Books, CDs, movies, photos, files, paperwork, videogames: all compressed down to the size of a hard drive. So many random gadgets have been replaced by a smart phone, like camera equipment, phones, flashlights, calendars, etc. Now people are ditching TVs as well and just using iPads and laptops to watch video.
There are other more subtle things as well. For example, I haven't needed to iron a shirt in years because nice shirts come out of the dryer looking perfect. So no need for an iron or ironing board.
Then there's service-economy-ification. Most of my neighbors don't mow their own lawn, none of them fix their own cars, and several don't even clean their own house. I wonder how many brew their own coffee? That's a huge amount of equipment that is no longer needed. When I lived in New York, literally 100% of my local friends used wash-and-fold and owned nothing to take care of clothing. A close friend of mine confessed recently that he hasn't prepared a real meal in years; his kitchen cabinets are nearly empty.
The sharing economy is pushing this further. There's a tool-share co-op in my city for those things you need once-in-a-while, like a ladder. Car2Go and ZipCar mean people don't need 2 and 3 car garages at all anymore.
I can't wait to get rid of more stuff!
Up until the past decade or so if you wanted to be a serious computer enthusiast you needed an empty garage; now you just need space on your desk for a Macbook Pro.
i also cook my own food more often than not. both are more economical _and_ i enjoy it.
ive a 800sqft 1 bedroom in sf so its not that small either. workbench isnt in a garage so its pretty compact yet is a real, full featured bench. 2500sqft with unused rooms certainly is way too big tho.
Are these people not computer enthusiasts?
For instance, my grandpa had a ton of computers from the vic 20 to the IBM PC
Life gets more empty when you live an outsourced life. I agree that "stuff" can get toxic, but rather than shooting for owning just a laptop and a single change of clothes, I instead aim to interact directly with my possessions. Do my own maintenance & repair wherever possible. It connects you with what you own, and encourages you to own reasonable things. Why would I want a house with six bedrooms and five bathrooms- I'm the one who will have to repair them!
Of course there are limits; a six-hour service job on my truck will be outsourced, especially as in my hands it would stretch to a twelve-hour job and I want to enjoy my weekend. But repairing my sink or changing the oil take a half hour.
I'm more in the "minimalism but within a big property" than in the "minimalism within tiny houses" movement but I'm curious about these "nice shirts" that do not need ironing: would you have any brand / links? (genuinely curious for I wouldn't mind getting rid of my iron)
Besides that I find watching a movie on a 15" MacBook or, worse, an iPad to be a terribly bad experience and, honestly, a 42 flat TV (which isn't big by any mean) isn't something that takes up a lot of real estate.
Not related to your comment but I'd say that "minimalism" looks better (for properties, for paintings, for UIs, ...) when there's lots of "free space" around. These tiny houses look kinda weird: I prefer Steve Jobs and his couch + stereo in his big empty living room : )
Also of note: The person interviewed in the story is female, not male.
Not totally, as others have mentioned our grandparents generation lived tiny as well.
Technology allowed us to consume big but yes it'll allow us to go back tiny again by consuming efficiently.
Last week I returned to the UK and rented a 2 bed flat, which turned out to be a mistake, I would have been happy in a studio. My decision to rent a 2 bed is based on my previous experience of having books, hifi separates, desktops. So now I'm buying books just to fill out the space and make it look less like I've been robbed. I prefer kindle. I'm definitely downsizing next move.
I'm not sure why these stories keep coming up as original. I received my architecture degree in the early 90s and we had an entire studio course that included designing micro structures for dense urban populations. Yet, at least once a year I see a story about this novel new concept.
It's just a little house. If you put them all together in a village format it becomes a mobile home park. But for some reason no one wants to live there. Call it a mini house or micro house and suddenly it's cool. shrug
This is cool because she did a stunningly beautiful job on an 11,000$ budget. Her aesthetic sensibilities are, from the looks of this project, almost perfectly aligned with mine... but I have none of the talent to create something so beautiful in any medium unfortunately. Wow!
And the fact that the article doesn't specifically call it a micro, mini or tiny home, does not negate the fact that there is an entire industry that caters to this market.
It's cool that she built it herself, but that's about it.
Not to mention: don't have cars...
And I can't imagine living on takeout to be healthy or economic in the long term... Be wary of extrapolating from being 23 to even 33 let alone 63.
