Tiny Houses

When I was working as a writer years ago, or as I call it being impalled on my own free lance, I loved going to the library to do research for an article. I would get lost in the card catalog. In looking for books and magazine articles something in the search would trigger something in another direction from the path I was supposed to be on. As a lot of you know surfing the internet is a lot like that, too. You’re reading something and hit a link and off you fly into cyberspace to a totally new world. Somewhere, though, there is a tenuous connection to where you started.

(An aside: People often ask me why I don’t write articles anymore. Well, there’s this blog and I can write about anything that strikes my fancy and the only editor I have to satisfy is myself. The truth of the matter is that when I was working as a writer back in the 60s and 70s the pay for a well written article wasn’t very much. A lot of time it wasn’t worth the effort and,unless you were lucky or talented enough to get into the major publications, your efforts often paid just above minimum wage. The horrible truth is that 40 years after I was getting paid for putting words on paper the pay is almost exactly the same today as it was then. If it wasn’t worth doing then for a pittance then it certainly isn’t worth doing today.)

Having been bitten, once again, with the “I want to live on a houseboat” bug I’ve been zooming around the internet looking for houseboat and shanty boat plans. Sadly there aren’t that many out there and most of the ones I have found aren’t really what I would want to have. Oh, there are one or two but they’d only work with some modification. But what I have found extremely interesting is that there is a whole movement out there of people who build and live in what are called “Tiny Houses.”

There are many reasons they do it. Some are heavily into the “Green” movement and are seeking to reduce their “footprint” on the earth. Others, consciously or not, take up the Thoreau dictum of “Simplify, simplify.”  And as I wrote in a previous post, how much room do you really need, anyway?

One of the nice things about being unemployed, or as I like to say, “retired” is that I have the free time to delve into these blogs and web sites. An interesting one is: http://smalllivingjournal.com/. Small Living Journal. Here they gave a good categorization of living small. Actually the categories were delineated by a web site called Apartment Therapy and goes like this:

  • TEENY-TINY 300 Square Feet and under
  • TINY 600 Square Feet and under (but over 300 Square Feet)
  • LITTLE 900 Square Feet and under (but over 600 Square Feet)
  • SMALL 1,200 Square Feet and under (but over 900 Square Feet)

Here are a couple of youtube vids of teeny-tiny homes

Many of these houses are built on trailer bases and I think it would be easy enough to put them onto a floating platform as well.

One thing that I find disappointing is how much some of the finished tiny houses cost. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company (http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com) gives an estimate for building several of it’s homes, all on wheels, and they range from $36,997.00 for the 65 square feet X-S finished house to $49,997.00 for the Fencl finished house. They give build it yourself costs of between $16,100.00 to $23,000.00 for the same models. I’m sorry, but I don’t find those prices “tiny.” They estimate finished costs of $100 to $200 per square foot which is roughly what it costs to build an regular home.

Now there are ways of reducing the estimated costs given. If you didn’t put the house on a trailer you could knock of anywhere from $2,000.0 to $3,800.00. And, of course, how you want to finish off the house would vary considerably depending on how extravagant you want to get.

I like the looks of the looks of the Lusby model with a build it yourself estimated price of $21,250.00. So let’s see how much that would cost me to build a similar design the way I’d want it finished out. And you have to take into consideration that I’d want it to sort of blend in with the existing architecture of the area.

Somewhere between this:

bocas-del-toro-panama

and this:

bocas-house-nice

Most probably something like this:

bocas-houseboat1

The main difference between what I would build and the picture above is what it would be floating on. I’d go either with pontoons or a barge and I’d have an outboard motor so it would be self propelled.

The Lusby model has nice stainless steel counter tops estimated at $800.00. Mine would be formica over plywood saving about $750.00. The Lusby has beautiful knotty pine interior siding estimated at $900.00. I’d save $900.00 right off the bat since there wouldn’t be any interior siding. Remember, I lived in a shack on pontoons for several years, and since there’s no interior siding there wouldn’t be the estimated $550.00 worth of insulation. No heater, either, so knock off another grand. That $550.00 shower?  Mine would be a five gallon bucket of water on the roof with a sink sprayer attached, so knock off another $545.00. I wouldn’t be paying the estimated $1,500.00 sales tax, either. The $3,800.00 for the trailer would be for the flotation, either barge or pontoon. Wait a minute….that grand for the heater, it would have to go for the outboard, instead. All things considered, though, I could probably put it together for less than half of the cost they project, and maybe even less.

But the whole concept of Tiny Houses is intriguing. Googling “Tiny House Plans” brings up nearly FIVE MILLION HITS.

A couple of interesting ones are:

http://www.townandcountryplans.com/

http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-house/tiny-house-plans/

http://www.bcmountainhomes.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2&zenid=220425befba61abd4a8dae509f5dbe37

http://www.cusatocottages.com/selectaplan.php

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