Greetings, my Corten Minions…
Today, we’re going back to the beginning;
We’re going to talk about “The Basics of Boxes”.
As the world slowly turns, some families have nowhere to sleep.
In places like Japan and Christchurch, Peru and Haiti… families are still trying to figure out what comes next, after natural disasters couple with man-made ones to create obstacles seemingly fit for the shoulders of the Titans.
These are the times when the “next steps” are taken. These are perfect times to discuss WHAT could work, and more importantly… what probably won’t work.
We can’t just keep doing things the same old ways. It just doesn’t work any longer. I’m not sure that it ever really did.
And it’s not “just me.”
These same discussions are happening across dining rooms tables all across America, as families start thinking about what comes next.
- Our economy is really causing problems.
- Unemployment is still a cancer that infects many, many families.
- Outsourcing and “right-sizing” at the corporate level allows companies like General Electric to make billions in profits, pay no taxes and move jobs offshore, never to return.
(I’m not singling out GE, there are MANY companies in America that are doing this. GE is just a good example.)
Housing isn’t just a discussion any longer, it’s an issue that brings many families to tears.
I have a beloved “adopted” daughter who’s been trying to sell her house for longer than I care to remember. I’m not talking about a McMansion. I’m talking about what is essentially a charming little “starter home”. The market has slumped so severely that in order for her to “stay in the market” she and her husband have been counseled to take about a $30,000 hit, just to get it sold. I’m not talking about deducting money from expected profit. I’m talking about deducting almost $30 grand from the existing mortgage price. We’re talking about digging a huge hole.
This is just madness.
How can someone who is forced to go thru that ever get back into the housing market? They’re going to lose their shirts. Families all over America are “underwater”, as well. Their houses aren’t worth the mortgages any longer. We agonize over it regularly.
Inflation is driving solutions even harder, but it’s building canyons that must be crossed at the same time.
I get a LOT of email. So much in fact that I spend a few hours a day trying to sort it all out.
Most of those contacts are in search of cost effective, affordable solutions that are possible for families – I’m talking about DIY (Do It Yourself) and families helping families.
Doing it yourself means that you’ll save a LOT of money.
Contractors work for profit. They have families too – families probably not much different than yours. But YOU need to focus on what you can, and more importantly CANNOT accomplish with your own hands.
This means that you really need to carefully define “your needs” and then balance it against “your wants”.
That refinement will help drive your design process.
I’m not talking about what I call “glory-boarding”…
…you know. stuff like the rendered Corten Coolness you usually see in places like Treehugger. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Treehugger. I get a lot of inspiration from that site and some of that coolness finds itself “reverse engineered” into my builds.
But… I’m talking about designing real world, real use, real “paid for using real paychecks” spaces by real people – not just the “1 percenters”… the elite.
I can’t afford several hundred dollars a square foot to build my family’s home and if you’re reading THIS blog… you probably can’t either.
And that’s an area where it PAYS off to have someone helping you who has been there before.
No! Stop it! I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. I’m not saying it has to be ME at all…
What I’m saying is that choosing the right design professional is really fundamentally important.
And it’s important to realize that the input from that PRO will more than pay his/her fees, if you’ve chosen them properly. They will know tips and tricks that will save time, money and labor. They’ll understand “spaces” and how they related to each other. And you’ll get a better home out of the deal.
Further, if that PRO can’t guarantee you that their input will actually save you their fees in return, it’s time to find another PRO. Seriously.
Let’s think about HOW you build your ISBU Home:
As you all know, I’m a big advocate of building and integrating using smaller 20′ High Cubes.
This allows you to build “modules” that can be coupled together to form “housing solutions” in a manner that is easily manipulated, transported and then set onto prepared foundations, by just a few guys and gals.
You can couple these smaller “modules” – containing entire Kitchen/Bath cores, for example – with larger ISBUs, like 40′ High Cubes.
This gives you a ton of versatility and a lot of leeway, especially when you’re dealing with building a home in a hard to reach area… like a cleared space out in the countryside, down a long graded county dirt road or even into a hillside.
Here on the blog, over the next few weeks, I want to REALLY EXPLORE Small House Design.
In fact, we’re going to look at other types of housing as well – the “Little Housers” (including those rascal “Tiny Houser’s”) , Boats and Marine watercraft and other types of “contained structures”, incorporating the best of all these worlds into one or more Corten Steel Boxes.
Think about HOW you store your possessions.
How do you manipulate your foodstuffs?
How much time to do actually spend in dedicated parts of your home?
We’ll take into consideration things like gabled roofs, reclaimed spaces and the agility required to actually use them. Some of us aren’t getting any younger… 😉
We’ll talk about options like retractable spaces – pop-outs, lowered platforms and even recessed platforms as well…
Remember that in dealing with small spaces;
Multi-purpose planning is the rule of the day.
We’ll talk about incorporating outside deck spaces into “defined inside spaces” to create larger rooms without actually building them.
Along the way, I want you to think about what YOUR family needs… and then I want you to get off your bottoms and actually post comments.
Yes, I’m talking to YOU.
We’ll take all that input and develop a prototype – a basic module – that can be used as a starting point that will cross many geographic boundaries and cultural borders.
It’s time to slay dragons, starting with that “overwhelming” feeling some get confronted with – like when they consider concepts like “sweat equity”.
I want you guys and gals to realize just how easy it is to think small, if you start out with the right ingredients.
Innovation and “forward thinking” aren’t impossible. They just take good planning and solid execution.
There are solutions out there, just waiting to find their way onto your dining room table. We’re gonna go find them.