Small Homes

A Unique Folding Home

We’ve seen a lot of homes that are quite unique in the tiny home movement, but this home has a trick that is quite impressive. How can you not love a home that bills itself as The Folding & Transportable Home?” That is a tough one to top.

Habitaflex is a Canadian based homebuilder that has some really novel ideas for the tiny home universe. They have three different sizes of homes, but each is foldable and transportable. Now, a foldable home is certainly something that we haven’t seen much of before in the tiny home world or the building world in general. The folding of a Habitaflex home is a five-step habitaflex 300×165 Habitaflex A Folding Homeprocess that appears to work very well. How is this possible you ask? The system is based around a series of hand cranks that allow homeowners to unfold their portable home to wherever they wish to go. “Cranking” ones home and unfolding it is bound to raise some eyebrows. Sections of the Habitaflex home slide into one, this in turn allows for this tiny home to be compressed and easily transported. Once the home has been extended with the cranking system, it is several times its collapsed size. The core concept of a collapsible home is a bold one, worthy of some attention. It certainly adds a new wrinkle to the tiny home concept.

Once in its collapsed size, the Habitaflex homes can be transported in a variety of ways, even pulled by a heavy-duty pick-up trick. These tiny homes can be put on ships for transport, or even flown via helicopter to remote locations. Habitaflex has kept the dimensions of shipping containers in mind when designing this tiny home, just in case you need to transport it long distances.

One of the more surprising aspects of the Habitaflex concept is that the concept accommodates different sizes of homes, including one fairly large model. The largest model is even large enough for three bedrooms.

One has to appreciate the possibilities that the Habitaflex underscores. With their design it is possible to quite literally pick up your tiny home and take it wherever you need to go.

Small Homes

A Low Cost Eco Friendly Cabin

The C3 Cabin is designed by Vandeventer + Carlander Architects. The cabin is has a footprint of 16 x 22 feet, with 352 square feet on the main floor and 128 square feet in the loft.

The C3 makes lovely use of light and is designed with doors opening on three sides to better connect it with the outside. Both of these features help to make the space feel much larger than it actually is. The main floor hosts the main living space, kitchen, and bath. The sleeping loft sits over the kitchen and bath area and has a view of the floor below. Windows are also thoughtfully positioned throughout the house to promote cross ventilation.

The C3 has also been designed with low-cost, easy-maintenance external materials (fiber cement and metal panels) and also easy construction in mind.

Small Homes

Shepherd huts for Unique Tiny Spaces

Plankbridge Shepherd Huts has a really cool take on tiny spaces. Their huts are envisioned as being more of workspaces, studios and de facto add-ons for homes. However, these huts do a great job in showcasing how tiny spaces can be versatile, adaptable, and just plain cool. These huts may be small but they do have a lot to offer. Each hut has a lot of charm, as it is something of a cultural heirloom, as the people at Plankbridge like to put it. The designs of their huts are based upon the designs of huts from well over a hundred years ago. Yet, there are some significant additions.

The biggest difference between todays Plankbridge huts and those of the past is technology. While many of the traditional hand-crafted elements are still present in the design, many new design elements have been incorporated as well, for example, insulation. The Plankbridge huts are eco-friendly in that they use wool, or Thermafleece sheeps wool, for roof and floor insulation. The huts also come with double pane windows to help keep them warm and make the most out of furnace heat.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Plankbridge huts is how they have chosen to show how these tiny spaces can be used and adapted. It is possible to add bunk beds and built-in desk, as well as storage benches, cooking stoves and heating stoves. While there are lots of tiny space options on the market, one really has to give a nod to Plankbridge Huts for being uniquely charming. Part of that charm is the quality of material, and the hand made touch that goes into each hut.

Plankbridge Huts highlights an aspect of the tiny home and tiny space movement that is often overlooked. With tiny spaces and tiny homes it is much more possible to have a home or workspace that retains an element of craftsmanship that is slowly disappearing in our mechanized and industrial age. One has to appreciate Plankbridge Huts efforts. They have even done restoration on old huts and breathed new life into them.

