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Updated Design – Mini Cabin

Posted May 3rd, 2009 by Michael Janzen and filed in Design

I posted a new version of Nine Tiny Feet on Tiny House Design last night. I’ve been getting some great comments all day that make me think I should make this nine square foot house even more light-weight. Some people even suggested making it light enough to be towed by a bicycle.

I’m also rethinking the rain water collection and soil box due to the added weight these two systems could add. Although I don’t want to give up on the added self-sufficiency these features add. I’ll have to noodle over that and weight the pros and cons.

For all the details on this new variation take a look at the post on Tiny House Design. Below are some semi-transparent images you won’t find on the other blog.

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Now go take a look at the detailed description of this design variation.

Responding to a comment from a reader

Posted November 1st, 2009 by Michael Janzen and filed in Philosophy

I got an email from a fellow that I wanted to respond to but they didn’t provide a valid reply email address. The issue is important enough that I wanted to publish the comment and my reply publicly because it reveals an important underlying problem in our society. Here is the reader’s comment:

come on now.  While your small house design might seem intriguing how could a family possibly live in nine tiny feet.  As a Christain, I personally believe that God put enough on earth for every family to have a home that meets their home living needs.  Through wisdom is a house builded and by understanding it is established.  And by knowledge shall all the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  Proverbs 24:3-4  Meditate on that a while and then draw the plans for a real house.

Here is my response.

Thanks… but I think if you continue reading about this design you’ll find that Nine Tiny Feet is an experiment in searching for the lowest common denominator in housing not intended as a viable solution for a family. It will also be a showcase for frugality, simplicity, and sustainable living… which seem much more in line with the teachings of Jesus than any McMansion or suburban track home I’ve ever seen.

Regarding: “all the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches” … I don’t think that was intended as support for consumerism and greed either. It sounds like it on the surface but this statement wouldn’t support the core teachings of Jesus. I suggest a deeper look into the true meaning of this is needed. My suspicion is that precious would be family and riches would not include money and wealth.

In many ways part of my simple living work is to help those that have forgotten how a frugal and wholesome life brings happiness, freedom, and for some closer to God. I don’t bring religion into my work overtly because I don’t want to exclude anyone from realizing the value of these lessons. While I have some deep personal beliefs I choose not to expose them because I have a stronger belief that working to unite humanity under a banner of peace is the only path to a sustainable future. I suspect Jesus would agree.

I hope that helps you understand another dimension of the mission I’ve found myself on.

If you continue to tinyhousedesign.com you’ll find more design concepts that might better fulfill the immediate needs of our families.

A Flying Wedge – Extreme 9 Square Foot House

As I imagined towing Nine Tiny Feet down the road it occurred to me that a triangle wedge would be much more aerodynamic. It also seemed like a three-walled house would use less lumber and would be a more efficient shape to provide sleeping space, after all our bodies aren’t square. I also wanted to be more true to the square footage requirement of nine square feet that I placed on myself in the beginning. I think this design is actually pretty successful in meeting those additional requirements, but I can already see room for improvement.

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The floor itself is still nine square feet, except it’s now trapezoidal instead of rectangular. The main difference is the overall shape which looks much more like a a piece of pie than a house. Instead of a sleeping loft I’ve imagined two flip down plywood shelves that cover the kitchen counter and chair to form a flat surface long enough for a six foot person to sleep. The main room isn’t long enough to lay down so I’ve borrowed a little space in the form of a tiny cubby hole from the nose of the house for the occupant’s feet. Sleeping in this design would be like sleeping in a backpacker’s mummy bag.

Like in past designs the toilet is below the chair. Since this design is about exploring extremes I still imagine using a sawdust composting toilet. This bucket toilet would be well sealed from the main living area to avoid odor build-up inside the house. The space it occupies would also be vented to the exterior. You can learn more about sawdust toilets at Jenkins Publishing.

The roof would be metal with a down-spout at the low end to allow water to be funneled off for future use. A storage tank would need to be place in the sharp nose of the house. Due to the triangular shape of the roof a lip would need to be added along the two long sides to prevent the water from simply running off onto the ground. You can learn more about collecting rain water at The Good Human.

Below the window is a planter box designed to reclaim waste water from the shower drain in the main floor and sink. The planter box, or soil box, would have several layers of material and screens to facilitate filtering and processing of the water. You can learn more about grey water soil boxes at Grey Water Central.

There are a lot of good ideas in this design but I don’t think I’d ever build it this way. I really liked the  traditional look of the original design. But I also like how this house is more aerodynamic, uses building materials more efficiently, includes more self-sufficient features, and crams most of the living space into the nine square foot floor plan.

So I’m going to let this cook in my brain a little more and see if I can come up with a hybrid that has more traditional aesthetics, a shed roof for easy rain water collection, and that’s still more aerodynamic than a brick. Stay tuned.

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