Here is good video about how the economy today is making some traditional home owners rethink the McMansion and of course pursuing the Tiny House Movement. Sitting at a around 425 square feet, this house is decked out with really high end finishing touches. Basically the owner is taking a traditional home budget and dumping it into a small foot plan for the costs savings and simplified living.
A little while back I talked to someone who was a reader of this website; the topic was about how tiny houses might be able to address a need for homelessness. This is of great interest to me as I work for a non-profit in order to reduce poverty and homelessness. My job is a bit different from most who work in this field as I am essentially a staffing agency for volunteers. I seek out non-profits who need volunteers and then get volunteers, train both sides and facilitate them to fight poverty. All of this is done for free, except for when large companies want a “work day” or “community service day” for their employees, we charge them a consulting fee.
Homelessness is a big issue right here at home, with the economy in a funk, I personally know many people who by all measures financially were responsible, saved 3-6 months of expenses in a rainy day savings account, but were still forced out of their home. If you have ever worked with homeless folks, we find that really aren’t that different than us. I was struck by irony one day when I served food to a group of gentlemen who were dressed better than I was. I was struck when 4 nurses who were still employed sat down to eat because they had a job, but couldn’t afford to eat because of pay cuts and they were giving their portions to their kids.
This Atlanta group called the “mad housers” is a really interesting idea of making cheap houses and dropping them off at homeless camps and tent cities. They construct these for around $400 and have a sleeping loft, a wood stove and a place to secure their belongings and sleep safely.
If you live in a city, you may no know, but every city has several tent cities. Homeless people don’t always just sleep on the streets, they construct in prompt tu shelters in groups for security, community and many other reasons. These things are huge too! I have seen some covering an entire acre.
They say this about their mission:
MAD HOUSERS Inc. is an Atlanta-based non-profit corporation engaged in charitable work, research and education. Our charter outlines our goals and purposes:
- To provide shelter for homeless individuals and families regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, religion, or age.
- To develop low income housing for people in need of housing.
- To help people develop the skills and knowledge for constructing and rehabilitating housing and shelter.
- To increase the quantity and to improve the quality of housing in the world.
- To act, if necessary as an advocate for the homeless, to ensure that their moral and civil rights are protected.
The Mad Housers believe that if a person has a secure space from which to operate, they are much more capable of finding the resources to help themselves.
Check them out here
One thing about The Tiny Life is that having a small home encourages you to spend for time outside. This has a huge appeal to me because I love being outside and enjoying various activities such as gardening, backpacking, grilling etc. I plan to extend my Tiny Home’s square footage with the use of Outdoor Living areas. I am sure most people can figure out what I mean by this, but essentially it is an outdoor space which uses natural elements to create a room like feel.
The advantages of an outdoor space is huge because it’s very cheap and can be done without permits or inspections (with exception of larger decks and electrical). You can have a rather large area for very cheap and allows you to spend more of the year outdoors or handle having a large dinner party or cook out. These things come in all flavors from a picnic table to 40 square feet of granite counter tops with a full on stainless steel kitchen.
I have often thought of owning two or three separate plots of land where I build these outdoor spaces and just tow my house from one to the next. This allows me to migrate with the seasons (job permitting) so I can go North for the summer, down South for the winter etc. This way I could maximize my use of these rooms and have the outdoor spaces’ plants geared to bloom when I will be there.
So here are so design ideas and photos for some inspiration in your spaces.
Encourage the winter sun, block it out in summer
With a tree canopy or a pergola with vines, in the summer the leaves will grow to block the sun and in the winter the leaves will die to allow more sun to warm the space.
Outdoor garden screens
To add privacy, define the space or block winds use hedges and boarder plants which are taller than your eye level. This lets you establish where the space starts and ends, can give the area a bit more “room” like quality and block wind if you are in a windy areas where in others you might want the breeze for warmer climates.
Use vegetation to shelter outdoor living space
The Use of trees to create a ceiling is a great way to soften light and provide cover for when it rains. A large tree can block allot of rain. In addition it prevents the need for building an actual roof, which costs more and needs to be permitted.
Consider shade and shelter fabrics
Kent over at the Tiny House Blog did a great post about keeping cool with Shade Sails. These are simply a triangle of fabric that blocks the sun, are really inexpensive and work really well. When I traveled to Australia these where everywhere and if you have ever been in the outback, you know it’s really hot and sunny there.
I stumbled across this from our friends over at Materialicious, It’s a “Log Home” haha get it? Ba-Da-Psssh – Clicky Okay corny jokes aside, the aesthetic of this is a really interesting collision of rustic extreme meats modern extreme. With all walls except the one being entirely made of logs, I love the look!
It also brings about an interesting point. Many of us want to take our tiny homes to a wilderness setting, an area that is untouched, that hasn’t been ruined by McMansions. With the logs being on most of the sides, the house can easily blend into the natural surrounds. This idea is interesting because you are minimizing the impact, not as we normally think of it as in renewable resources or recycled products, but in terms of Nature’s aesthetics. You are essentially able to keep what we find so great about a forest intact even with placing a house in it.
The Designers website is in French, but here is what it roughly says when I ran it through a translator:
Flake House, house wandering with the road gauge, is conceived to equip the places where it fails and to thus transpose them in strange vision. A “madness” which Marie skilfully “low tech” and “high tech”. The treatment of this poetic shelter is connected more with one object found than with an artifact. The madness is presented in the form of a cast solid building, monomatiÃ¨re (natural wood) broken in her center. This definite irregular break the sequence of entry and delimits space serving as been useful space. The interior treatment of the madness contrasts with the irregularity of the made exterior facade of logs. This space is punctuated random openings arranged between the logs of the walls.
When it comes to Tiny Houses, they come in all shapes and sizes. Even the definition of a Tiny House isn’t all that definitive. People who live in tiny houses live in areas that are urban to the most remote areas of the earth and everything in between. Diversity of what Tiny is, is in itself, part of what makes it so fascinating to me. As people take these ideals we share in the Tiny House Movement and manifest itself in so many forms, we find creative ways to live in small homes.
This richness of various forms allows us to rethink traditional housing in so many great ways. I have toyed with building a Tiny Home a la Jay Schaffer, which I would venture is one of the most popular approaches today. The other option I have considered is a prefab shed. Today I was able to go see a model that I have been toying with the idea of purchasing and putting in the middle of a plot of land.
There are issues with this approach of course. Like all other Tiny Home making this legal and to code is rather difficult by its nature of being Tiny. One big advantage of the prefab shed option is that these structures will almost always pass code, are easily able to obtain building permits, if you even need one! Of course officially this would have to be just a shed. It gets a bit more complicated when you are not placing the shed behind a primary dwelling. This is where I find myself.
When I was talking with the sales person at the shed store, she told me that they have had several customers live in these sheds. They call these buildings “sheds” loosely, with models up to 1000+ square feet.
Why a shed though? Well like I mentioned the ease of getting them legitimized of course helps. Second they are cheap! The model I show here is 192 Square Feet. Included are the windows, doors, installations, taxes, anchoring, site leveling and delivery all for the price of $4,200! Figure adding in permits, running power, insulation and drywall (doing the work myself of course) I am looking at a sweet house for around six grand. You could then deck it out with Ikea swag for another $500 and have a really really nice place! The only drawback is there is no loft for a bed, so you have to deal with that, Murphy bed?
The other advantage to these houses is that you can move them! Not as easily as a house on a trailer, but it’s possible. The other advantage I see with this is that they offer payment plans of $70 a month, makes it pretty affordable, considering I have friends that pay over $1500 a month in rent.