Small Homes

A Look into Blu Homes

Blu is a builder with some positive selling points for those looking to build a tiny home, green home or anyone just wanting to save a little money. Blu homes have building costs that are 45%-75% lower than a traditionally built home. That in and of itself should be enough to open most peoples eyes. Yet Blu is also very focused on building green and ecologically friendly homes. Their construction methods produce homes that cause 50% to 70% less carbon emissions than traditional construction, making these homes much more environmentally friendly than other forms of traditional construction.

What if you were told that Blu homes take about four weeks to construct? In fact, a Blu home takes about four weeks to construct and this is only the beginning of the flexibility that Blu Homes offers. They offer what is called Blu Flex Designs. Blu Flex Designs is likely to be of interest to anyone looking to build a tiny home . Flex Designs allow a home owner to easily add space to their existing home. Often young families worry that a tiny home might not be for them as they are worried about running out of space when they have children. Lets face it, even the biggest fan of tiny homes might be a little worried about two kids, a dog, a cat and a visiting mother-in-law in a 400 square foot home, or even a 900 square foot home for that matter. A concept like Flex Design is definitely a good one for it allows homeowners to add on additional space if needed. Currently, they are offering a media room added with stadium seating, but other room add-on designs are on the way.

The Blu Origin home comes in a three model, a studio, one bedroom and a two bedroom. The studio model is between $50,000 and $65,000 and is between 280 and 400 square feet. The one bedroom model is between 420 square feet and 600 square feet and runs between $70,000 and $90,000. The larger two-bedroom model can be as large as 800 square feet with a cost between $99,000 and $120,000. All their models are dedicated to being more energy efficient and producing less carbon emissions than your average home. Blu believes that the Origin produces about half of the carbon emissions of a traditional home and uses about sixty percent less energy as well.

Small Homes Sustainable

Shipping Container Home Designs

This week I wanted to focus on some builders who are doing cool things with green housing, even if that housing isn’t necessarily tiny. The first thing that comes to mind is shipping containers which I have written about before. The more I think about it, the more I am enamored by what is being done these days with shipping containers.

A lot of very bright people have really jumped on board with the concept and realized that thousands of unused shipping containers already exist. Currently there are somewhere in the sneighborhood of 18 million shipping containers worldwide. They are highly durable, easily transported and make great elements and building blocks for modular designed homes. Since the shipping containers already exist, shipping container homes are a great way to build inexpensively while going green. A shipping container home is by its very nature, partially green and sustainable, due to the fact that the single largest component in a shipping container home is already built. There are also cost savings with building. Separate components don’t have to be trucked in from points all across the world or country. Instead a shipping container can be sent out to the construction site in one piece.

While shipper containers may only be slightly less expensive than building from wood and other traditional materials, the cost savings really comes into play is during the construction process itself. Homes built using shipping containers can literally be built in half the time.

One of the companies involved in building shipping container homes is SG Blocks. The company name stands for Safe, Green Blocks. This company provides code-engineered cargo shipping containers with an eye toward green construction that is highly sturdy and built to be used for decades to come. SG Blocks realized that modular construction was a major cost savings for construction of all sorts, and they have built their entire company around this notion. The SG Blocks are designed to be impressively strong. For example, each corner post is constructed in such a fashion that they are able to withstand 153,000 pounds of vertical load-each. This makes the design so strong that it is actually highly hurricane resistant.

If you are considering building a shipping container home, SG Blocks might be a good place to begin the process. They have taken a lot of the guesswork out of the process. They are in the business of taking shipping containers and modifying them so that they are very safe and durable. This durability is definitely part of the appeal of building with shipping containers.

Small Homes

A Look at a Creative Approach Towards Architecture

Blue Sky Homes is taking an approach that is easy to like and one, which is encouraging to see more and more companies beginning to use. About 70% of the material that goes into a Blue Sky Homes creation is recycled and 100% of the material is recyclable. Keeping with this greener edge, the Blue Sky Homes concept is one where the reduction of waste is critical. To this end they have set up a factory fabrication process that eliminates much of the building waste that can occur using traditional building techniques. (Often on a traditional building site up to an amazing 40% of the material used is wasted.)

