Dec 30, 2011

Microhouse "Smart Module" and other designs.

Microhouse is a Seattle based design firm, that according to their website, includes architects, landscape architects, and designers.  They specialize, as their name suggests, in small house designs.  They promote these designs as backyard cottages or ADU's (accessory dwelling units), and they range in size from 120  up to 1,200 square feet. 

Smart Module axonometric drawing

Dec 1, 2011

My Very Own Small Scale Home

Our house in Vermont may not qualify as a tiny home by the standards of my regular readers, but as homes go, it's pretty small.  With a 16' x 32' footprint, that's about 500 sq. ft. per floor, or about 1,000 sq. ft. over-all. Factoring in the minimum ceiling heights for habitable space according the the residential building code, the gambrel roofed top floor is technically far less than 500 sq. ft., making this house technically about 750 square feet, plus a basement.

Nov 11, 2011

Prefab "Dwelle.ings" by Dwelle.

Dwelle. is a U.K. based building design company.  They have a full line of tiny prefab buildings that include two tiny homes (about 250 and 150 square feet respectively), plus a tiny office structure and an even tinier "beach hut."  They even have a stand-alone backyard gym complete with sauna and hot tub.  I have chosen to focus on the two tiny home models.

Oct 30, 2011


Vodaphone, a London-based telecommunications company devised a unique showcase for its technology, and called it "La Casa Movil."   It's a modern tiny home on wheels with a clear wall of polycarbonite panels and an awning featuring three huge photovoltaic solar panels. Based on the photos they provided, I'd say that this clear wall provides a good deal of relief from the potential claustrophobic sense that a house of this size might otherwise have.

Exterior view.

Aug 19, 2011

Tumbleweed "Box Bungalow"

Jay Shafer is a it again, proving that he is no one hit wonder.  His latest innovation is what he calls the Box Bungalow.  These tiny houses are similar in square footage (less than 120 sq. ft.) to his other tiny homes on wheels, but these are not on wheels.  The interior layouts of the new box bungalows are all pretty similar to each other, but the external appearance varies as he has several different designs, all of them in the craftsman style.

It appears that you can buy a basic unit for about $11,000.00, then you can buy separate bathroom and kitchen units for about $2,000.00 each, slide them right through the door, and place them as you wish inside (I have no idea how the plumbing, wiring, and drainage are handled).  Pretty clever.  It is my understanding that these units are being mass produced somewhere in New York, and are for sale at a few locations around the northeastern U.S.

Another unique innovation is the stainless steel soaking tub in the bathroom, which multi-tasks as the shower and bathroom sink too.  I think this is custom fabricated specifically for these new units.  If I had one suggestion to make regarding these new tubs, it would be to figure out a way to make the step-in height lower, perhaps by means of a swing-out or fold-down front.  It looks to me like getting in and out of the tub requires a lot of flexibility, something that some of his prospective customers may lack.

Take a look and enjoy.

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Aug 18, 2011

Modern Looking 400 Square Foot Home

Breckenridge, a company that produces a variety of mobile homes, "trailer homes" if you will, briefly made a unique mobile home that "broke the mould" so as to speak, and actually looked cool.  They called it the "Glassic Soho", presumably because it had a lot of glass and it was "hip." They marketed it as a vacation get-away, but it looks to me as though it could make a very nice full time home for a person or couple that only requires one bedroom.

Exterior View

Mar 23, 2011

Jay Shafer's Video on the Politics of Small Homes

There is a lot of chatter on the small homes front today.  This interview with Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, and Guru of tiny homes in general, is definitely the lead story of the day.

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Mar 12, 2011

Tumbleweed Lusby For Sale On eBay

Check it out.  I met the woman who is selling this at one of Jay Shafer's workshops in NYC.  The house is finished and ready to move into.  Currently located about an hour from San Francisco, but able to be moved to the place of your choosing, or left right where it is. You can get all the details at the link below.

Mar 8, 2011

Walt Barrett's Micro-Home Video

Some of my readers may either know, or know of, Walt Barrett.  Walt is an enthusiastic member of the tiny and sustainable house movement, as well as sustainable living in general. As tiny homes go, they don't get much tinier than this.  This video shows that building a micro home is pretty simple and that it can be easily handled by two people in a pretty short time period.  All materials are easily obtained at any D.I.Y. home store.

It is my understanding that Walt has made considerable improvements to the design since this video was made, including an additional module containing a kitchen and bathroom.
Hey Walt, if you read this, can you tell us how we can learn more & give us a link to the latest video or other information?

