Re: Micro Living Units -- Affordable
From: Ken Winter (
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:17:16 -0700 (PDT)
Wow.  Very well said!  I haven't been following this thread, but I happened
to read this one, and I'm glad I did.  A lot of wisdom in a few words.

~ Ken, from Sunward Cohousing

On Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 8:38 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> 

> I will re-configure some points I made in an earlier response to this
> concept:
> Tiny spaces are cheaper than less-tiny spaces.  But not a lot cheaper.
> Think about it.  A minimalist dwelling unit might include two doors, a
> window, a compact bathroom and kitchen, and a micro-studio of, say, 12 x 12
> feet square.  A more comfortable and practical dwelling unit might be
> exactly the same, except the studio would be maybe 16 x 20 feet.  The extra
> construction is mostly … air.  Air is pretty cheap, and doesn’t add much to
> construction costs.  OK, it’s not quite that simple, but the underlying
> point is valid:  In buildings, it’s features, not space, that tend to cost
> the most.
> So now:  How do you simplify or reduce features, save lots of construction
> cost, and still have a good home?  I have two suggestions topping my list:
> Multi-family construction.  Single family homes are incredibly inefficient
> at providing X square feet of amenable interior space.  Foundations and
> weatherizing envelope are extensive and costly, relative to habitable
> square feet, and building utilities like HVAC cannot benefit from any
> economies of scale.  If you’re trying to limit the cost per square foot of
> housing, apartments and condos will always beat out single family homes —
> with one hand tied behind their backs, and wearing a blindfold.
> Sharing.  Who says every individual or couple needs a private bathroom or
> kitchen?  Well, we all do, that’s the American way.  But there are
> certainly many other residential amenities that can be successfully shared
> by a residential community, instead of privatized as in the single family
> model: A guest room; a workshop or arts and crafts room; a swimming pool; a
> party/banquet room; even an automobile.  This is where cohousing steps in
> to make life in a small unit reasonable: by providing options and
> opportunities to serve occasional needs in a communal rather than
> privatized way.  And more communal models, like congregate care for the
> elderly, really do find ways to share a kitchen and bathrooms among a dozen
> unrelated adults.  Now we’re gaining access to a lot of nice spaces, at a
> modest price.  If — and this is big if — we can get comfortable with
> sharing.
> Thus my proposition is that we can save a little money by putting our
> products in the squeezer-compressor, and living with tiny houses or tiny
> cars.  But we can save a lot more money by changing our lifestyle
> paradigm.  For instance, to density and transit.
> Cornerstone Cohousing (Life in the Big City)
> > On Oct 21, 2014, at 8:08 AM, VAN DEIST <vandeist [at]> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > Tiny
> > House / Retirement Cottage
> >
> > The
> > current Tiny House phenomenon has focused primarily on singles &
> > young professionals seeking financial relief in high cost areas.
> > That's a very good concept which also applies to senior singles &
> > couples trying to maintain their life styles on moderate incomes.
> >
> > Downsizing
> > appeals to many seeking to age-in-place; who have sorted through
> > their priorities; and who have made some crucial decisions.  As one
> > of those, I decided that I want a free-standing house with a little
> > land around it.  It needs to be a wheelchair friendly home that is
> > not located in a flood zone.  I want energy efficiency, storm
> > resilience and fire & termite resistance.  I want to be safe and
> > snug in my strong home and not have to evacuate.  I want enough room
> > for me and my stuff but not too much to keep clean easily.
> >
> > Working
> > with Banyan Tree Construction in Sarasota, I have helped design what
> > we believe to be the smallest floor plan that can still be w/c
> > accessible.  It can have any façade, but we have chosen a 1920’s
> > style cottage with a metal roof and front & back porches.  Its
> > construction material is neither cement block nor wood but is
> > Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s), a strong, well-insulated
> > building material which is also fire & termite resistant.  The
> > assembled panels create the home’s exoskeleton; don't require
> > trusses; and provide vaulted ceilings throughout.  These ceilings
> > create a light & airy environment which belies the cottage’s
> > small, 24’X24’ footprint.
> >
> > This
> > cottage utilizes energy-efficient, space-saving appliances which
> > lower the square footage cost but do add to the appliance allowance.
> > To me, this trade-off is a good investment in, both, design &
> > ambiance.  The idea is to save money by downsizing the home while
> > maintaining a high ft2 value.
> >
> >
> > The
> > cottage has 576 ft2 of a/c space; a 94 ft2 front porch; and a 128 ft2
> > back porch, and it costs $120K complete on a developed lot.
> > Technically, that’s $208.33 per a/c ft2, and it reflects the value
> > of this home’s practical amenities & lifestyle enhancements.  A
> > home is first & foremost a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable
> > environment.
> >
> >
> > For
> > those requiring more space, there is a 2BR, 2BA model available which
> > adds a master BR to the rear of the 1BR, 1BA cottage.
> >
> >
> > We
> > offer study plans at no charge upon request:  vandeist [at]
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