ADEPT teenagers Jasmine Stuart and Larni Prichard have made their own backpacks, cushions, furniture and even their dresses for their upcoming formals.
But these upcycling enthusiasts are about to surmount their most ambitious project to date: a tiny house, made out of waste, salvaged and recycled materials.
“I wanted to move out of home and this was the option I came up with,” said Larni, 16, of Warners Bay.
“My focus was on having my own space. The fact it’s made out of recycled materials is a bonus.”
Television show Better Homes and Gardens will film the year 10 students putting the finishing touches on the timber and aluminium house frame on Friday, before they assemble the remainder at this weekend’s Fair Share Festival at Hamilton Public School.
Event attendees will be able to watch the students progress and participate in a workshop to create pieces for the interior, including a denim wall with pockets and belt loops for storage.
“It’s feeling pretty scary,” said Jasmine, 15, of Lambton. “We’ve spent so much time on it without really seeing too much happening, so it will be nice to put it all together and see our hard work pay off.”
The students met in April at an Upcycle Newcastle workshop and soon started designing the 1.86 metre by 2.73 metre house, which will sit on a box trailer.
They estimate they and carpenter builder Ian Dawes, artisan welder Cayde Tasker and Michael Mattey have spent 200 man hours working on their vision, which includes a lounge that converts into a bunk bed, kitchen sink, a wall that opens out to become an awning and deck area and a storage unit with hinged leaf that raises to become a table. The only new materials in the house will be the screws, hinges and plywood floor.
Mr Dawes said helping the students had been a “learning curve”. “If people ask me to help and I can, I like to give them practical guidance,” he said. “These girls are breaking stereotypes and learning great new skills along the way. We made some mistakes but we sorted them out – it’s been fun.”
The students said they hoped to open other people’s eyes to a more environmentally-friendly way of living.
“The building industry has a lot of waste because it needs very specific things,” Jasmine said. “What we tried to do was let the materials we got dictate how it would look in the end, rather than having set ideas from the beginning.
“We want to inspire others to use waste creatively and show them they don’t need a big house to live comfortably. We’re the ones growing up in this world and if things go wrong we’re going to be the ones who need to fix it. We should try to improve the situation as early as we can.”