Monday, June 30, 2014

Downsizing House And Home

Remember the time when you could pack everything you owned into a car?

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting my sister-in-law's nephew and his wife. They were a military couple at the time, now a family of four with another addition arriving any day. With mobility a confirmed reality in a military career they decided to forgo the usual periodic investment in a house built on the ground. Instead, they elected to purchase one on wheels. But this is no ordinary house. Not only have they gone mobile, they've also chosen to go small. Very small, yet very functional. In fact, multi-functional. 

Stick-built from the wheels up, the mobile home was constructed by a general contractor in Oregon using plans developed by the firm and the buyers.

Kitchen, dining, den, shower bath and extensive well-hidden storage on the first level:

Separate master and kid's sleeping space located in the loft:

Such an arrangement will not be for everyone but I believe this family's search for practical, affordable, and mobile housing has great appeal among young adults. But the concept has not yet caught up with city planners. That raises the big question for buyers: "Where can I park my house?" Blogging at Old Urbanist, Charlie Gardner provides some answers for what he describes as:

...nearly the only type of single-family detached housing that is allowed to be both very small and built on very small lots. Much of the affordability of this housing type, it seems, is attributable not only to the efficiencies of mass production or the frequent separation of the cost of land from the cost of ownership, but the common exemption of areas zoned for mobile homes (setting aside for now the curiosity of why there should even be such zones) from the standard restrictions of single family zoning, including minimum lot sizes, front and side setbacks, parking requirements and even minimum street widths.
The prospect of mixing a variety of house types and lot sizes Gardner alludes to opens many exciting possibilities in community building.   

As for our household, twenty years ago we were five residents living in 3000 square feet. Today only two of us remain and over a third of that space goes virtually unused. While I doubt we'll become part of the Tiny House movement, the concept of divesting ourselves of 
thousands of pounds of "stuff" has great appeal. Let the cleansing begin.

Photos: Chona Wiesehan

No comments: