I need ideas...

anettemartinrnOctober 6, 2008

I am a frequent lurker here and love reading all of your posts. Now, I need your input.

I recently lost my DH to cancer and will be moving closer to my parents. This house is too big, and too full of memories for me to stay. My daughter is grown and lives on her own. His kids are grown and live near their mom. So it will be just me.

I will be buying a 16x20 2 story portable building from Classic Manor Buildings. If you look at their website, mine will look like the Villager.

I would like ideas about everything, simple or complex. Understand, I am starting from an empty shell. Thanks in advance.


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But what kind of ideas are you looking for - redesigning spaces, or choices in furniture, or paint colors, etc. etc. Without knowing those, and what your lifestyle and interests are, it's hard to know how to help. Very sorry for your loss, I do hope you are able to settle in the new place and find new friends.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 11:48AM
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I am so sorry for your loss.

Are you planning on living in this unit? Where are you planning to locate it, will you have access to electric, gas, water, sewer? What about climate control, heating, cooling etc? Have you checked to see if it is allowable to have one of these units as living space? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before you can consider undertaking this project.

If you don't mind a little unsolicited advice, I think that you might want to consider moving to the area you want to be in and renting for a bit of time before undertaking anything more permanent. You've gone through a lot and are experiencing a lot of life changes and that's never a good time to be making a long-term decision, especially one that involved a great deal of money. So if you can wait a bit, I think time might be your friend here.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 12:56PM
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I agree with trixie. Unless you are having a money crisis, the best thing you can do for yourself is give yourself a year to grieve, think about your options, and devise a plan. If you need to get out from under the payment, I would also recommend renting until you get your bearings.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 1:25PM
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(((Anette))) I am sorry for your loss.

I have to agree with what others have said here, wait at least a year before you do anything drastic. My husband's dear sweet aunt was talked into selling her home and moving from PA to FL within months after our dear uncle had died and she has regretted it ever since. She just wants to go 'home', but there is no more 'home', she sold it. The daughter who talked her into moving, doesn't even live in FL, she lives in CA. She and her DH were thinking of moving here but it's hard to find a job here, and now the daughter is even trying to talk our dear aunt into moving back if she doesn't like it here. Our aunt lives on the other coast and had to pack up for evacuation for one of the hurricanes that came close this year. We feel bad for her, but there's not anything we can do. So, please take your time.

You need time to grieve, time to remember your husband and all the good times you had in your home. Take your time to check out different options and just go with each day. There are no rules, each person is different.

May you feel love and peace surrounding you at this time.

Sincerely ~ FlowerLady

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 1:44PM
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Thanks all for your kind words. This will not be a new area to me. I lived there before I married. Had a doublewide, but sold it to come live with him. This will be on my own acreage, outside any city limits, so no worries about zoning etc. My parents and other family members will be within walking distance of me.

I appreciate the cautions about not doing anything suddenly, but realistically these were my plans when/if anything should happen to him. That probably sounds cold, but Lewis had many health problems. We knew ours would most probably be a short term marriage. But we loved each other and had a great time for the seven years we were together.

I do not have a mortgage on this house. With the money from its sale, I will buy this unit and make it habitable.

I am looking for space saving ideas, thoughts on making a small place look larger, ideas on visually separating spaces to look more like "rooms". The interior will be all one area except for a small bathroom.

Thanks again for your help

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 6:18PM
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Just being beyond city limits doesn't mean you don't have to follow any code. There are still county and state guidelines that are required for a residence to be legal. You will have to check with your town, county or other jurisdiction to find out if this is a workable option for you. Unless you're planning on living completely "off the grid", generating your own electricity, and having a well and a septic, you'll need to connect to a system of some kind, and that will require a legal address which you won't be able to get without a certificate of occupancy...see what I mean?

