My problem with small is.....

spunbondwarriorFebruary 27, 2013

It seems that it's never small enough for me, and always too small for my wife..... Bit, it appears I might have finally won, sort of.

My wife has long had two (hundred and twenty seven thousand) problems with me, one being my love for places that can't be found and are far off the road, and the other my insistence that now that the kids are grown and flown, smaller is better.
She, (along with a few MD's) having certain issues with me and my neurologically damaged self being down at the bottom of the hollow 2.5 miles off the road through two locked gates with cell service only if you're in the very right place, and a couple of really dumb dogs for company. We built a 1344 sq ft foundation, but I decided that was way to much house for just two. So we built another one, a much more reasonable 968 sq feet. But that turns out to be way to big too. So, I started making plans for a more reasonable 864 sq ft, but somehow ended up at 800 sq ft. Seems as if 800 sq ft hit some sort of a nerve, and Cyndi told me that if I expect her to live in anything that small or any smaller than that it will only be at a place that is less than 20 acres and isn't 2.5 miles off the road through a mile of pasture with a gate at both ends and then across the creek and up the hill, and 12 miles to a store/gas/civilization.
Somehow, through the oddest turn of events, me and a friend were on our way to the foothills place, and we passed a pig path that me and Cyndi some years ago looked at a gorgeous piece of property that we really wanted, but could never come to terms with the sellers for it. Bennie asked what ever happened with it, and mentioned that maybe I should look into.... So I did.
I showed Cyndi! Yes I did! We just bought 17.39 acres that meets all of Cyndi's silly demands. It's only 1/4 mile off the road, then you turn across the first cattle grate, then it's merely a mile and across two more cattle grates and you come to our new "driveway". Power and fiber-optic and lines are there. 2024.71 feet on a small river as much as 120' wide called a creek with 50' bluffs and two 200 ' sand covered beaches and three Olympic swimming pool size swimming holes that are between 8 and 12 feet deep. And with neighbors too! Kinda close to the new home site at 400' from one and 300 from the other, but seeing as to how there can only be four residences on that 1.25 miles, I reckon it'll be OK. Yep, just 1.25 miles from the pavement, and just 7 miles to town (which is the county seat, pop 3700) Yep! I showed her who's the man with the plan!
And hey!!! Last week the new "Designated Agricultural District" signs went up!!! No subdividing no apartments or duplexes, no mobile home parks, no nothing! If it is there, it can stay as it is, otherwise almost 1/4 of the county is now permanently agricultural, and hopefully more of it with time. A realtor friend went and saw the new sign with me, and he says that the day after the signs went up, property values went up faster than the sign did.

And so Monday 03/03/13 we start on my latest and greatest, and according to Cyndi, LAST! little house endeavor. 1 bedroom, 1 bath, kt/dine, and living room all at 704 sq ft. With a dedicated space for Cyndi's sewing stuff too. And a freezer and washer/dryer inside the house itself too.
Since it's just the two of us and the dogs now, we are selling half each of the foothills place to the kids at + $1.00 what we paid for it in 1993. We have enough put back to build the little house and do a few other things too.
Very Small. And very well insulated, wood heat and wood/solar hot water and were getting a small wood cookstove for both heat and sometimes cooking too in the winter.... Very Small. Very well insulated and requiring the most minimal amount of $$$ for Air Conditioning.... Very Small means very low taxes, especially since we get an agricultural exemption on most of the property. The county bases assessments on the OUTSIDE! So board and batten, or slab siding, a single ply roof, and old time looking brick piers for a foundation. Ahhhh, but on the inside..... wide long leaf pine floor in the living room, Black Locust floor and butcher block counters in the kitchen, seamless real linoleum in the bath, and Black Walnut and wool blend throw rugs for the bedroom. Cyndi picks it out, I go and find it.....
"Fixed income" in a very few years is no big deal, a big garden, a couple of goats and some chickens and a steer and a couple of pigs , a little orchard and berry patch.... And according to Cyndi, a 14 X something little bitty "guest" cottage for whoever. The kids and theirs too, can camp or there is a shed and what is called a "barn", aw what the heck, it's only a few miles down the road, they can go home. All in all, much better than a big house with big payments and big bills and big taxes.

