Monday, April 18, 2011

A Plan For the Micro Home - Micro Apartment Industry and The Struggling Cities by Walt Barrett

Dear Mr. Mayor,   
   This is a very flexible framework of an idea to help the cities and the citizens. There is a growing movement in the world today towards building and living in smaller homes which are often referred to as micro homes, or micro apartments.  The idea being that smaller homes are less expensive to build, to heat, and to cool.  Smaller homes also require less space which is an ideal situation for any crowded city with a housing problem.  Micro homes are very green in design and take a lot less material and labor which keeps the prices down and enables people who may never have had the opportunity to purchase their own home, or to rent a decent home to do so.  
Now if you take into consideration that most cities need tax revenue, and that we have such a high rate of unemployment, I think that my suggestion has merit and everyone concerned should give it careful thought.
   Basically I am suggesting that the cities and towns that are experiencing revenue and housing problems amend their zoning laws and building codes just enough to allow the judicious building of these micro homes and micro apartments.  For example if there is a home located on a decent size lot, and the home owner wishes to invest in a rental unit to be placed in the rear of the building, and if there is room for a proper parking space etc. then he, or she should be allowed to file for a permit.  Let's take a large three family dwelling that needs rehabbing for example. The investor who purchases it should be able to either gut it, or tear it down, and turn the property into perhaps as many as twelve micro apartments.  This part of my plan is not rocket science and should be doable with some minor zoning changes.
   Now, the second part of my plan is that through building an experimental model, our company has realized that these smaller homes (128 sq ft to 800 sq ft)  are highly mass producible and simple to build either in kit form or in certain sizes fully assembled and delivered to the site.  It is also interesting to note that many people are  powering these homes  either fully, or partially off the power grid with solar and small wind power. We also find this inexpensive if you stick mostly to lighting systems and hot water. Being one hundred percent off the power grid is still pricey, but partial systems still save money, and there may be tax credits available. Here is where we create the jobs. I suggest that in a city like Providence RI for example, where there appear to be many abandoned factories and other buildings, that they take one of those buildings in a partnership with private industry and set up an assembly plant to produce these homes and prefabbed apartment walls sections etc.  A precondition of such an agreement could be that the workers would be hired and trained only if they were residents of the city of Providence only if it is legal.  A program like this would add additional tax revenue to the city, and it would also provide some decent jobs.  Also all of the building materials would be purchased locally as part of the agreement.  The cost of the homes should be limited to approximately one hundred dollars a square foot or adjusted as necessary to local conditions. Another idea is to have local businesses that would benefit to the program could contribute in some way to the program either financially or by providing free training in various skills.  My own personal philosophy in business is that there does not always have to be a huge profit in every business deal. There are times when we all have to give something back.  I pray that idea has not died in this new day and age.  When I was a young man everyone pitched in and pulled together to solve the problems in the cities and towns.  We can still fix things if we all pull together.  I can tell you this.  If we don't fix things soon, we are going down.  This is a serious problem.
 This is the spine of my idea, and basically it is pretty simple idea and can be tested on a small scale.  I'm sure that there are some rough edges that need to be trimmed, but like I said, "It isn't rocket science", and sooner, or later is is going to have to be done anyway.  Why not take the lead in the race to the future of our cities.
Our Governor has recently publicly asked Rhode Island business people for their suggestions to help make up for the huge deficit in our budget.  This is one of my suggestions which I think is more for a city project like Providence than for the State of RI.  I believe it needs to be run mostly by the private sector with the cities role being to strictly enforce the building codes,  rules, and regulations, and benefit from the fees, permits, and taxes. We realize our cities need money to operate.
Respectfully,
Walt Barrett President
A to Z Global Marketing Inc.


