Alternative Housing Thread

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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Alternative Housing Thread

Here's a place to think about alternatives to traditional housing.

You don't want to end up like this guy.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Very Pertinent Wendy.

Good thread Wendy.

Over here in Australia housing is an unquestioned religion. "House prices always go up. Always." Therefor we are all going to become multi-millionaires renting houses to each other. No politician dares touch the Negative Gearing tax breaks because all the voters are so heavily invested in the Madness.

The above link gives a flavour of the florid psychosis.

Anyone who questions the Meme is dealt with harshly. There are "No Camping" signs all around town by order of the Council. That law itself is unconstitutional. 

There is only one lifestyle insisted on for all young couples-one of debt slavery to the banks and by extension the government.  It is a very hard trap to escape.

And no- a house is not an asset. It is a liability. Hence the popularity of negative gearing. Houses are expensive to maintain and all those expenses can be offset against tax liabilities. That is the same as claiming your cobblers fees for fixing your boots as a tax deduction. It is a load of old cobblers.

There is an accommodation shortage in Perth and a lot of houses vacant. They are bought as a tax break, and the owners have no intention of having tenants.

 

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Sharing Housing

Why not explore sharing housing? It's as old as human beings. Living with others is what we do naturally - in families and in tribes.  This idea of the independent, I'm-an-adult-I-can-take-care-of-myself, is actually a myth.

People need people. Another of the breakdowns of our society is the epidemic of chronic loneliness!  It's estimated that 63 million people are at risk for this debilitating emotional condition - which has huge implications for our society.  Loneliness leads to depression, obesity, aggression, loss of executive function, suicidal ideation, high blood pressure, sleep disorders.. etc. etc.  

Sharing housing is a obvious answer.  And yet, it's not easy to implement. Many people are very nervous about choosing to live with others - and understandably so.  We all have our own ways of living and we want to be comfortable in our homes.  Memories of nightmare housemates, worries and fears of "what if it doesn't work out?" keep most people from pursuing the idea.

How do you decide whom you can live with? Until I wrote a book on it (Sharing Housing, A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates) there was no method or process to use to figure this out. I believe that many people could and should be comfortable having a "home-mate" (definition in video on my home page of www.sharinghousing.com) .  The right person can make all the difference! And then the benefits .. saving money, company, help with tasks and in emergencies, sustainability all kick in. 

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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The Tiny House movement

Above Example: Vina’s Tiny House: Living Off The Grid in 140 Square Feet

Tiny homes are usually built on trailers to avoid zoning regulations and local building codes. They usually cost a fraction of traditional housing costs. Often they are sustainably heated with boat fireplaces or at least tiny amounts of propane. Here is a good site for exploring tiny houses: http://thetinylife.com/what-is-the-tiny-house-movement/

It's a real thumb in the eye for our consumer culture but, in my opinion long overdue. Also it might help some social problems. Click on the following link to see what one community is doing to help the homeless: http://tinyhouseblog.com/humanitarian/madison-tiny-house-village-homeless/

Occupy Madison, with help from numerous community groups, has built nine tiny houses, a day resource center, laundry facilities and a community gardening space in the village. The 96 square foot homes are made from reclaimed and recycled materials and include a bed, a toilet, propane heat and solar panels for electricity. Each building costs around $5,000 to build and the money was raised with private donations.

It's rare to get Conservatives and liberals to agree on ANYTHING, but here is a conservative group doing the same thing in Texas: Community First!  Click on th video screenshot to go to YouTube.

Watch it - it is short and awesome.

So Can tiny houses help solve the problem of homelessness? It sure beats tent cities and is cheaper than paying pubic monies to house the homeless in hotels. Not to mention giving some dignity and a sense of home to the homeless.

The diminutive houses pictured above are part of Quixote Village, a community of formerly homeless adults in Olympia, Washington. Each house is only 144 square feet, with just enough room for a bed, a desk and chair, and a tiny bathroom with a toilet and sink. Showers and a kitchen are located in a community center shared by all the residents.

