I need your help. My Google-foo is weak in this....I need your thoughts.
For years, seriously...nearly 30 years now, I have been interested in building small living spaces. I love the sense of intimacy that I get from being in a room where I can touch at least two walls from where I sit. A large open room makes me feel exposed and emotionally cold. A small space feels warm, no matter the true temperature. I love boats.... hate stadiums.
Designing for small spaces, is about accommodating the individual. Primary needs are to be met with the greatest efficiency, and resources must be conserved. Everything is intent. It is difficult to be false in small design, flash is wasted. The McMansion aesthetic doesn't work. Small design is challenging because things need to be *right*, you know?
I need ideas for building small structures, homes really, but with some peculiar twists ( of course). What I have been working towards is design ideas that highlight the simple, clean, use of quality materials.....and a structure that is capable of being disassembled somewhere down the road. 1 year....20 years....400 years.....
The attraction that I have had for Japanese joinery is that many of the joints used have allowances made for being disassembled at some time in the future. If you go through the trouble of using a wonderful material, say the perfect piece of wood, you choose this for its qualities of strength and beauty. Along with this comes the acknowledgement that everything has its own life, and at some time that perfect wood will have become old and decayed. It will require replacement.
The study of Japanese joinery has exposed me to an incredible variety of ingenious ideas for attaching one piece of wood to another. In this, I see great potential.
Buying property, land, house, whatever, the situation here in Hawaii is a little bit peculiar. We are in the market for a house, but there are some unique and fundamental difficulties with how things get built on an island. My needs and desires are slightly out of the normal range, so here is what we have.
Property in Hawaii is expensive.
- Almost all of the construction is of house "kits". Kit houses use the cheapest, most economical and efficient material possible, but they also meet code requirements.
- Buying an already built, building code approved house, gives assurance to the lending bank. Banks loan money for crappy kit houses= crappy houses become expensive.
- The generic /poorly built/code approved structures are not what I want in my life. And they are expensive.
- Some of the super cool places that I am interested in are VERY well built, but banks are loath to loan on unpermitted structures.
We can buy into what everyone is selling, take out yet another mortgage, and pay WAY too much money...and live in an environment that gives little joy. "We have everything that we want...except money!"
Just down the road from us is a 2 acre parcel with an attractive, contractor built home, for $270,000. The house looks just fine for what it is....just REALLY not what we are looking for.
We can ditch the idea of a re-sale price that just gets higher and higher as time goes. Buy cheap, build cheap, enjoy life. If down the road circumstances change, the house can come with us.
You can buy 3 acres of Hawaii, just down the road from where we are currently living, for $15,000.
Being in debt is like being a slave to your desires, often to fulfill perceived needs that might not truly be important to you. You need to ask yourself these questions, at least I do. What do you want in exchange for your life ?
Me.....I don't want much. What life I have, I want to enjoy, not be forever working to pay for something that I actually couldn't afford. I love our old cars, and we paid cash. Not as nice as what many others might drive, but we have no monthly payments and insurance is cheaper, too. Parking lot dings don't leave me feeling angry, it's a car for God's sake.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah.....
Living in a debt free home would be one of the greatest freedoms imaginable.
Way back in the day, houses were for family. You were born there, raised there, and probably died there. When the kids grew older, perhaps you added on to the house to make room, but the assumption was that you would always be living with family. Houses and land were passed down, generation after generation. Kids didn't immediately sign themselves into a lifetime of slavery, all so that they could live in their own house.
Obviously times have changed. My "ancestral" home back in Minnesota holds fond memories, but I sure as hell don't want to live there. This is sad, but this is our reality. Our house that we recently left, back on the Oregon coast.... Great house, spent 10 years of my life fixing it.....now occupied by someone else. It's a REALLY cute house! I don't want to live there either.
Where I do want to live.......Ah yes, that's in Hawaii. I want to build a very nice, very small home, but a home that can be moved, relocated. Unfortunate though it seems, many of us have become virtual nomads. We are currently renting, and though our landlords are totally awesome, we need to build for OUR future. I need to begin building our Hawaiian home.
Good god! Enough with the preaching!
Help me with some ideas. References, pictures, websites, whatever....help me find some good ideas for building a solid, attractive structure that can be moved at some future time. Please, skip the trendy "Small houses" movement stuff. While cute, I'm not that interested in the "Mini-McMansion" movement.
I am looking more for solid joinery, solid materials, yet used in a simple manner. For the first time in my life, I actually don't need to worry about the potential for freezing to death, come winter. Open-air, year round living is a reality here. What I am envisioning is essentially a platform on short piers, then a minimal post -and -beam structure atop that. Joinery is to be de-mountable. Panel infill would be the finished surface, so natural materials would be desirable and I would like to avoid the use of plywood (though the temptation is great).
I am imagining a minimal structure built with sliding panels, solid panels for winter ( it does get cold here and we will be using a wood stove this year!), screened panels for summer. Sliding panels would be wonderful, because even in winter, as soon as the rain stops and the sun comes out....it gets warm. Each " panel" segment could similar to the sliding door of a cabinet, for instance. The panel could sit in a groove. To remove the panel, just lift, tilt and remove.
Beauty, strength, practical, and cheap.....I want it all. Any ideas?
I've looked, but not found much of interest. I have no doubt that many others share my desires, though our situations would be different. What has been done in the past, I wonder?