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Mar 1, 2011

High Quality Bungalow Cottage on Wheels

Bungalow Cottage Exterior.
Todd Miller is an Oregon based architect who founded The Oregon Cottage Company.  It appears he's been bitten by the tiny house bug.  The photos and plan depicted here show what he calls the Bungalow Cottage, which seems to borrow heavily from the Fencl model designed and produced by Tumbleweed Tiny Houses (featured in my 02/25/2011 blog post, see the Fencl post by clicking here).  It is significantly different in it's interior layout than the Fencl however, and some people may find this variation suits their sensibilities better.  The unit is 8' x 20' and has about 130 sq. ft. of habitable space, plus a sleeping loft and a storage loft.  I like the way the loft ladder slides in a track and folds so that it can hang vertically when not in use, thus minimizing it's interference with usable space.
He also sells complete plan sets for $250.00 to anyone interested in building this design themselves.  You can learn more about this model and his other work by visiting;

Feb 26, 2011

Clever 12' x 24' House Design Video

Michael Janzen from Tiny House Design ( ) of California came up with this clever and efficient design.  It's 576 sq. ft. with a full loft, or 432 sq. ft with a half loft.   It would be very inexpensive to build due to it's diminutive size, basic shape, and simple foundation.  I asked him yesterday if he'd finalized the design, but he said that unfortunately he's put this one on the back burner for awhile.  Perhaps posting it here today will help move it back to a front burner so he can finish it up and make those plans available.  Many people, myself included, find this to be a very appealing design.  

Feb 25, 2011

Tumbleweed Fencl in New York

Me on the front porch of the Fencl 
My photos don't do it justice, but the Fencl is a great leap forward in terms of a sense of spaciousness within a small footprint.  For those familiar with the Tumbleweed Epu, this is essentially the same floor plan, but with a small bump-out near the entry, and a vaulted ceiling over the primary living space.  This results in a small expansion of usable indoor space, which many would argue is a significant improvement all by itself. It's the vaulted ceiling though that creates the increased sense of spaciousness.
You can learn a lot more about the house in the pictures, and all of Jay Shafer's other designs by visiting this website:

Feb 24, 2011

"Zero House" A Totally Self Sustaining House Concept

This concept is called the Zero House, and it was developed by a couple of architects who attended the Yale School of Architecture. 

Image © Specht Harpman Architects

Image © Specht Harpman Architects

Together, they have a firm called Specht Harpman Architects, with offices in New York City, and Austin, Texas.  The concept is extensively and remarkably well thought-out.  Absolutely no external hookups for electricity, water supply, or waste removal are required.  

It collects and stores up to 2,700 gallons of rainwater in a series of cisterns near the top so that the fixtures below can all be gravity fed, thus requiring no pumps. The water is filtered, then sterilized with UV light.  A 7,000 watt photovoltaic panel system on the roof feed electrons to an extensive battery bank that may not only meet, but potentially exceed the home's electrical requirements. Perhaps there would be a little left over to charge-up the electric car?  

It sleeps four adults and comes equipped with two king sized mattresses.  LED lighting, a Sun-Mar low flush porcelain toilet with remote composting chamber, tons of clever storage, a large flat panel TV, built-in furniture, a full-sized refrigerator, microwave oven, and an induction cook-top in the kitchen are all part of the package. 

Image © Specht Harpman Architects

Feb 23, 2011

576 square foot two bedroom house plans

I love small efficient homes, and I design some too.  One of my favorites is the smallest version of my "Muir Series" home designs.  At 576 square feet (24'-0" x 24'-0") it is suitable in many areas as a full-time stand-alone residence, a vacation home, or a backyard building that can be used as a guest house, in-law apartment, or rental property.  The 24' x 24' dimensions were derived from a series of buildings sold through the Home Depot in the northeastern US by Sheds USA.  At one point I designed living spaces to fit into every single size and model they sold (16 designs).  I am posting an isometric drawing and floor plan below.  This and other designs may some day be available to buy on my "Small Home Plans" page above.

Isometric Drawing

Feb 22, 2011

Launching My New Sustainable Living Blog

Welcome to my new sustainable living blog. 

I am a fairly regular reader of a number of blogs dealing with sustainable lifestyles and small or tiny homes.  There are a number of good ones out there, but I feel it is time to add my voice somewhere other than in the comments on those.  I have had a long-standing interest in topics such as:

  •  tiny homes
  •  sustainable living
  •  renewable energy
  •  nature
  •  science
  •  public policy
  •  energy efficiency
  •  architecture
  •  climate change
  •  conservation
and, well, you get the idea...  pretty much everything that has anything to do with helping mankind live in harmony with our planet.  I hope you will find this blog interesting, informative, and useful.  As part of my inaugural post, I have included a video featuring some music I composed. I'm sure you'll see it's in keeping with my general theme.  

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