The 29 adults that call these houses home used to live in a tent city, also called Quixote Village, that moved every 90 days to the parking lot of a different church. Some of the church members, after getting to know the residents of the tent city, started campaigning for a permanent location. Funding was secured, and the architect, Garner Miller, agreed to design the project for half his normal fee.

Meetings were held, and the future residents got to be involved in the design of their homes: they chose larger porches over more inside living area, and asked that the houses be arranged in a horseshoe shape, instead of in clusters, to encourage community. The tiny houses are much cheaper to build than typical affordable housing projects, and their freestanding nature gives residents a sense of independence, while still being connected to a community.

We may be seeing the future, and it seems to involve community. As my son would say, Cool beans.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
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F*** this House

Okay, this guy made it, the so-called "American Dream," and he's NOT happy. Warning, he uses profanity but this is a hilarious rant on how materialism does not satisfy. He's made it. and he does not like the ball-and-chain of the constant maintenance and bills for his McMansion.

Uploaded on Aug 20, 2011

Vic DiBitetto is frustrated with his house.

 

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My dream home (not kidding)...

I lived on a 30 foot sloop for the better part of 10 years, this approach is similar (limited space and storage) but very livable...still working to get the Mrs. "on board"

http://tiny-project.com/

http://netcomedy.net/comedyoutlet/couple-built-a-house-for-themselves-on-top-of-a-movable-trailer-for-30000/

Lisefski (designer and builder) lives just outside of Sebastopol per the article - in case you happen to spot it.

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Time2help
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Home Sweet Boat

From my previous life, same make and model (Cal 2-29).  Came fully furnished (no trips to Ikea). I miss the simplicity, and the freedom.

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Geodesic Dome

Foldable Solar-Powered Geodesic DOM(E) Home Can be Erected Anywhere

This particular model of dome also has a water collection system. It's been used successfully in the Namibian desert and Siberia.  Here's the interior.

The architectural firm that designed the prefabricated home has details, here.

Solar panels are mounted onto the roof and connected to the hot water tank, providing toilets and kitchen with warm water. Rainwater collection tanks can be connected to the drainage system located around the perimeter of the house.

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Michael_Rudmin
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Cost-efficient geodesic

Geodesic is nice, but often isn't cost-efficient, because materials are made square or in strips, not in triangles.

To some extent you can make up for this by splitting your triangles in two, and cutting your mateiarls on a diagonal. However, that then increases the required number of structural beams by a 4/3.

Another possibility is to precast concrete prestressed panels in forms that are exactly the required shape. If you do this, you can also adjust the design to allow water to be excluded from the start.

Another thing you can do is to go with a half-dome, and then use a vertical cylinder for the first (or basement) floor.

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Collapsible woven refugee shelters powered by the sun


 

Collapsible woven refugee shelters powered by the sun

Comprised of a structural woven fabric that “blurs the distinction between structure and fabric,” the shelter expands to create a private enclosure and contracts “for mobility.” It also comes with some fundamental amenities required by modern people, including water and renewable electricity.

The outer solar-powered skin absorbs solar energy that is then converted into usable electricity, while the inner skin provides pockets for storage – particularly at the lower half of the shelters. And a water storage tank on the top of the tent allows people to take quick showers. Water rises to the storage tank via a thermosiphoning system and a drainage system ensures that the tent is not flooded.

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this one comes with floor plans

This House Looks A Little Plain, But Wait Until You See What's Inside

A lot of homeowners today still think that bigger is better, but there's a growing trend out there of tiny home-ownership. These houses have minimal square footage, but what they lack in space, they make up for in character and brilliant design. In fact, when you step inside these homes, you tend to forget how small they really are.

Chris Heininge is a brilliant craftsman and designer who is at the forefront of the tiny home revolution. Back in 1999, he was living in Aurora, Oregon, and noticed how people were abandoning their McMansions in favor of smaller homes with a lot more personality. Since then, he's built dozens of tiny homes that not only cost less to build, but are actually cheaper for homeowners to maintain.

