Small Homes

A Tiny House with a Remote Control

German pre-fabricated homes company, Hanse Haus, is now distributing a Rotor House. The Rotor House incorporates a bit of a carousel theme- and is certainly doing its part to make tiny houses fun.

This is an innovative tiny house that fits into a space of just approximately 1818 feet. The house is called the “rotor” house, because it actually has a turning rotor. You can use a remote and turn the house from your bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. So when you decide you want to see or visit one room or another, simply pick up the remote control. There is also a toilet and a small hallway that is separately designated from the spinable rooms. The colors of this house make it look quite space age, as it is circular and white, with calming muted colors in the interior rooms.

Luigi Colani, a designer who was born in Berlin, was the mastermind behind this tiny house. Colani is quite the Renaissance man as he is a sculptor, painter, flight engineer, and philosopher. Colani’s car designs, and furniture designs have garnered awards and prizes over the years. Currently, Luigi Colani is a professor in Shanghai.

Hanse Haus has been building pre-fab homes for 80 years. According to their website, the are “leaders in the field of energy-efficient house-building using the highest quality craftsmanship.” The Rotor House is energy-efficient and definitely quite the ingenious way to maximize inner space potential within a tiny house framework.

Small Homes

Eco-friendly Shipping Container Homes

There are a lot of architects and builders that are beginning to wake up to the idea of using cargo containers for building. There are a lot of reasons that this ideas time has come. I thought I would take a moment and outline why I like cargo container construction. Sure, I don’t exactly feel girly discussing this topic, but the more I learn about cargo container construction, the more I like it!

First, due to the current economic slowdown, there are a lot of cargo containers piling up. By a lot, we are talking about tens of thousands of them just sitting at docks all across the world. A very large percentage of them are in Asian ports. It may now be possible to get a better deal than ever on a cargo container.

In terms of prices, cargo containers can be found as cheaply as $1,000, or may cost as much as $6,000 or more. Using a cargo container that has already been manufactured and is currently on a dock somewhere getting rusty, seems like a great eco-friendly idea.

The second reason to consider building with cargo containers is that they are very strong and durable. After all, these containers are designed to be stacked on top of one another, while full of goods. This fact speaks volumes about the strength of these containers.

Shipping container homes

This durability translates into other benefits as well. Insects, vermin and mold have a tough time with steel. There are few insects that find steel worth the time. Therefore, if you live in a termite populated area, your termite problem is basically solved.

Safety is another major point in favor of using cargo containers. Due to the material from which they are constructed, cargo containers are going to be very safe. Since the cargo container is built out of steel, it gives a homeowner an additional layer of physical safety from storms (and potentially intrusions as well). Replacing wood and brick with metal also makes container homes resistant to fire.

Transportation is a big plus in favor of cargo container construction. The largest piece of your housing puzzle can be delivered on a truck directly to your housing site. This compares nicely to having to bring out every single piece of wood and brick that you will use for your project.

If building with cargo containers sounds like something you might be interested in doing, we recommend that you find an architect that has already tackled a project in your area. Every year more and more architects are taking the plunge, and building with this strong yet flexible building option.

Small Homes

A Personal Follow Up

Just in case you’ve missed the references in the past, Jenkins is my one-year-old, bat-eared, Balinese cat. Hes quite spoiled and he has all the survival instincts of a developmentally-challenged lemming. Hes also quite the character, as my friends in Tucson and Albuquerque can attest to.

The beginning of the adventure was when I discovered that the ticket to stuff Jenkins under the seat in front of me costs $15 more than my own. My friend pointed out after-the-fact that I should have just bought Jenkins his own seat. (Which, in fact, he ended up having anyway because the plane was so empty. We had a whole aisle to our self.) I have no idea why an airline feels compelled to charge $115 for the right to stuff a cat under a seat. I cant imagine they have much additional costs involved with having a cat there rather than a purse. Admittedly, they do have to track how many on-board pets they have so that they don’t inadvertently set one of their allergic passengers into an asthmatic fit. However, I suspect the pricing is a lot more about lets-take-advantage-of-a-captive-market situation.

