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When Crystal and I first talked about tiny houses we found inspiration in the most....well, (dare I say????) obvious of places. We were not sure what less than 200 square feet would look like, let alone feel like inside. So we headed to the local box home improvement store. It was there that we found the Best Barns Woodville model. Measuring roughly 10ft. x 12ft. it was ideal for us to get our bearings on a small space. We took a look inside and talked for several minutes on how we would convert such a simple space into a home. Within moments though we had plotted out a bed space, a kitchenette, a commode and sink; it was all coming together and quite quickly! For a moment we even considered how the space would be to just outright buy and convert to a cabin-esque sort of house. It was at least a start though and a point we often come back to when we find ourselves becoming too elaborate or trying to squeeze too much into our Tiny Home.

You can only imagine my surprise then when I came across the post yesterday on the Tiny House Blog by Christina Nellemann titled, A Tiny House for College Students. According to Nellemann 85% of college graduates move back home upon graduation. Interesting fact considering in the year 2000 only 32% of college graduates moved back home (according to collegegrad.com). Such a figure is an imaginative stomping ground for the likes of George Hemminger, who runs the YouTube channel Survive and Thrive in the New Economy.

His video Sick of Living At Home? Build A Small House touches on just the thing that Crystal and I first contemplated upgraded for the statistic outlined by Nellemann.

In the video Hemminger outlines how he built from scratch the small home a la Home Depot (including a window, insulation, and sheetrock interior) for about $1200 total. The video does not show anything resembling a kitchenette or a bathroom and from the commentary I gather it is little more than a bedroom outside of the main home it shares a yard with. However, it is a great launch point for anyone with an innovative spirit.

I personally think it is an incredible idea and leads to me to more global thoughts about how such a box-style shelter could provide incredible living options for impoverished people (including those here in the United States). If the box home were partially or completely off-grid (a simplistic 165-watt solar power system should fit most basic needs) and had some form of plumbing it could be a great structure for those struggling to get on their feet, get back on their feet, or even maintain ground. In terms of college graduates it would allow them an opportunity to pay off some debt, establish themselves in a job with a steady income, and find out more about what they want out of life before burying themselves in a mortgage or heavy consumer loans. But I digress (...for now).

What do you think? Is the small home (read: step-up from a storage shed) a viable option for people? Could it be done for less than $2000? What obstacles might come about in regards to living in one? I would love to hear more about your take on tiny houses, structures turned tiny houses, and how they play into the growth and development of our nation and world.

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Comment by Cornelia on March 2, 2011 at 9:53am
I think it's do-able, but what about heat and insulation for those of us in colder climates? What are sensible options?
Comment by Andrew Odom on March 2, 2011 at 10:22am
In terms of insulation, the sheds I have seen "on the lot" are bare to the stud so there is ample opportunity to insulate it. They are built 16" on center so you could use whatever insulation batting you are comfortable with. As for heating, if you had bucks you have a propane line run inside from a tank outside and use a wonderful propane heater or feux fireplace. If not, I would think because of the size anything electric (especially if had a thermostat) would work well!
Comment by Shellie A. Gades on March 2, 2011 at 11:09am
I dont think this would be any different than spending time in a small camper trailer would it? I love the idea... at least on a temporary basis.
Comment by Christa Nelson on March 2, 2011 at 1:59pm

Andrew, I like how you end your posts with questions to the reader.

As far as growth and development, there are housing groups such as Take Back the Land in Miami that have created shantytowns from reclaimed materials for housing for homeless folks.  There are also transitional housing programs that use little sheds like in the pic you posted in communities on a piece of land accompanied by case managers on site.

I also recently came across this plan for cute refugee housing made out of pallets...

Comment by Andrew Odom on March 2, 2011 at 2:15pm

@Shellie - It would be a little different in that a camper type trailer is already laid out for you and has insulation and water hookups, etc. Using a shed, of sorts, would require some design and some thinking in terms of how to make it truly work for you!


@Christa - Thank you ma'am. I am familiar with Take Back the Land. I read about it a few year ago. I am working with a couple other individuals right now (under the dark of the night, mind you) to create affordable tiny houses that are sustainable, affordable (averaging $2000 and building subsidized by grant monies), and attractive homes for community settlement. Yes, there are LOTS of roadblocks and redtape but it is our vision to provide such housing for general consumption.



Comment by Shellie A. Gades on March 2, 2011 at 2:18pm
Andrew - I was merely referencing the size approximation.  I still love the idea. Actually doing some doodling about how I can incorporate something like this into my own plans.
Comment by Andrew Odom on March 2, 2011 at 2:28pm
@Shellie - Yeah, I think they are probably about the same size in reference to square feet. They are just laid out differently.
Comment by Joseph Antecki Jr on March 6, 2011 at 1:21am
What about using SIPs where they can be found? That way the walls are already insulated, ceiling and floor too if you use them there as well. I don't know the prices for them, but 4-6 panels probably isn't that much. Installation could be very fast that way too. Maybe even something a new company could produce with enough start-up capital, like pre-fab housing but small and affordable...   Could even work for emergency type situations where several kits could be shipped on one flatbed truck. Don't have the funding to start such a company myself, but would love to see it come about!
Comment by Andrew Odom on March 6, 2011 at 10:11pm
SIPs are fantastic. If you are building from scratch, give it a whirl. I just wanted to highlight something already built, for the most part, that you could retrofit. SIPs would make an enormous enterprise for emergency and impoverished situations, indeed.


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