Guest Post by Tammy Strobel
Fantastic Tiny Home Tour
I was lucky enough to tour these tiny cottages during my mini-vacation a few months ago. When I arrived in Portland, I sent Jeff and Brad a quick email on the off chance that they might be around and let me tour their beautiful little homes. To my surprise Jeff emailed me back and said yes!
Jeff and Brad are the cottage designers and builders. The couple created these beautiful spaces using salvaged and recycled materials. Brad has been building in Oregon for over 30 years and Jeff has an incredible amount of experience in gardening and masonry. Continue Reading »
Guest post by Laurie Kazimir
My husband, Christian and I love building beach homes and have been building and selling them for the past 5 years on the Olympic Peninsula, way out here on the edge of the country in the state of Washington. We are probably one the most pristine, remote locations in the entire 48 states. Just 20 minutes away is a one million acre national park filled with hundreds of pure rivers and forests of old growth trees that can rival the Redwoods. We are fortunate enough to be able to hike to both glaciers on the top of snow capped mountains, and to deserted beaches sprinkled with sand-dollars. The air we breathe has been rated some of the best in the country.
When we moved here 8 years ago, from New Jersey where our parents were involved in beach real estate, we realized that clean air and water, and natural space are the things that matter to us most.
A few years ago, we came up with this idea: to get an extra large multifamily lot, and build four tiny homes a block from the sandy beach. Our goal was to provide a beautiful beach home with everything a true home entails for under $100,000. These small homes were a new idea for the area, and it wasn’t easy to get the go ahead.
We had to learn and grow and work with the city to figure out ways to get past the minimum square footage requirement. At first we got a definite “no” because the city was misinterpreting the zoning codes, and thought that each cottage had to meet the minimum. We were able to politely educate them and slowly go over the rules and legal language. By putting all four homes on the lot and totaling the square footage we were able to surpass the square footage requirement.
After selling our first home, to a very nice person, they explained to us that they had been trying to build a tiny home for many, many years, and that they kept running into the same minimum square footage problem no matter where they tried to build. This person actually moved across the state, over 100 miles away from the place that they were trying to build, just so they could have a tiny home. They didn’t purchase the cottage because they wanted to be a block from the beach like most of our clients, but because they wanted a small home that was nice, new, and efficient with low maintenance and in a price range that they could afford. Needless to say, they are extremely happy, and now that they’re here, they are glad to have made the relocation, because this is a great place to live.
These experiences really showed us that building a tiny home can be impossible in most towns, but by designing a tiny home development, we could overcome all the red tape, and create a true small home community. This same concept can be implemented in other towns and cities that would not normally allow a small square footage home.. We are very excited, and we think that this concept can be repeated.
Now that the cottages are built they are absolutely beautiful. We have incorporated 9ft walls and vaulted ceilings to create a more expansive feeling. With lots of large windows, you never have to turn on lights during the day. The 400 square foot homes have a full kitchen and bath, and a custom made Murphy bed allowed us to combine the living and sleeping areas. They’re fun and affordable, and for a vacation home, that may only be used a few weeks a year, we can’t think of a better option.
Currently we have two of the four cottages sold, and we are getting lots of interest in the other two, which are available for $99,000 each. Visit the Belmar Cottage listing page to learn more.
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A few years ago I was given the chance to visit the Third Street Cottages on Whidbey Island and the opening of the Greenwood Avenue Cottages in Seattle. These communities, by renowned architect Ross Chapin and developer Jim Soules, have become famous for being small, sustainable and community oriented. Chapin calls them pocket neighborhoods.
I think my first exposure to small and tiny houses was Chapin’s Third Street Cottages, which were featured in Sarah Susanka’s book, Creating the Not So Big House. They were so well designed and so space efficient and sufficient that it has not occurred to me since that I would need anything bigger. The Third Street Cottages are about 600-650 square feet and have a great room with living, cooking and dining areas, a downstairs bathroom with laundry facilities and a downstairs bedroom. Each house also has a full size loft that is accessed by a ship’s ladder. The owners personalize each cottage by naming their homes. I visited a cottage in the Third Street community named Plum Corner for the plum trees that were left behind during construction.
The typical cottage community by Chapin includes 8 cottages on a 2/3 acre plot that usually holds one or two larger homes. The cottages surround a “green” area that holds seating, grass and trees and a place to grow community vegetables. A parking lot is off to the side of each community, hidden from view by a fence or bushes. Each cottage has its own small garden area surrounded by a low fence and each community has a shared tool shed and meeting room. Each small house is sold as a condominium and a monthly fee helps to maintain the garden and outlying areas.
To create a balance between the public and private areas, Chapin uses the concept of “layering”. The entryway into the main garden is the first layer, moving from public to more private. Anyone who does not belong in this area is noticed right away from each of the cottages. This way, neighbors can keep an eye on each other’s homes. The layering concept continues with the main garden area leading into the more private cottage gardens through the small fences and then each house is entered by first going up several stairs to the open front porches. The porches bring to mind the charming bungalows of the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 1900’s. The porches extend the living area of the small homes as well as offering a convenient area for neighborly chats.
I was able to view the Greenwood Avenue cottages during an open house tour and I was impressed by how the little details in the homes gave them each a different personality. Each tiny home uses architectural tricks to create a larger space: built-in bookshelves, alcoves, delineated ceiling heights between living and eating areas, ample windows and skylights. Each home is personalized with special details such as trim, woodwork (the walls of the Third Street Cottages are paneled in reclaimed spruce saved from destruction by a piano company) and cubby areas holding shelves, window seats or dining nooks.
Chapin believes in not only designing and building to save space and money, but to promote sustainability. The low garden fences are recycled fencing, the cottage’s siding is cement fiber board rather than wood, and the garden pathways were laid with crushed hazelnut shells from a local nut company.
Ross Chapin Architects also sell cottage home and small home plans. The three smallest are the Blue Sky Cabin at 307 square ft. the Backyard Cottage at 449 square ft. and the Lizzie Cottage at 540 square ft.
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