Anyway, the next step in the adventure was getting Jenkins into his carrier the morning of the flight. James recently had to drop Jenkins off at the vet to get his teeth cleaned and the process took him 45 minutes. It was not at all pretty. (Believe me, I heard about it from both the boyfriend and the cat after the fact.)

So, needless to say, James was dumbstruck when I simply scooped up Jenkins, dropped him in the carrier, and smoothly zipped the thing up on the first try. I, of course, attributed this feat to my remarkable rapport with animals. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jenkins is less awake at 4 AM than most caffeine-dependent humans I know.

You better believe he woke up in a hurry after that, however. In his world, little black cat carrier = nothing hes going to like as a next stop. By the time I was ready to load the carrier into the car, it was busy bouncing around the living room as though I had the Tasmanian Devil packed inside, and the wails of dismay issuing from the carrier were fluctuating over a three octave range. I swear I could have opened the windows on my car and been mistaken for an emergency vehicle we were so loud.

Jenkins finally settled down about the point I reached the airport.

Checking him in was uneventful and even a little amusing when they issued him his own little kitty boarding pass. The security line was another story entirely.

I just want to go on record and say that whatever nimrod at Homeland Security who wrote the requirement that all pets now have to go through the metal detector with their owners has never had to stuff a hysterical seven-pound cat back into a carrier when they are quite clear about the fact that they didn’t want to be there in the first place.

I normally try to wear comfortable clothes when I fly. Based on my experiences this week, I don’t recommend this approach for anyone traveling with a cat.

Tuesday morning I was wearing a pair of yoga pants, a white tank top, and a hoodie. Never mind that I’ve been allowed through the metal detector wearing the same hoodie on multiple occasions before. This time I was asked to take it off. Because, God knows, on top of my Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction cat, I might have explosives or some such nonsense in the zipper of my hoodie.

Long story short, I normally only wear white tank tops under another piece of clothes in lieu of a bra, so I was showing a lot more skin in the security line than I felt comfortable. And then I had to pull Jenkins from his carrier. Jenkins clung to me for dear life as we went through the metal detector together. So there I was trying to cradle my cat to me with one hand and keep my tank top from being yanked down to my bellybutton with the other. I was only about half successful on both accounts.

Things only got worse on the other side, when it came to trying to get Jenkins back into his carrier. He was hanging on to my shirt for dear life and I just about lost my top entirely trying to peel him off my body, much to the amusement of the security guardsnone of whom were willing to offer any sort of assistance.

Ill be eternally grateful to the Texan businessman in the line behind me who helped me save what little was left of my modesty by helping me disentangle Jenkins from my shirt and get him back into his carrier. He kindly explained to me he had a cat back home he really missed but whom he suspected would be even less accommodating to flying than my little treasure. (Ladies, anyone who doesn’t think knights in shining armor can show up in Stetsons has never met this guy.)

Thankfully, the rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. Jenkins eventually reached the conclusion that things inside his carrier were far less scary that things happening outside. And by the second flight he’d recovered enough of his equilibrium that he worked his usually charm on the stewardesses. They actually offered to bring him his own beer when they caught me letting him sneak sips off mine and, at the end of the flight they awarded him plastic wings.

Suffice to say, by the time Jenkins and I reached my place, all either of us wanted to do was take a long nap which probably helped ease the transition somewhat to the floating home.

Small Homes

A New Minihome on the Block

Sustain, out of Canada, is really onto something with their innovative approach to tiny homes. In fact, the overall end result of their work can safely be called breakthrough.

