Tiny House as a modular dwelling

by andrewodom on April 24, 2011 · 11 comments


My first true introduction to modular homes came (by no coincidence, I am now sure) by Farmers’ Almanac TV. Just about four years ago they introduced a short film about the Katrina Cottage.

The Katrina Cottage was designed as a replacement for the FEMA trailer made so popular in the hurricane ravaged areas of New Orleans. Before the cottage we recognize today was created though the city invited some 200 architects, builders, and “thinkers” to gather together to brainstorm such a form of modular housing. Not modular in the strictest sense (meaning prefabricated buildings or houses that consist of multiple modules or sections which are manufactured in a remote facility and then delivered to their intended site of use.) but rather in a more artistic and – dare I say – new urbanist form.

The Katrina Cottage is a small, sturdy house that can be used in a more permanent way as it was designed to expand into full-sized dwellings. Loosely dubbed “The Grow House” the cottage started off as 294 sq. ft. (fitting the immediate need) but could quickly be expanded to 1,463 sq. ft. in Phase 2 or the near term. In a long term situation (and with the addition of one more modular structure) the home could grow to 2.055 sq. ft. allowing for 3 bedrooms in the main house, a garage, and a guest cottage. Urban Design Associates actually put out 6 forms of the Grow House all showing the amazing expandability of a small house – and here is the key point – built to expand for the needs of the family rather than the family trying to ramp up to the offerings of the house!

And so here is where Crystal and I are with the Tiny r(E)volution.

We have been asked multiple times how we will raise a child in under 300 sq. ft. and where they will eat, sleep, and play. We typically answer them with, “how much room does a newborn need?” And while the response is a valid one it doesn’t speak to the needs that may arise when our child is 3 years old, 4 years old, and so on. Don’t think we haven’t though of such though. With the concept of the Katrina Cottage (or the Grow House for this exercise) we have designed our Tiny House to be expandable. It feature an entry door on both long sides that can easily be turned into passageways/hallways allowing access to an add-on wing. We desire a house that will grow with our family and our needs rather than buying a ton of house that through consumption, excess, and old-fashioned clutter, will make our decisions for us.

Will this work? We aren’t sure. We have never tried. In our research we have come across several small homes that have also been labeled as modular. Truth be know though none were expandable or capable of being added onto without major construction. Yes, to make our home expand we will have to construct another room (probably a master bedroom with a small closet or storage loft) and some sort of hallway. And of course we will want it to match aesthetically with our Tiny House.  But when you consider all we will have to do is remove the door jam, add a header and some trim work, build either an open-air dogwalk or an enclosed hallway, and do the same on the *new* room and voila we have built a larger home, the notion of a growing house doesn’t sound so far-fetched.

What do you think? Are we living in a dream world? Are we sounding more and more like candidates for the TV show “Renovation Realities”? What would you do in our situation? And as always, we ask you to share this article on both Facebook and Twitter or even email the link to a friend!

 

  • http://twitter.com/GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    great posts : )

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you so much Ms. Tea!

  • Dbentz1

    Drew, I think the small grow house is exactly what all folks need. You can expand as your need for space demands. In my humble opinion most folks have way more house than needed. They may want it but they don’t need it. Following your journey and thought process through the building of your house has greatly enlightened me on just how much space do we need in a house. Had I been able to read your journey 40 years ago my retirement home might looked much different. However, I have what I have and so I will continue to improve the urban ranch to keep me busy and out of trouble.

    Happy Easter my friend. May the Lord, bless you and keep you (entire family both born and unborn) in the palm of His hand. May He bless everything that touches your hands.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Your opinion – while humble, perchance – is right on. Much of our country’s financial woes are caused by living outside our means and “higher on the hog” than we have worked for. Want -vs- need is an age old issue, to be sure, but one that we must all face.

      Thank you for your kind words. Having you as a reader is such a huge and important part of the r(E)volution as you constantly offer such insight. I love what you say though. You have what you have and you will continue to improve it and your way of life. Who can ask for more?

      Happy Easter to you as well and may His peace and patience be with you each day.

  • http://iguessmylifeisprettygood.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I have been looking forward to hearing how you and Crystal were planning to “grow” your home to fit your family. I love this concept. My hubby and I live in a small home (not a tiny home by definition since we are a little over 1000 sq feet) by most standards. We have one child and our house is plenty big for us. We are considering having a second child, and the only “modification” we will have to make is that our son will lose his separate toy room.

    • Jennifer

      *our son currently does not have any toys in his “sleeping” room. So basically he will get to start sleeping in his play room (or at least that’s the way we will put it so he thinks it is a good thing).

      • anotherkindofdrew

        What little boy doesn’t want to sleep alongside ALL of his toys? HAHAHAHAH

  • Michele Wilczynski

    Your web site is definitely very interesting. My husband is ALL ABOUT living with less. We try to eat the majority of our foods from organic sources. Try to consume the smallest amount of “junk” and government poisoned prescriptions. Our house is nice sized and doesn’t have too much wasted space. Definitely a cut back in size from my prior home. It all goes back to the old cliche’ “Less is more” or “Keep it Simple”. I will get him hip to this site……….. Thanks for ALL that you do in a hard days work Drew!!!!

    Michele

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you so much for your kind words Michele. I definitely live a bit of a double life, huh? PR/Social Media by (most of the) day and hobby farmer by evening/night/and EARLY morning. HAHAHAHAH. Do tell your husband to stop in! We’ll wait for him.

  • http://www.shortphotographer.com Shannon Z.

    I think it sounds awesome. You should, however, think of adding some sort of travel trailer hook up attachment, as that would be pretty neat to have part of your home able to go on the road with you. This makes very little sense as I read it back, but the idea of it sounds amazing to me.

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us anotherkindofdrew

      I hear what you are saying. That does sound awesome. Like you could hook up to your, um, small front house, and drive it off while the bedrooms and the garage sit still.

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