Small Living Journal – Bureaucracy

The single biggest roadblock to small living is, in my opinion, the excessive regulations that appear in the form of minimum-size requirements. Many of you that are reading this are likely looking for ways to live small yourself, and chances are that this is one of the reasons you haven’t been able to yet. But the limits of bureaucracy are not just visible in minimum size. In the county where Tyson lives, land parcels must remain a certain size with one main house on them in order to keep the area “rural.” In Portland, where Steph has her houseboat, no new houseboat slips can be created.


Finding ways to live small within a system that promotes the rapid spread of suburbia and limits or bans creative solutions is one of the biggest challenges we face, as can currently be seen in the stalled rebuilding efforts in New Orleans post-Katrina. So much red tape has kept Marianne Cusato’s Katrina Cottages from being built, despite the fact that they were hailed as lightyears better than FEMA trailers, since they could be expanded upon to create permanent dwellings. Although there is no one solution that we at SLJ have hit on, hopefully, this issue will get your wheels turning. Read the Small Living Journal Here.

Photo Credit: Amanda Abel

1 thought on “Small Living Journal – Bureaucracy”

  1. A few years ago, I was with alchemy working on weeHouses. We ran into a few cases. We made a 600 sqft. house in San Diego County.

    First, the energy calculations required us to add a heat pump. We planned on having no mechanical system. Apparently its more efficient to have an appliance? Also the windows had to be reduced to meet energy code too. If we were able to add 250 square feet say, there would have been no problem with the amount of windows. You are actually penalized for having a smaller house that attempts to be off the grid. The energy code made it less likely that we would indeed conserve energy. If we had a bigger house with a big AC unit, we would have fit the norm just fine. ARRRGH.


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