The miniHOME by Sustain is a series of different home concepts that really pack a lot of punch into a small space. The concept behind their homes is that each model can stand up to extreme climates. This is part of the reason that the miniHOMEs all have high r-values, meaning that the homes will make the most out of their heating and cooling dollars. With those heating and cooling dollars in mind, Sustain has designed their miniHOMEs with an eye toward being off the grid. They have incorporated high-efficiency light fixtures and appliances. Their goal is to make their miniHOMEs energy efficient enough that they can easily be run off wind and solar.

Following this environmentally aware theme, Sustain has taken some substantial effort into making sure that they use healthy materials for all their construction materials. These materials have an eye toward virtually eliminating indoor air pollution, as well as being highly durable and easy to maintain. The materials employed have been used in a very stylish and hip fashion that, like all great tiny house designs, makes the space feel much larger.

The SOLO SE model incorporates all aspects of Sustains mission to build environmentally friendly, healthy homes that can be transported easily across North America. This 350 square foot home uses one-tenth the water, and a truly remarkable one percent of the energy of a traditional home. This makes the SOLO SE something of a superstar. A home that uses one percent of the energy of a traditional home is nothing less than extraordinary. Sustain has lived up to their company name.

With the SOLO SE and the rest of its homes, Sustain has accomplished something that is rather impressive. Reducing the energy cost of the SOLO SE down to one percent of a traditional home is a breakthrough, and hopefully hearkens to what is in store for the entire building industry.

Small Homes Sustainable

New Types of Building Materials

Many tiny home builders often consider a variety of materials that are not commonly used in todays cookie cutter homes. One material that you are likely to have never heard of is Papercrete.

Papercrete is a combination of what seems like some pretty unlikely elements. Recycled paper, cement, water and sand are combined to create a material that is surprisingly strong and extremely cheap. Most environmentalists like Papercrete because it uses recycled paper and sand. However, some also dislike the fact that the material also uses concrete. Concrete is sometimes frowned upon as traditional concrete is not a very green building material. That stated, however, the amount of concrete used in Papercrete is far less than in a completely concrete home. The controversy does not end paper there. Many feel that Papercrete, while an interesting concept, is just not a viable building material.

There are a few developments that might be of interest where the future of the material is concerned. Econovate is a company that sees all the millions of tons of paper waste as a real building opportunity. They point to some interesting facts; such as that fifty percent of all paper waste in the UK is actually sent to China for recycling. This process, of course, creates CO2 due to the transport of the paper waste. Econovate feels that if there was a way of dealing with all this paper waste around the world that a major reduction in pollution could occur. Their concept for how to deal with the issue is a pretty brilliant one. The Econovate plan could address both pollution and the global housing shortage.

Papercrete Wall Panels and Papercrete Blocks are two of the ideas that Econovate is currently excited about. Their concept is to actually create wall panel sections and building blocks using Papercrete. The hope is that this very environmentally friendly project would be ready by 2011. The research and development is currently being done in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, and has numerous heavy weights helping with the funding.

What is most exciting about Papercrete is that some bright people decided not to give up on this potentially exciting material. Papercrete is cheap, comparatively eco-friendly, and could help reduce CO2 emissions considerably. If Econovate and the University of Cambridge are successful, tiny homebuilders might have a very cheap new building material very soon.

Small Homes

Inexpensive Small Home Options

If you are looking for an easy to construct and very inexpensive small home, you will want to take a look at the U-Dome from World Shelters. World Shelters specializes in producing low-cost temporary housing for humanitarian needs. But tiny homes, such as the U-Dome, might be what some tiny home enthusiasts need as well.

The futuristic dome shape is UV resistant, fire retardant, uses shingled construction and is easy to assemble. This 200 square foot tiny house is one of the cheapest options available at merely $2,500.

There are some limitations to the design, but for price tag this can only be expected. The U-Dome is made from white semi-translucent panels, which will last three to five years before UV-degradation begin to damage the material. This will eventually lead to cracks and other damage. World Shelters is fairly certain that if the material is painted it might last for up to ten years. So, the U-Dome isn’t designed to be truly permanent, but at $2,500 dollars each that isn’t too much of an issue.

