The Detroit-based non-profit Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) recently unveiled the first six tiny homes already completed as part of their affordable housing solution in the area. The development is located between the Lodge and Woodrow Wilson Street, and will consist of 25 tiny homes once completed. This is a rent-to-own tiny house project with the final aim of making home ownership accessible to low-income individuals.
The homes will measure from 250 to 400 square feet, and will each have its own foundation. They will be built by local professional tradespeople and volunteers. Rental prices are set at $1 per square foot, so that a 300-square-foot house would cost $300 a month to rent. The homes will come fully furnished, and will have all the necessary appliances, though there will be no bedroom, meaning that they are not ideally suited for families. This tiny house development is located near the CCSS main campus, so that residents will have easy access to the social, educational, recreational and health services that the agency offers.
The tenants who apply to live in one of these houses will have to meet low-income eligibility requirements, as well as be interviewed and go through a selection process. The housing is intended for low-income seniors, students, and even homeless people. The rent they will pay will be a maximum of one third of their monthly wage, and after a maximum of seven years of paying rent they will become the owners of the house. The estimated utilities costs in this house are only $35 per month. The tenants will also have to attend financial coaching and home maintenance classes once a month.
This tiny house project is funded by private donations as well as by several foundations, namely the Ford Motor Fund, the RNR Foundation, and the McGregor Fund. Providing affordable housing is just one of CCSS’ long-term goals for the area. There are more than 300 vacant lots within a one-mile radius of this development, which they also plan to develop.
Overall, this is a very forward-thinking project, which has many benefits both for low-income individuals, as well as for the neighborhood as a whole. It’s also nice to see tiny homes gaining traction in mainstream housing planning.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has a so-called X division, which works on highly experimental projects. But a lot of these projects could prove very beneficial in solving some of the world’s biggest problems. This division created Google’s self-driving car, as well as Project Loon, which involves high altitude balloons carrying Wi-Fi. And now it is looking for more efficient and effective ways of high-density energy storage.
This project is called Malta and the energy storage solution they came up with features molten salt storage, which X has paired with cold storage using antifreeze. Molten salt energy storage has been looked at before as a viable solution for energy storage, and paired with antifreeze, it can store energy for days, possibly weeks. As such, it would be perfect for storing renewable energy, which is simply getting discarded in lots of places at the moment.
Reports show that China discards 17 percent of energy produced by wind per year, while Germany tosses away 4 percent. And this year alone, California has had to discard 300,000 megawatt hours of excess electricity from the grid, all of which came from renewable sources. If there was a way to store that energy, it would be enough to power thousands of homes.
The dual thermal energy storage tech that X has come up with can be used to store high densities of energy, while it will also be a lot less expensive than existing solutions. It is also very scalable, since all it would take to expand it would be adding more salt and cold liquid tanks to the system. Also, the salt used can be charged and re-charged several times over its lifespan.
They’ve already built a small prototype of this energy storage system in Silicon Valley. They’re now looking for partners, such as Siemens and GE, to develop a commercial prototype, which can be tested on the grid.
The Ljubljana, Slovenia-based OFIS Architects recently completed a unique cabin, which could serve as a tiny dwelling, a vacation home, housing for researchers, or even a shelter. It’s located near Ljubljana Castle, which is on a hill overlooking the city. It is the result of a joint effort between the companies Permiz, C+C, C28 and AKT Living Unit.
The project is aptly named Living Unit on Ljubljana Castle and features a flexible wooden shell that makes it easy to install it on nearly any kind of terrain. It’s also easy to transport pretty much anywhere. The basic version of the cabin is made up of three wooden volumes, which are designed to be stacked on top of each other. The cabin measures 14.7 by 8.2 by 8.8 ft (4.5 by 2.5 by 2.7 m), but since it is modular it can be expanded in size both vertically and horizontally. No foundation is required, but it does need to be anchored into place.
The volumes seem to be quite tiny, and the home features a kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, a sleeping area on the first floor and a lounge on the top floor, which is accessible by a ladder. The kitchen features a sink and stove, and a storage unit, which can also be used as a ladder leads up to the next floor. The bathroom is next to the sleeping area, though it is not pictured here.
The volumes are quite tiny, but they are very functional, and solar panels, a composting toilet and a water filtration system would all be easily installed, then this cabin would be completely independent of the grid.
The Living Unit on Ljubljana Castle is currently a temporary library, and is open to the public from 5.30-9.30 PM every day through August 14. There is no word yet on pricing, though this will likely be released soon.
It seems that the trend lately is to build tiny homes that are as large as they can be. It makes sense, since more and more people are downsizing to tiny homes as full time residences. But with their latest model, the so-called Ostara, the French tiny home maker Baluchon has decided to go back to the basics by building a tiny home that is actually tiny. It has already been sold and is named after a stable near Toulouse, France.
The Ostara is only 19 ft (6 m) long yet has a very spacious and comfortable layout. It rests on a double-axle trailer, is clad in cedar and has a metal roof. The front door opens into the main living area, where they placed a very comfortable looking 6 ft (1.8 m) sofa, which can be used as a guest bed if needed. A small, but functional kitchenette is located to the left of the living area. It is split into two sections and fitted with a sink, fridge, shelving and a stove.
The bathroom is located just past the kitchen and is fitted with a shower, composting toilet and a sink. To the left of the living area is a small eating space and a wood burning stove, which provides all the needed heating for the home.
The bedroom is located in a loft, which is accessible via a set of stairs that have integrated storage. The bed is quite large and there is also a net installed in this area, which protects the sleeper from doing themselves harm should they roll out of bed.
The Ostara features sheep’s wool insulation in the floor, while the walls are insulated with cotton, linen and hemp. It needs to be hooked up to the grid for power using a standard RV-style hookup, while they also installed LED lighting throughout.
There is no word on the costs of building this model, or for how much it sold.
Tiny homes are ideal for singles and couples, but once you bring a small child or two into the mix and things get complicated. Most people opt to move to a bigger home once their family grows, but UK-based architect Tim Francis, his wife, teacher Laura Hubbard-Miles and their three children have chosen to downsize into a very small home.
Their new home is actually a renovated stone building that was used in Victorian times to store fruit. It’s located in the countryside of Gloucestershire, on Francis’ parents’ estate. Their apartment in London was much bigger than this new home, but the nearest park was quite far away, and with today’s prices they were unlikely to be able to afford another home with more of the qualities they sought.
They call their new tiny home Fruit Store, and it took awhile to get all the permits to turn it into a dwelling. The exact measurements of the home weren’t revealed, but the interior appears quite spacious and cozy, probably due to its open, minimalist design. The home features a loft, which houses the children’s bedroom and playroom. The lounge downstairs features built-in benches, which can either be used as a sofa or transformed into a bed for the parents.
There is also a well-sized kitchen, and a bathroom, though an indoor toilet seems to be missing. The house does have running water and electricity though. the family spends a lot of time together outdoors, gardening and exploring the countryside, which is a definite plus in their new living arrangement. The downsizing has also given Tim a chance to get his design firm, Rural Workshop, off the ground.
A family of three living together in such a small home certainly challenges a whole host of preconceived notions about what a family home should be like. However, what a child really needs is a roof over their heads and a family that loves and protects them. So bedroom size is a secondary consideration.