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!

 

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