16x20 is a very small space, and storage will be your biggest issue. I'd encourage you to seriously consider exactly what you will want to keep and store. Furniture that converts to serve more than one purpose (e.g. sleeper sofa) will also be something you'll want to give some consideration to.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 6:56PM
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annette, forgive my lack of manners before. I am sorry for your loss. It's never easy to watch someone you love suffer through cancer.

In my county there aren't a lot of restrictions, but like Trixie said, there will probably be a septic inspection.

20 years ago we bought raw land with no paved road or services even though they were promised when we signed the contract. We built a garage with loft and lived in it 2 years waiting for the developer to get the land platted so we could build the house. Another neighbor built a metal barn and lived in it.

Because we didn't think we were going to be living in it long, we didn't build walls except for the bath & utilitiy room. We separated the living room from our bedroom with a wall unit and curtains made from sheets. The kids were in the loft.

It worked for us, but we had a little more room than you are talking about. There are some posts here and the decorating forum about murphy beds, and there are also threads for tiny houses. Maybe someone bookmarked them and can link them here.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 11:19PM
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    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Try going to youtube and search "small space big style". This is a HGTV series and several of the episodes are available there. If you can find that show on HGTV (I can't) start watching it. I have a VCR copy of several episodes and would be willing to loan it to you.

Also, while on the youtube theme, you can type in variations of small homes/decorating/etc. and see similar clips, some professinal, some far from professional. Just a thought.

Dwell magazine is usually more sypathetic to smaller spaces and Coastal Living has featured more smaller homes than some of the other more popular magazines. If you ever want ideas for decorating somthing the size of the Biltmore Estate you can tap Architecural Digest! (laughing) Some other magazines to consider might be Metropolitan Home (hit and miss on small spaces) and I saw another one recently at Barnes & Noble, I think it was New York Spaces or maybes just Spaces, I can't remember. But go to a store like B&N and see what's on their rack.

How about the public library? I have seen a few books at ours relating to Loft Designs.

Have you tried Apartment Therapy online? They mention it often on Small Space Big Style.

Professional decorator specializing in small spaces? They don't have to be local to your project. With the building industry being on it's knees right now I would think you would have a better chance of tapping a professional right now than you might have a year or so ago. Architects and interior decorators or even closet design firms might be hungry right now.

Obviously I am sorry for your loss. I am equally excited about your project. You have the resources to start from scratch and tailor everything to your taste and needs. That is a HUGE advantage over the typical process.

Speaking of HGTV, what about contacting them and explaining what you are doing? They might have a need for a project like yours to feature in a yet-to-be-produced series. If they participate, they might be able to hook you up with professionals you have never heard of. Think about it, they are constantly looking for show ideas.

Wow! The more I think about this, the more excited I get and it's not even my project.

Please keep us all informed.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 7:40AM
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Scott, thanks for the encouraging words and for all the resources. I will look at them. I am going to try to photo journal this project and will share it as I can.

Keep those ideas coming.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 8:23AM
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Take a look at the lay-out for this 408 sq.ft. guest house at RobinsonPlans.com. Also look at their Weekend Warrior plans for possible floor plans.

The Villager is very appealing! I like the look of it alot. Will you have stairs or a loft ladder, or circular stairs?

Today I heard part of a story on the radio about a family of three that built a house in the desert that was only 428 sq. ft. So it can be done! If you could attach a screened porch somehow, you could enjoy some outdoor living space.


Here is a link that might be useful: Robinson Plans Craftsman GA408

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 5:04PM
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Also the Wee House

Here is a link that might be useful: Wee House

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 8:41PM
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So sorry for your loss.

As others mentioned, it isn't clear what adaptations will be required to convert the building to a residence.

This may not suit you at all, but please take a look at the 725 SF one-story mklotus. I notice that you are in Arizona, and the photos and renderings seem like it might work for AZ.