Note:  Permission to reprint is granted.  Please give credit to this blog site.   © 2011 Walt Barrett

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why A Smaller Home by Walt Barrett

   Before you build your dream home and especially if you plan to retire in it, or resell it in your old age and retire on the profits, you better think the situation over carefully.  Things don't always work out the way you plan.  With property taxes going up constantly you may not be able to hang onto a large property for very long.
   Two days ago in a southern New England city the SPCA went to the home of an elderly woman and took her dog away so they could put it down. Now that is a sad story.  It seems a neighbor noticed the dog was getting thin and it's nails needed cutting, and the other signs of neglect were evident.  I'll bet the old woman felt terrible and why wouldn't she.  It makes me so sad just to tell the story.   According to the press,  She could no longer afford to feed her dear old friend. There was a clip on the evening news, and he was a sad looking old timer, but I think he many have had a few years left with a proper visit to a Vet. They didn't show the woman, thank God, for her self respect, but I turned to my wife and said "If she can't afford to feed her dog, I wonder what she looks like", and I was not being sarcastic either.
 Now the city that the old woman  lives in is is dire financial straights.  They are currently discussing a 4% tax increase, and there has been hell to pay at city hall.  The point I want to make here is that so many cities and towns in America have spent themselves into oblivion that they are going broke one after another and it's too late to save them.  Now here is what is going to happen next.  That old lady is not going to be able pay her outrageous property taxes very soon now, and the city is going to auction off her house for the taxes, and probably to an insider who will profit from it immensely.  That will be her reward for working hard all her life and being a "good American". Isn't that wonderful, and what a country.  America is being taken down from the inside out by its own politicians.  The elderly are being forced out of their homes because they cannot pay their ridiculously high property taxes!  Now take a look at your own life and make sure there is not a scenario like this in your future.  Remember, government is really a business, and do you know what happens to businesses that spend more money than they can ever take in - they go down!  Are we all also going  to just grow old and lose our dignity and self respect to the tax collector?  Do we really have a choice, and did you vote last time?  Do you really think one party is better than another? And most important, I'm sure you have a retirement home in Naples, Florida, right?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Some Thoughts About The Economy And Micro Homes by Walt Barrett

   I haven't had a chance to write very much this year.  With this terrible economy we have had for the past couple of years we have had to fight hard for every nickel.  Then to add insult to injury I have had four minor strokes this year, if you can ever call a stroke minor.  So My son John, who has been basically running things for a number of years now anyway, is carrying on with the businesses, and I am really going to take life easy.  However, writing, film making, and inventing stuff is still fun for me so I will continue to do that.
   It's no secret that I grew up very poor, and worked in the mills. That fact should explain my never ending concern for the poor and disadvantaged.  I want to talk a bit about the business of micro homes, and micro apartments because the subject really ties into poverty.   I knew when I saw the micro home trend coming back over the past few years that the micro home revival was going to be a bumpy road to travel for many reasons.  It's mostly the laws in each city and town that are jamming up the works.  Smaller homes  mean smaller tax evaluations, and most cities and towns never met a dollar they didn't want to wrap their arms around.  I sometimes wonder if these politicians ever even realize that they are actually white collar criminals  with the deals they are pulling in their daily activities wasting our tax money.  Because of all this corruption we are going to continue to have major economic problems in our cities and towns, and things are going to worsen to the point where these cities and towns start folding one after another.  I have predicted this before in my writings over the years.  We are starting to see it now.  You cannot spend more money than you take in, and you cannot tax the people to death trying to pay for your excesses.  Over spending has been the downfall of every empire in recorded history.  Eventually the taxpayers will rise up and solve the problem one way or the other, and their solutions have not always been kind in other countries, take France for an example, and I would hate to see that.  So where do you come into all this?  Well you just don't want to be living in one of those cities, or towns when the food, the fuel, and the Beer runs out, and the rioting starts. It's going to be be worse than amateur night in Rwanda!   When, not if this happens is the time to have a fall back position.  For instance, A remote micro home that is self sustaining, far from the city, the rioters and the looters is not too shabby of an idea.  If you think I'm being extreme just go back and check history in similar cases.  You can start with the middle east recently.  Anyway, all I'm saying is that hard times are coming, and living is going to become even more expensive and you must start taking even more defensive measures.  Smaller homes are less expensive to build, to heat, and to pay taxes on.  What's wrong with thinking about that?  You have to protect yourself and your family these days because the politicians are behaving like they are determined to trash the lower and middle class Americans, and nobody votes anymore so they are getting away with it.  We have money to fight wars and give away to everyone except war veterans and needy Americans.  Don't kid yourself, both parties have given away the store!  I already know that at age 78 I have already seen the best years of America, and they are far behind me. What a country we used to be.  It's all downhill from here and the public sits idly by and doesn't even pay attention, how sad is that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Preparing for and Surviving Natural Disasters by Walt Barrett

