'I save £600 a month living in a home I built myself in my mate's garden'

Chris March enjoys living in tiny homes

Chris March enjoys living in tiny homes (Image: Chris March)

A man has taken an unusual approach to saving money by giving up living in a conventional house and opting instead for a tiny eco-home.

Living in someone else’s back garden, Chris claims he saves at least £600 a month with his new way of life.

Chris March, 40, has lived in tiny homes on and off for the past five years, reports the Mirror. But last year, Chris created his own miniature wooden house to fit in a back garden on the outskirts of the village of Riding Mill, Northumberland.

He says his only home expenses are £150 a month, which he pays to live on the plot, and his electricity bill, which is £80 a month, and allows him to leave his underfloor heating on for the entire day. His water supply is also free, thanks to the homeowners who he pays to live in their garden being on a standard rate.

Chris, a builder by trade, previously rented a two-bedroom house in Hexham, Northumberland, in 2018 for £800 a month and forked out £80 a month on electricity, £70 on gas, £25 on water and £160 on council tax – bills he says would have doubled amid the energy hikes.

He enjoys the freedom that comes with tiny homes, allowing him to live where he wants without worrying about hundreds of his income going to a landlord and neither is he tied to a mortgage.

While he has had to fork out an initial upfront expense to build the 140 sqft home, in the long run, he says it saves him hundreds each month.

The living space where Chris says he has 'everything he needs'

The living space where Chris says he has ‘everything he needs’ (Image: Chris March)

“I’d always had a vision of building something and living in it and living in a garden rather than a traditional house. That’s where the tiny house concept came into play,” Chris told The Mirror. “It just seemed to work for my needs and it’s a very comfortable way of living. It’s a minimalist lifestyle, absolutely. When you rent, it’s just disposable money that you never get back really. Building something of my own was a bit of a win-win.”

Chris’ first tiny home was larger than the one he is in now, which cost around £50,000 to be done to a high specification, made from natural timber.

It comes with a mezzanine bedroom with a double bed, a spare bedroom with just space for a mattress on the floor, a bathroom, a fully fitted kitchen with an oven and two-burner hob, and a living space. The only thing he is missing out on that he used to have is a dishwasher, as there wasn’t enough room to fit one.

Chris started out in manufacturing and learnt how to build tiny homes himself, and set up his own business – Tiny Eco Homes UK – which he launched in 2017 and sells to ‘people from all walks of life’.

His former property, standing at 180 square feet, was too big to fit on his current spot, so he had to build a smaller property to size. The garden he lives in is just 15-20 metres away from the owner’s house, and he thankfully gets on with them.

The eco-home is made from timber giving it a cosy finish

The eco-home is made from timber giving it a cosy finish (Image: Chris March)

“It’s just a nice way to live without having the burden of worrying about hundreds of pounds going out every month,” he explained. “I get on well with the owner which is obviously important.

“My electric has gone up quite a bit, like everyone’s, but in a tiny house, you’re essentially heating one room, and a small one at that. The building is very efficient. The underfloor heating is just left on all the time and it maintains that temperature rather than traditional houses I used to live in that took a lot to heat. Now, I’m always walking into a nice warm house.

“If you take your rent, council tax, utility bills, I’m saving at least £600 a month living this way.”

When he moved into the property last year, his partner also moved in, who had never heard of the concept before. The pair had to assess what belongings were essential for the home, and luckily have been able to store a few bags of clothing in Chris’ office and workshop nearby.

He sold his first wooden cabin to a couple who use it as their holiday home in Scotland, but his customer demographic varies widely.

It’s been a busy period for Chris and his team of five staff, building tiny homes across the UK for people. The houses are fully mobile on wheels, so they can be moved around, but most of them are built bespoke to fit onto particular sites.

“Every single person is from a totally different walk of life – age, couples, single, which is quite surprising. You thought it would have appealed more to a certain generation. Everyone that’s done it is kind of like, ‘Oh, I wish we did this years ago.’ It has totally changed the direction of their lifestyle. It’s allowed them to be in the open and outdoors, in touch with nature. A lot more stress-free. I think some people find brick and mortar just doesn’t work for them. And it allows them to be in an area that they want, in a nice garden, in the countryside. You manage to get in nice areas at a low cost.

“I’m free to up my lifestyle a bit more and not have so much disposable income going out, I manage to save.”

Despite running his own successful business now, he’s residing in a smaller home than what he started out in. But has plans to build his own unique tiny home on his own land in the near future.

“In two years I’m looking to buy my own land and build one with a totally different design and lay out,” Chris added. “You’d think after building all these homes I’d end up in quite a big one myself but I’m still happy because it’s got everything that you need really.”

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