Here is a link that might be useful: mklotus

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 8:48PM
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Might you consider a "wall" of free standing bookshelves that could serve as a divider between your living space and your bedroom? As Scott mentioned above, Small Space Big Style is a TV show completely about small apartment living in the city and very small homes. I watch it whenever I can just to see the amazing ideas the owners have implemented. Have you checked with the building manufacturer for any ideas on how to make one or two separate rooms?

Will you be adding insulation and wall board to the studs? Six windows will give you great light. Will you have your bedroom upstairs or use that as a guest room or for storage?

Sounds like you have a good plan moving closer to your parents and family. We look forward to hearing more from you on your progress.

I am very sorry for the loss of your husband.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 9:29PM
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Thanks everyone.

For clarification-
it comes with stairs,
I am planning to have a patio as you exit from the double doors as an extension of my living/dining area,
the bedroom will be upstairs with a daybed downstairs for guests,
insulation is not optional, my plans are to make it as energy efficient as possible,
wall covering is still in the planning stage-wallboard/paneling/sheetrock/?,
I am located in Arkansas, not Arizona,
bookshelves to divide spaces is a good idea, thanks

I did look at the links provided and appreciate all the input. Will try to keep you all informed on my progress.

Any more ideas?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Well my idea is to take a small guest house plan to a local builder & run the numbers. By the time you add electric, drywall, HVAC, plumbing, well & septic, bathroom, cabinets, paint, permits ect. you just might come away cheaper having it built by a pro. Do the entire finishing yourself after the drywall stage is also an option. I researched the heck out of this kind of project in order to become a self sufficent homesteader. We ended up at $65. sq ft built to the drywall including foundation/well/septic. I bet in today's economy you could get a cabin built very cheaply just so that the builder can his crews working.
Best of luck to you!


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 6:20AM
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You can also look into some of the "park model" mobile homes...they are about the same size but come complete with the systems you need to make it a home. They are very nicely done and easy to install. They are designed to be homes from the ground up so there's a lot of work already done for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Park Model options

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 10:59AM
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Anettemartinrn I too am so excited for you and your plan. I hope you keep us updated on your progress. I would like to live my dream through you.

Before we bought the manufactured home. DH was going to build a shop with attached house. I was thrilled and drew up the plans. I would have to look at the SQ FT. Was not a tiny house. Anyway after he thought further on it he decided he better not try to build us another house.He is 68 and a young 68 but he was afraid if something happened to him I would be stuck with an unfinished house. So we got the manufactured home we have.

I had so many wonderful plans on how to use our furniture as divider walls so the rooms could be changed around if the whim hit me to do so. I was going to use the two china cabinets coming out from the walls instead of backed up to the wall to make a divided room for what was going to be my upstairs studio and guest room combined. I was going to put book cases on the back sides or turn one facing one room with book case on the back of it and one facing the other side with book case on back. I was going to make pretty long curtains to use on tension rod between them for a full divider when needed. The china cabinets are 6+ foot tall. I was going to put things on top of them too which I have done here in my studio room only the cabinet is against the wall.

Also I am so sorry for your loss. Been there done that and I know what you are going through. Having great projects to look forward to and plan is good for your sole. I am so excited for you in this respect.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Forgot to comment on the Park Model Homes. They are really nice. My friend had one for a year or so. She said it was too small because it was two of them. and well her DH.............. LOL Anyway just wanted to say I have been in them and have seen the one lived in and it was very nice. Compact.Efficient. I would still rather do the loft style house if I had had my choice. Go for it Annette.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 4:06PM
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Here's another tiny house that has a loft. The more I look at this, the more I want to incorporate some of the ideas into my next house.
House blog

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:49PM
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There are some good ideas here. I will try to contact some of our local contractors and see if they are interested. I did look at the links provided. The park model homes look nice. But having lived in a mobile home (3 actually) I know the kind of materials used. If I do it myself, I will have more control over the quality used. Their floor plans are nice though, and I did see some space saving ideas I could incorporate.

That poor guy with the house blog! One problem after another. But it is a nice design.

