Saturday, February 6, 2010

Little Houses

Yesterday's paper had an article on 100 square foot homes.  The current Style at Home* has a feature on a place six times that size, yet still quite tiny.  It's a cool move to get into smaller digs, and I hope it's a burgeoning trend.  You have less place to store crap, so you're less likely to impulse buy stuff you don't really need, and it's obviously a much smaller footprint in general.  Check out this place....

He doesn't even own land.  He's lived in a few different places, sometimes renting a bit of space.  So he pays maybe $6,000 for the building materials and can live wherever he wants.  That's very enticing to me.  Even though sometimes I get frighteningly claustrophobic (like when I'm sitting between two kids in the back seat of a Volvo for a 9-hour drive home from Quebec), I've always been really captivated by small spaces like this. 

Jay Shafer started building the little homes to try to solve the homelessness crisis after a woman died in a fire from a candle in a makeshift shelter.  He can make these homes very affordably.  And he lives in them because he wouldn't suggest someone live in something that he wouldn't live in himself.  He's been living in 100 square foot homes for over ten years.  And from the outtakes, I'd guess he's not living alone.       

The article in the paper wrote about using these tiny homes in the backs of a house for the kids if they want to move out but don't have the money for it.  I'd be more inclined to move into the tiny house out back and rent out my entire big house to my kids and their friends. Except I'd miss out one the one benefits of the tiny house:  it's harder for the kids to have big parties. 

Yet I see the biggest benefit of tiny houses as getting people out of the house more.  When people lived with extended family in ridiculously small spaces, they all went to the city center, or the market, or some other local establishment.  Or they went outside for a walk.  What a concept!   

We sometimes dream about a cottage to  live in after I retire, but we're at odds what it'll be like.  He wants it to be much bigger than our current home even though we won't have kids living there, like 36x36 with three stories.  I want something really tiny.  My fantasies all focus on innovative water and electrical system, if we can figure out how to collect rain in a black container higher than the house so we can shower with warm water, and where the batteries for the solar panels will fit...  The bigger it is, the more resources we'll need to keep it warm.  I've got twelve years to sway him over.       

*Reno magazines are another of my many vices.  Glossy paper, disposable, AND I could see it all on-line.  I used to be a full-on junkie and actually beat this habit of getting a "treat" for doing groceries for many years (when I noticed how much I was spending on them), but I'm eyeing up the upstairs bathroom now.  Mainly I just need new tile since a leak meant breaking a hole in the old tile a few years back.  This was my last relapse, I swear.   


Sue said...

KCI will be building one of Tumbleweed's Tiny House Designs. We've got a construction course and two cabinet making courses that are going to take on this project. Tumbleweed is donating the plans, Ms. Danic will be paying for the materials, and the students will be doing the work under the leadership of Mr. St. Cyr.

Steve at Tumbleweed has been amazing. He's answered a ton of questions and he's generous with advice. Jay is a wonderful teacher. I took his course in NYC last year and he had all kinds of great tips about building and living in a tiny house.

Watch for updates as we begin to build Tumbleweed's Fencl.

It's also worth checking out the Tiny House Blog.

Marie said...

Sue, I'll bring my camera in to document the building!

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