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550 Sq. Ft. Prefab Timber Cabin

550 Sq. Ft. Prefab Timber Cabin

The pieces of the house (its walls) come already cut to size and this makes the construction time a lot shorter. The TimberCab 550 is very spacious for a tiny house and has a 2 floor plan. The large windows complete the design in an elegant way and give the timber structure a contemporary look.

If you can afford them ($240 to $300 per sq. ft., no doubt plus shipping and tax - definitely plus contractor to assemble) ) it's worth clicking through to the company website, since they are looking at changing demographics and have sustainable options for older folks.

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building a small green home

Our family is looking into the possibility of building a small, low-cost, efficient and green home with the idea of having a home that is more in line with our needs and values and can reduce our mortgage payments enough to redirect funds to other things that are important to us.  Our family of four is looking at a relatively small 700 sq ft, possibly straw bale structure with some passive solar features.

I've begun a conversation with an architect friend with some experience in this area.  It looks like we might just be able to fit within a budget that would result in a substantial reduction of the mortgage balance on the new home relative to the old one, but it will require things like me taking responsibility for some of the design process as well as serving as general contractor.

Does any have any suggestions about how I might go about building such a house inexpensively while minimizing stress and mistakes?  I have essentially no construction experience, but I am a scientist with a strong spatial and mechanical sense of things.

QB

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Michael_Rudmin
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On building successfully

First, you really should take an applicable shop class at your community college. It will show you standard construction methods that work.

Second, when we build segmental bridges, the first segment takes3 months; the second takes a week or two. Before long we're doing a segment a day. That's how you should expect your performance: and that's how you should plan your project. In line with that, you ought to consider building a shed first, using your methods or designs.

Third: I suggest that the cheapest methods are the standard methods, and the best. There are reasons that people don't build hay-bale homes: whether it is the structural strength, or the mold, or the longevity. If you are going to try it, you should consider how you will deal with various problems.

Fourth: Scientists and engineers without real world experience often fail to take the dumbest things into consideration, like the pinto-plane whose wings were superglued onto the plane. It crashed and killed its inventor. In line with that, you might pick materials that are strong enough for the purpose in terms of linear force, bue come nowhere close to handling the bending moments, the buckling, the torsional-flexural buckling, and so on.

All of that can be discovered if you start by building a shed.

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building your own home

Much of what would be best practices depends on what part of the country or world you want to live in.

I came out of 20 years in the construction industry, half in residential and half in commercial construction; I'm not a structural engineer, but I have lots of contacts so I can ask around. There does seem to be a trend toward modular buildings. If you want to be your own GC  that's tricky but not impossible. I know this since my ex was a GC and I ran his office and worked on bids and such and I have helped others with startups. Do not forget permits and locl laws: that also depends on where you live.

Finally, bear in mind that you will ALWAYS run into problems and delays - if you can just barely afford something you will run over-budget. If you are tight on time, you will have delays and that can be stressful and impact your housing. Some of those delays will be due to subcontractors unless you know how to screen them and ride herd on them - and handle and budget for change-orders.

I would be happy to walk you through some of the scenarios. Private Message me, please.

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Tiny Houses In The Middle Of Nowhere.

Welcome To “Bestie Row”: Lifelong Friends Build Row Of Tiny Houses In The Middle Of Nowhere.

Some couples who were best friends wanted to  build a large house together, but realized they would need their privacy. They were all fans of the tiny house movement, so the came up with this. Their community, dubbed “Llano Exit Strategy,” was designed to handle the harsh, arid Texas climate.

Note the water catchment system tanks. The houses have corrugated metal exteriors to repel heat and thick spray insulation to keep the inside insulated   The interiors are lightly treated plywood. There is a community kitchen and dining hall, with guest quarters.

Arthur Robey's picture
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intergrating the project.

Cheap land is inaccessible land.

Let me get busy with my electronic drafting package now that I am happily ensconced in my boat. 

It is my contention that a private airship would allow access to inaccessible land, as well as being the energy source and accommodation for the exercise. 

Energy source? It is solar powered and when not traveling it will have oodles of power spare.

Airships are the next step up from a yacht. Past calculations show that anything shorter than 100m is unviable. ( the static lift varies as a third power of the length.) They are also made up of a whole lot of nothing. Modern materials make the exercise viable. Polyethelene Terapthalate is cheap and has impressive properties.  Have you ever seen a coke bottle deteriorate in the sun?

Of cause the biggest problem is bureaucratic.  Some desk-bound child will put the kybosh on the whole endevour to protect his career. 

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Tiny Homes in Virginia

Hey guys,

I was over at

http://tinyhouselistings.com/tiny-houses-for-sale-in-virginia/#comment-1...

and I saw a lot of people interested in putting a Tiny House in Chesapeake, Virginia beach, even at my old hometown Harrisonburg (Hinton, really).

I'm aware of one family that built a tinyhome in their backyard, and got slammed by Chesapeake for violating city code. So that's not so good.

On the other hand, I think I see a way to get a tinyhome cheaper than otherwise possible, in Portsmouth, and it well might be possible to do the same in other areas (including Chesapeake) depending on the nature of city code.

So I'd like to have the discussion going both over at that other website, and here. Here, because I hang out here more. There, because they're all over there.

More than that. I have a new construction method that I think will blow people away, and be more suitable to preppers. So my only question is, does anyone think that that will hijack this thread to have that conversation ongoing within this thread? Or do you all think it appropriate to the thread?

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Aaaaand now...all of a sudden....

....I'm face-to-face with an opportunity to do the tiny home thing.  My local municipality finally got off the schneid and approved them as a possible way to live, and a major development (20 acres, 150 tiny houses) is happening.  They are grading the land and preparing the water line etc.

So, I am suddenly a big student of tiny homes.  They are selling tiny homes and leasing the lots.  It's sort of going to be a fancy type mobile home park, although it's going to be owner-occupied as opposed to renters (as so many trailer parks are).

The homes range from 50k-ish up to 150k-ish depending on size and trim level (incl solar power and solar hot water, appliances, etc.).  Black water will be pumped out (so no septic or sewer needed) and grey water used to irrigate one's landscaping.

So, I'm chatting with the people responsible and mulling.  It's definitely an option I'd like to embrace (pay cash for house, no mortgage, small footprint) but I need to be sure the vision I have is mostly congruent with the reality of what will eventuate.

Anyhow, more as it comes in.  

VIVA -- Sager

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My wife and I thought we wanted to own an inn...

Fortunately we got the opportunity to operate one before we committed. We hated it. Getting up at 5 am, making breakfast, and then talking with guests who had no idea what was going on in the world. Since there was no written commitment and the owner was a micro-manager, we left after one week.

The moral is try before you buy. Fortunately, thanks to Air B&B a person can try living in a tiny house before committing to live in one for the rest of their life. Here is one in my neck of the desert: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8794484  I'm sure there are many more.

However, you should know that you can buy a full size home for around 100k in Spokane. There is one that I can see when I look out the window. It was bought for 75K and the  investment buyer has been unable to do anything other than replace the roof and repair the chimney. You could probably get it for 100k or so. You should know that this is a diverse neighborhood. Within 2-3 blocks there are doctors, professors, and retirees. There are also homes where 2 generations live (soon to be 3?) -- it's the future. The homestead across the street has 8 vehicles. One of which appears to have been bought from someone in Paradise (Pleasure?) CA. There is also one whacko couple who live without any vehicle and grow their own food. How crazy is that? : )

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mntnhousepermi
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I agree

thry before you buy, and th problem with the tiny home "cmmunity" is that it will be like an HOA and that price is expesive for what you are getting.  As just stated, you can buy a regular house and have control over the property, better resale, etc... also, having things on hand to go thru a downturn require room, room to store canned goods, canning equipment, a sewing machine, etc..... and a tiny home is just too small.

 

That said, I have seen someone build their own cabin, same size as  a tiny house but way less money, and he built it over a full basement so had room, And then he built a barn, so outbuildings.  And, he can easily when he wants to add on to his small cabin.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Thanks to those that responded!

