Micro homes

columbiascJuly 30, 2008

Has anyone looked at the micro homes featured on the internet and in certain magazines? These "homes" are less than 100sf. Come on now, be serious. This seems to me to be just short of mockery. They really should be called "sleeping spaces". You really can't live like that on an extended basis.

Do you think examples like these hurt or help our cause?

~ Scott ~

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I think many of them are experimental - designed by people exploring various ways to cut down to excessive waste of materials, and to challenge themselves (and us) to find interesting ways to do with less and store things creatively. I don't think they're necessarily made to live in forever, especially if your family grows, but they're another way to extend learning about different living environments. They may also be great for temporary, or holiday living, and for people bound to own their own places without resorting to mobiles (trailers).

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 6:22AM
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I agree with lucy. I would consider these micro homes and lifestyles to be experimental and alternative. In my opinion, these homes are not for families with growing kids and will never become a mainstream way of life for the average family.

I read about these micro homes and have never associated them with the general discussions we have here on our smaller homes. I know I certainly don't have a "cause", nor am I trying to promote anything by living in a smaller home.

I think the micro-homeowners are more likely to have a cause, ambition, or challenge.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 7:06PM
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It's camping. There are probably a few individuals that could be truly content in a house that small (my sister would come close), but most people like a little more room. Obviously, under duress most people could survive in a dwelling that small, but be happy? I doubt it.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 4:57PM
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Micro homes should help our cause. But i could not see living in less than 600. My 950 is huge compared to the large sailboat i came down here on. I really enjoy my small
home. It's two minutes from down town. Has a detached garage, alley access, fenced in, and on a brick street.
Would not change a thimg. lol, i help build 5 to 10 million
dollar water front homes for a living. can't waite to get home to my cosy hut!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 10:37AM
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I like your attitude Gary. It must be similar to the feeling I get in my 8 year old, paid off pick-up truck when I roll up next to a Benz or Beamer with temproary plates (new). The people you are building houses for typically build them to impress contemporaries they don't even like or to keep the stay-at-home trophy spouse happy. Read slowly ladies, I didn't say wife or bride, gender is open here.

Living in a small, but reasonable space is very satisfying on many levels. I just wish that there were more detached options to choose from in the under 1000sf size range. Too often, in our area, smaller typically means "affordable" which typically means unimaginative vinyl boxes in neighborhoods that quickly become at best, "unkept" and at worse, ghetto. There has to be a way of offering well designed, attractive smaller housing that doesn't end up in the deteriorating neighborhood category. I speak from experience. I was born in the 60's and grew up in a 836sf 3/1 tract home that was IDENTICAL to 95% of the houses in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was 5 years old when I was born and I watched the neighborhood decline from the time I was aware of such things until I wass in my late 20's and my parents finally sold and moved.

I have loved small spaces for as long as I can remember. I just wish they were more common and in neghborhoods that are kept up. Someone remarked recently that they weren't aware that we had "a cause". I'll just call this my own personal crusade.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 7:44PM
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I agree that tiny Micro Homes are not for everyone, but I also think that your outlook depends on your circumstances. If you are currently homeless and sleeping under a bridge, or in a shelter, they could look pretty nice.
I also agree that there has to be a way to regulate this type of neighborhood as I have noticed that they can have a tendency to take on the appearance of a landfill! I hate to say that, but all you have to do is look around certain areas. Perhaps cities and towns should be taking on more responsibility in demanding that neighborhoods be kept neat and clean. It sounds idealistic, but can be done.
I am currently building a tiny off the grid Micro Home to assess the practicality of this type of home. They may prove to be a solution for some low income retirees, singles, or couples. I think it is a worthwhile experiment.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Next Billionaires Will Be Green

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 7:31AM
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Were I single and not living in a house full of critters and artwork and stuff, I'd love to give micro home living a try. Then again, I've long been intrigued with paring down to only the most essential of possessions, and having the freedom to pick up and go whenever and wherever I chose, at any given time. My reality is definitely not that way, but I do still fantasize from time to time! And I adore camping ... just love my cozy little tent and being forced to keep all of my gear "just so" in order to maximize space. So, as far as hurting the cause of smaller homes, I really don't see it that way. For some like myself, it's an extremely interesting and attractive option.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:03AM
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garynpinellas- Is that 'Pinellas', as in FL? I live in Seminole, on top of the 'hill'!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 4:32PM
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Please keep us updated on your experiement. I would love to follow your journal and see lots of photos.

