On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I ran into Ross Lukeman of the blog, Alternative Homes Today and we chatted not only about tiny homes, but about his architecture career and interest in alternative ways of design and construction. His initial interest in tiny homes derived from attending a Tumbleweed workshop with Dee Williams in his home in Houston, Texas and he decided to start a blog covering various tiny homes, natural building techniques, interviews and building companies.
Above photo: Ross visiting Brittany Yunker’s tiny house in Olympia, Washington
“As I began covering them more and more, I became interested in building one for myself,” Ross said. “As someone who’s almost done with school loans, I’m not wanting to turn around and mortgage my life to another bank.”
The blog also reaches beyond alternative or tiny homes and natural building to cover bike commuting, finance, landscaping, clutter and material possessions, minimalism, DIY projects and even some comics.
While Ross covers a wide range of ideas, he is most passionate about homes that match the value of their occupants.
“As obvious as that sounds, I feel like a lot of us are struggling with this, our homes being out of sync with what we really want in life,” he said. “Which is why it’s great seeing people embrace the “enough” principle with tiny homes and pursuing what really ignites their passions in life.”
Ross has been traveling around the country visiting various tiny homes for the blog and at this point his favorite designs are the Tumbleweed Cypress 24 Overlook and the Michael Reynolds Earthships in New Mexico as well as rammed earth homes.
“(The Tumbleweed) model has a huge great room in the front, which I would could use as my home office and workshop,” Ross said. “I like the 24 foot tiny homes because they have enough extra space for you to change functions and add people in the future.”
“With the Earthship, I really like the idea of homes handling all of the systems like energy production, waste processing, food production, etc.,” he added. “I know some people get caught up with not wanting to use old tires in their walls, but I think this all-systems thinking is where homes need to go in the future. It’s more sustainable and it gives the occupants way more control.”
Ross thinks the future of tiny homes will continue to grow and gain awareness primarily in the field of tiny homes on trailers and traditional building—but just smaller. He mentioned the micro apartments in New York City and the interest of ADU’s (accessory dwelling units) in Portland.
“I think the trick will be getting tiny homes into urban settings like this,” Ross said. “We’ve become way too dependent on cars and parking tiny homes away from everything because municipalities don’t know what to do with them will have to be a hurdle we overcome. I believe once the more progressive cities integrate them into urban settings, other cities will begin to follow their example.”
“We should also be seeing more tiny home communities,” he concluded. “I know Jay Shafer’s community in Sonoma County, California is underway. Apparently the county planners are as excited about it as he is!”
Ross Lukeman is the founder of Alternative Homes Today where he interviews alternative homebuilders, tours cool alternative homes, and builds green DIY projects. You can grab his free Tiny Home Construction Cheat Sheet here.
Photos by Ross Lukeman/Alternative Homes Today