Re: Truly affordable cohousing
From: Stuart Joseph (
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 12:59:09 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks for the links. I saw a program on Assembly required on the DIYnetwork about a container house built by Cargotecture (they are listed in one of the web sites).

I liked the web page of the Mobile Hermitage which led me to I have spent too much time reading all of the information on the links that you have sent me!<grin>

Since we are designing our new house, I have been looking for ways to make it affordable and I went back to books that I had remembered from my hippie days..

In "The Engineered House," Rex Roberts advocates the use of bookcases, shelves, wardrobes, and curtains in place of interior walls and doors.

His contention is that all of the items can be rearranged, moved, or removed as needed and they will be cheaper to build than interior walls or closets. He suggested putting the shelf units on casters for easier mobility.

He advised moving into the house and hanging curtains so you could get an idea of how the rooms could work.

He even wrote that you don't really need a door on the bathroom-just put a radio inside to drown out unwanted noises. <grin>

I really like the book and you can get a used copy cheap online. Don't buy the revised updated edition though, as the editor apparently messed up Roberts' ideas when he tried to update the information.

The book was written in the 1960's and was a favorite of folks that were trying to get away from suburban houses. I first found out about by it's listing in "The Whole Earth Catalog." Now that we are designing our new house, I am going back to those earlier books for information.

"Your Engineered House" is outdated in some respects as modern building materials and systems have improved greatly, but a lot of the principles are still valid especially when it comes to saving money.

Here are some other books:
<a href="";>30 energy efficient houses you can build</a><img src=";l=ur2&amp;o=1"; width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

<a href="";>30 Energy-Efficient Houses...You Can Build</a><img src=""; width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
*30 Energy-Efficient Houses...You Can Build (Paperback)*
by Alex Wade <> (Author), Neal Ewenstein <> (Author)

Alex Wade's books are worthwhile as ways to save money and also being green. Again, his books are somewhat outdated and some of the materials aren't available any more. He does have a number of small house designs that are energy efficient. There are also tips on ways to cut down on your building costs (as does Rex Roberts).

Some of the things he advocates is using recycled materials, building things yourself, eliminate costly moulding and trim and replace it with plain boards (or route the edges), build sawbuck doors, and use surface hardware like strap hinges instead of hinges that need to be set into mortises.

It is very much using the style of building found in the US (and elsewhere) during the early Colonial period.

I should also point out that if you click on the links and purchase the books, I will get a small pittance from Amazon.

thanks again.

Marganne wrote:

If you'd like to learn more about the Small House Movement, check the links from my blog, Cohousing, Small House Movement. There are many more options than container housing.

Cohousing, Small House Movement

Shipping container living

Generally, architects offer container homes for anywhere from $125 to $150 per sq. ft. There are container home kits from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet. ... Adam Kalkin has sold a dozen of his ... Quik Houses, each based on five shipping containers. These are two-story, 2,000-square-foot homes with skylights and enormous glass windows, equipped with three bedrooms and two baths. The price, which ranges from $76,000 for the basic kit to $160,000 (with all the bells and whistles like a stainless-steel kitchen and mahogany doors), is under $100 per square foot, not including land or foundation. ... Used containers can be purchased for $1,500 to $2,500 ... a customized container with lighting, heating, insulation, and air conditioning, it could cost $7-13,000.

Larger complexes of many shipping container units address the difficulty in providing high-density prefab housing. Like Spacebox (which reader Rob Kelley pointed out would be greener if made with containers), they can operate on a system of plug-and-play pods, with utilities in a central core rather than the living units themselves.
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Stuart Joseph, 802-463-1954
36 Front St.
Bellows Falls, Vermont, 05101 USA

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