Small Homes: Thoughts?

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Here're a few links to maybe help get your log rolling:
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/03/0314_microhomes/index_01.htm http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/04/very_small_hous_1.php http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses.htm http://www.landliving.com/articles/0000000581.aspx (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Still building big? Why? Why not?
My initial questions/thoughts: Do smaller homes provide bigger design challenges? More of a creative attention to choreography and efficiency, etc.? When designing for a small home, should we consider hiring/importing Japanese over North American architect talent? Do small homes necessarily have to be/feel cramped or claustrophobic? Do you try to suggest a smaller/greener footprint for your new clients' homes? (Can there be as much money in it?) How Does Ken's apparent new Okanagan home compare with his others? Feelings? Ideas? Conclusions? How small has Don designed? How big? Anyone here specialize in small/green? How easy is it to find one who does?
How might have Chris E. responded?
This thread is dedicated to the late Christopher Egan, who initiated my interest in "choreography".
Rich
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Warm Worm wrote:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)

yes, and renovating and expanding smaller homes even more

space planning is the start, the middle and the finish of a small design

no, not for American homes

no
yes
no more than any other type

who cares?

who cares?

yes
not hard

didn't know him. Why not query his wife. There had to be a good reason why Chris Egan left this newsgroup.

Explain what you think he meant by it or republish some of his old threads.

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(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Yes, function and overlapping functions would definitely help.

Not necessarily. Any architect worth his salt can and should adapt to any design challenge.

I guess it can be, but a larger home can feel impersonal, empty, and cold as well.

I've tried to implement ideas in the design of schools, but budget is a major constraint. I stick to the easy stuff like building orientation. If I were to design homes, I think yes I would bring it up, but never force it on someone. In school we were always thought you should always have a reason for things you do. I would give them all the information they need and let them decide for themselves.

Is this the tiny home? I think it's brilliant, but I'd imagine it is definitely a lifestyle, not just a home.

I personally think smaller is better. I've always like the use of layers, and I think a smaller space benefits more from them. I think there can be more creative use of things normally left to standard design and detail, for instance a wall could be much more than just studs and drywall, as there is wasted space between those studs. Or a ceiling or attic space. Lots of little nooks and crannies for everyday little things that get ignored when you have all the space in the world to work with.

My current home is around 900 S.F. I couldn't imagine owning more than that, but of course I have no kids or anything like that. It is plenty of room for a couple, 2 cats, and a dog. Actually my dog probably has the most room of all being able to use the rest of the 6000s.f. or so of land while we're out of the house.
I think I would enjoy designing smaller homes just as much as bigger ones. What I hate, and what seems to be the trend, is that smaller homes here in California, equate to not only crap homes, with no character, but also homes where you could reach across and touch your neighbor. It was one of the reasons I wanted an old Bungalow. There is actually lots of room to expand on my lot, which I would enjoy doing someday, but for now I'm good.
--
Edgar



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Edgar wrote:

To me, 2 cats and a dog equal about 1 kid. ;)

"Excuse me, neighbor, but your shampoo just fell out of the tub... Actually, just a minute, let me to get it for you..." (climbs over & through window) (neighbor says, "Oh hey, hi-- great, thanks!", while continuing to rinse ears of soap.)

Was it you who posted a pic of your house awhile back?
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Yup. A smart dog, like a German SHepherd, or bird such as an African Grey, are said to be capable of reasoning on the level of a 5-yr-old. ((I'm kind of big on ethology, so I pick up on that sort of info.)) But that's as good as it gets, in terms of intellignce. Basically, you just have ot like dogs and want a dog (or other companion animal), and then just commit to taking care of it.

Kids are kind of a crap shoot, tho', too. Thre are all sorts of physical and mental difficulties that can occur just as a matter of genetic variability or mutation.
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Well, I find it impossible to think of under 70 sq ft as a house. That's only about 8' square. It's not *inpossible* to live in, but I think it'd be dang unpleasant - kitchen? bath? toilet? I don't know if you recall when I mentioned having considered livingon a boat, but even a boat has more room than that.

As a consumer, IMO th ebiggest problem is storage - and I don't just mean closets, which are actually rather awkward.

I don't know about "over", but I think a lot could be learned from them.

Again, as a consumer, if I were to build my own place, it'd be smaller than this one, *if* it had efficient storage, but it wouldn't be cheaper and might actually be more expensive.
One thing that's almost alwasy overlooked in the quest for size is that mere size all too often replaces both quality, and the sorts of fine finishes that make a smaller place a pleasure. Wasted space isn't really all that much more cheerful (IMO at least) than is smaller, but more efficient, space.
But again, that's just one consumer's view ;)

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Kris Krieger wrote:

Sure that's a little small, but it might make a nice little self-contained makeshift house for when the main house is being constructed; and/or a guesthouse or intro/playhouse for the kids when they're a little older and/or decide to "leave home".

I know that some people like to collect quite a few things, but that's not me-- at least not currently, so a small house might work.

True.
They say that what is saved on size can be placed on quality... but then again...

...I would guess that some take for profit as much as can be had under the radar, leaving only a mere illusion of quality for the customer.
Free Shower Curtain: http://www.last.fm/music/Planet+Boelex/_/Shower+Curtain
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And it does depend upon a person's lifestyle. If one's main entertainment and activities occur outside the home, a smaller space can work out very well. My own main requirement isn't living space, but *hobby* space. At the same time, differnt peole do have different perceptions - some people feel cozy in a 9'X9' room, others feel claustrophobic, regardless of high ceilings. Part of it is habituation, but part of it is personality.
So, one of my favorite ideas is moveable walls or rolling screens or somethign like that. I think it'd be nifty to be able to open up or close off spaces as needed/desired.

I think that good design would also be ableo to accomidate things like display cabinets and bookcases. But it'd thake thought and time to design it well, and more carpentry then the usual cheese-box...

Well, it's all a matter of who is doing what. Msot small places are just cheesy little boxes, but that doe not *have* to be the case. OTOH, it can, i'm sure, be quite a challenge to create a small place that also is an affordable place for lower-income people.
THe variations and considerations seem to be almost infinite...

Well, the problem (in both small palces and large places) (and in pretty much *all* areas of economics/produciton) is that greed is far more common than is pride in what one is doing...

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From 1968, although IMO timeless:
http://www.last.fm/music/Nick+Drake/_/River+Man
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Secretia Green wrote:

I tried it, but at the time, there were some connection problems. My roomie liked what was heard though.
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THat is the rumor, but when I had fish, it sure didn't seem to work out that way. I thnk some tend to remain small in aquaria because they don't get fed a lot, or don't get a lot of quality nutrition. Give them regular food with a high nutrient level, and they *will* grow.

Shoot, I've never lived on anything larger than 1 quarter acre, and I've *always* wanted at least 20, and 100 would be better ;) !

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Hmmm, maybe golfish are differnt from Cichlids. I'd gotten two, when they were itty-bitty, one was a Haplochromis venustis: http://www.aquahobby.com/gallery/e_venust.php , I thing the other was also some form of Haplochromis.
I had them in a 40-gallon tank with 2 or 3 types of other elongated cichlids. The first two kept getting larger, and larger. I sold them back to the store, by that time, one was 8"and the other was 9". THe guy had told us the same thing, that "they'll stay tiny ina tank". I guess i just ded them too well - blended my own food from stuff like tiny scallops (they were cheap back then in Columbia, SC), mackerel flakes, spirulina, carrot, and so on.
So, it actually depends upon the type of fish. IIRC, fish keep growing throughout their lives (unlike mammals), but some are genetically predisposed to remain small (I suppose that, after a point, they just grow very *slowly*).
I also had these in the cichlid tank:
http://www.aquahobby.com/gallery/e_auratus.php (the fry and females, IIRC, have colors that are almost inverted - a mediUM to dark blue rather than yellow)
http://www.aquahobby.com/gallery/e_lombardoi.php (Again, fry and females are blue)
THey kept having fry, so I got to sell those. It's weasy to get them into a small brood tank becasue the cichlids would hold the eggs, then the fry (whil;e very small) in their mouths to protect them. So, once the female got "a fat head", we know it was time to set up the 5-gal brooding tank.
Also had a smaller tank with a brackish-water puffer and a couple others, can't recall what - that was back around 1980. Someone who was "tending" the fish while I was away changed the water but forgot to add salt, so killed the fish (they all got fungus). Also had set up a 60-gal marine tank, but the dealer turned out to be unreputable and, shortly after the first tank died, sold us an unquarantined fish with parasites that killed off that tank as well. Sort of took some of the "aquarium fervor" out of me.
I now have a tiny 3-gal thing with 5 glow-light tetras (which I was told would "stay small, like neon tetras", but are already over an inch long and, as i later learned, will get even larger. Also have two danios, a recent sport that comes in bright yellow, orange or red. At least I know that danios do, in fact, stay small (had those at some point in the past). I wish I could keep squid - I'm fascinated by their ability to change color and pattern; its not only camoflage, they also communicate that way, so that whole concept fascinates me.
ANYHOO, retunring from my digression, Goldfish don't get very big, so that's an advantage for aquarists. Well, OK, Carp do get large, and I think but don't recall exactly, that they're a type of goldfish, or goldfish are a type of carp, or something like that - anyhoo, at least some carp (a.k.a. Koi) can get pretty hefty; it's just their genetics. I also would think that, if you got a baby Tuna or Swordfish, they'd keep growing as long as you kept feeding them.
So it's a combination of type of fish (i.e. the genetics of the particular species), and food availability. Also, I'd think, water quality, since that affects health/vigor.