If you think about it though, living in a micro home space really isn't that new. I was born in Vero Beach, FL and grew up around water and boats. There were plenty of people "living" aboard small sailboats full time. Many of these boats have spaces approximating that of a micro home. At least with a micro home, you can go out and take a walk. That's a little tough when you are anchored in the harbor and surrounded by water.

I was reading a feature online recently that was showing the "temporary" housing that the Chinese government commissioned after the recent earthquake. The "dwellings" are 76sf, have dirt floors and communale bathrooms and water spigots. Can you imagine the backlash if we had tried something like that after Katrina?

Great stuff! I love the participation and exchange of ideas. So excited I found this site.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 7:55PM
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Hi Scott:
We post almost daily on the blog
http://thenextbillionaireswillbegreen.blogspot.com/ with photos
We are building a very tiny model for test purposes. It is basically for one person or two very good friends! We will also build larger sizes as required. The best part of it is that these homes are designed to be totally off the power grid
If these homes catch on we will mass produce them in the USA. We are now seeking recycled non toxic plastic materials etc., for exterior roofing and siding and interior wall panels. We want to be as green as possible. Our goal is a small off the grid home that sells for under $10,000. and to provide jobs for American workers. It is an ambitious project, but we think we are up to the challenge. I have written extensively about it on my blog. We have a way to go with this project yet.
It's not about the money, it's about jobs and proper housing.

Here is a link that might be useful: The next billionaires will be green by Walt Barrett

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 10:18AM
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Walt - sounds great, and I know your intentions are great, but why plastic? There are so many recycled new materials (super strong ones) around now, made from all kinds of things, not the least of which (for example) uses old tires (I'm not recommending that any more than anything else, just as an example), that I'm sure if you look around you could get really interesting and very green.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 12:18PM
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Hi flgargoyle, Yes i live in Pinellas, in the hood of Saint Petersburg. lol, I lived in the Mad beach harbor
for a while. Nice place. Seminole was next door, The hill you speek of must be a mole hill? Just kidding, some of my
best monories are there. As far as micro homes are concered
I think there should be a place for them. Katerna cottages
are having a hard time staying on a city lot. City codes and all. Why so many goverment rules? Just saying

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 12:07AM
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A lot of communities have 'anti-shack' laws, as they are known. Where I grew up in CT, the minimum was 700 sq ft. When we looked at land in SC, there were many subdivisions that had minimums, ranging from 1400 to 2400 sq ft! We simply can't afford that much house, nor would we want to take care of it once we retire.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 5:32AM
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My son is an OTR truck driver. These guys live quite well in their cabin areas for 2 mos or more. He was talking to me about a micro home for the 2 or 3 days when off the road. He mentioned the 10 X 12 log cabin in my back yard as an example and also a small houseboat. There are probably a lot of people with jobs like his that take them away from home for months at a time, who would consider micro living. Son is single which makes this more possible and his down time is reading, high tech, etc. Doesn't take much room or amenities for him to get comfortable and feel he has a home.

They definitely have their place in our society, the problem is what many have mentioned...city codes. Most would probably have to consider county rather than city. There are still tons of cottages as small as a micro in the mountain towns around me that people use for summer. And still many neighborhoods in the central part of my city with such that are being brought back to life. Those that have always been well kept are pricey and still holding value even with the housing slump.

As much as the economy is hurting people who are on retirement incomes like me (and other situations), I'm hoping some reality kicks in with the huge homes being built by buying up the land around me. They wait for us to move or die and grab the land. My insurance company told me my home was not worth as much as the land. Small becoming the norm would put those of us in a very good position.

