Micro Housing-thoughts on planning

Living in a travel trailer may inspire thoughts about planning and especially floor plans.  A travel trailer isn’t designed for full time living usually, and the design of ours actually is horribly inconvenient in many ways, as well as has some features that are dreadful wastes of space.

Like the bedroom closet…at about 12″ wide, it’s useless.  I’d have gotten better use with less claustrophobic issues with the bed if it was a shelf or nightstand by my head.

If I was designing the kitchen, I’d take heed to the design of THE most efficient kitchen I’ve ever been fortunate enough to use.  It was a small galley style kitchen with a door exiting outdoors at one end, and a dining nook at the other that opened into the living space.  It was highly efficient, easy to use, and possessed amazing storage capacity.

The down side to that design?  The washer  was outside under an overhanging roof for weather protection, along with the water heater, and there was no dryer hook up.  It lacked a pantry, but there was a closet in the hall near the living area/dining nook that was converted into shelves for the pantry.

The features that worked well were numerous, like the refrigerator was right by the back door with a good 36″ of cupboard space between it and the stove.  The double sink was located opposite of the stove and had spacious cupboards on either side of it, as well as upper cabinets for dishes, cups, glasses, and other items.  The kitchen door made for easy work of taking out trash or bringing in groceries too.  The dining nook was perfect for casual coffee or meals with friends, and allowed me to continue cooking without missing out on the conversation OR invading the living space with kitchen stuff.

What would I change?  The washer/dryer hook ups needed to be moved indoors, either to the kitchen or the bathroom, or even a closet style laundry off of the central hall.  (2 bedrooms, 2 closets, and a bathroom opened from the hallway, as well as it was the location for the gas fueled wall furnace.)  In general, the house was well designed, however, the addition of a front porch, a sheltered back door entry or porch, and shifting the washer/dryer and water heater indoors would all be very desirable changes.

The house had THE most amazing closets with incredible storage space in a very small footprint.  They opened with a sliding door, had shelves on either side and over the clothing rod, which was about 5 feet long.  Each shelf on the side could hold a substantial amount, whether it was folded sweaters, boxes of toys, books, or Christmas decorations.  On the top shelf, even more treasures could be stashed, out of reach of youthful fingers in search of curiosities too.

This amazing house measured about 20×30 feet, and probably qualified as a “micro-home” in many people’s books.  Built of cinder block, with a nearly flat roof, and sitting on a slab foundation, it lacked any signs of frills.  It did possess a sturdy and utilitarian nature, however.

Living on the Gulf Coast, sturdy and utilitarian nature would also mean great weather resistance, and likely mean a raised house as well.  Raising your house above the surrounding terrain can mean cooling breezes reach your decks and windows.  It can also mean that encroaching water doesn’t touch your floors, if you have raised it high enough to avoid them.  Many houses are raised as much as 20 feet above the ground just to avoid storm surges.  Hurricanes are serious business, and finding insurers that are willing to insure a home in that band of potential destruction can be hard.  Insurance is also very expensive, especially if you are considered “high risk” for damages from such calamities as hurricanes and storm surges too.

I’ve seen one design that seems to stand the best chance of survival in such an event.  What is this miracle design?

The geodesic dome.

Yeah, I know…it’s weird, it’s ugly, it’s ROUND, and it is usually white.  It lacks the square or rectangular interior spaces that we are accustomed to.  Imagine one on stilts, raised high above the ground.

Yep, it looks like either a) a landed ufo or b) a big fat spider (depending on its design).  Designs with broad decks tend to increase the ufo-ish-ness, whereas the lack of a deck and with an entry area in the bottom it looks more spiderish.  This wind and storm resistance is highly attractive even if the exteriors are not, and I have to admit…I’m intrigued.  The dome shape is aerodynamic enough to survive, apparently.  (One house I’ve observed I know has withstood Hurricane Ivan’s landing in Florida, even while the surrounding homes were flattened.)

I’ve researched them sporadically, and if it appears that we may be prepared to build a home of our own, its a design worth further study if you live anywhere prone to wind issues such as hurricanes and tornadoes.  Not all of them need to be raised–that’s strictly to avoid rising waters.  They are supposed to be incredibly strong structures that use a minimal amount of wood to create the framework for the protective skin that tops off the design, and that the dome shape itself offers a number of design options.  I find the idea of a raised one, even if the “house” was made of small domes connected by raised walkways…very intriguing.  Kind of other-worldly and tree house all in one.  Then my practical side kicks in, reminding me of the expense of erecting those supporting pylons, of creating the walkways, and that I’m deathly afraid of heights.  It then does a bit of math, reminding me that I’m much closer to needing assistance living than I am ready to climb stairs to a 20 foot aerial view of my surrounding land.  I was actually discussing the wisdom of ramps “at my age” than stairs just a few hours ago…that’s hardly the time to plan on living large and upstairs, and it also isn’t really a green choice…or is it?

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About giascott

Writer, blogger, cook, grandmother, mother, wife, radio personality, outdoor enthusiast, dog enthusiast, crafter, artist, and part-time nut~~I've earned a lot of t-shirts in my day! I'm one of those crazy independent women who can cut down a tree, build you a shed, sew you a dress, cook your dinner, make some soap, pitch a tent, build a fire, catch some fish, dig in the garden, chase a kid or two, write you a poem, paint you a picture, and a dozen other things...just don't ask me to sing! I'm also embarking on a relatively new portion of my life, one of being disabled. I'm learning some lessons along the way about a lot of things too.
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