Thursday, July 31, 2008
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
1. Would you ever consider owning a very low cost but very attractive Micro Home?
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!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Now if I was a farmer, with my luck, we'd be having a drought!
There will be more photos coming soon.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
We finally got all of the sheathing screwed on yesterday and we cut the ceiling joists to length and angled the ends so that they will match the 45 degree angle of the roof rafters. We hope to have time over the next couple of days between customers etc. to cut the roof rafters and start the installation of them. We would like to get the roof on ASAP and seal it up.
We will install the ceiling joists and sleeping loft today including framing off the entrance hatch opening. Personally I would use the loft for clothing storage etc, and sleep on the first level.
Most of the studs have already been pre-drilled for the wiring. We did it on a mini assembly line we set up to cut the studs to length. We will wire for 120 volts and will use a solar inverter along with LED lighting. We have located a 30" new shower stall that will be installed in the mini bathroom.
Things are moving along as well as can be expected with all the other work we have to do daily in our sales department.
Another point I would like to mention is that we have an associate that is doing an excellent job on the building plans.
We hope to have new photos to post by tomorrow.
This is a very interesting blog if you are considering a Micro Home or green living. Please check it out.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I'm telling you one thing, this is the last building I will ever do stick built!
We could have dome it all in three days on an assembly line easily. It's so hard to keep everything square and get the proper fits. At least for me anyway. At 75 I'm not exactly Mr. Super Carpenter. I never did it for a living. My gig is designing and selling things. I have been a production line guy all my life, Working with metal, and it's the only way to go! Anyway, I am posting the photos for better or for worse.
We welcome your comments.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I have included some photos of our 1 kw wind turbine kit that can be used to provide additional power to our micro homes.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Today I will build the final wall with the front door and window openings in it. I will try to get some photos posted this afternoon. I'm looking forward to the next step when we erect the four walls and start on the floor of the loft space.
We have located some space in an abandoned textile mill nearby so that if we do decide to go into production with this tiny home and some larger models we will be able to jump right into production. It certainly will be a lot easier than stick building! These tiny homes will employ a solar electric system, passive solar heating, and solar hot water heating and shower. Toilets will be of the composting type unless otherwise specified. Various options and sizes will be offered. The model we are currently building is for a maximum of two people.
Personally, I see these tiny micro homes as a housing solution for people whom would normally never get a shot at owning their own home, or who may be homeless currently. I like the idea that they provide most of their own green energy. I have noticed that several cities on the west coast have changed their zoning to allow these micro homes to be built in the back yards of existing homes in order to help alleviate the existing low income housing shortages. Several people have commented to me that they could not possibly live in a home that small, and my response has been "That's because you are currently not living in a cardboard box, or sleeping in a shelter, or under a bridge!" That could make a difference in your thinking! We are trying to make them attractive looking, because many we have seen are just plain ugly boxes.
Please stay tuned and please tell your friends about our project. We will be seeking dealers as soon as we get a handle on all of the costs. We expect to have the lowest prices in the country. With us, it's not about the money! We need to provide jobs and housing in our area.
Friday, July 04, 2008
There is a 75 year old micro home in the background (lower photos) on the left that was built by my grandfather. They just called them cabins then. it is where he retired on very little money. He lived there until he died in 1948. I used to spend a lot of time there in the thirties and forties. It had oil lamps and outdoor plumbing. We used to play cards and checkers by the lamp light. Those were better times! We plan to renovate it completely. It is 12' x 20' and we plan to put it to good use in the near future. It needs a total rehab now! It's full of antiques.
This morning when I turned on the news I heard that our local electric utility that our government allowed a foreign company to purchase has requested a twenty-one percent rate increase. At age seventy-five I have long since lost my idealistic beliefs in the honesty of our politicians on every level. We have been sold out! Many people that I speak with in my daily process of doing business feel betrayed and trapped by a system that has definitely spun out of control. They feel powerless to do anything to correct the problem because the politicians in both political parties appear to be corrupt, bought and paid for, or just plain stupid. It is obvious that any system allowing campaign donations is just a legal form of bribery that allows the big money guys to hold our congress and us all captive. We should make them stop!