So what is my problem with small anyway?
I have this thing about CAD software and housing design. IMHO, the two just don't mix, nor belong together. I do every thing the old fashioned way. Pencil, eraser, 17 x 22" quarter inch quadrille ruled paper.
Some friends are into sailboats, and they have passed along all sorts of works great in a sailboat stuff, and another friend has undertaken remodeling an old Air Stream and they have passed us quite a bit of camper/Air Stream stuff/catalogs/links/addresses. And then one day I came across ApartmentTherapy(dot). And let's not forget the Ikea catalog my daughter left me
The problem..... it seems as if 704 sq ft is too big now. I have drawn (literally) the conclusion that 644 sq ft is a gracious plenty for two kids with a big porch and 17.39 acres. It seems as if "it's" always too big..... So, I told Cyndi that 704 sq ft will do.....

And so, I win!

Oh yeah, C is pathologically addicted to every DIY home buying/flipping/improving TV show in existence (and what ever happened to Ed and Rachelle Begley and "Living with Ed"?) I watch some sometimes with her.
After seeing what several million will buy in New York City and San Fransisco, I have decided that the new place, including view, creek, swamp, woods, and virtually unlimited off road parking, and with or without house, can be yours for a mere $17 million and some change. The dogs are extra, way extra.....

And so, all is well in Spunbondia..... Except, it seems that the Internist that the neuro's have keep a quarterly eye on me has this Physicians Assistant who works with her. The Internist was asking me about some things she "heard" I have been doing, and I asked her how on earth she knew that..... "I know everything. You didn't think I would find out Andrea is one of your new two neighbors?" It is, it seems, as the old saying goes, a small world after all.....

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Well done! Congratulations on your plans. I hope you will share your building journey with us!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:42PM
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Hello! I see you have been on Garden Web for eleven and a half years, welcome to the Smaller Homes Forum. I don't remember seeing you post here before.

It sounds like you happened upon a wonderful opportunity with your land on the river. You get your smaller home, your wife is pleased by the new location, and you have your neuro's PA living right next door! Have fun with your new build. Are you contracting out the work, or doing the build yourself?

Check out Jay's thread, "Picture a small house...and a barn," if you have not read it yet. He is also in North Carolina, building a home by himself.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:34PM
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Actually, I'm in South Carolina, but I can see NC from my back yard LOL!

Our small house is much bigger at 1200 sq ft. I could live in a lot less, provided I had enough outbuildings for all of my stuff and hobbies. Our house will be very well insulated and energy efficient. I'm also building for low maintenance, fire and insect resistance, and universal design so I can stay here until they carry me out toes first.

If you haven't done so already, do a lot of research on modern building methods and advances in energy efficiency. I frequent greenbuildingtalk a lot to learn about the latest advances. We're relatively poor, so the house needs to be cheap to feed.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 6:59AM
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I pop in this room every so often and your post was so interesting to read. You have the makings of a writer trying to burst out, good humor too. I have a lake house in Maine that is only 780 feet plus a screened in porch and a small studio out building. We've had as many as 12 people stay over at the same time so it's amazing how well you can live in a small place. It's got acreage and the lake on three sides plus mountains. Doesn't get much better than that so I hear you when you rejoice in your dreams being fulfilled. When I come home to my real house, I feel lonely for the little one. There's a pioneer woman inside me. Good luck to you and your "very tolerant" Cindi. It all sounds wonderful to me.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:41PM
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It's too small!! My rented house i love but it is small. I have to laugh when i see others talk about their small homes & think to myself, what if they had my it's small! Trying to post a couple pics if i can to show y'all. I have changed the living area every way possible i'm sure. it's open with the kitchen. I am always "trying" to get rid of stuff but there's a limit. I have no place to store things & i'm always on the look out for storage & organization ideas...all low cost as i'm on a low fixed income as well. I am very handy & crafty & i'm always making & creating but with no real place to do this it takes from my inspiration. Any help, ideas, advice would be welcomed! Seems i can only post 1 photo a comment so i will make a short comment next to post the area where my table sits.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 2:26PM
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One shot of my brdrm & 1 more to follow