I volunteer with habitat and the "Katrena Cottages" are built on donated land in county locations here. City code would never approve building the samll foot marks. It seems a push for families to live in these small, small homes. But are relished and well taken care of. The neighborhoods look better than many tract areas where large homes were shoved into small spaces. Habitat owners are required to help build them and pay on a mortgage, a personal commitment is made to their home early on.

For me 1000 ft is as small as I can imagine, but think of the many older people living in retirement apts. which are micro small. They do well and are quite content. I need my garden, outdoor space, and would have a difficult time giving this up if having to live in small apt. at a later point in my life. But a village concept of micro homes for older people to live would make sense to me. If they could keep the price affordable for such.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 9:14AM
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We appreciate all suggestions. Some of the recycled plastics are very strong, but we have discovered that these materials are too expensive. We cannot use unconventional things like tires to build homes that will be shipped over the road assembled or even in prefab form.
We have also discovered that some areas are changing their zoning laws to allow micros. We have heard that San Diego as made changes.
The biggest problem is finding inexpensive land to place these homes. There is no question that some rules will have to be changed if the Micro Home movement is ever going to get off the ground. We are also looking at housing for third world countries.
The off the grid aspects of Micro Homes are very interesting. We will continue to investigate every avenue of tiny home living and free energy.
We have posted a photo and text on our blog today. It is about how we laid out the gambrel roof for the micro home.
http://thenextbillionaireswillbegreen.blogspot.com/ We will answer all questions that we receive. wbarrett1@aol.com

Here is a link that might be useful: The next bullionaires will be green by ?Walt Barrett

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 5:54PM
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I didn't mean to USE tires to build anything (tho' it's been done), but gave an example of one source material used in recycled building stuff. There are many.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 10:48PM
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Hi Lucy,
We are salvaging lots of used sliding patio doors That we will use the tempered glass from for a green house add on to the micro homes. We also will use them for solar hot walls. Also, for our own use we are getting plywood lumber from large construction sites that normally goes into the land fill. It is important to note that at this time we are not using used materials in anything we build for resale. I'm not sure it is a good idea legally. Law suits are a major problem in business today. For personal use though, I would use anything I could get my hands on from salvage yards if it measured up to spec. There are windows and doors, beams, certain bathroom fixtures etc. It is also interested to note that now we can get recycled denim from jeans etc that has been ground up into approved insulation with no dangerous particles such as glass in it.
The name of the game is to get low cost off the power grid housing for as many people as possible.
I'll keep you posted on more developments.
I have a monster day ahead of me and have to go.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 8:36AM
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A while back, Oprah had a show that focused on unusual homes, and there was a man in the show with a Micro Home. It was so cute, a 100sf log cabin, if I recall correctly, it actually could have been a pinch smaller. He provided a tour of the inside which was humorous. He had an overhead loft for his bed and used one corner for his kitchen, one for the bath and the other half for living quarters. The interior setup reminded me of those campers people had when I was a kid that were hoisted on the back of pick up trucks. He said it was perfect for him and he was really happy with the arrangement.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 2:04PM
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We are now doing the interior wiring on the micro home. We have to do it in our spare time, but it will be finished in several days. We will then be able to light the interior for free with solar energy only. The roof is on and we are ready to flash and shingle it.
Please vist me on the Pickens Plan and consider joining for free, and learning about saving energy and getting off foreign oil etc.
Walt Barrett

Here is a link that might be useful: Walt Barrett's Micrfo Home Blog

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 6:25PM
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I read an article online that featured 3 micro homes a few months back - wish I could remember where. I've been fanticising about living in one ever since! Just think of it - divest yourself of 99.99% of your possessions and live simply. It reminds me of the Native Americans, who had very few possessions. I would love to do it someday when the kids are grown and gone.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:21PM
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I lived in a micro-apartment in Toronto. It was a bedsit...you sit on the bed to eat, you sit on the bed to watch TV. If you sat on the toilet you were tucked under the sink, lol.
I like something a spec bigger!!


    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 11:58PM
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