On a lot in back of a former motel, there is a farm. And on that farm there are some tiny offices…okay…I won’t sing “E-I-E-I-O”, but the structures being built on the Urban Roots Farm in Reno, Nev. are worth tooting a few horns about. Urban Roots is currently being created as an educational farm and community center where schools, children and families can learn about gardening, alternative building techniques and the natural areas of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range. The farm sits on a 3/4 acre plot that was donated by Kelly Rae and Pam Haberman of HabeRae Homes (which the Tiny House Blog profiled a few years ago). Kelly and Pam also designed two tiny structures to be used as offices for the Urban Roots staff.
Kelly is unofficially calling the two building designs ModPods. She and Pam were inspired by some similar structures they came across while traveling by motorcycle on Orcas Island, Wash.
“I nearly went off the road on my bike when I saw these tiny houses,” Kelly said.
The two offices are 10×12 (120 square feet), are 15 feet high on the back end and 12 feet high on the front end. The roofs were designed to accommodate solar panels (to be installed soon) and are situated for solar gain through the sliding glass doors in the winter. When the farm staff began to move into the first office, they didn’t have heat, so they covered the existing walls with cob for insulation. On the day I was there it was unseasonably warm outside, but at least 20 degrees cooler in the finished office – even up in the loft. The loft (accessed by a ladder) is large enough to stand up in and will be used for a working and lounging space. Downstairs in the finished office is a small bathroom, a sink, a desk and some storage space. Kelly would like to install a small kitchenette by Avanti in the second office.
The structures were built by the local Boy Scouts and volunteers over a couple of months, but Kelly said the structures are designed to be built in about four days and for around $15,000. HabeRae will build each unit for approximately $27,000. Each of the buildings are on a slab foundation.
In addition to the two offices, the Urban Roots staff also built an experimental greenhouse/storage shed out of old wood pallets covered with cob and a tin roof. A bunny named Dandelion lives in a cage in front of the cob structure. Dandelion will be joined soon by a goat, some bees, a few chickens and a pond full of frogs. Urban Roots receives most of their supplies from donations, Habitat for Humanity, Craigslist and they depend on volunteers affectionately named Worker Bees.
The farm sits behind a former hotel on 4th Street that HabeRae Homes converted into one-bedroom apartments called 14 on 4th.
Photos by Christina Nellemann