Nyambura Ndiba on Tiny House Living and DIY in Kenya
Nyambura Ndiba is a free-spirited 30-year-old businesswoman. In 2018, she had saved some money to tour Europe. But after binge-watching tiny homes on YouTube over and over again, she was convinced she could build her own. And just like that, she put her travel plans on hold and channelled the money into building her own tiny home in Githiga, Kiambu.
Mourine Odongo caught up with her to learn about tiny homes and how she started her journey of owning one.
Were you creative as a child?
Yes. I was always good at art and was part of the art club from primary to secondary school. People knew me as an artistic kid. I guess the transition from there was a swift one.
What are tiny houses about?
Tiny houses are about downsizing living spaces by simplifying and essentially living with less, so basically a minimalistic lifestyle.
How did this journey start for you?
It started with my late-night binge-watching on famous Tiny Homes Youtube channels, my favourite being Living Big in a Tiny House. In 2017, I started collecting materials and in 2018, I actualized my dream of building a tiny house. I purposely made it a goal to build one in Kenya.
What did it take to bring your tiny house dream to reality?
It took discipline and focus to achieve my dream of owning a tiny home. I had to hold my travel plans to save up on the project and stopped going out to minimize my spending habits. Embracing thrifted stuff also helped a lot.
In the process of actualising your dreams, did you have any doubts or frustrations?
Explaining my concept to the local fundis was frustrating because they were used to typical house structures. I also messed some things up when the building was midway because I didn’t have any architectural skills, plus there was no foreman on sight. I had to re-do those parts, but that was part of my learning curve, and I’m grateful for that.
What kept you going?
My determination to build a tiny house regardless of the obstacles. Apart from my determination, I kept the whole process under wraps in order to avoid the external pressure from people who would potentially discourage me. My mum also supported me. When I was stuck, she helped financially.
What would someone need in terms of finances and expertise to construct a tiny home themselves?
In terms of cost, come up with a plan beforehand for what you desire, approach experts in the field for advice, and then have a budget. You’ll be able to gauge how much money you’ll need and where to source suitable materials within your budget.
Do you feel that the tiny house movement is taking shape in the country?
I am happy that more and more people are embracing the tiny homes concept and grateful to have inspired people to build their own tiny homes. I would, however, wish to see more people building their tiny homes to actually live in them instead of renting them out or only using them as getaway homes. This way, the community will be easier to grow.