I think house in the article is maybe 150sq feet too small, I like to have friends over from time to time. But for one person it is almost perfect.
And a really efficient computer set up demands twin or triple monitors.
We really love living in smaller spaces.
1. Extreme temperature fluctuations. You're essentially living inside a solar collector. In the fall, the sun would blaze in through the windows, and I know you're supposed to have overhangs, shades and air vents and underground air circulation systems, all of which we used. The bottom line is you can't cheat physics. Even with the shades closed, the house is receiving over 300k BTU/hr of solar heat. This is just too much for any reasonably sized cooling system to handle. My infrared thermometer measured surface temperatures in excess of 140 deg. F on surfaces near the windows. In the winter, the same windows would leak heat like a sieve. Here in Montana when it's overcast, 10 deg. F, and the wind is blowing 30 mph the front of the house would barely reach 55 deg F. This was with the 30k BTU propane furnace going 100% duty cycle. I would work at my computer with long pants, a sweater, a blanket over my legs, and an electric heater blowing under the blanket :) The rear of the house is built into the hillside, so it would be warmer in the back, but you could never get the place past about about 65-68 in the winter no matter how much you tried. The sheer size of the front windows and lack of insulation again made the house design at odds with thermodynamics in my opinion.
For the sake of comparison, our place in the hangar has ~R30 walls to the hangar, and again about ~R25 walls to the outside. We have in-floor radiant heat provided by our geothermal heat pump. Earlier this month when it was -20 deg. F outside we were toasty warm at 74 (we have a newborn child in the house now). And we were using significantly less energy to heat than at the Earthship.
2. Mice. The house construction methods are inherently porous, and mice have infiltrated the entire structure. They live in the cavities the walls form (and the roof supports), along the utility raceways in the ceiling, under cabinets, everywhere. I surmise that the mice have tunneled through the back of the hillside, between the tires, and up into the hollow cavities which support the ceiling. They then use this space to move around the inside of the house structure to other areas. No amount of trapping poisoning, etc. has slowed the onslaught of mice into the house. If the only way to prevent mice from infiltrating your supposedly green house is to use concrete in its construction and set outdoor poison traps which potentially kill hundreds of mice and may harm animals which then consume the poisoned mice, is this really such a green alternative?
I've visited an Earthship being constructed in Big Sky Montana by Mike Reynolds this year. The design changes I've seen may partially address point 1, but as far as point 2 I'm not at all convinced that this new house will be any better. I admire his vision, and that he's been able to take his ideas so far. From an engineering standpoint, even taking into account the ecological footprint of the structure, I'm not convinced that his approach is the best when you look at the whole picture.
For the thermal properties of the southern window exposure, I've wondered about that and in particular how that was affected by both summer and winter conditions. The fact that the EarthShips were first built in Taos, NM, which does get cold, but not quite to Montana conditions, suggested to me that the glazing might be a problem in colder climates. I've been to the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, CO, which has more extreme conditions, and it too shares both the semi-subterranean nature and large southern glass exposure of the Earthships (Lovins grows bananas in the atrium, in a bit of cheek).
⚫ What is the glazing? I'd hope for at least double-paned on the windows.
⚫ Some sort of exterior shading -- and awning, tree plantings, or removable sunshades (bamboo, canvas, or similar) might help the fall exposure.
⚫ Creating an internal vestibule, closing off the front garden from the main living space with a second set of doors/windows, or increasing the airflow through skylights or other openings might help moderate internal temperatures in both warmer and colder months.
⚫ Internal window coverings could minimize heat losses in the winter.
65-68F is actually about a perfect indoor temperature for me (if not excessively warm), so I wouldn't be complaining about that, though I realize not everyone feels that way.
I understand you were renting, not owning, so not all of these modifications would have been viable, but ... so it seems.
The mouse problem seems trickier. A cat (or snakes) might help. For pest control, it's seemed to me that solutions aimed at reproduction (bait with birth control in it, for example) tend to be more effective, though if you've got a large external breeding population there's likely no way you could keep up. Knowing what kinds of openings rodents can get through, sealing off the structure seems all but impossible. Gives you an additional appreciation for why the Egyptians worshiped cats as gods, however.
That's part of the push.
There's also a lot of influence from real estate developers, financiers, and the like, to produce a, hate the word but it fits, "product" which will entice purchasers.
