A shed in the backyard with no Council Approval required ?
Guy Brown – URBAN CAVES
Guy spent his early life in Christchurch, New Zealand following his heart and living creatively. Boundaries only applied to those that created them. Rules were merely guide posts.
Work and Education
Guy doesn’t see work and education as mutually exclusive but rather one and the same. His recognised qualifications include a Certificate in Computer Graphics and Design and a Higher National Certificate in Civil Engineering.
Guy has always been a curious character. He loved using his mind and doing practical things with his hands. He shadowed his father around the home, learning about all sorts of practical things. He ran a shop in the home selling confectionary to the family. During the school holidays he made and sold items door to door and worked in his uncle’s printing factory.
As a teenager he navigated the family computer’s Disc Operating System, played computer games, and chatted online with people from around the world. His school subjects included Computer Studies, Typing and Word Processing and he went on to study Computer Graphics and Design in Christchurch, New Zealand. Later as an adult he spent 4 years using a Geographic Information System to manage a road casualty accident database and generate reports for casualty reduction schemes in Milton Keynes, England. He then spent 2 years doing Detailed Design for highway maintenance projects in London, England.
Becoming a Sole Trader
Moving to Katoomba – a space to spread out, dream big and experiment
Guy and his family were renting in Newtown, Sydney and wanted to buy a house. They had to move out of Sydney to be able to afford a house and eventually settled on a property in Katoomba, Blue Mountains. Katoomba was a neutral location for Guy and his wife, his wife’s family were down in Sydney if required and the climate and the nature of the Blue Mountains reminded Guy of his home country.
Jumping in the Deep End – from safe corporate government job to self employed handyman
Guy commuted to his job in Parramatta for over a year but longed to work locally to connect with the local people and have more time for family. He quit his corporate job at Roads and Maritime Services and became a local handyman. The family station wagon became the work vehicle. It was filled with milk crates, each for a different trade. He learnt on the job and used the income to slowly build up the tools of the trade. He learnt the fundamentals of running a business and took advantage of technology to minimise and automate his administration.
Introduction to Cabins – curiosity, confidence and an opportunity
Guy wanted to develop the property by building some kind of cabin in the back garden. He googled cabins and found a company based near Byron Bay that imported kitset cabins from Estonia and delivered and installed them around NSW. Guy called the owner to enquire about the product and found out that their installation team was about to install a cabin in the Blue Mountains. Guy wanted to learn to install one of the cabins himself to save money on the install cost so he arranged to help with the cabin installation in exchange for tips and tricks. Guy turned up everyday, helped to carry and pass materials around, and took photos and notes of the install. The installation team thought that Guy had the potential to be an installer for the Blue Mountains area and so recommended him to their boss.
Guy wasn’t yet in a position to buy a cabin but showed an interest in being an installer. A few months later an email came through offering an install job in Newcastle. He jumped at the chance, employed a young man to give him a hand, and invested in all of the same tools that the other installers had. Guy and his sidekick installed the cabin in 3 days, the same number of days that the other installers took, the customer was happy and over a dozen other cabins followed.
Enter Urban Caves
When it came time for Guy to install a cabin in his own backyard, the cabin he’d become familiar with wasn’t what he wanted. With his demystified knowledge of cabin construction, an understanding of the NSW exempt development legislation, his background in detailed design, and experience in various practical projects and handyman work, Guy designed his first Urban Cave. It took about 6 months to design and he did it on his smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, using a newly released android app called AutoCAD.
A perfectionist in design, Guy needed a nudge to order the materials and identify and solve unknowns as they were discovered during the install. It took a month or so to install during which many assembly techniques were identified that could save time.
Today, very little has changed from the original design. There have been a number of improvements with improved materials, stronger framing, and cleaner finishings.
In 2019 Guy achieved his goal of installing 20 of his cabins and in late 2019 he employed another installer and a personal assistant to allow him the time to grow sales to a new target of 30 cabins in 2020. He is also developing tiny houses on trailers and looks forward to having a presence at the St Ives Tiny Home Carnival in 2020 where he will display a large 4.5 tonne tiny house on a 3 axled trailer with a kitchen and bathroom suitable for a small family to live in, and a micro shelter that he hopes to distribute throughout Australia and New Zealand as an affordable small space that will fit into any garden to be used as an office, spare bed or emergency refuge.
Link to Exempt Development Regulations