Tag Archives: sustainability

Moving Along…

25 Mar

Hello friends. Thanks so much for supporting this blog over the last couple years. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve written here and I haven’t felt right about posting here for much longer than that. Within a year my thinking evolved a lot around the topics of consumerism, especially responsible/conscious consumerism, so the old content and title of this site are no longer relevant, and are even slightly offensive to my new perspective.

So I’m retiring it. Check out my new digs over at http://www.ASustainableMind.com where I’m allowing myself a lot of room to grow (literally & figuratively). A Sustainable Mind is primarily a space to discuss the mindset of sustainability. I’ve been considered (by others) to be a tree hugger for years and it was only when I reflected on my principles and realized that I truly AM passionate about the environment that I started taking conscious action to be eco-friendly. Before that it was just recycling because it was the right thing to do but I was still somehow disconnected. Now I believe that true & consistent sustainability starts with core beliefs and not just with individual actions.

I will also be interviewing sustainability enthusiasts on a regular basis starting in April. Writing at ASM is an exciting challenge and I hope you will join me. See you on the flip side!

Marjorie Alexander

March 24th, 2013

Advertisements

Tiny House Interlude #3

11 Apr

I started this entry yesterday after finishing an 18.5 hr overnighter finishing up a site for a client so I was not gonna “get into too much detail on anything”. Just list a few awesome tiny house links, resources, videos…with a bit of commentary of course, and a personal update. But then again the tiny house underground is quite large and I couldn’t help myself. So, first a word on interior aesthetics. For those uninterested you can skip to the next section.

Drywall

It’s odd, I never considered having a home with an all wood interior until I started researching tiny houses. When I thought, “wood” I always pictured the faux wood paneling or the traditional log cabins…neither of which I liked very much. And then wood was pretty much all I saw for probably 100+ tiny house videos…and I never really thought twice about it. It’s probably one of the most obvious characteristics of most tiny homes…other than the fact that they are tiny of course, and somehow it totally felt right. Obviously, for those who are using recycled/reclaimed wood, building more green in general and want a more hand-crafted look this seems to be the way to go. Just recently I saw 2 tiny homes with drywall interiors. Here’s one of them. The most obvious difference: more light.

Personally, I’m not a fan of light. Odd I know. I love solar energy but to be out in the sun isn’t really my thing and it really saps my energy. Yes, I know that I live in LA. However, I’m assuming as I get older and my life simplifies I will start appreciating sunlight and lots of windows more than I currently do. I’ll just call it planning ahead.

So at one point I did ponder the possibility of drywall inside a tiny home but the main utilitarian purpose of drywall is as a fire barriar which…in a tiny house…good luck. (Jay Shafer did say in a video that his bedroom window, which was pretty tiny, was big enough for him to crawl out of in case of emergency. Good thinking Jay.) So then it must have other benefits, right?

Con’s

-It’s not green. And if you are a less experienced builder/DIYer and you break the pieces poorly you will probably notice all the fiberglass inside.

*Further research: Drywall is usually paper-faced or fiberglass-faced. Fiberglass-faced is more mold resistant so it’s sometimes used in basements, hurricane territory, per local building codes I assume…the restaurant I did construction on used it in parts of the kitchen and bathroom…(in my experience you know it when you see it because the face is green or blue/purple instead of white [you see this in a lot of unfinished basements] and it costs more but reading the label is always good to be sure.) Then there is ‘monolithic’ drywall (disperses cellulose throughout the gypsum so I guess no facing is required). Seems to be a few select companies though and was designed mostly for under-tiling and is not the standard for walls.

-Not so hand-made looking. Although if you like a contemporary feel this is probably the way to go.

Pro’s

-Cheaper…unless you get sustainable/eco-friendly drywall which costs the same as the non-eco, high end stuff: $14-20 per sheet according to some sources in 2008.

-Light weight in comparison to wood which would be good for hauling weight (this is assumed, i still have to research it).

