Thursday, April 09, 2009

Shelter, skelter

I was kind of surprised it took so long for the real estate bubble to burst. A couple of years ago I used to read a blog called van-housing here on Blogger. I quit reading it for a while and a while back discovered it was now only for "invited readers." I am not so interested it anymore that I feel I need to find a way to be invited. I quit reading as it all kind of became a bit repetitious and I no longer garnered any pearls of wisdom from it. That must have been about four years ago I think and I was just starting Waterlogged. The housing issue was somewhat concurrent subject for me and still is. They were trumpeting the bad loans Freddie and Fannie were lending out and how sooner than later it would all come crashing down. And so it did.

Gee. Surpise.

A few weeks ago I came across an article on the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Click on the photo will also take you to the his web site. I think I originally found it on Treehugger or the NY Times.
But whatever. Somewhere houses got stupid big and prices out of control too. I keep hearing about million dollar homes (pool, tennis courts, four-car garages) that are going stupid cheap too ($100-200k). And in this article of a of a couple of artists in Detroit going into rather dodgy and falling down neighbourhoods and picking up shacks for $100. Bravo to them I say. Where they are starting others will follow. They will clean up the neighbourhood and build a community. (Of course one day, the prices will go up again and the gentrification will follow and the artists will get pushed out for that is the circle of things isn't it?)

But let us get back to Jay Shafer and his tiny houses and living small. (Yes, I am adding a link on the non-boat blogroll). For when I click on his larger house plans I think of the Floatie and it's hull is about 52' by 20 feet (1040 sq feet). I haven't actually measured the footprint of the log house itself but I figure with the main floor and the loft I've about 700 square feet. Heck, maybe it is more but now I am curious so I will measure it later.

He's got plans of about that size at up to 837 square feet and of a foot print of 24' x 16' and three bedrooms. Well granted it is small but I think they are splendid anyway. I see new home builds all over the Lower mainland and they are still building huge houses that pretty much take up the entire lot and all homes it seems have a basement suite which they rent out to help with the mortgage.

Around these parts the land is often more valuble than whatever is sitting on it. Still as much as I may bitch about living on a boat, it is not so much as the lifestyle as it is the amount of boats we have that I chafe against. I just don't want to be responsible for what I perceive as more than enough. I keep pushing for a simplicty that seems a bit beyond the grasp. But we are now down to three so I guess I am leading the curve? Heck living in a small space forces one to keep on top of things and cull the stuff on a regular basis. Heck it is all I can do to clean up after myself let alone anyone else. I make a for lousy minimalist even though I try to be. Still it all forces one to at least try.

Hey Matt, any chances of slapping one of these puppies up in the rents/or in-outlaws' back forty? I think I could convice mine if I smiled sweetly enough to let my folks put up one of these in the lower forty. Of course if it was on wheels would totally OK for my Pa as long as his property taxes wouldn't necessarily increase. A "non-permanent structure," in the eyes of the tax assessor would probably be a make it a go.


Matt said...

I looked at these homes and also "Katrina Cottages," which are somewhat lower end mini homes with plans and materiel available at Lowes. During my long layoff of the winter and my many days spent with likewise disengaged carpenters in crowded coffee houses it became quite apparent that there is a large number of stick house buildin' types that could build a lil' house as well and perhaps better than the folks that market such. It is no longer a novelty but a reality that living smaller is what's happening. The idea of building on a old low boy flat bed trailer to avoid zoning and taxes is a very good point. Hmmmm. With the ecomomy as it is it will be a while yet until we can launch such endeavors.

Best Always,
Matt and Julia,
Portsmouth, NH

Jamie said...

I had a bit of a love affair with his website back when Greg and I were together; if it hadn't been a boat, it would have been downsizing in other ways. Even when we split, if he had kept KJ (and I shudder at that thought now), this was high on my list of possibilities. You're so right about the minimalist approach; I think I own less stuff than anyone I know, present company excepted! It's a good thing on the whole.