Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. At the end of January 2013 we bought a small property up at the beach on the Kapiti Coast near Levin. It’s around 3,500 square metres, or a bit less than an acre, of what amounts to sand dunes. Our next door neighbours are good friends and it’s only a few minutes walk to the beach itself. Their dog and our dogs are always very happy to spend time on the beach which is very long, very broad, and full of interesting things such as driftwood and shells.
We aimed to build a bach (a small holiday home, though it could become our permanent home) up there and spent time organising builders and so on. That’s a whole story in itself.
In the meantime we needed somewhere temporary we could stay for weekends and bought a tiny pop-top caravan. We quickly discovered that wasn’t the best solution for two adults and two small dogs — 6 square metres, mainly filled with beds / seats and table, and canvas sides just wouldn’t keep us warm enough — even with a canvas awning to double the usable space.
We turned to RoomMate Cabins and were able to rent a 10 square metre cabin, insulated, double-glazed, weatherproof and comfortable for only $55 per week.
With the caravan and awning now for storage and a place to keep food and the microwave, and a tiny toolshed full of tools, gumboots, chairs and a chemical toilet we were set for what we imagined would be a few months.
I cleared a small space for the cabin on the only real flat ground on the property and whacked back some bracken for some extra room. Then the day came for delivery.
Norm turned up with the cabin on a special trailer. He skilfully manoeuvred the trailer past a pole and the caravan and backed the cabin into the space I’d prepared. He dug a little sand out of the hill so the corner of the cabin could fit and slid the cabin off the trailer.
Then he used various planks of wood to nudge the cabin into place and to level it. He spent quite a while and took a lot of care to be sure it was completely level before he handed me the key and drove off.
It was a cute cabin with a glass door and small window in the front, a tiny deck with verandah, gutter and a down pipe, an an opening window in one side. On the floor was a durable blue carpet, and a supplied power cord had enough length to reach the outlet in the caravan which was itself plugged in to a caravan hookup on the meter box on the other side of the hill, by the boundary.
With power we had light, a way to charge our phones and computers, and we could run a heater and the jug as required.
It was a tight fit: a double bed occupied most of the space with just enough room to squeeze by on each side. The dogs occupied the end portion, sharing it with some plastic boxes, shoes, gumboots, coats, a few food items, the heater and the jug.
Outside I used some plastic fencing, garden stakes, and some dog fence we had, to create a makeshift dog run. Our dogs run away at any opportunity so it was helpful to be able to confine them even if the cabin door was open. If they’d tested the fence at all it would have readily fallen over, but luckily they didn’t and we never left them in there unattended.
Over time we managed to buy some extremely cheap bookshelves from The Warehouse and a cheap tea trolley from TradeMe to serve as bedside tables, storage shelves and a place to keep the mugs, teabags, water bottle and electric jug.
Finally, now, about 18 months later, our 70 square metre bach has been completed. Although we don’t actually have possession yet, we sent the cabin back this week. It served its purpose extremely well and saw us through numerous weekends and even a week or two of summer. It withstood some fierce gales and a small earthquake or two, as well as a few fierce frosts.
If you need a temporary room and you’re in New Zealand then I can totally recommend RoomMate Cabins.