While steel can be energy intensive material to create, it is also true that steel is far more durable and longer lasting than wood. Blue Sky Homes uses steel for all of their construction for this reason. Keep in mind however, that 70% of all their building materials are from recycled sources. This is most definitely a good step in the green direction.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Blue Sky Homes is how they keep their home designs from looking like modular homes. Unlike many modular homes, Blue Sky Homes does ship out completed modules. Instead they ship out sections. This gives them more flexibility in a variety of directions. While it may not be immediately obvious, modular homes that are sent out in a single piece are definitely at the mercy of logical constraints. The width of the highway is a good example of a constraint that might hinder the process. By using sectional design, Blue Sky Homes is able to bypass this limiting aspect of the modular process.

Watch the animated movie on the Blue Sky Home website. Seeing the different ways they can configure their core pieces is really an eye opener. The basic core piece design allows for the same parts to be used in a variety of different home constructions and in remarkably different shapes and sizes. Their prototype home built in Southern California is a good example of what the Blue Sky Homes team is capable of doing. This difference of perspective could really make Blue Sky Homes one to watch in the green building world.

Small Homes

Easy to Build Structures

Solargon Structures is a rather innovative Fort Collins, Colorado company that is really trying to make some waves in the tiny home universe. They have three sizes of homes: a 20 diameter that is 309 square feet, a 30 diameter that is 695 square feet with 8 walls and a third model that is 695 square feet with 10 walls. The reason that their concepts and designs are so interesting isn’t the sizes of their tiny homes, but how they approach building and design.

The Solargon Structures concept is designed to be quickly assembled using a yurt design and SIPs, which stands for Structural Insulated Panels. These SIPs are essentially designed to be prebuilt wall and roof panels that can quickly be laid in place once homeowners receive their building kit. This design gives homeowners a variety of benefits including being able to quickly erect the structure, work on the structure on their own, transport the structure into remote locations and have a small environmental footprint. These panels are made from all natural materials as well meaning that no VOCs are used in the construction of the panels. No VOCs means no formaldehyde for example. which, This principle of course, translates into results when it comes to your indoor air quality.

These panels, the heart and sole of this building concept, have high R-values. As a result, homeowners will have reduced heating and cooling costs. The wall panels are a very respectable R28 and the ceiling panels are R42. But saving energy is only one the ways that these Solargon Structures tiny houses are green and environmentally friendly. They are designed with an eye toward passive solar heating and all the materials used in their construction are from natural materials that are also renewable.

There are some other benefits to a design like Solargon Structures, which might not be instantly obvious. Being able to build a home quickly means less overall expense, as families do not have to carry the cost of two homes simultaneously. This is one of the tiny extra benefits that can make building a tiny home really worthwhile in a variety of significant ways.

Small Homes

Small Homes Book Review

If you are seriously considering building a tiny home, there is a book that you must pick up. New Small Spaces edited by Francesc and published by Collins Design, is simply a gem. This book features forty-one great homes that are all less than 900 square feet. The homes in New Small Spaces are always elegant and are often mind-blowing. You will definitely be inspired to create your own tiny home after you see what some of the worlds best and brightest architects have done with their tiny space concepts.

Some of the spaces featured in the book are homes, while others are apartments. New Small Spaces starts out with the tiniest of small homes and works its way up. One of the outstanding smaller homes is the Shouldham Street Extension from Henning Stummel Architects in London. This tiny home may only be 161 feet, but it packs a lot of wow into that 161 number. The exterior of this tiny home is a lap wood ship siding that has been panted in various shades of gray with random Plexiglas strips placed throughout. The interior is just as creative, as the Shouldham Street Extension has walls that are gloss white. Perhaps most impressive of all is the way the interior and exterior interact to produce some very well framed shots that any photographer would love.

Ever so slightly bigger at 205 square feet, comes the Boxhome from Norway. The Boxhome was designed by architect Sami Rintala in 2007 and can be found (looking like some transplant from the future), in Oslo. This four room tiny home was designed with an eye towards energy efficiency, as well as creating a relaxing space. The outside of the Boxhome more closely resembles a work of modern art than it does a home. The polished metal exterior is broken up a highly asymmetrical plus sign shaped window pattern. The end result is just breathtaking.

