Tiny House as a Rolling Office

2019-02-01 Prairie Style Tiny House Drawing

Tiny houses pop up in my life at a frequency that far exceeds my actual real-life experience with that particular type of housing. I’ve never seen one in person, and I have no desire to live in one. The closest I’ve come to a tiny house is touring an 1800s camp on Martha’s Vineyard.

I see tiny houses in the news and on TV all the time. I talk about them at family gatherings because someone has them as rentals on his properties. I even met someone in Hartford who had experience developing tiny house communities.

The appeal of tiny living eludes me – it’s just not for me.

That said, I can understand the draw. The economics are attractive if you’re willing to live in a very small space. And the ability to periodically move your home to new locations can create interesting possibilities.

When I saw this article about a tiny house in the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright my mind went to work. This is a tiny house that I might be able to get behind.

I definitely wouldn’t live in it, but I think it would make an amazing rolling office.

Swap out the bed for a conference table, add some technology, and this could be fun. Best of all, the company that makes these things (Escape) builds them to RV specs. So it’s going to do a whole lot better on the road than the typical tiny house that was really not designed for travel.

Maybe I would even take it out for the occasional weekend camping trip…

AirBnB to try Modular Construction

Fast Company published an exclusive about AirBnB at the end of November. The home sharing company proposed a new initiative called Backyard, which came from their division focused on the future. It is very ambitious, as it aims to rethink the entire process of designing, building, and updating homes.

While the company’s move into the physical world of construction is the main headline, I’m more interested in one of the other details – that the homes will be modular.

Modular structures are not a new idea, but they have not gained much traction in the residential world. The vast majority of homes that people live in today were built on site from lumber.

Modular construction, where larger sections of a structure are built off-site, is more common in commercial development. For example, the large parking garage that the State built on the corner of Buckingham and Washington near the Capitol building relied heavily on modules that were trucked in and assembled by crane.

State Garage at Buckingham and Washington

I like the idea of modular homes. That might seem like a surprising position for an “old house” person to take, but if I ever built a new home then I would definitely look at modular options in order to increase the build quality and reduce the construction time. I would expect modular construction to save me money too.

What is exciting about AirBnB getting into modular construction is that they have the potential to try the idea at a large scale. The Fast Company article noted that the company was valued at about $38 billion. As a point of comparison public homebuilder D.R. Horton, one of the largest in the country, had a market cap of about $13 billion at that time.

A large scale trial of modular homebuilding by AirBnB is unlikely to happen in Connecticut. We don’t have a large unmet demand for housing, and the available land is relatively far from the existing job centers. We’ll have to watch their experiment from a distance.

Hopefully the combination of AirBnB’s drive to expand their business, their ability to finance the effort, and their fresh perspective on homebuilding will result in many home innovations and progress towards making modular construction the standard for new residential properties.

A Well Maintained Building

39 Woodland - 5200 - 1920

The well maintained building at 39 Woodland Street in Hartford is identified by the Structures and Styles book as the Melancthon W. Jacobus, Sr. House. Its Tudor Revival architecture is in excellent condition 110 years after construction!

Kudos to the State for the recent maintenance to keep the 29,571 square foot structure looking good. The building is currently the central office for the Connecticut Technical Education and Career Center.

Lego House: Split Level

Lego House - Split Level

Split level homes are a common sight in Greater Hartford. However, they don’t show up in all neighborhoods. The vast majority of the split level homes in the county were built in the 1950s and 1960s, so expect to find them in neighborhoods developed in that era.

2017-03-06 When Were Split Level Homes Built