Much of the construction materials and standards are of the bare minimum to pass inspection. If you're in the trades you'll hear terms for wall blocks (the horizontal pieces placed between studs) depending on whether they're attached with one or two nails per end (the latter is marginally more expensive, but more robust), the thickness of studs, type of sheeting used, etc. Notably, contractor friends when building their own home significantly upgraded construction standards from code with an aim toward longevity and robustness.
The principles behind Earthships (and other sustainable designs) are to, generally, minimize both environmental impacts (through locally sourced and recycled materials) and ownership costs (through passive heating and cooling, water collection and reuse, etc.). Earthship Biotecture discusses the motives and evolution of their designs:
The key principles:
⚫ A structure built from largely recycled materials
⚫ Heating and cooling
⚫ Electrical system
⚫ Water harvest system
⚫ Contained on site sewage treatment system
⚫ Food production
The designs (or variations on it) are used in a wide range of climates, from alpine to desert to tropical to temperate.
As for the pest-resistance -- rodents and insects aren't unheard of in modern and/or traditional construction either, though it would be interesting to get a direct comparison of the Earthship vs. more conventional designs in similar areas.
You asked a question. I answered it based on both 1) my direct experience with construction and constructions standards and 2) material which is directly viewable on Earthship Biotechture's website.
As I stated above: I've known of the general concept for years (decades -- first heard about "junk houses" in the 1970s), but really only started revisiting it in the past year or so. And I'm genuinely interested in what the negatives of the design are.
I'm also generally somewhat skeptical of alternative concepts. Widely used designs are, if not always ideal, at least generally well understood particularly in their shortcomings and/or failure modes. And a lot of alternative concepts tend to be oversold, especially by their creators and proponents (and Reynolds is nothing if not a crusader).
If you're interested in the evolution of housing, it's helpful to realize that there's a vast diversity of designs applied to many different locales. Much of the variance is due to local needs, materials, costs, and capabilities. E.g., building with loose or lightly mortared stone and mud brick is cheap, but not particularly proof against earthquakes.
If you'll travel across the US, you'll find very, very similar designs being built independent of climate or location. I could speculate on specifically why, but a huge level of concentration in the homebuilding industry likely has a great deal to do with this. I'm also well-acquainted with fairly recent construction which has fared poorly even in only a few years, hence my comments on construction quality.
I reckon you could have various different 'pods', though, rather than a standard house. A small space like this, then an isolated office room five minutes walk away, perhaps a cafe/communal eating area somewhere else ,and so on.
Indeed, in such case, you're probably a lot better off than "home dwellers" as far as exercise is concerned, as walking around to go to the cafe to read, etc, uses a lot more energy than just walking around your house...
In a way, what happens is that your dwelling expands to include your neighborhood as well (with the actual dwelling remaining as more just a place to sleep).
[Certainly this sort of thing is a little easier in a warm climate, but it clearly works fine in many other climates too. A little snow doesn't stop people.]
I do think you are on to something with the idea of pods, most farmhouses where I come from are arranged in a number of small separate buildings.
This is just something you need to change yourself and get used to, it won't get any easier if you just ignore the cold.
1) and since I am 7 hours away from my office, I cannot point them out right now
I myself build homes, apartments, I also design kitchens, did flips, and I can tell you that I have not met one person that could live in a tiny box like that. Yes, it is a dream of everyone, to be very simple and live like this, but this is not going to happen.
She moved from 2,500sqft to 200sqft, why? You don't wake up one day and do that unless you cannot afford living in a house, and I don't care what she says. Maybe it's her cottage or trailer, I really don't know, but don't believe anything they say on the news.
A lot of people would go insane in a 200sqft space. It's like a cell. If anyone wants to try, please come live in my shed. It's very minimalistic, raw, super nice like this place.
I've had a strange notion recently, that these things are actually not helpful in the larger scheme of things. Some creative person goes an lives in a shoebox; no room to design or socialize or have a hobby or even bring work home. Now we've taken a productive person out of society and turned them into a hermit. How does that help? It seems selfish at some level.
I am not saying that people cannot do it, when I was little we lived in an apartment with very tiny two bedrooms and a kitchen (4 people). I was sleeping on bunk beds ...
Unless you are poor, are traveling in your RV, are an eco freak, or you're living in a densely populated area (China, Korea etc), there's just no reason for you to live in a tiny place.
This tiny house, however, would be great as a cabin where you can relax over the weekend, get away from city life.
I agree what JoeAltmaier is saying.
