Friday, December 3, 2010

More Living Arrangements

I ran across the Tiny Houses concept the other day ( for the website).  It seems increasingly likely that large one-family multiple-bedroom houses are going to be a thing of the past, or at least out of the reach of most people, as time goes on.  Home loans are going to be harder to get and homes are going to need to be usable by larger numbers of people, both in terms of providing shelter for multiple generations or branches of a family, or for renting out to tenants in return for barter or whatever serves as currency.

The other option is to go small, as Jay Shafer has done with Tumbleweed Houses and built a business around it.  While the homes he builds are beautiful, they are expensive and probably beyond the reach of people who are strapped for cash as it is, but it does reflect an interesting trend moving back in the direction of taking up less in the way of resources and space.  In a time when fewer and fewer people have much, doesn't it make sense that our living arrangements would also reflect the need for less? 

Obviously, while there is still a glut of modern-style homes on the market, there's not a need for new construction, but as those homes wear out, burn down, are located in areas which are increasingly isolated from centers of commerce, it stands to reason that new construction will occur.  Of course, even if there are still modern-style homes available in areas close to commerce, there remains the issue that they are getting more and more out of the reach of many people.

The other option is for people to look at providing unconventional shelter.  After all, if we consider what we really NEED, as opposed to what we WANT, in terms of a house/home, then we can considerably narrow down what is going to fit the bill.  It boils down to having a place to get in out of the elements, sleep warmly and safely, possibly with space to bathe or prepare food, maybe storage for a few essentials.  Alternative homebuilding techniques, using materials that others might see as "junk," or are readily available, is one choice.  With some manual labor and minimal resources, it's possible to construct a decent, liveable home.

Another possibility that someone mentioned to me a while back was to purchase a storage shed and use this as a home.  Obviously, it wouldn't be up to code as a dwelling, but as fewer and fewer people care about those regulations, it may be a possibility for some.  Most of those buildings need insulation in even temperate areas, possibly a couple of small windows for light, etc.  Any provision for heat is going to have to be carefully considered for safety reasons, as are sanitary considerations.  On the other hand, it would beat living in a tent or a box.


  1. Nice idea but Big Brother is gonna try to enforce The Code until we break them of it. See

    and also

    It seems we can't just be left alone. I predict that Big Brother will arrange for cholera to spread from Haiti and necessitate the round-up of nomads or "non-code" dwellers into FEMA camps. Just saying...

  2. Yeah, I agree that it's always hard to figure how people in "power" are going to react as things get strange down the road. I think one safe way of doing things is that if there's a crowd going one direction, make sure you're going the other as quickly as possible. The experience with the people stuck in the Superdome during Katrina showed what a crappy thing it is to be a refugee. Interestingly, the second season of The Colony started out the same way -- people stuck in a refugee camp and abandoned.

    I tend to think that the appearance of power is more important most of the time than the actual exercise of power, therefore the odds of actually getting bothered are pretty low, especially as the funding of government gets more and more limited. This seems to be the theme of much dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. If you recall, there was even an armed resistance movement active against the communist in Ukraine for a couple of decades -- there was just too much land to cover and the communist government was too disorganized to really be able to focus on wiping it out. Sure, there's advanced surveillance technology these days, but when everyone's calling in sick because their last three paychecks bounced and the store shelves are empty, who cares?

    My thinking, based on having had federal agents and workers as friends, and having had limited military experience, and also viewed in the light of having had friends that were vocal in their dislike of said government, is that the government is made up of people who are mostly like everyone else, with better benefits. They want to go to work, look at pron and Youtube all day long and spend the weekends watching sports or whatever on TV. Now and then, they go bust some heads to remind everyone why they have to pay taxes, but trying to turn the nation into a prison camp or actively rounding up dissidents that aren't busy tossing molotovs through windows seems to be generally beyond their willingness to do anything. On a personal level, my bigger worry is always about how I'm going to have a full belly and a dry place to sleep at the end of the day, once the lights really start going out.

  3. Not so Tiny Houses

    Small living spaces are a nice idea in a highly developed industrial society where nothing useful is accomplished at home. We live in such a society now.

    When one grows and or processes food at home, makes ones own fabric and clothes, or even runs almost any kind of craft or business, a larger house in required. The tradtional farmhouse and the urban Dutch houses with business at street level, home on the second floor and storage on the third comes to mind.

    But such dwellings had, and will have many more people per square foot than now; the days of a 5000 sq ft. McMansion with one person and their sex object as sole inhabitants are numbered. They will be filled with extended family, servants and employees. These houses will NOT be heated to 75 F throughout in the winter and cooled to 70 F throughout in the summer. And cottagers will still work outside, weather permitting, and urban dwellers may once more live in what the Romans called "Insulae" (multi story mud brick apartment buildings.)