Design & Interiors

Inside the tiny rental house for short stays

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The Kitchen at Truck House in Machakos County. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NMG

Summary

  • “I wanted to build a super tiny home, even smaller than it is at the moment,” says Ian.
  • Ian's tiny house, opened on May 3, 2021, contains a double bedroom, open-plan kitchen, living area, bathrooms, an office space and a rooftop, and is open for short stays at Sh8,000 a night.
  • He does not have many neighbours yet, but after seeing how his project has turned out, he says, this might soon turn into “a little village of tiny homes.”

Ian Wafula has always been fascinated with tiny homes and spaces. At first, he considered buying an old bus and converting it into a home because it would have been cheaper but he realised it was not a new concept.

“As I was searching on Facebook for an old truck, I found one in Thika at an auction. It was an ex-military truck, and the price was pretty fair. After seeing it, I decided to get it,” says the 29-year-old.

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Truck House at Kyumbi in Machakos County. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NMG

He had thought the construction of a tiny house would be cheap too.

“While doing my research, I realised that constructing a house is very expensive. I had thought that a tiny home would be cheaper. It’s not as expensive as buying your own home, but I just thought I would spend far less than I did,” he says.

From his records, Ian spent about Sh4 million for everything from buying the land, the truck, installing electricity, landscaping, and furnishing his one-bedroom bus house.

“I broke ground in January this year. After we moved the truck into position, I brought in the builder who was to help me with the metal structure. He used prefab during construction. And it took around five months to complete the house,” he says.

Ian bought the land from his mother, who had bought it years ago with a group of chama members.

He does not have many neighbours yet, but after seeing how his project has turned out, he says, this might soon turn into “a little village of tiny homes.”

“I wanted to build a super tiny home, even smaller than it is at the moment,” says Ian.

He came up with the model with his friend Ashley Liku, architect at Heritage Associate.

“When the builders came, we looked at the plan and the size of the lorry and decided to adjust a few things to make space bigger while maintaining the core structure. From the quotations, I was getting, I decided that if I was going to spend a lot of money, I should just build a bigger space than initially planned because then I could still live here someday,” he says, adding that hopefully, his next project “will be much smaller and cozier.”

The main space is a loft. The kitchen is open plan, leading onto a small living area and bathrooms. The kitchen backsplash is black, as are the tiles on the floors, which gives the space a modern look. A wooden staircase leads upstairs to the double bedroom which sleeps, two people. The bed is heavy and sturdy and was made by a local carpenter using the fence poles that had initially been used to secure the land. A projector hangs above the bed, from which guests can lie back and watch movies.

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The bedroom at Truck House at Kyumbi in Machakos County. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NMG

He opened it on May 3, 2021, charging guests Sh8,000 a night.

“I had thought it might take a month before people started booking the space, but we got our first booking three days after listing it on Airbnb. So far, it has been booked for at least a day every weekend,” he says.

“I didn’t want guests to feel like they were still just in their own home and wanted to create the ambiance of a cottage which I achieved with little details such as the curtains, little accessories, bed, etc. I did most of the decor myself, helped by a friend called Leone Chehe who’s good with interior design.”

The resulting ambiance is contemporary African.

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The sitting area at Truck House in Machakos County. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NMG

While the lorry could technically move, it is currently not mobile.

“I had initially thought of having it as a mobile truck...now that people love going to Naivasha, for instance, they could drive it there as both home and transport. I however realised there would be too many overheads for that, so perhaps it could be another future project,” he says.

There is a metallic staircase leading to a flat rooftop with chairs, and this serves as an ideal spot to catch those incredible orange sunsets. It gets very cold at night, but a resident caretaker is on-site to keep a warm bonfire going for guests late into the night; a grill is at hand should they wish to have some steaks going. As it can get very hot during the day, there is also a small above-the-ground swimming pool for guests to cool off in.

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Swimming pool at Truck House in Machakos County. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NMG

One of the favourite spaces is the driver’s seat which has been converted into a cozy office nook, complete with a desktop area to work from, shelves stacked with a couple of books, bulbs should one want to hang out there late in the day and a skylight which allows one to stargaze at night.

For other young Kenyans looking to achieve similar goals of owning a house, Ian says, “have the idea, know what you want to go for, then look at your finance options. Save money, talk to friends, parents and use chamas. Mine was a mix of using my savings, loans from family and friends, and people helped here and there,” he says.