The bathroom and showing facility is a separate attachment called the Shower Dome, and they recommend a Zodi brand shower unit that produces one gallon per minute. One gallon per minute could seem like roughing it to many, but you would definitely save on the water bill.

Other considerations are mostly environmental as well. In terms of being able to handle the environment in other ways it turns out that the U-Dome is insulated, can handle winds up to 65 mph and is designed in such a way that it is difficult for snow to accumulate.

The U-Dome may seem a bit to bare bones for some, but the price is amazing and the U-Dome could very well make a great cabin. The concept has merit and the price point definitely grabs ones attention. If you are looking for a very inexpensive housing option, then it’s going to be tough to beat the U-Dome.

Small Homes

Utilizing Tough Materials for Homebuilding

Logical Homes takes an approach that is not surprisingly, rather logical. They are designing homes of various sizes, and clearly one of their goals is to be different.

Logical Homes decided that the way homes are being built just doesn’t make much sense. Homes have been built basically the same way for decades. The designs at Logical Homes are very much in keeping with the age in which we live. For example, these homes incorporate recycled and re-purposed materials.

While Logical Homes builds homes of all sizes, they have two designs that roughly fall into the tiny home category. One is the Aegean 640, a one bedroom and one bathroom house that comes in at 640 square feet. The look of the home is really striking with a large overhanging porch that has a built in skylight to accommodate a tall tree or two. This single story house cost $270,000, which breaks down to about $156 per square foot.

The Aegean 896,a slightly larger version of the Aegean 640, costs $298,000, (which breaks down to $172 per square foot.) The main difference with the Aegean 896 is that it has a second bedroom. Logical Homes has three basic different designs, the Aegean, the Catalan and the Seto. The size of homes varies tremendously. The largest model, the Seto comes in at a very spacious 3,580, with five bedrooms, three and half baths, and with a cost of $620,000.

What makes Logical Homes a real interesting contender in the tiny home market is their choice of materials and approach. They primarily use converted steel cargo containers, which have a wide variety of benefits for would be homeowners. The steel frame of cargo container is largely immune to terrible things like mold, rot, termites and pests. If you really hate bugs, a modular home made out of steel may be a good fit as bugs, generally don’t eat metal. Because you are replacing brick and wood with metal (in this case steel), Cargo containers also exceed most residential building codes.

Right now Logical Homes are serving California, Nevada and Arizona. But with a concept this strong, don’t be surprised to see a rapid expansion.

Small Homes

Rounded Loftcube – Unique Design

What defines cool? Oh isn’t that always a hard one. Its the sort of term that is difficult to pin down, and the answer often varies from person to person, and culture to culture. However, one thing is pretty clear- most people would consider the Loftcube to be pretty darn cool.

The Loftcube concept comes to us from Berlin. The idea is to take a start using all the free space available on the top of large buildings for the modular home idea that is the Loftcube. The Loftcube comes in at 420 square feet and has about 8 feet of ceiling space. But what makes Loftcube so cool are its looks. Since the Loftcube sits on four legs, it is elevated a few inches off the ground. Also it has a custom interior.

The Loftcube, with its sleek rounded, curved walls and tall, nearly floor to ceiling windows, is a design which is very appealing to the eye. This more resembles a work of art from a museum (or a movie set prop from a late 1960s science fiction concept) than it does a modular home. And thats what makes it cool.

The design team has done a fine job showing the world how they built their concept. They have several videos online that walk visitors through the process in detail. This nice touch helps make the entire process more accessible.

One of the first things visitors to the website will notice is how fantastic the interiors of the Loftcube can be. In many tiny homes the interior space is often an afterthought, but not with the very modern and stylish Loftcube. In this regard the Loftcube really excels.

