An Australian single mum facing homelessness after a divorce has revealed how she built her own tiny home – for less than $13,000.
Charlotte Sapwell, 27, a mum to Eli, five, and Theo, two, said she ‘felt like a failure’ after her marriage broke down.
‘I was sleeping on my parents’ couch while the kids shared the spare room,’ Charlotte told that’s life!
‘A stay-at-home, single mum, I had no idea how I would make ends meet, let alone afford rent.’
Charlotte’s parents had a backyard with an old office in it, which was full of junk – and her grandfather, Rob, had an interesting plan.
He suggested Charlotte turn it into a tiny 3 x 6 metre home to live in.
There was one condition. Charlotte had to do the work herself.
‘I’d never even picked up a drill,’ Charlotte explained. ‘Plus, I’d failed Year 9 woodwork but Grandpa had faith in me. And I was desperate.’
Overnight, Charlotte became a tradie.
‘I started with the basics,’ Charlotte tells New Idea. ‘Things that seem simple like holding a hammer or drill the correct way are a lot harder than I thought.’
But with her grandfather – an experienced renovator – telling her everything he knew, along with the help of YouTube videos, Charlotte was able to create a bathroom with laundry, open plan kitchen, and dining and living area.
‘If you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t be afraid to ask for help, if you ask you might find your network is a lot larger than you might think,’ Charlotte says.
‘I shopped cheaply, going to stores like Bunnings and using Gumtree.
‘My grandpa taught me everything I know and it helped having someone believing in me,’ she adds.
Charlotte created her double bed from pine, making it high enough for storage underneath – and when her boys said they wanted a dinosaur-themed room she happily obliged.
‘I’m incredibly proud of my boys' bedroom, creating a space for them that was designed exactly to suit them,’ Charlotte – who documents her journey on her Instagram page, Charlotte’s Little Explorers, says.
Six months after the build began, Charlotte has gone from facing homelessness to having a home to call her own.
‘When I lie in bed and look across my house I can’t believe what I’ve achieved,’ she says.
‘The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I can achieve if I believe in myself and have someone else believing in me too.’
And her top piece of advice for those wanting to build on a budget?
‘Go online,’ she says. ‘Check out Gumtree, eBay and those buy, swap and sell pages!’
A version of Charlotte’s story originally appeared in that’s life!
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