What's wrong with the people you've met? If they're single there's no reason they couldn't live in a place like that. They don't need most of the junk they own and could get along just fine in a small home.
"Not a random or lowest-common-denominator-based spec"
So you want it to cost what a 1,200 sqft building would cost, but you want to spend it on architects and custom builders instead of cheap efficient standardized parts & designs.
A wheelchair ramp, sure I guess... but the general principle of housing for most of us can't be "Find a way to occupy the unemployed architecture majors of the world".
I wish there was more interest in accessible vehicles as well. Outside of the Kenguru which can't go up hills and is limited to 25MPH (since it's NEV) there aren't many other options which allows a power chair user to drive (without transferring).
Please make sure the chair can be anchored correctly and is certified for use in a vehicle.
The other thing that happens in a tiny space: you end up buying quality. You will wait to find "just the right desk lamp" and then pay a premium for it.
I could do that, but I don't have to, so I don't.
Personally, I think these efforts lack an understanding of basic annoyances:
Assume you want to sleep when others don't? Oh - the answer is this is for happy single people.
Assume you overcook your steak and the whole place smokes up and your bedding now stinks.
Assume you have more than (1) friend over.
I LOVE small/minimal spaces - but they are really not for the majority of people. They are too small cramped and inefficient for average living.
Christ, my closet is bigger than that unit.
Having lived with my wife in a 490 sq foot jr. one bedroom for one year - and now in a 2 bedroom, ~800 sq foot place, I can say I really don't get the whole minimal housing thing. Our new place is objectively better; aside from price and the most marginal savings in cleaning time, there was no advantage to living in the smaller place.
* It was impossible in old place to fit bikes, TV, and 2 computer stations in living area. So 1 computer station went into bedroom. Causes conflicts if one person is sleeping and other is awake -- moving computer + associated papers/books is an annoyance.
* Dedicated sleeping room. No need to disturb other sleeping person while getting clothes, etc.
* Place to retreat: In a small place, if you just want to be alone, you really can't be. We have lower stress levels with 2 bedrooms.
* Space to move around: We feel healthier having more space to move around.
* Can now actually invite more than just 3 people over at a time.
That said there are limits; we'd gain little from more space. But there's a lot to be said for having at least one bedroom per person.
Given people seemed to raise kids and survive in 983 sq ft during the 1950s (average house size) I don't see why people think we need massive houses to raise children in today.
No he's saying that an environment being "survivable" isn't an argument for what should be an acceptable environment for everyone.
I have spent extensive time in HK, and I apologize that I have only had the misfortune of interacting with people who make incomes on-par or above that of a typical Silicon Valley worker, thus they have AMAZING places to live....
Unfortunately I am at the poor end of the spectrum at south of 200K USD per annum
She also cooks 3 meals a day in our tiny kitchen. Nothing stinks afterwards.
She publishes new videos every couple weeks or so and is intimately tied into the tiny house movement.
She also covers things involving alternate ways of living, diy, etc. Lovely person.
Small eco-homes are not just a trend; they are the new era in real estate development. But they need to be built such that they can collectively share infrastructures the same way city residents do. The project I'm working on, applied to YC with (and was rejected from) last batch is built on this idea of more ecological homesteading in order to create better urban planning. Masdar City http://www.masdarcity.ae/en/ is an interesting prototype for the future of cities. We've schooled our youngins enough for them to know that ecological awareness needs to be a lifestyle. They're surprisingly aware that the world they are inheriting has exponential population growth, limited resources, and that the "industrial revolution" model of economic viability just isn't going to work forever they way it has been working.
But I don't believe for a second that this is the architect's dream house. Come on. It's like saying that a static blog is a programmer's dream project.
She may have had a dream one night about living in a small house but I am sure that as soon as she can afford to, she will move into something bigger. Let's not kid ourselves :-)
In short, tiny homes are built to "feel" like a regular home, even though much smaller. Mobile homes, in contrast, are not, generally feel cheap and light, much different experience.
Saw it on a great UK TV show called George Clark's Amazing Spaces, where there are lots of brilliant creative ideas.
Link to a brochure with a nice expanded drawing:
Houses these days are unnecessarily large. My parents live in 6,500 square feet, and they're empty nesters! I guess that space makes a lot more sense be because they live in a suburban hellhole where there are no public spaces and every excursion outside is a half-hour car trip, one way.
No, you personally won't. Plenty of people go their entire life without raising children and yet the human race continues to grow.
