RE: very small/ compact housing
From: stuart (
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2006 11:21:40 -0800 (PST)
Please see below for my contributions.

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [C-L]_ very small/ compact housing
> From: "Lynn Nadeau" <welcome [at]>
> Date: Tue, January 17, 2006 3:13 pm
> To: cohousing-l [at]
> I'm seeking resources for housing design. It's not hard to find
> small-to-tiny prototypes for singles or the sort of couples who can live
> together in a boat or schoolbus. However, we also want to attract families.
> So we want sample houseplans for 2-3-4 bedroom housing, so that a family,
> say, of two adults and 2-3 kids, with a home-office-based business or two,
> could look at a plan or model and say, "Why, yes, we really could live in
> xxx square feet, if it were arranged like THAT!"

There is a local company that a friend told us about called First Day
Cottages. They make inexpensive house kits that are designed to be
built by folks with no building experience at all. The houses are
energy efficient and use dimension lumber to make up  posts and beams
for a timber frame house and real wood for sheathing and siding- there
is no plywood in the house.

 I find the system very impressive. We went to see one a couple of
sundays back and even though it was a cold Vermont Winter's day, the
house was comfortably warm and the only heat was a pellet stove. Veda
and I are going to get one of their kits for ourselves and there are
other members of Caer Coburn that are interested as well.
Here is their web site:
> What is the smallest  2-3-4 BR housing in your experience that can "work"?
> "Work" meaning people don't then feel the need to build storage buildings,
> garages, or move away for lack of space. Do you live in a house that's
> particularly compact?

We are space intensive because of our work. Veda has a sewing room for
her historical and custom clothing business and an art studio for her
Calligraphy and Illumination, Graphic Art, and Illustration work. I
have an office for my online businesses and I need a studio for storage
of my magic equipment and rehearsal space. Right now we live in a 3
Story Queen Anne Victorian, so downsizing will be a challange. I want
to figure out the minimum square footage needed for our actvities,
living spaces, etc. and then we will be designing the house from there.
> Can you suggest books (Japan? Europe?), actual plans, cautions,

First Day has plans online, but David Howard, the architct and owner,
will also work with a buyer to design a house that suits them.

Here is another site that sells plans using conventional building
methods (except for the log homes):

I found them by a link in 3D FloorPlan, which is a house design program
for computers. I want to play around with floor plans so I got an older
version pretty cheap at Ocean State Job Lots, but I have seen similar
programs on e-bay, just make sure that the program you get works with
your computer's OS.

You can find more sites with plans if you do a Google Search for house
plans and home plans.

I figure these sites are a good place to start getting ideas and then
modifying the plans to suit yourselves if there isn't one that is
perfect already.

I hope this answers some of your questions and gets you started. If you
do contact 1st Day Cottages, please tell them I referred you as I like
to keep my relationship on good terms.

Good Luck!

Stuart Joseph, 802-463-1954
Project Director
Caer Coburn, a traditional village based upon intentional communities
and co-housing
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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