Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Micro Home Project by Walt Barrett

Good Morning!
We have received several comments for moderation this morning and I have published them, but they have not shown up on the site as yet. I don't know why.
If you see a problem or have a question please be more specific. Someone referred to a broken link for example but did no paste in the link, so I can't fix it. There are many links on this blog and I don't have time to go looking for broken ones. We will also answer specific questions about alternate energy problems etc. if you send them. There was one comment this morning on the subject but it was not specific so I don't know how to answer it.
As far as the micro home goes, we are ready to wrap the exterior with Tyvek moisture proofing and install the windows and doors.
The ceiling rafters and loft are finished and temporarily covered with tarps because of the heavy rain we have been experiencing. I'll never build another building out doors! It's the assembly line for me from now on!
We had a problem with the 45 degree roof rafters but have laid them out on a flat surface and screwed together a mock up. We had a problem calculating the cuts for the birds mouth notched. It is of minor consequence in the overall scheme of things. We have taken almost zero waste of the lumber and are finding uses for every piece of scrap. We also build a lot of shipping crates and large pallets here too so we have learned how to utilize every piece of scrap. There is virtually nothing left even for kindling wood. We will photograph the building again after it is wrapped and again after the window and door installation. We are expecting more rain so please be patient. We lost two days building electric scooter shipping crates and packing them. The business has to come first.
We received a reply to our micro home questionnaire about living in a micro home today. I'm sure the sender won't mind if I leave his name out and publish it along with my specific comments to his original answers. It should be very helpful to all of you.
Here it is.
I have removed any brand names from his reply as it is not our intention to knock anyone on this blog, or even imply that we are knocking them. Our readers are fully aware of high prices for plans or buildings when they see them. That's what the Internet is for! Let the people with the big money spend thew big money if they wish. We are here to help people whom cannot afford to spend big bucks. It's not about the money with us.
My responses are in red.
Good Morning Again____________:
I have commented below in the body of your letter, but first I would like to emphasize that these companies are charging way too much money for plans to build a very simple tiny home. The materials to build an 8 x 8 micro are under $2000.00 including the Andersen windows and door that we purchased. I am not a builder and neither is my son John, yet we have done extremely well in just a few working days that we have managed to squeeze in between bad weather and our many tractors and generator shipments that we have to make weekly. We bought a book for About $15.00 and made our design from it. Also, there are plenty of books in the library, We have a friend that is supposed to draw up plans for an 8 x 16 , and if he does, we will send you a free copy, but they are really not necessary. There are plenty of free plans around. Try Home Depot or Lowe's. They give out a lot of plans.
The biggest problem we have here is that land is very expensive.

We can buy 40' containers here for less than $2000.00, but I think there is too much work involved to make them livable in a cold climate. Also if I were building stick by stick on site I would change the size to 12 x 20 or 24 feet because you don't have to move it over the road.
I would also start to gather up surplus materials as soon as I had land to store them on. You can save a ton of money by recycling. A lot of great stuff is being dumped off of the big construction sites.
I was raised in a tiny home and it never killed me! See my blog "From Oil Lamps To The Internet."
See comments below


your questionnaire:

1. Would you ever consider owning a very low cost but very attractive Micro Home?
Good thinking!
2.With some Micro Homes on the market starting at the extremely small size of 64 square feet plus a sleeping or storage loft of 50 square feet.What is the smallest number of square feet you would consider living in? 64 square feet = 8 feet X 8 feet difficult to answer, probably 100-200 ft.
200 square feet is very affordable if you build it yourself.
3. Can you live without a home laundry if necessary due to space considerations?laundry facilities are a must for me. I prefer a small stacking system
Very doable with stacked units. We have them full size from Sears in our home.
4. Can you live with just a shower and no tub?while a tub would not be necessary for me, I would think a tub would be more water/energy efficient. A small 'stand up style tub would be fine, as I don't need to lay down in it.
You could consider a Japanese style soaking tub that you could actually build. Full baths take at least 5' x 5'
5. Would you consider using a 100% odor free composting toilet?
There are free plans on line for these too. Building one will save over $1000.00, and a lot of water!

