Category Archives: Housing

Best Affordable Housing Designs

Smaller is Bigger

Building House CommunityTexas is big and everything in Texas is bigger than life or so the saying goes. Not in Spur, TX! On July 20, 2014 Spur was designated as America’s first officially tiny house friendly town by the Spur City Council.

Spur, TX is not the first to embrace small houses and living simply. In 1854 Henry David Thoreau published “Walden or Life in the Woods” in which he discussed the virtues of a simple life by building a small home and living in a small space.

More than 100 years after Thoreau, the tiny house movement began promoting smaller housing which is more affordable and sustainable.

Exactly what is a tiny house? Generally, it is a house less than 1,000 sq. ft. with some under 100 sq. ft. Specific events have influenced the tiny house movement, one most notably was Hurricane Katrina. Due to the need for housing and as an alternative to FEMA Trailers, Katrina Cottages were designed. The houses start at 308 sq. ft. The small houses added a breath of fresh air to the devastated area.

Many of these dwellings are on wheels so they can be easily moved. The mobile units were designed by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and are Tumbleweed House-To-Go. These homes have all the amenities of a larger home done on a small scale. The plans make wise use of all functional space.

In a large home the bedroom may be 20’x20’ while in a home-to-go it may be 4’x6’. Most of these home on wheels are under 200 sq. ft. and many have a sleeping loft.

If little houses interest you but wheels don’t, look at the cottage models. These units are still under 1,000 sq. ft. and are permanently fixed. The design is very traditional with a front porch, gable roof, loft with a window and some plans have a dormer window.

If you are looking for something unique and interesting, try a Yurt design. Yurts are seasonal structures for nomads and are generally used in Asia and the Middle East. The structure is a domed tent of skins which are stretched over a collapsible framework. The modern structure is based on the same principle with all the modern conveniences. Colorado Yurt Company designs these circular homes which will completely disassemble and can be transported to another location.

Have you ever thought it would be fun to live in a treehouse? Borrowing from sailboat construction, the Spherical Tree House was developed. It is one continuous wall with two sides, inside and outside. The sphere weighs about 1100 pounds and uses ropes and tackles for hanging. Again like a sailboat, the sphere gently rocks when the wind blows. Think of it as living in the round. This unique form of housing is made by Free Spirit Spheres.

Cargo containers on trucks, ships and trains are all around us. What happens to these after their life of hauling goods is over? Today they are being recreated into small dwellings. They are built of welded steel to be sturdy and air tight. The size, 8’x20’ makes them perfect for the base of a tiny house. This residence lends itself well to a large porch which could double the size of the home. When the entrance is a large glass sliding double door, the porch would act as an additional living area and also give an open feel to the interior.

Recreational vehicles are also small dwellings on wheels. With all of the modern conveniences these condos on wheels will take you to places far and near. People live in RVs to have a smaller footprint, change their view of the world or as a permanent home in a fixed location. There is a group of RVers who like to live off the grid and boondock – which is living in a remote area with no facilities.

To live and be comfortable in a tiny home you must think outside the box and push the envelope. One of the main objectives in designing tiny homes is to use all available space to the best advantage.

Also wherever possible have multiple uses for the same area.

The living area during the day becomes the bedroom at night by having a Murphy bed. There is a three burner stove instead of a large commercial stainless steel unit with a grill. One sink works just as well as a double and a small one door refrigerator holds the food you need for a week. Small is better for beds also – a single for one person and a double for two. No need for a king size bed; lots of wasted space.

Housing designs from some of the best tiny home builders come in many variations. The trick is finding the one that suits you and your lifestyle. Research, study, and choose one that you can live with and in.

Joanne from affordablehousingdesigns.com is an avid small home enthusiast.