In the 10 months since I last posted much has changed.
Efforts to develop my concept of a site-built ecoqubz tiny home kit evolved to a pause! Lots of planning and preparation went into my application for an Affordable Housing Challenge grant from Wells Fargo. The $2.5 million grant competition ended for me when I failed to make the cut for the top 40 organizations with concepts to develop in three different categories.
So, I shifted my focus to the development of designs for pocket neighborhoods, cottage court communities, backyard ADUs, or small stand alone homes that are simply efficient and economical. My research led me to conclude that the "modern farmhouse" style was gaining popularity. Bye bye to "craftsman" style, which I love, and welcome to board & batten, metal roof, and black window sashes.
I made a decision to develop my first collection of designs at the low end of what I define as "right-sized" (click the link to see that definition in the Urban Dictionary). All of those designs are 750 sq.ft. and range from 1 BR & 1BA to 2BR & 2BA. They are designed to be economically built with traditional residential construction materials and practices.
The average cost to build these homes should fall around $100,000. Find this collection of plans on the Right-Sized page of this site.
Yesterday I posted one of me designs in a Facebook Group named Tiny House Concepts and in the 1st 24 hours I had 380 "likes" and 105 "loves" in response. This feedback inspires me to press ahead with my efforts to offer great design solutions for folks that, pending the needed changes in zoning regulations, would love to live in an economical, efficient home!
I will revisit my "Kit Home" concept for 400 sq. foot homes next year and hopefully that can become a reality in the future and be available to meet the demand which will follow the inevitable changes in zoning regulations across the nation.
Sorry that I haven't blogged since November. Teaching Architectural Drawing and Computer Science, plus coaching the Lacrosse Team kept me very busy all Spring. But progress on the designs for ecoqubz has been made, and now that I'm retired from teaching I'm "all in" with time and energy in this "post-encore career" for this old Baby Boomer!
As I continue working on the concepts for my ecoqubz collection, I have studied the IRC Appendix Q definitions and regulations for Tiny Houses. I'll discuss those regulations and how they can be leveraged to maximize the livability of tiny homes in another blog. My video that gives An Inside Look at an ecoqubz Tiny Home illustrates that.
This Spring I have attended Tiny Home Festivals in Atlanta, Nashville, Nags Head, and Denver. I have to be honest about my feelings for the future of THOWs... For many reasons, I believe that "genre" of abodes in this Tiny Home Movement is rapidly approaching a point where the market growth will level out. In an article published by finance.yahoo.com/news titled "Are Tiny Homes Worth It? 21 Reasons Why They're a Huge Mistake," Daria Uhlig offers several compelling reasons for that prediction. I am not offended by Ms Uhlig's assertions, in fact I agree with a good bit of what she has to say.
Anyone who has visited a Tiny Home Festival is left with their own perception of what the movement is about. They've toured a "hodge-podge" collection of THOWs, Skoolies, Yurts, Vans, and even Campers offering an alternative lifestyle that frankly is not appealing to a majority of Americans. However, I am convinced that the future for Tiny Homes is bright if the designs are compelling. The homes need to on foundations, functionally complete, energy efficient, and aesthetically pleasing. In my 20 year career of designing and building custom homes I developed a keen sense of functionality, efficiency and aesthetic appeal, but I also learned how to "engineer" the plans to ensure that they could be built with ease; using established skilled labor, and readily available materials and components.
We must be pragmatic about the pros and cons of this tiny home movement. I've decided that I want to distance myself from current perceptions of the tiny home movement and identify myself with minimal living and a green lifestyle.
It's ambitious, but I want to change the perception of folks to a different, and more culturally acceptable, concept for living with the homes I design and promote. Going forward I will consider labeling my ecoqubz designs as "Minimal Homes."
I've been dreaming and planning my "post-encore" design career for several months now. In May I will retire from teaching a High School Architectural Drawing and Design curriculum. Teaching is my "encore" career which began after the Mortgage/Residential Construction Industries melted down in 2008/9. After 20 years of designing and building custom homes, that crash left me selling lotto tickets and cigarettes in a Kroger grocery store gas station and studying to take a test for certification to teach math. My 10 year teaching career evolved from Construction, to Architectural Design, to Computer Science in recent years.
In the Fall of 2016 I designed a Tiny Home on Wheels that I planned to build and live in for my retirement. After two Summers working on the project, it is now my self-built home sweet home.
I learned a lot of things about tiny living while building the home, and gained a first hand perspective on the movement that I believe will continue to grow in practicality and popularity.
As construction of my Tiny Home on Wheels neared completion last Fall I found a landowner is a rural Greater Atlanta Area county who was willing to lease his 6 acres with a site that formerly had a mobile home on it. A mobile home was currently occupied on a lot adjacent to his property. The site had county water and a septic system; the only thing needed was to re-establish power. Because of the neighboring mobile home we thought our plan for a tiny home would be perfectly acceptable.
All of the necessary components for an overhead power hook-up were installed and a permit for temporary power was paid for. An inspection was called for by the landowner. When the county inspector came to the site he did not inspect the meter base, ground wires, or overhead service conduit with a weather cap, and left no indication that he had even been there. Upon follow-up it was learned that the inspector figured out that the service was to be used for an RV or Tiny Home of some type, and because the Zoning Regulations did not allow such an abode, he refused to grant the inspection.
As it turned out, the mobile home that had been on his land before he purchased it was "grandfathered in," but once he removed it from the site, it was no longer permitted. I gave up on that beautiful six acre site and began to investigate my 'Plan B." My son and daughter-in-law had invited me to set up in the back yard of their home which sits on an acre in the same county. I ran a perk test on the soils and found them to be very suitable for a small septic system so I began making plans to move-in as an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit on his site. He called the county and they flatly stated that it would not be allowed!
So..."Plan C," became my last hope. I found two RV Parks in the area and sent an email to the one with the most privacy and seemingly better clientele asking if it would be possible to park my Tiny Home on a lot in their community. She advised that she would need to get approval from the county authorities and promised to get back to me. Needless to say, I was not optimistic. Well, to my pleasant surprise she wrote me back and said it had been approved. I don't know who she contacted, or what process, if any, she followed, but I gladly accepted a spot on her waiting list. After 3 months, and "bugging" her twice, I got confirmation of an available site and reserved it for a November 1, 2018 move in.
After 20 years of designing and building custom homes, and 10 years teaching Architectural Drawing & Design in High School, I've decided to begin my "post-encore" career designing great looking, efficient living, Cubistic Style Tiny Homes. I'll try to post new ideas and old ideas alike as I share my past and present experiences in this blog.