And there's nothing stopping you from raising a family in a small space. My family spent 6 months in a ~700 sq ft apartment in Chicago when I was growing up.
The real challenge for most cities is to build high-density housing where you might not have pleasant long views out of your window or lots of natural light. Higher-density housing doesn't mean high-rise, but it probably won't include building (many) detached homes. Apartments and terraced (row) houses are more suited to high-density developments.
Could you still live in a 200 square feet home if it was a single-aspect apartment in an apartment block? (Single aspect = windows along just one side of the apartment compared to a double-aspect apartment with windows at the front and back of the apartment). Or could you live in an equivalent tiny terraced house?
Just for comparison, London now has minimum space standards for new homes (but England and Wales do not). A one bedroom apartment for two people must be a minimum of 50 square metres (538 square feet). In Germany, the equivalent apartment is 60 square metres.
To me these spaces are modest in size rather that palatial but space is relative and we all have different ideas of what tiny, small or large mean to us depending on where we live. New build homes in the UK tend to be the smallest in Europe and the quality of many new build homes is poor. Here's a comparison of the average size of new homes in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Denmark:
Having your bedroom near or inside a kitchen is a total chaos.
>I think technology is the enabling factor behind the tiny house movement.
Technology has helped most persons own a 'palace' which was only possible for super-rich in the past, due to lack of 'economical' technology and advancements.
I like the 200 sq. foot size a little less. My own dream homes (there are two):
1. A small home (> 200 sq. feet) or perhaps unit in a larger condominium complex or communal living space in a denser urban conglomeration. The town/city is not so large that you cannot easily walk or ride a bike through the length of it. Lots of trees and green space. Light rail transportation to nearby urban areas. Not as dense as SF or anywhere near as dense as Manhattan. But not so suburban that you need a car. Building height is kept at or below five stories, and averages two stories. The buildings do not block sunlight. There are places at the edge of the town/city for long-term car storage, but driving is not permitted within it.
2. A nice cabin or ranchouse (~1000-2000 sq. feet?) in the countryside with access to light rail within biking distance.
I'm also a delivery driver with a large (>200 unit) trailer park nearby and none of the homes come close to being this small.
Additionally you will note that the trailer that the tiny house is situated on has a fifth wheel for being pulled by a truck, while a single-wide typically will be on a platform with a conventional style hitch.
Personally I see no difference between this house and trailer.
I live in a fairly large house on a road with real bus service that connects me to Cambridge, the Boston MBTA, and a commuter rail in and out. That means that we can get along with one car instead of two. We do our own laundry, cook most meals from scratch, and keep multiple cats. We have a standing arrangement with a housekeeper to help clean our house a few times a month.
My chief desire is to be comfortable, not to live a life of ascetic minimalism, aesthetic cleanliness, or meditative contemplation. There are books in every room in the house. There is always a computing device with internet access within a few steps. We have space for Lego, toys, hobbies and tools.
I understand how someone who lives alone might want to be in a tiny space -- because they don't really live there, they live outside the house anyway. But that's not what I want, and it's not what I have.
How creative do you expect you'll have to get in a space that size?
Admittedly, though, I must have limits for small living spaces. My favorite part of this exercise was opening the door back out into the rest of the apartment, upon which my studio suddenly felt palatial.
Will probably end up something like the wee house layout wise, though not as modern in design: http://www.weehouse.com/wee/
The building is pretty cool as it was originally an ice cream parlor in the 1950's. It was going to be demolished, but a group saved it and moved it to the current location and now I'm taking it over.
I actually got the building for free since I bought the commercial building in front of it (well, negotiated it into the deal so I call it free). The commercial building was built in the 1860's and also saved by the same group. It is pretty unbelievable - has an arched doorway in the back where the horse/wagon pulled in with supplies for the general store and tavern that were in the ground floor. I'm going to finish out an apartment upstairs and have two commercial spaces downstairs - one for my business and one to lease out.
Just spent the last month in the middle of San Diego and now it is out to the desert.
Seen some great projects in London & Brighton, but non in Manchester for homes yet. Though there's been a great use for offices in the Sharp project.
Anyone else in the UK looking at this sort of thing?
One question: Why the wheels if you're only going to move it every so often - say a couple of years?
He said that you can build your own house for $2000 dollar.
I can't find that report now, but here is a link to their discussion form.
they even open source the design to build your own brick presser.