I would like to see more info on this. Especially the process of emptying it.
6. Would you use a space saving sleeping loft with windows at either end for ventilation and safety, or do you need extra space for a bed on the main floor? (Lofts not recommended for seniors.)for me a loft would be fine as long as I could sit up in it without striking my head on the ceiling.
DIY construction is so much less expensive that you could afford any ceiling height you want, of even a full second story. You get double the space without changing the size of the foundation footprint. This saves a ton of money.
7. Can you find a space to place this micro home if you wanted one?at the moment, I am looking into a land purchase. Still looking for suitable land.
Land is our number one problem here. It is too expensive!
8.Do you need a full foundation or just concrete blocks to set the unit on?I would prefer a foundation and/or basement for storage. No heat necessary.
A full basement is great if you can afford it. Ours is very cool in the summer time and 55 F in the winter with no heat.
9. Do you think the micro home is a good idea for low income and retired people, or just plain stupid?I think its the best idea I've seen in years!
We are very pleased that you feel that way, and you are going to save a lot of money in the long run. Fuel is now a major expense and Micro's are very cheap to heat. You can also install a couple of hundred watts of solar and if you use it judiciously you can be off the grid, and off the grid land is much cheaper to buy.
10. How many people would occupy your micro home if you had one?1-2 max
11. If the models varied in size from 8 x 8, 8 x 10, 8 x 12, 8 x 14, 8 x 16, or 8 x 20' is there a size that you would prefer realizing that the 8' x 20' is most likely to be nearly triple the cost of that 8 x 8' model, and the energy bills would also be higher?
I would consider an 8 x 20
Good thought, but if site built I would go 12 x 20.
12. Other comments I have been researching small disappointingly expensive. (I have removed the brand names here. Walt).
homes for some time online. Most designs, while interesting are furthermore, for energy savings, I even looked at Domes
(Brand name removed. Walt) for a small energy efficient dome. Problem with (removed, Walt), is that it is an unusual construction, and would require specialized building techniques.
I also looked at containers,
also expensive to buy, and build it myself is still expensive. The containers here are $5000+ each.
You have to do what is right for you. That container price seems very high. We were offered around $2000.00 at last check. The least expensive is obviously a DIY using free plans and recycled materials as much as possible. Make sure to use six inch walls and lots of insulation though. Do not skim on the quality of the windows and doors either. You don't want to waste fuel. On the other side, make sure you have enough air changes per day, or the place will turn into a smelly swamp! Go with the full basement and pack all of the utilities into one corner to gain usable space.
I am not a wealthy man. I have no official trade; more like a 'jack of all trades'. I am adequate with power, hand and air tools.
I am looking to buy/build a place for myself, and a bit of storage(hence the basement/foundation. I believe that there is a second depression coming in our near future, and want to prepare for it
I agree with your thinking and there are millions of people like you out there. If you don't start to prepare for your own future, no one in government, or anyone else is going to do it for you.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this blog. REALLY appreciate it! :)
Thanks, we want to help as many people as we can. WE LIKE TO HEAR FROM THEM. We feel the future can be scary if people don't start to prepare for it now. The fuel situation is not looking good. Even if prices come down again temporarily we should not be fooled. These are marketing tactics by the energy companies. People should start to consider living as much off the grid as possible. It is not always possible to go 100%. People should also consider revamping larger city dwellings into "Micro Apartments" of about 100 to 200 square feet. We have studied many of these units in Tokyo. There are thousands of Micro's in Japan and throughout Asia. There are also many older tiny homes in Europe.
Good luck with your project and we will help you in any way we can. Just send us your questions. Our assistance is free. It's not about the money with us!

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