I am excited about this project. Thanks everyone for your support.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:00AM
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marti- That's a neat blog. It's amazing what some local governments force you to do, though. And $7000 for a permit?!! $7000?!! We spoke to the inspector where our property is in Greenville County, SC, and he said permits run a few hundred dollars. The septic permit was $125. Next time you get to thinking this is a 'free' country, try building a different house in a city! I'm also amazed he spent $80K for that little house. It's cute, but not $200/sq ft cute.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 4:22PM
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(note- apologies if this submission turns up more than once... gardenweb keeps refusing to recognize me ;)

Hi anette and everybody. I am getting an unusual number of hits on my blog from this post so I thought I would come by and chime in. I think I have something positive to add.

Anette, my condolences. This house project could be really satisfying for you. I have no idea whether it makes sense in your new location to fix up a prefab building, to build new, buy manufactured, etc. You will have to pencil out each strategy and see what makes sense.

No matter what kind of building you have it sounds like you may be able to control one critical design element that most people can't: the house's placement on the land, and therefore the views the house has. Every little house, in my opinion, needs nice vistas visible (through glass doors or windows) from its main living area, so that when you are inside your attention is drawn outside -- and the space does not feel limiting.

You already have this idea, I see, because you talk about a patio. Keep that in mind-- it's not just the inside you're designing, it's a whole experience of living in the house -- and to a remarkable extent that is dependent on what's outside the house. Good luck!


ps- Jay, the actual price was $75K, not $80K, which is cheap for this town, and the actual square footage 434, so the 'cuteness standard' to beat is $173/square foot. I'll take any and all comers at that rate!

Here is a link that might be useful: my little house

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 6:42PM
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How cool! Thanks for visiting bottleman!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 7:11PM
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I found a site last night that was similar to the classic Manor you were looking at, and now I can't find it. But I did find this that looks similar.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 12:32AM
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OOPS Not sure on this I have WOT=Web Of Trust on my Mozilla firefox browser and the Cottage link showed up as dangerous for me. Marti8a. Not saying you did anything wrong and I would love to see this link if you think it really is safe. Since I just had to install new OS on my hubbies computer last month I am a little freaked He got a bad bad bug and took him machine down fast.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 3:32AM
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It shows safe on both my computers, but I am using Explorer with AVG.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 2:08PM
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I'm sorry for the loss of your husband. You seem to have carefully thought things through. My DH's health is 'iffy' too, so I fully understand thinking ahead.

One thing you may like to keep in mind if this is to be your 'forever' home. Give serious thought to having commode & shower on each level...I hope it never comes to pass for you, but one day you may not be able to manage those stairs.
Best Wishes,

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 5:36PM
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Wow, so much interest, and so much support. I cant say thank you enough.

Yes, my outside "rooms" will be just as important as my inside rooms, since I will be able to use them probably 8 or 9 months out of the year. I love gardening, and find the planning of plantings as exciting as picking out paint colors.

Suzi, I am sorry for your health related issues as well. All I can say is enjoy every day. I am planning door widths etc to reflect my potential needs. The bathroom will be on the first floor, along with a day bed. If need be, the guest area will move upstairs, and my primary area will be downstairs. But thanks for the reminder. Others may not have thought about it.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:13PM
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Give some thought to your steps into the home also - easier to make adjustments for low risers now rather than several years into the future.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 12:48PM
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I am terribly sorry about your loss.

Have you gotten into your new home? I'd like to hear an update before I start saying my usual stupid things.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 7:50PM
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Teresa, I will do that also, thanks for the reminder.

Jason, I am still in the selling process, so not yet.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 7:37PM
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Is it possible to have a partial second floor? A taller ceiling in part of the house will make the space feel bigger.
Beds with drawers underneath are good for storage. Can you put some cupboards underneath your stairs?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 7:56PM
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We design any house, any style, any size.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 6:25PM
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