*After more research I found that drywall is about 3.4 lbs/sq ft and pine interior paneling ranges from .75-1.75 lbs/sq ft (per various current manufacturer’s specifications)

-Reflects light better inside if painted a light color. Even darker colors I think would reflect light rather well because of the smooth surface.

-Repairs are easier when you can just cut a hole through and cover it up seamlessly. Repairs in wood are a bit more difficult and take preplanning if you want to allow access to main utilities throughout for future maintenance & repair.

-It can be painted or given a textured finish.

For all the positive attributes I still like the idea of a wooden interior but it seems a bit busy, visually too much for me to handle long term. And that’s a lot of material to use to decide in a few months that you don’t like it. All in all I need to see one in person and then the lighting and eco issues will guide my decision.

Another thing about this house…great storage options. Look closely at some of their photos (1, 2, 3, 4) to see what I mean.

Laundry

I’m really lucky to have laundry on the other end of my building but after yesterday and last night that was the last thing I wanted to do…in the rain. It reminded me to look into this. A mini washer, no electricity or plumbing needed. It has a warranty & money back guarantee which makes me feel a bit better but the reviews are great so…definitely something to look into.

Tiny House Blogs

A few awesome tiny home blogs I’m either just discovering or just now getting around to actually reading.

Tiny Home Builders – more than just pretty pics, they have good info if you’re willing to click around for the real content

Sarana Park – Two Los Angelenos build 2 tiny homes and head north. One tiny house has wooden interior, the other drywall interior. Very nice site.

Forge Ahead – Tiny houses by Jenine Alexander & Amy Hutto. They’ve got 2 under their belt, one is rented, the other sold and Jenine is finishing the interior on a 3rd which was constructed on a boat trailer! Might be a good possibility with so many boaters here in SoCal.

Tiny Houses: Small Spaces – found on someone’s tumblr. Haven’t gotten too far into it but this site seems to have a lot of great videos.

Can A Tiny House Withstand Natural Disasters?

Video of tiny house after a EF3 tornado by Travis162002

The Compact Kitchen – Best thing since sliced toasted bread

Avanti Appliances – I saw this in a faircompanies.com youtube video and I was able to make out the logo so I visited their website. They also have countertop ovens which are the same size as or smaller than microwaves, which I dont use, so I’ll get one of these instead.

Tiny House Drafting

This free online drafting software from Urban Barn was written about in the Tiny House Blog. Much faster than SketchUp for drawing up multiple rough floor plans for comparison.

In other news…

Macy is making awesome headway on her tiny house flooring and going vertical! Congrats Macy!

My dad is teaching my cousin to drive this week…yikes. After doing one of his typical freak outs and making lots of annoying sounds in the passenger’s seat she kicked him out of the car. He sent me pics. He did the exact same thing when he tried to teach me to parallel park between 2 metal barrels.* Hilarious. 

I finished some insane WordPress site integration and tons of branding & marketing materials for a client (hence my 18.5 hr long day) who has a huge event later this month…it’ll be good publicity, I’m looking forward to new clients 🙂

I’m totally addicted to this new app, Scramble with Friends (by Zynga, the Words with Friends app people). I think I’m 3 and 7 since I started 3 days ago. I’m not great at it but it’s fast paced so it keeps me interested at all hours of the night.

*for the record I turned out to be an AMAZING parallel parker…thanks dad

Breaking the Law

5 Apr

I have a long day ahead of me but I didn’t want to go another day without making you all aware of a few things. Let’s start on a serious note.

There is a petition at WhiteHouse.gov that, with enough signatures (25K by April 27th) will require states to reform the 1000 sq. ft. minimum zoning laws for “homes,” or should I say houses. I read on someone’s Pinterest board yesterday, “Home is what they can’t take away from you”. Anyway, Jay Shafer has been big on this issue since before he started his own tiny house journey in the 90’s. You can read for yourself what Jay Shafer has to say. He’s far more eloquent than I on this issue.

