When cars first hit assembly lines just over a century ago they pretty much all looked the same in colour and style.
But as the market grew and customers expected more they started rolling off the factory floor and into showrooms in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Wind forward 100 years and the same trend is emerging with tiny homes.
They have come a long way in a short time with a broader range of customers expecting more than the standard one-size-and-look-fits-all design.
As regulations change so are the many uses.
Rapidly they have become more architecturally pleasing on the eye with many creative designs appearing to meet the variety of personal tastes and needs.
Tiny homes are being made for citysiders wanting a weekend getaway to escape populated areas by spending more socially distanced time in the country, retirees and divorced women wanting to downsize to something more affordable, developers sourcing them for holiday accommodation, Airbnbs and families wanting to care for an older loved one close to home.
The designs are just as varied as the uses and rural communities and backyards are the most common locations.
As a result it is creating an exciting and rapidly growing industry that is creating jobs and supporting regional economies.
Tiny Home builder Rick Smith, of Havenwood Tiny Homes, said several markets had emerged.
Almost half of all recent sales were to divorcees after a marriage break-up.
Mr Smith said the most significant increase had been the number of women deciding on a tiny home as a great option as a place to live.
"That is a huge market right now," he said.
As are retirees and people approaching retirement age.
Mr Smith said he was also getting more business from young married couples who couldn't afford a mortgage for a first home and/or didn't want to borrow that much money yet.
He said they were placing them in the front of back yard of an existing family home so they could still live independently while they saved up for their own block of land.
Because they were considered a family member of the property owner they were able to live there full-time.
Another big market was people or companies developing a site for B&B style accommodation.
Kangaroo Valley and the Southern Highlands were among the most popular locations, he said.
Because of that demand Mr Smith recently launched a B&B model at the Sydney Home Show just prior to the latest COVID-19 lockdown.
"The response we had was amazing," he said.
"With what is happening in Australia now and people not travelling overseas all the B&Bs have been 100 per cent booked out."
Mr Smith said developers were interested in tiny homes for holiday accommodation because they brought such a healthy return on investment.
Some want to place them in the front or back yard while others are for larger properties. However getting approval is challenging in many parts of the country.
"Because they are classified as a caravan they come under NSW state legislation and rules here. Then individual councils have their own rules on top of that," Mr Smith said.
As a result it is getting harder for farmers to place them on their properties as a secondary source of income. And more councils are saying relocatable homes can't be used as B&Bs.
Mr Smith has tried to stay ahead of the game by making the trailers detachable from his tiny homes.
With wheels they are categorised as a caravan. By removing the trailer they become a house or granny flat. That means he is still able to capture that segment of the market. But many local government areas will require a development application for a primary place of residence.
Mr Smith is hoping the NSW government will soon let tiny homes be approved as a secondary dwelling so farmers can legally rent them as a B&B. He said in the Kiama local government area land owners could now apply to have tiny homes approved for eco-tourism.
Mr Smith said the growing number of uses by people from different demographics and stages in life was changing the designs and providing a greater variety of options.
"We have actually come up with three models to suit each market," he said.
"For a lot of elderly people who don't want to walk upstairs we designed a tiny home so the master bedroom is downstairs. Upstairs is used for storage."
Another is designed like an Australian colonial cottage to complement rural settings.
Mr Smith said he was currently seeking approval from the RMS for a tiny home design that was slightly wider and taller so tall people could stand in the loft.
He said owner occupiers wanted to personalise their homes more so he was willing to customise the design for each client.
Diamond Hawkins, of Panorama Prebuilt, said many of her tiny homes were being used for granny flats in the backyard and weekend escapes for Sydneysiders who purchased them for land they owned in locations such as Wisemans Ferry.
She said COVID had brought construction to a halt but interest remained high, particularly for the larger 7.2 x 2.5 metre home she sells for $79,000.
"My customers think my designs are really nice looking and modern," she said.
Jamberoo retirees Lionel and Vicki Stewart chose a tiny home to downsize in after selling their two-storey, six-bedroom home 15 years ago and travelling around Australia in a caravan.
They still own the van but don't mind not being able to travel at the moment because their tiny home, with views of the escarpment and green rolling hills, is so spacious inside and enjoyable to live in.
Mrs Stewart said they moved in three months ago and were living the dream. She said it was like permanently being on holiday and she wouldn't trade it for anything else.
"While travelling in a caravan we realised we don't need a lot of stuff," she said.
"We learnt to live with only what we need. We are very into off grid living and making things more sustainable by reducing our footprint.
"Rick built our house for us and we are very happy in our little home. We like this lifestyle. We are very happy doing this."
The Stewarts haven't gone totally off grid. They are connected to power and have a water tank which they see as luxuries.
Mrs Stewart said it was better than glamping.
"It is a beautiful and affordable way to live," she said.
"We don't have many bills at all."
Mrs Stewart said there seemed to be so much space inside their tiny home compared to the caravan.
"Before the lockdown visitors would come inside and were amazed how spacious it was," she said.
"And we have all the mod cons including a full size fridge, oven and washing machine inside as well as reverse cycle air-conditioning.
"We have two bedrooms and an office and so much storage space we haven't even used it all.".
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