Western Australia pilots modular tiny houses for senior social housing

Modular tiny houses to offer ‘cost-effective and sustainable’ options for Western Australia’s senior social housing.

Western Australia is stepping into new territory with its first venture into modular tiny houses for social housing, specifically aimed at senior citizens. Housing Minister John Carey recently unveiled four tiny modular homes in Spearwood, each about the size of a large shipping container. These 43-square-metre homes, which cost the government $250,000 each, feature one bedroom and one bathroom and are intended for seniors on the public housing waiting list. (main pic: Western Australia’s Housing Minister John Carey and Summit Homes managing director David Simpson.)

The tiny modular homes were constructed offsite at a Summit Homes modular prefabrication facility. Carey highlighted the innovative nature of the project, stating, “We’re pursuing every avenue we can to pump out housing.” He mentioned various strategies, including prefab construction, cash incentives for Airbnbs, and regulatory changes to facilitate home building and manage the short-term rental market.

A Summit Homes modular tiny home under construction.
A Summit Homes modular tiny home under construction.

Modular tiny houses and micro-lots have been suggested as solutions to WA’s housing issues, but the state’s preference for large brick homes has led to continuous expansion of the Perth metro boundary. Carey expressed optimism that WA would embrace tiny homes and prefabricated modular housing, citing their affordability, quality, and faster delivery times.

David Simpson, managing director of Summit Homes, explained that his business could scale from tiny modular homes to larger three-bedroom houses at a similar cost to traditional brick builds but with much quicker construction times. “These can be built in about three or four months,” he said, noting that site preparation and factory construction can occur simultaneously.

The government has formed a panel to explore the potential for more tiny modular homes in the future, with plans for a pilot in Northam featuring four additional tiny homes. Carey also announced that the government had reached the halfway point in its commitment to build 4,000 new social housing homes.

See the interior of Summit Homes modular tiny home, The Terra.

This $1.039 million pilot project in Spearwood is part of the Cook Labor Government’s broader housing strategy, which includes a $2.6 billion investment in social housing. The modular tiny homes are built with Weathertex boards made from waste timber and recyclable metal frames. The construction method promises faster build times, reduced waste, design adaptability, and a smaller on-site building footprint.

Carey emphasised the government’s use of alternative construction methods to deliver more social housing, including modular build programs and prefabrication. “These four new prefabricated tiny houses will provide new homes to vulnerable seniors in our community,” he stated, underscoring the government’s commitment to addressing housing needs through innovative solutions.

See: https://www.summithomes.com.au/

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