I see a lot of “new build” stories lately, and I wanted to share our small house with your readers, since we took a different path.
Our municipality has a minimum size requirement for new houses. At 44 square metres (roughly 475 square feet) it is not too bad compared to some places, but it still scuttled our plans to buy a lot and build a Tumbleweed New Vesica (289 square feet) on it. Homes on trailers and RVs are also specifically mentioned in the Property Standards and not allowed. Instead we bought a two-story 1907 farmhouse in the cute “Ontario cottage” style that is prevalent on the Island.
However, this old house has some important benefits that we’ve found. It’s two stories, but the upstairs is closed off with a door at the foot of the stairs, which we keep closed. There is a bedroom on the main floor which we also keep closed off and don’t use, meaning that we’re living in just 325 square feet after all! The main room is 14′ by 14′, and contains our bed/couch, the woodstove, table and dining chairs, a comfy chair, and a wardrobe for storage. The kitchen is bigger than I need at 9′ x 9′, but does provide lots of extra storage. We do go upstairs to use the existing bathroom, which is 6′ x 8′. Continue Reading »
By Alyse Nelson
The tiny house movement has grown dramatically as the housing crisis and economic recession has hit the US. There are many reasons tiny housers have selected less square footage: some hope to save money on housing; others are trying to “live green” in a smaller space; some are trading living space for a neighborhood they love; and others want to live closer to family or friends.
The view of Ruth’s Cottages from the street. Photo credit Mike O’Brien, used with permission.
Jay Shafer, a co-owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, told the BBC: “People are thinking more about what really is a luxury now. Is it a 30-year mortgage, or is it just living simply and having the time to do more of what you want? And I think a lot of people are starting to really change their idea of the American Dream.”
But the question remains. Does living in less space mean giving up on a larger life? A small home can save you cash, but if you don’t have room for your hobbies – playing a musical instrument, baking cookies for your child’s classmates, creating furniture with your tools – the monetary savings might not seem worth it. This may limit the appeal of tiny houses. Continue Reading »
Here is our little house story in Spokane, Washington.
In the spring of 2006 I was walking through my neighborhood, as I had done so many times over the years and for some reason I really noticed this small, tired and neglected building with its Mission Revival architecture, very unusual for Spokane. As an Albuquerque, New Mexico transplant, I was automatically drawn to its style. It turned out the owner was a local contractor preparing to demo the building and construct a duplex. My partner, Val, and I made an offer and were soon the new owners of the North Hill Substation, built in 1930 as the local utility power distribution site with a mere 374 square feet and 13ft ceilings. We started ever so slowly, huddled in a corner with an electric heater, pen and paper and tried to wrap our heads around our vision for this great piece of history. It has evolved to what it is today affectionately called “The Little House.”
One big obstacle to this adventure was learning to let go of all my stuff. As a dealer and collector of antiques I had a daunting task ahead of me! For 4 years with the help of eBay, Craig’s List, thrift store donations and the dump I was able to whittle things down. Two years ago I was ready to vacate my 1500Sqft apt and see if I could really be happy in one fifth of the space. I made due with a woodstove for heat. I also had a propane cook top and refrigerator I used previously for camping. I found not only was it do-able, but soon realized that less is truly more. After 13 years, Val and I decided to move in together into her house. But with 2600 sqft, 3 bathrooms and kids grown and moved away plans have changed once again. Together we are diligently working towards the “small move” back to the Little House. Continue Reading »
By Alyse Nelson
Jon and Ryah Dietzen’s 3-year plan entailed getting out of credit card debt, establishing an emergency fund, finding work closer to home, and having more family time. Sitting in their 1,700 square foot house, they realized it would not be easy to tackle their plan. So they made a move most people would consider extreme – they converted a garage into a 400 square foot cottage.
Jon and Ryah Dietzen look into their renovated cottage – their home for 3 years. Photo by Royce Tillotson, used with permission. Continue Reading »
Over the Christmas Holidays my wife and two adult children took our family vacation. We headed south to the warmth of Costa Rica. This was our first visit there and we learned a lot about the weather and local customs during our two week stay in the country.
Of course anywhere I travel I look for tiny and small homes. Unfortunately, as with most of our travels we are dependent on public transportation and you have to grit your teeth as you drive by many great photos of scenery and homes. I was only able to get a few pictures of the local houses and a couple of the cabanas or cabins that we actually stayed in.
In rural Costa Rica I discovered that the average house ranges in size from 400-600 square feet. Usually a simple rectangular home with a small entry porch. The interior is divided into two or three small rooms. Continue Reading »
By Alyse Nelson
Akua Schatz and Brendon Purdy’s dream was to live near relatives, but they couldn’t afford a home in Vancouver, BC’s Dunbar neighborhood. Instead of moving to the suburbs, they decided to build a 500-square-foot laneway home in Brendon’s parents’ backyard.
A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been an option for the young couple. Rules for laneway houses, as these backyard cottages are called in Vancouver, were adopted in 2009. Laneway homes are small backyard cottages that face alleys in traditional single-family neighborhoods. The density is hidden from the main neighborhood streets, leaving the appearance of Vancouver’s single-family neighborhoods intact. But while you might not see this hidden density, it could have a huge effect on the number of people able to call Vancouver home – nearly 70,000 single-family lots are eligible for an additional dwelling unit.
The Vancouver regulations allow a one-bedroom 500 square-foot laneway house on 33-foot by 122-foot single-family lots. The larger 50-foot wide lots can have a two-bedroom 750 square-foot cottage. Continue Reading »