniture and does other woodworking projects, and she shares the plans and step-by-step guides on her channel and website so other people (like me) could learn how to do it too. Recently, the couple built a mobile tiny home to stay in when building bungalows and mansions for other people in remote locations, and that process is also documented for our viewing pleasure.


I normally don’t watch very much TV and don’t have cable, but sometimes in my travels, I find myself in a hotel room with nothing to do. That’s when I look up home improvement channels to see if they have the following shows on:

Tiny House Nation, fyi channel

John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin travel across America to visit cool tiny spaces and also help other people design and construct mini-versions of their dream homes. They work through the various challenges of making those dream homes come through, often struggling with minuscule budgets and custom requests - a particularly cool feature I remember watching was a rock-climbing wall in place of stairs!

Tiny House, Big Living, HGTV channel

This show chronicles an array of people choosing to downsize into a tiny home that are on average 180 square feet big (or 180 square feet small, rather). From students to couple to families of four, you can see the sheer variety of reasons why people do this, and the challenges they face in the process.


Closer to home (which is Malaysia for me), though it is nowhere near to becoming popular, there are people already going down the road of tiny living.

Rumah Kontena

Azree Rahim built a container home for himself parked in Klang, and CiliSos wrote up a pretty comprehensive (and hilarious) article about it, along with the important details like how much it cost, how practical it is,…etc. At the time, the house was in progress, but since the article is almost 2 years old, am pretty sure the setup is complete now. I wonder if CiliSos will do a follow-up article. You can read the old one here.

Greenman Tiny Home

Matthias Gelber (also known as the GreenMan) aims to show us how to live in eco-friendly homes, with minimising environmental impact being the main goal. The house is designed to made of sustainable materials and equipped with off-grid facilities. I’ve been following the progress of the build since I was first introduced to Matthias, and it’s been really cool to observe. It’s since been completed. The Facebook page has detailed photos and updates.

Greenman Tiny Home

Source: The Star

Shepherd Hut

I stumbled onto this one quite by accident - a guy in Selangor was building Malaysia’s First Shepherd Hut, as he calls it, and it looked pretty complete.

Shepherd Hut

The last update was in May 2015, though, so I have no idea if it ever got decked out with furnishings or where it is now. Still, it’s cool to know someone has tried it, and deigned to put lots of photos of the process.


From all the resources I found, I compiled all the ideas and concepts I liked on Pinterest, which acted as a virtual scrapbook for me. A quick glance through the boards will immediately reveal my style and preferences, some of which I myself didn’t know about until I went through the exercise and saw common themes emerging.

I have two boards, one for a generic house, and another specific to a tiny home setup. I continually add to and delete from the boards as my tastes evolve and as I find new inspiration, and sometimes, I get a lot of pleasure just from looking at my boards. I mean, half the fun is in the daydreaming and planning, right? You can view the boards here:


If you are even remotely interested in building your own tiny house, do check out all the resources I’ve listed above to be as inspired as I was.

Even if you plan to have a big ass home, they may still prove useful, and at the very least, interesting. There are plenty of clever and ingenious designs incorporated in small builds that may also prove to be beneficial to your lifestyle and current home situation. In fact, as apartments and condominiums downsize to accommodate the sheer number of people moving into the urban areas, you and I may find ourselves living in the exact same square footage after all.

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