Amey Bell-Booth loves living in her 92sqm pre-fabricated home on a section adjacent to her parents – and “totally” recommends the relocatable house option to others.
Her first home, on a roughly 700sqm section in Tokomaru, Horowhenua, cost $200,000 delivered when she bought it in 2019, with the cost of the section, decking, and connection to services on top of that.
Bell-Booth, 44, is glad to be in the property market, but says for her, the small home is not a stepping stone to something bigger.
“I haven’t gone into the property market to make money. It serves my needs, and it’s a place I love being in,” she says.
The family bought the land as one section, and subdivided it into two sections of about 700sqm to 750sqm each. Living close to family is a huge part of the attraction for Bell-Booth.
She cooks for her parents twice a week, and they cook for her twice a week. There’s no fence between the properties and even Bell-Booth’s dog, 12-year-old chocolate lab Frida, shuttles between houses.
“My parents come over all the time. My dad parks up on the couch and watches a bit of Netflix,” she says.
“The dog is the only one that’s maybe a bit confused. She knows her home is here, but if she’s bored she goes over there, barks until they let her in, and sneaks off to the laundry to scoff the cat’s biscuits.”
Bell-Booth, a dental practice manager, loves the fact her brother and sister, and five nephews and nieces, treat her home like a meeting place. They jokingly refer to the two houses as ‘The Commune’.
“My brother and my sister come out, and it’s just great. Everybody just moves between the two properties. If one of the kids is screaming, I take them to my house, get out the Lego, put on Disney Channel.
“I’m a very involved aunty. It’s really a big thing for me that it’s an environment that the kids like being in. We stay up late and watch movies, or play Lego.
“My parents are in their 60s so it’s not like I look out for them. But it’s company for both of us.”
Her parents’ home is a more conventional new build, about 150sqm with three bedrooms and two living areas.
Bell-Booth has become a real homemaker and has furnished the house with pieces collected over the past 20 years while flatting or living with family.
“It was the first time I’ve had all this stuff together in a space which was mine. I didn’t know it would mean so much.
”I love seeing how people feel when they come here, like my nephew and his two little siblings ... there’s just this joy.”
She’s enjoyed indulging her taste for colour, with a pink bathroom, for instance, and with her favourite splurge – $700-a-roll Designers Guild wallpaper.
Owning her own home meant she was finally able to secure an upholstered bedhead that she’d had for about 15 years to the wall.
She now has a home for furniture that belonged to her grandparents, including dining chairs, a dumb waiter, and a small pedal organ that her Anglican minister grandfather would take from church to church around the Rangitīkei district, and which her grandmother played during services.
Bell-Booth recommends the prefab housing option for people trying to get into their own home, and was impressed by the company she used, Presidential Homes in Palmerston North.
It was, however, a challenge to get a mortgage over a transportable home, with her bank saying there was too much risk associated with it. However, a mortgage broker eventually helped her secure a loan with ANZ.
Bell-Booth says a 92sqm home is just perfect for her, and does not feel tiny, especially for a single person. “I’ve got friends with kids living in 80-something square-metre apartments in Auckland.”