Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Next Billionaires Will Be Green by Walt Barrett: The Micro Home Project by Walt Barrett

The Next Billionaires Will Be Green by Walt Barrett: The Micro Home Project by Walt Barrett

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.
Walt
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

Walt,

your questionnaire:

1. Would you ever consider owning a very low cost but very attractive Micro Home?
absolutely
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'
http://www.ehow.com/how_2292740_build-japanese-soaking-tub.html
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
Perfect!
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!
Sincerely,
Walt

Monday, July 28, 2008

Micro Home Report by Walt Barrett

Well we managed to get the floor joists for the loft installed and get the loft floor screwed down. All this was between the rain showers that we have been having. We hope to get the roof rafters laid out and installed in the next couple of days. We are having an incredible amount of rain lately!
Now if I was a farmer, with my luck, we'd be having a drought!
There will be more photos coming soon.
Thanks,
Walt

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Micro Home Progress Report by Walt Barrett

Due to a very heavy sales and shipping schedule combined with some extremely hot weather we have no progress to report on the Micro Home project. We do plan to get the loft and the roof rafters installed shortly. We will post photos ASAP.
Thanks,
Walt

Friday, July 18, 2008

Off the grid micro home progress report July 18 2008 by Walt Barrett

Three sizes of this home will be in assembly line production in New England by this fall. They will be available assembled, pre-cut, and in pre-fabricated panels. They also will be offered in flat roofs or peaked roofs with sleeping/storage lofts. They are designed to be totally off the power grid. Experiences of other micro home owners indicate that yearly energy costs (propane cooking gas) are About $200.00. Our units will include a solar power system and 120 volt inverter. The Bathroom space can be fitted or left empty. Credit will be given for fixtures not used. This is for people who have their own ideas and needs. Some people in Warmer climates use separate bathroom and toilet facilities. We intend to be very flexible with our interior design offerings. You can talk to us and we will listen! Our primary goal is to create jobs and low cost housing for Americans.
Progress Report:
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.
Stay tuned,
Walt

This is a very interesting blog if you are considering a Micro Home or green living. Please check it out.
http://rowdykittens.com
Thanks,
Walt

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Micro Home Progress Report July 15th 2008 by Walt Barrett























Well we found enough time between customers today to get 99% of the sheathing on the micro home. The next step is to lay out the roof rafters. I am dreading the job. Where are my carpenter friends when I need them?
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.
Thanks,
Walt

Micro Home Report

Yesterday we had time to install about a third of the exterior sheathing. We expect to finish today. I have pre-cut most of it already.
I will try to post the latest photos this afternoon.
Thanks,
Walt

Sunday, July 13, 2008

About building the off grid micro home by Walt Barrett














I have included some photos of our 1 kw wind turbine kit that can be used to provide additional power to our micro homes.
Please note that the Micro Home Blogs are a series, and in order to properly enjoy the posts you should scroll down to the first installment with the photos of the empty lot overlooking the lake.
Yesterday we erected the four wall frames and today we will start the sheathing install . I doubt we will finish today as we need some time off. We have been running the business and pounding nails between customer calls.
This unit will be totally off grid with solar as the energy source.
I would also like to add that I am somewhat disappointed and surprised with the low traffic numbers on this blog. I am really concerned that with the major energy problems, low cost housing shortages we are facing, and the fact that things are only going to get worse. We expected more interest. Please tell your friends about our blog!
Thanks and Happy Solaring!
Walt

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Erecting The Micro Home Walls by Walt Barrett











This morning we finally found the time to erect the four walls that we had built previously. It took us exactly an hour, but then we have never done it before. It took the most time to get every thing square and level. Because we built up against and also on some uneven terrain you may get the illusion that things are crooked or twisted. Believe me, they are not. You might also notice that before we assembled the wall that all of the studs were pre-drilled for wiring and all in the same place. We marked them and drilled them right off the chop saw. We think this will save us time during the wiring stages.
I have posted four photos. If anyone thinks we need any more structural bracing anywhere on the frames please to not hesitate to drop us a line. wbarrett1@aol.com The roof will be peaked with a sleeping loft. We welcome your suggestions.




Thanks,




Walt

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Micro Home Construction Update by Walt Barrett


Well yesterday it finally stopped raining and I built the third and probably the most complicated wall of the micro home. It will have two Anderson windows installed in it and I had to frame in the windows properly so as not to compromise the strength of the wall.
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.
Thanks,
Walt

Friday, July 04, 2008

Solar Micro Home project by Walt Barrett

This is an ongoing off the grid solar micro home construction project. See it below.
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.

http://classifieds.free2advertize.com/

http://thenextbillionaireswillbegreen.blogspot.com/




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The Micro Home As An Alternate Lifestyle by Walt Barrett

It is raining today so we will not be working on our demonstration model of an off grid micro home. I do not like wasting time so I have decided to make a few comments and express my views of the current mess we are in.
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
Thanks,
Walt

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Micro Home Project Work Day Six by Walt Barrett

Well yesterday and today so far we have managed to fabricate two of the side walls between the time spent in servicing our China Depot customers.


This stick built method is quite time consuming compared to what we plan to do on our proposed production line. Stick building gives us plenty of good ideas for the production line. We hope to be able to cut our time by a minimum of half. Hopefully we will be ready to put the roof on by Saturday. We are going with a sleeping loft on this tiny model. There will still be a place to sleep on the first floor too. We are trying to see just how far we can push the envelope on a sixty-four square foot first floor and about fifty square feet in the loft. This is our smallest model. Personally I would prefer 8' x 16' for two people.


I have included a photo of John and Dave holding up a wall that John and I built yesterday and this morning. We have now completed a second wall by noon.
If this size home seems impractical to you please consider the cost and also the fact that there a many people in our country including war veterans sleeping under bridges and in cardboard boxes. I don't know about you, but this sad fact bothers me a great deal!
Please tell your friends about our project and please stay tuned for more progress reports daily.
Thanks,
Walt