In fact, one would be very hard pressed to find a more impressive utilization of 420 square feet in a tiny home. The sheer coolness of this tiny homes interior will likely make most feel as though they are actually in a larger home. Now, that is great design. Designer Werner Aisslinger and the Loftcube team have created something with the Loftcube that will certainly change peoples minds regarding tiny homes and modular design.

Small Homes

Easy Domes for Easy Living

The world of small homes is exciting, in part, because there is so much variety. Homeowners are given so many potential choices. With tiny homes it really is possible for people to find a home that fits their specific needs very well. Take for example, the concepts put forth by the people at Easy Domes, built on The Faroe Islands in Denmark.

Easy Domes have a shape that many would find unique. The homes are based on the Icosahedron polyhedra which sounds a lot like an obscure dinosaur, but is really just a type of geometric shape. Think hexagon. What really makes these tiny homes so interesting is that all the sections are pre-made and can be assembled quickly and easily. Assembly is done with good old-fashioned nuts and easydomes..bolts. Yet, the final product certainly doesn’t look old fashioned. Even the transport is done via a container and there is no need for a crane.

Easy Domes have done a very nice job explaining the materials used and the process on their website. They have three options on their site ranging from The Tuft, which is a designed to be a spare time cottage, to the Duo-Domes, which are designed to be homes large enough for a small family. It is possible to link several of the easy homes together to form even larger structures. In fact, there is no theoretical limit to how many could be attached together!

The design and ease of construction are what make these domes so interesting. This design seems to be very flexible as no special skills are needed for assembly, nor are any special tools. Apparently, the Easy Domes can be built on just about any surface. (The website doesn’t list water or lava, but we can probably cut them some slack on that one.)

Because of their design, Easy Domes states that their creations can handle extreme storm winds, earthquakes and even be covered with earth. The shape of domes, in general, is known to be extremely strong and does stand up much better to intense weather. For example, domes can stand up to such things as hurricane winds far better than our traditional peak style homes we are all so familiar with.

The easy dome concept has a tremendous amount going for it. They are highly energy efficient, have a very novel and interesting look, can be assembled by average people and require no special tools to do so. The Tuft is a tiny prefabricated option that is really worth a look for those seeking a tiny home. (If you are really curious, you can even rent one near the village of Kvivik in the Faroe Islands right now!)

Small Homes

Small Homes for Senior Citizens

Upon occasion we come across a concept that truly incorporates a bit of genius. Angel Wing Cottage the rather clever idea . Based in Monroe, North Carolina, Wing Cottages are developing a senior citizen alternative living community centered on energy effective tiny homes. If you are over fifty-five, this should definitely be something to consider.

The Angel Wing Cottages have three cottages to choose from. Cottage One is 544 square feet and has a pleasant design. What really makes these cottages from Angel Wing Cottages so interesting is cottage their hidden little secret. Angel Wing Cottages are built to be tough. How tough? They have been designed to handle winds of up to 140 miles per hour. This tough design meshes into the overall design philosophy well. Angel Wing Cottages are designed to be long lasting and require low-maintenance. One can see how this idea would be attractive to seniors.

Other aspects of the Angel Wing Cottage concept will no doubt also appeal to seniors, such as the fact that the cottages are built on site, are Energy Star certified and are meant to be affordable. Numerous other aspects of the concept make the Angel Wing Cottage concept even more interesting. Part of the plan is to have fresh vegetables grown in the community, and shared community hybrid rental vehicles as well.

It is definitely refreshing to see a concept that improves the health of residents built into the concept from the ground up. Fresh vegetables have been proven to be more nutritious than vegetables than have been grown hundreds or even thousands of miles away and picked days earlier. Hybrid vehicles should also provide for cleaner community air. This holistic approach to living and the environment should be applauded.

One of the key elements of the Angel Wing Cottage concept is that this is a community of seniors. It would be easy to just focus on the tiny home aspect of the project, but part of what makes it so very interesting is that the Angel Wing Cottage concept is a community of tiny homes for seniors. That core concept is just brilliant.