But before you get too far read the other side of the story. Hontz, who commented on my last post (thank you Hontz), has his own blog False Division and his latest is about this issue precisely. He offers a different perspective and a few very valid points. Again his words will speak for themselves.

My opinion is this:

Challenging or changing these laws COULD mean much more affordable housing for anyone and everyone who’s income or lifestyle preferences call for it. The fact that a legal home MUST be a minimum of 1000 sq. ft. is ludicrous and I think there are a TON of people who want to own a home and simply don’t need the space nor want to spend that much money. I’ve read several stories/blogs and watch many videos of 3 & 4 person families living in tiny homes so obviously families who want to live in 300-999 square ft permanent homes should be able to especially if that is the financially & environmentally responsible thing to do and it’s their choice to do so.

On the other hand, per Hontz’s points, tiny housing IS an underground thing. Done by necessity by some, by choice by others and to rebel for the rest and any intrusion by the government could mean a lot of regulations forced on what is now relatively free and new territory. It’s like taming the Wild West. It had its pros and cons which I won’t go into but I don’t quite like the idea of that for tiny house culture.

There are people who don’t want to build their own tiny home. They have no interest in building, designing or even necessarily having a small environmental footprint. They simply recognize that they don’t need that much space and don’t want to spend 30 years paying for it. Or they don’t have the know how or time or money, or they don’t even know that tiny houses are a possibility. Either way there are few options next to traditional apartment living where annual rent could pay for the building of an entire tiny house. It’s for those individuals that I wonder how this petition will pan out. For tiny house enthusiasts, a group I am feeling more a part of each day, it’s a lifestyle sometimes nearing what some might categorize as obsession and I don’t necessarily believe this petition is for them but rather for the masses. < please DO click the link

Possibly having tiny house pocket neighborhoods or compounds is the way to go. With tiny house companies and non-profits acting as “developers” people can move in their own tiny home, build one there or pay others to build it. They can even rent if one is vacant and they don’t have the seed capital to own or build. This is one idea I am VERY interested in especially to help LA with it’s homeless issue. Not every homeless person is a beggar on the street. Some live in their cars or trailers but still have jobs to go to and children to raise. Some could certainly afford to rent a tiny home if there were the opportunity to do so. Anyway, if anyone is interested in this issue in particular PLEASE drop me a line at hp@mylifehalfprice.com or leave a comment. This is a non-profit initiative that I am very motivated to explore.

Wow…should have left that for it’s own entry…anyway…

For those of us who are in the know, have done the research, have built it (or ARE building it) with our own 2 hands…and for those who can’t or don’t know how…once educated take it upon yourself to sign or not sign. Thanks.

On a lighter note…I swear I have gotten an email about the article “The Magic of Doing 1 Thing at a Time” in my email about 3 times this week. I initially stumbled upon it surfing the Harvard Business Review and browsed it but I was too distracted (multitasking issue #1) by whatever the hell I was there for originally, which I can’t remember anyway (multitasking issue #2). Do you think the Universe is trying to tell me something?  I will read it later today after a very (hopefully) productive day…hmmm…actually maybe I’ll read it before I start my day…

Speaking of procrastination (multitasking issue #3) here is an article about how to simplify your wardrobe Right Now! Again, I will do this later. I have client deadlines to meet…yet here I sit writing a blog. I’ve got so much to write about if I let it build up any more I’ll just about explode. That’s my excuse (multitasking issue #4) and I’m stickin too it.

Lastly, I wanted to put a few videos out there that some of you might be interested in or inspired by. Enjoy.

Should I attend a Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop? LiveAlternativeGirl thinks I should.

Young people build tiny houses too. Tinyhouser Kendall Ronzano addresses the masses at TEDxYouth.

Dee Williams, a relative figurehead of the tiny house movement does a TED talk. One of the most inspiring TInyhousers I believe.

-Half-price