    I have decided to do a series of short pieces about surviving natural disasters. I'll keep them short so you won't get bored.  I'm not trying to frighten anyone, but it seems that we have been having more than our share of natural disasters in the world lately.  We seem to be in some kind of a cycle.  I think that we should all take steps to prepare for bad storms and earth quakes etc.  I'm not basing my suggestions on superstition, but just on the hard facts.  It doesn't cost a fortune to put aside a stash of water that you can bottle yourself for instance, or some kind of food supplies that do not require refrigeration etc.  Home security will also be much more important if those hard times ever do come.     Again, if you live in a cold climate you better find some alternate ways to heat your home.  The heating projects can all be DIY (Do It Yourself) utilizing salvaged materials.   
   We have a lot of diesel generators in stock for our business and always keep one fully serviced on hand.  We use diesel because if we have to we can run it from our fuel oil tank.  We also stock gasoline units but prefer diesel.  We have a well so it's nice to be able to run the water pump and also to have electric lights. We are going to talk a lot more about emergency lighting in another piece. 
We'll also be talking about all the various uses of solar for survival in the very near future.
 The 5000 watt generator we use is pictured below.  
Stay tuned
Walt


Ten wacky and unexpected uses of solar power
http://www.treehugger.com/galleries/2011/03/10-wacky-and-unexpected-things-using-solar-power.php?page=1 

Preparing for and Surviving Natural Disasters by Walt Barrett

    I have decided to do a series of short pieces about surviving natural disasters. I'll keep them short so you won't get bored.  I'm not trying to frighten anyone, but it seems that we have been having more than our share of natural disasters in the world lately.  We seem to be in some kind of a cycle.  I think that we should all take steps to prepare for bad storms and earth quakes etc.  I'm not basing my suggestions on superstition, but just on the hard facts.  It doesn't cost a fortune to put aside a stash of water that you can bottle yourself for instance, or some kind of food supplies that do not require refrigeration etc.  Home security will also be much more important if those hard times ever do come.     Again, if you live in a cold climate you better find some alternate ways to heat your home.  The heating projects can all be DIY (Do It Yourself) utilizing salvaged materials.   
   We have a lot of diesel generators in stock for our business and always keep one fully serviced on hand.  We use diesel because if we have to we can run it from our fuel oil tank.  We also stock gasoline units but prefer diesel.  We have a well so it's nice to be able to run the water pump and also to have electric lights. We are giung to talk a lot more in aqnother 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Treated Lumber Foundation For Your Micro Home - A tip from Walt Barrett

   Many of you know that I am personally interested in building micro homes due to the all around savings in money, materials, and operating costs.  I am constantly searching for ways to get the costs down so as to make these tiny homes available to all people in spite of their income bracket.  Well I have had suffered three strokes since the first of the year 2011 and do not have enough time anymore to write all the articles that I would like.  So I have solved the problem by finding articles that are already written that I think will fill the bill and provide you with links to those web sites.  I am not taking credit for the articles.  I am simply pointing you to them.   I think that every small home should have a full or raised ranch type basement.  It only makes sense to have a warm place for your utilities so they will not freeze.  It can also provide extra living space if planned properly.  I believe that Treated lumber foundations have been vastly overlooked.  Here is a link that will point you in the right direction.  http://www.doityourself.com/stry/treated-wood-foundations-explained
If you find these articles helpful please comment back to me.  Also, all suggestions are welcome.
Thanks,
Walt