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Rising home cells

February 14, 2013 - Rob Weaver
One solution to the need for affordable housing is smaller housing. A tinier home not only costs less to build, but because it has less space, occupants can't own as much stuff. Spatial constrains require economy.

In some areas, tiny homes have become trendy. When stylish means more expensive, frugality can be lost. But that doesn't have to occur. Tumble Tiny House Co., once featured on our HomeFront page, sells plans for cottages ranging from 261 to 874 square feet. Even at construction costs of $100 per square foot, that is relatively cheap.

This came to mind upon reading an Associated Press feature about the push for tiny apartments in New York City. The population is expected to continue growing there, and housing already is at a premium. Affordable alternatives are needed.

“With the population and rents expected to keep climbing, New York City planners are challenging architects to design ways to make it tolerable — even comfortable — to live in dwellings from 350 square feet to as small as 250 square feet,” the article stated.

At that size, a home tour would involve spinning on one's heels.

While reading the story, I realized compact housing isn't new. People have been living in house trailers for generations.

Mobile homes come in two major sizes, single-wides and double-wides. From what I have read, a single side manufactured home typically has 1,100 square feet of living space, while double wides average some 1,700 square feet. Quite reasonable.

Of course, most “mobile” homes only move once, from the factory to the lot. Tumbleweed offers a tinier version of portable homes -- 65 to 172 square feet.

Yikes. Some bathrooms are bigger than that. And some apartments without bathrooms are larger; most dormitory rooms have 100-150 square feet of space.

That's probably a valuable part of a college education. After paying off student loans, that may be all the home some graduates can afford.

Of course, there is “free” housing. Most jails have 6x8 cells.


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