Anyone seriously contemplating building their own tiny home, should really take a look at New Small Spaces. The Boxhome and Shouldham Street Extension are just two of the forty-one homes featured in the book. Most homes in the book are larger, and some homes are as large as 900 square feet.

New Small Spaces, quietly and elegantly, makes the point that brilliant design and innovative material usage can produce some truly amazing homes that can feel much more spacious and luxurious than their number of square feet would dictate.

Small Homes

Energy Efficient Homes Delivered in a Day

PowerHouse is a builder that is looking to make a real difference by building tiny homes that pull off a pretty neat little trick. A PowerHouse home arrives on the back of a single flatbed truck, and is set up in a single day.

Thats right at the end of the day the home is in place and running off solar energy to top it all off. PowerHouse wants to be a green builder, and to this end they have made they designs sustainable and very energy aware. The PowerHouse concept for the PowerPod is likely to capture the imagination of many, as this unique design has the added additional benefit of instant gratification. Homeowners can start living in their home the same day it arrives.

A big trend in tiny and green homes is for the homes to be off the grid. There is a definite move towards creating homes that are freed from the wide array of problems that are associated with being tethered to the power grid. The first thing that will strike many about the design of PowerHouses PowerPod is that the entire concept seems to be built around staying off the grid. There is a passive solar design that incorporates a solar butterfly roof and solar array. A high level of insulation has also been put into the PowerPod to make the most out of it’s solar roof panels. There are other energy sipping features built into the design as well. The PowerPod uses SIP design and R-28 walls, insulated water tanks, radiant floor heating and high efficiency lighting. PowerHouse believes that their mixture of technologies may enable homeowners to cut cost by up to 80%. The notion of reducing energy consumption by 80% is a very attractive one, especially when one considers the unpredictable nature of home heating and cooling prices.

Water usage has also been taken into consideration. There is also a rainwater collector built right into the roof as well. Composting commodes and grey water technology are additional possibilities which all contribute to making the PowerPod a tiny home that could be completely off the grid.

PowerHouses PowerPod is yet another good example of a homebuilder that is attempting to provide customers an easier and energy independent option. They are incorporating technologies and approaches that were overlooked just a few years ago, and in the process helping usher in a new era in homebuilding.

Small Homes

Big Companies Diving into Small Home Building

How serious is the building industry about tiny homes and going green? Well a giant corporation like Clayton homes is now involved in both building tiny homes and building green homes.

Tiny and green seem like they are both here to stay. You might not be familiar with Clayton Homes but they are gigantic, one of the Wal-Marts of housing construction. This massive company has built over 1.5 million homes since 1934 many of them mobile homes and modular homes. They have 12,000 employees, which they call team members, and have 35 different home building facilities. They also have a big hand in the financing of homes as well. So who owns Clayton Homes? A guy by the name of Warren Buffet. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

The i-House is the concept by Clayton Homes which mirrors much of what we have seen with tiny home and green home pioneers in recent years. The i-House uses solar panels, energy efficient windows compact fluorescent lighting and energy star appliances to cut down on energy cost. On the health front, the i-House uses bamboo floors and no V.O.C. paint, both a common fixture in the tiny house and green home movement. They have even incorporated water saving features such as a tankless water heater, low flow faucets and dual flush toilets. Additional water is saved via a rainwater catching system. Interesting.

They have several layouts of i-homes to choose from with catching names like Layout A, which is 723 square feet, Layout B, which is 991 square feet, and yes Layout C, also at 991 square feet. The homes have a very slick and modern look that will no doubt remind many small home fans of other tiny homes and green homes they have seen.

Having a giant corporation like Clayton get in the tiny home game could be a great thing for the planet. Clayton produces a lot of homes on an annual basis, and if they were to go green it would have a profound impact on the environment and the housing industry. Lets hope the ideas of the i-house are for real and not just pr, as this would be great for all involved.