RE: very small/ compact housing
From: Prescott Nichols (
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2006 11:58:10 -0800 (PST)
An excellent book: "Mini House" by Alejandro Bahamon. 25+ homes ranging from
344 sq ft up to 1,291 sq ft. Amazingly fun and beautiful designs around the

As the book showcases, living "small" can be wonderful if there is a place
for everything and everything is in its place. Built-in storage, combining
room uses, and combining other uses like stairs and shelves are all great
ways to make this happen. Sadly, some of the niftiest ideas in this and
other books, often involving stairs and ladders, cannot always be realized
under today's building code requirements. Because of this, if you have site
space available, the most efficient small homes would likely be 1-story. If
you are in a high-density, urban environment, then perhaps your building
department has made some enlightened exceptions for loft living, etc..

We are family of four living in a 3-bedroom unit at Muir Commons. The house,
at 1,170 sq ft, has some inherent space inefficiencies that bother me, like
a big u-shaped windowless stair cavity in the center of the house. It also
has some nice touches, like 10-foot ceilings in the living/ dining room.
Private garage/ utility space is non-existent. If we had some private
utility space combined with a more efficient layout, then that would
probably keep many folks here from remodeling or at least thinking about
remodeling when they could be thinking more pleasant, less expensive

Prescott Nichols
Muir Commons, Davis CA 

-----Original Message-----
From: Lynn Nadeau [mailto:welcome [at]] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 12:14 PM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: [C-L]_ very small/ compact housing

At the Port Townsend EcoVillage, well into planning stages, we hope to have 
housing which is attractive, functional, AND distinctly less impactful than 
traditional homes. Plans include a mix of "satellite bedrooms" (small 
cabins, sharing external common kitchen/bathroom facilities), group housing 
(designed for multiple housemates), and separate houses of a more 
traditional sort. 

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!" 

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? 

Can you suggest books (Japan? Europe?), actual plans, cautions, 
encouragement? Thanks! 

Lynn Nadeau
at RoseWind, but enthusiastically engaging in this new project in our 
neighborhood, Port Townsend Washington
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