Having said all that, I believe that one of the best ways that we can beat this situation where we are all slaves to the large energy companies is to keep finding ways to use as little fuel and electricity as possible. You don’t need to have a lot of money to accomplish this. As a matter of fact you can save money by fighting back. Every time a light bulb blows out simply replace it with an energy saving bulb that uses a fraction of the watts (power), and if you shop carefully you can find them at the large box stores on bargain specials. Of course, you can save the most money by simply turning all unnecessary lights and appliances off. Many appliances are now power on all the time type which is very wasteful. There are power strips available that you can plug several items into and then shut them all off at once. I am now always shutting off or putting my computer on sleep mode when not using it. Mostly I shut it off.
One of the biggest wastes of fuel I have ever seen is that many of the people I know seem to look for reasons to hop in the car and run to the store etc. with no planning, rhyme, or reason. It is a known fact that the fuel business is a supply and demand business and even a ten percent drop in fuel usage would affect the prices.
I have oil hot water heat in my home and I found that my service man had the water temperature cranked up to 200 degrees F. Wintertime water temp is usually 180 degrees F. I have also turned the temp down to 125 degrees for the summer because the only reason the boiler is running for is to make hot water. It is saving a great deal of oil but running the boiler in the summer is very wasteful. We cannot have a solar hot water heater because we are on a heavily treed north slope. Our entire lot is shaded by our neighbor’s trees and he is not about to cut them down. I can’t say that I blame him and I would not even ask!
I’m seriously considering building a new all solar off the grid micro home elsewhere for myself. Our town is so poorly managed, or should I say mismanaged that we are being literally taxed out of existence. Any normal retiree can no longer afford to live in the town. If we ran our businesses the way they run this town we would be broke in a month!
Elderly people are leaving the town in droves to move into the elderly housing (brick prison cells) in the nearby cities.
All of the above is the reason that we have embarked on this off the grid micro home project. If we receive enough positive response, we will set up an assembly line to mass-produce them. It is definitely an alternate life style. Personally, I was raised in a micro sized home with no utilities for many years until we got power and indoor plumbing. Power and plumbing are no longer a problem. We have been involved in solar for over thirty-five years, and on a micro sized basis it’s relatively cheap. We have a person in Utah (link on our blog) that is spending only $200.00 a year to heat and power his micro home. Unless you are really quite well of you should seriously consider downsizing. My own particular daydream is to have a micro home in a rural low tax town in Maine for the summer and another one in a warm climate for the winter. We could actually move the solar electric modules back and forth if we wanted to go to the bother. Thanks to the Internet, we can run our business anywhere, as will many of you. With a micro home you can just kick back and live more easily on your pension. We know it’s not for everyone, but for many, there may not be any choice. It’s a good thing to think about anyway. It’s never too soon to plan for your future. If you don’t, who will?
Please take our survey in the previous Blog below, and also please comment back to us. We need your inputs
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
We think that the Micro Homes that are currently on the market are greatly over priced. We are fully prepared to start mass producing off the grid solar micro homes if we see enough interest in the market place. If you have an opinion or comment we are interested. We have a list of concerns to comment on below. Our prices will start below $10,000.00
We are a New England based corporation currently building a prototype model of a micro home. Our unit is designed to be totally off the power grid with the electricity and hot water to be supplied by solar energy with a tiny propane or wood backup if necessary. These homes are much lower in cost, and the energy bills are a fraction of full size conventional homes. Energy costs by current micro home dwellers are reported to be as low as $200.00 a year. Some of our models sell for under $10,000.00, less than a new automobile. You must provide your own lot and fresh water supply. We view them as excellent for singles or couples, and retirees who may reside up north in the summer and down south or the desert for the winter. They are a very economical way to live if you can appreciate the life style. We also view these homes as possibly the only alternative for many people to ever own a home in this hostile economy, and seniors whom can no longer pay the ridiculous property taxes in most cities and towns.
If you are interest in this life style you could help us by answering just a few short questions.
1.Would you ever consider owning a very low cost but very attractive Micro Home?
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
3. Can you live without a home laundry if necessary due to space considerations?
4. Can you live with just a shower and no tub?
5. Would you consider using a 100% odor free composting toilet?
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.)
7. Can you find a space to place this micro home if you wanted one?
8.Do you need a full foundation or just concrete blocks to set the unit on?
9. Do you think the micro home is a good idea for low income and retired people, or just plain stupid?
10. How many people would occupy your micro home if you had one?
11. If the models varied in size from 8 x 8, 8 x 10, 8 x 12, 8 x 14, 8 x 16, or 8x20’ 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 x8’ model, and the energy bills would also be higher?
12 Other comments
We will be happy to answer any questions pertaining to these homes
Walt Barrett President
A to Z global marketing Inc