I'm aware that tiny houses have many challenging aspects, and in most cases are not an ideal *investment* in terms of money in, money out.  

I live in Hawai'i, which presents its own set of challenging conditions.  Limited space, much RE stock laying idle (owned as an investment), even more RE stock laying mostly idle (occupied by wealthy Canadians/whoever from November to May, even more RE stock owned as short-term rental properties (Air BNB etc).

So:  the market is f!cking tight.  It's cool that people in various places can own proper houses for X dollars (whereas in my locale 4x or 8x is the norm -- 2 BR, 1.5 Ba condos are 300k and up, and that doesn't take into account the 600-1000+/mo condo fees for landscaping, maintenance, etc.).  

So -- the idea that I could buy a trailer home (tiny home is a fine euphemism) and park it on somebody else's land for 700 a month (incl water [water in Hawai'i is heinously expensive, I've had bills over 200/mo],  septic and property tax!) is a pretty sweet deal.  Not to mention in Hawai'i, you never know if your landlord is going to sell to somebody who will then ask you to leave.  RE insecurity is a massive, massive issue in the islands.  The only people who aren't subject to it...are owners. 

Having said all that, I welcome further POV from whoever.  We already store stuff off-site.  Nothing mission-critical, but everything that we don't use weekly that isn't....So we're already downsized.  And pre-crashed.  

It's a fine, fine feeling.  

VIVA -- Sager

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mntnhousepermi
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sounds like here
SagerXX wrote:

I'm aware that tiny houses have many challenging aspects, and in most cases are not an ideal *investment* in terms of money in, money out.  

I live in Hawai'i, which presents its own set of challenging conditions.  Limited space, much RE stock laying idle (owned as an investment), even more RE stock laying mostly idle (occupied by wealthy Canadians/whoever from November to May, even more RE stock owned as short-term rental properties (Air BNB etc).

So:  the market is f!cking tight.  It's cool that people in various places can own proper houses for X dollars (whereas in my locale 4x or 8x is the norm -- 2 BR, 1.5 Ba condos are 300k and up, and that doesn't take into account the 600-1000+/mo condo fees for landscaping, maintenance, etc.).  

So -- the idea that I could buy a trailer home (tiny home is a fine euphemism) and park it on somebody else's land for 700 a month (incl water [water in Hawai'i is heinously expensive, I've had bills over 200/mo],  septic and property tax!) is a pretty sweet deal.  Not to mention in Hawai'i, you never know if your landlord is going to sell to somebody who will then ask you to leave.  RE insecurity is a massive, massive issue in the islands.  The only people who aren't subject to it...are owners. 

Having said all that, I welcome further POV from whoever.  We already store stuff off-site.  Nothing mission-critical, but everything that we don't use weekly that isn't....So we're already downsized.  And pre-crashed.  

It's a fine, fine feeling.  

VIVA -- Sager

 

Actually sounds like the housing market and rental market here in the greater SF bay area.  I have seen a couple of people from here retire to hawaii and they are downsizing, price-wise, when they do it.  You couldnt touch a condo for anywhere near as low as 300k.  Renting a room in someones house is 1000/month in the outskirts where I am, a family I know had rent of $4k a month for a decent house,  I know someone else in a tiny old house, no yard realy and it is $2600/month and it is more in the more expensive areas, and there is alot of vacation rentals and foreign nationals buying as "investments" .   You are correct that as a renter there is no security of having "home" .  Could be that the tiny home idea is as good as it gets for this moment in time for you, just find out all the details.  I have heard that water bills are like you state here too in the cities, but I have a well.  Bills for owners are very high, at least that is why rent is high out here, when I house costs a million to purchase and plumbers are almost $200/hour, gasoline is almost $4/gallon, water is high, electricity is high, property taxes are outrageous, well, rents are going to have to cover that.  I also think lately that too much housing stock is going to vacation homes and investments for foreigh nationals, I do not know the answer on that but I do not see anyone even talking about it to try and come up with ideas.

 

Good luck. 

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