Well, researchers have hooked people up to monitors, and did find that an aquarium has a demonstrable soothing/calming effect.
I personally just like having living things inside. Not so many that I can't keep up, but a few, plants, fish, my bird. THought of a dog but not sure I could manage it, becasue I'm not really a "mammal person".
Anyway, an aquarium is iMO always a nice addition to a home. The fish do respond to the person/people who feed them, with some being more clever than others.
But do be sure to check their adult size range...teh "won't outgrow the tank" thing has some important limitations...
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[ snip ]

I can relate.
BTW, did you know that goldfish can see in the near-infrared? SO they can prob. see you without the lights on ;)
If you are interested in a brackish water tank (basically, fresh with soem aquaroim salt dumped in), the estuarine puffers aer really smart for fish. Same for many African cichlids (they like hard water, plus a little adedd salt.) ALso, the cichlids are hardy - hard to kill. ANd brightly colored in many cases. SO that might be a thought. Nothing wrong with goldfish of course, it's just that a lot fo people are unfamiliar with the African cichlids.

ANd now, you can get larger tanks in that "unimolded" design - IOW, rather than glass panels slathered with silicone, the whole tank is one single form, and the top fits righ tonto it. IIRC, they're mostly put out by Eclipse. It's a cartrige-based set-up, so you can either get bags and refill them, or get the pre-measured cartriges.
One thing I'd suggest is "double-filtering" - set up your filter so that ti pulls through an undergravel filter that covers the whole tank bottom if possible. THat way, you get both the "regular" filter action (carbon, anti-ammonia pellets, etc.) plus the biological filter action. THat way, you can cram more fish in to the tank, esp. if you add extra bubblers to oxygenate the water.

That *is* kind of a lot.
Like anything else in life, tho', it all depends on what a person wants, and what trade-offs one is willing to make.

HA! <LOL!>
Well, wiht thos big cichlids, hey, that's what the people who live there eat - that's where Tilapia originated ;)
"Home Fish-Farming For Fun And Profit" <g!>
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I thought ti might be something you'd do, but figured I'd mention it just in case.

I didn't know that, but I don't know anything about goldfish. I guess they're bottom-feeders...? Prob going over all the gravel getting any tidbits that collect. Marbles sound likea good alternative. You can always get a clown-loach to get in between them to keep them cleaned - the loaches are more "delicate" eaters and don't really turn stuff over. They're also active, and funny to watch.
Right now, Ihave 5 "glow light tetras", and they're boring -they hide most of the time and only appear when I put food in, and they finally figure out that, oh, duh, yeah, this is food. IOW they're kind of dimwitted IMO even for fish.
I think my tank might be too small even for goldfish...
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Don wrote:

You're trying to bait me, aren't you. ;)
Some seem to never be satisfiable.
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Well, 20'X20' is large but not what I'd call "humongous" - the one I told the story about was larger than that, which is why it registered so strongly on my "weird-O-meter" ;)
I actually kind of like a room that allows me to have the furniture away from the walls, because I'm big on "circulation". Poss because Isometimes ahve to get up at night and walk around (various muscle cramps), and pacing back and forth through 6' doesn't quite cut the proverbial mustard.
OTOH, I still often think about that one boat I'd seen in Vancouver. Both sail and motor, jsut gorgeous inside, and yet less expensive than the averagde house at the time...and the allure of the idea of freedom to just literally "pick up and go"...
Well, anyhoo... ;)
[ snip ]

True, some of them are very interesting, esp. when the aesthetics are pleasing. It's interesting that one really can, in a good one, be in a alrge space, and yet feel comfortable having an individual/close conversation.

Freudian slip? Well, I dunno, it certainly *might* be... ;)
Actally, given how dismal my own typing often is, I seldom comment on typos, it's only that I though that one was fun ;)
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[ snip ]

Those are availabel commercially, at least ehy used to be - a relative had one, btu that was nearly 30 yrs ago.
One thing, the seam in the middle can be unconfortable, so put a good pad and/or foam topper under the sheets.
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Don wrote:

Ah yes, those individuals who are irresponsible... Well then I guess we'd be forced to form some kind of government to, in part, monitor and police that kind of behavior... Set up cameras... and probably impose some kinds of special taxes and surcharges for the railroad operation too... maybe hire some kids with water pistols... hm... yes... that should do it... ;P
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Nah, just use the "wooden ball on the end of a long pole" that the Quakers came up with - I recell seeing a pic in one of my history books showing an old engraving of a Quaker dood with such a stick - on the other end was a feather. THing is that they had some very long meeting, so, if a child fel asleep, they'd tickle teh snoozer witht he feather to rouse them; adults got bonked with the wooden ball.
So, if someone raches for what isn't theirs, just give 'em a good bonk on the noggin.

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Don wrote:

Your sense of humour is getting pretty gay, Don. ;D
But that's ok-- I knit, and was recently approached while knitting in public by a guy who wanted me to do a hat for him, even though I sensed an undertone of something else that he wanted. Maybe I'm just being paranoid.
How would you feel about a nice pair of knitted shorts? I think they have a place on Granville Island that sells nice silk yarn. %D
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