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Small is the new green
Increasing environmental awareness along with economic and demographic trends favor smaller house sizes. Many cities are doing their part by updating zoning codes to allow cottage housing and small backyard cottages (detached ADU's) on residentially zoned lots. Seattle and Portland are two cities which allow backyard cottages up to 800 sq. ft. in size. These small houses provide opportunities for families, while increasing housing stock, density and affordability. Continue reading for more information about small house design and Seattle's backyard cottage ordinance or contact us to find out if your lot is eligible for a backyard cottage.
Friday, March 7
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Tuesday, March 4
Are you interested in simplifying your life, reducing costs, and a more sustainable lifestyle? Small houses can help achieve all of these goals. But how does house size stack up against a myriad of other green building technologies? A 2010 report by the Oregon Department of Environmental Equality examines the impacts of constructing, maintaining and operating a home over a 70 year occupancy. Key findings of the report include:
- Of 30 different material reduction and reuse practices evaluated, reducing home size and multi-family living achieved the largest greenhouse gas reductions along with significant reductions in other impact categories.
- Reducing home size by 50% results in a projected 36% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.
- Reducing home size is a significant leverage point for environmental impact reduction and may be a more effective measure than achieving minimum levels of "green" certification.
- New and existing homes can incorporate accessory dwelling units (ADU's) as an option to increase density and reduce the square foot/person ratio, provide flexible living spaces, and achieve the environmental benefits of both small and multi-family living.
To see some examples of our backyard cottages, small houses and multi-family projects check out our projects page and visit one of our upcoming open houses. To read more about the environmental benefits of small houses and the full report follow the link. DEQ smaller homes, smaller footprint, report
Wednesday, February 26
Wednesday, December 18
house size: 650 sq. ft.
Using a pantry wall allowed us to create efficient storage, made the kitchen seem larger and left more room for windows. A beautiful quartz countertop highlights the blue glass tile backsplash.
The bathroom is on the main floor off of the bedroom. It features in floor radiant heat. The walls have plywood backing to enable the addition of grab bars in the future.
A view through the kitchen into the bedroom.
Thursday, November 7
5200 55th Ave S -Lake Washington Cabin: Sunday December 15, 1:00-4:00 pm. The shape and form of this backyard cottage were carefully crafted to capture southern light and expansive views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier. Vaulted ceilings and exposed joists make the cottage feel larger than its 650 sq. ft. size. The house features a one bedroom, bath, kitchen and living room on the main floor and a granddaughter loft. 650 Sq.Ft. 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath.
Tuesday, August 13
Given the scarcity of vacant lots in and around Seattle, finding a small lot is a seemingly impossible proposition. When small lots are developed it is most often to the maximum extent allowable by the code. Given the provisions in the Seattle zoning code, these houses can be huge ugly boxes way out of scale with their surroundings. No shortage of these houses have been built in Seattle over the last few years. Enough to finally prompt amendments to the land use code. The Seattle Weekly recently did an article about the reaction to one local developer who's excesses led to these amendments.
Beyond a much needed overhaul to the Seattle Municipal Code, the most effective way to reverse this trend is to demonstrate viable alternatives. To this end we are currently looking for small lots on Mercer Island, North Seattle, and for a backyard cottage site on or around Queen Anne. If you think that your lot may qualify or are otherwise interested please give us a call or shoot us an email.
Tuesday, July 9
A tiny home demonstration project by students at Emily Carr University of Art and Design underscores the challenges of providing shelter for at risk groups and the homeless.
To read more about this unique project. vancouver sun article
Our own experience working with a Vancouver land owner to come up with provide services for at risk youth has run into some similar challenges.
The local municipality views our proposal as an under utilization of the site and has proposed utility hookup costs of $450,000 equivalent to that for 30 apartment buildings. Effectively keeping the project in limbo for now.