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 2:31PM
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i have since put 2 more drawer storage units in the closet, it helps but....i desperately need ideas. Oh...i also have 4 pull out drawers the entire width of the double bed underneath for storing extra things too which does help.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 2:36PM
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Suziq-92, that is tight living, for sure. You are so organized. Are you able to keep it this neat? I am a clutter-bug and I find that I have to keep the knick-knacks to a minimum because of that. Clutter and lots of pictures and such out on shelves end up just looking like a whole lot of clutter, but if you keep it neat, you can get away with small things out. You have a charming country feel to your home! How many square feet do you have?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 8:12PM
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I can see where you're headed already. I'm just going to jump straight to the last chapter for you! Here you go:

your wife may hate me.


Here is a link that might be useful: tumble weed houses

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 3:45AM
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Sounds like heaven to me, EXCEPT the wood cook stove in that small of a space. Clearances being as the are, it would take too much space IMO-unless you're going with an Esse or some other stove that would double as a heat source. Even then, I'd want a summer kitchen because I do like to cook and I know my propane stove can heat up my small space well enough (we're just under 700 sq ft).

We heat with wood. You'll want at least 5-6 face cords (or about 2 full cords) seasoned at least a year or two before your first heating season. Whether you're going with a modern tube or cat stove or scrounging up a smoke dragon, they all give better heat with dry wood. I'd go for a modern stove, clearances (both rear/sides and heart pad r values) are way better. Our Lopi Republic 1750 has a rear clearance of 4 1/2" with a double wall pipe and just ember protection for the hearthpad. I was going to go with the Endeavor (sister stove) but the Republic was cheaper and the "bare bones" look fits better here. All we're lacking is a bypass and I really don't think it effects the use of the stove at all. I chose the stove and Dh went with it-I picked this one for the low clearance requirements given our small space. I might have seriously considered a Blaze King Sirocco if it had been in existance at the time, and I'd have ever heard of BK. During shoulder season, the low and slow burns of the BK would be really welcome, we have to be very cautious with the Lopi not to heat ourselves right out of the place, lol.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Spunbond - I would love to see those house plans you are drawing up, especially with all the dedicated spaces you are planning for sewing hobbies, etc. The land sounds fabulous. You need to hurry up and start building so we can watch.
Our 960 sqft cabin is a tad too small. The living space is fine, but all but the BR are open spaces -- and I can't lock myself into a room to make musical noises. Now, if I just had one more room...... or an extra shed, or... :-)
I've come to realize that if I had an extra room, I'd want something else, too. When we moved to this little house, I realized our big house was filled up with things that we didn't use, but felt that we needed (or at least, needed to keep).
Kudo's to both of your abilities to keep it small!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 10:37PM
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Recently I picked up a book from Barnes and Noble, that is filled with plans for self sufficient/energy efficient small cabins. Awesome ideas take a lot from planned spaces in mobile homes/ campers, boats.... and use a lot of the
bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping facilities taken directly from them. I no longer have the book since we downsized in our recent move, but I saw it was still available when I went to Barnes and Noble about 3 weeks ago. See the link posted below. The book is loaded with ideas . Warrior, please keep us filled in. We want pictures of the land and everything else as it goes up. You are living what many of us only dream of. Looking forward to your updates of this post!

Here is a link that might be useful: amazon llink to compact cabins book

This post was edited by egbar on Fri, Aug 2, 13 at 7:50

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 7:44AM
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