I visited my sister a couple months ago in Chicago and spent half a day at one of the lovely downtown Barnes & Nobles perusing green and architecture related books, especially those about small homes. The following is a random list of cost reduction ideas I jotted down in my handy pocket notebook. Some ideas are better than others and some are probably downright lousy but sometimes it helps to clear my mind and jot down whatever comes into it on a specific topic. Some of these are design ideas to make a small home more appealing. Here’s the list titled “Small Home Ideas”
- The best way to reduce cost/complexity/time is to eliminate common features or steps altogether (this is from my Industrial Engineering days).
- Walls & Doors – an open layout eliminates a lot of walls and doors
- Drywall – Do we really always need drywall? How about exposed concrete block, SIPs or ICFs?
- Open Shelves vs. Full Upper Cabinets
- Angle Stock vs. Square Stock
- Loft bedroom vs. Full 2nd or 3rd floor
- Very simple, industrial light fixtures that could be made from common parts found at a home center
- Courtyard in front as well as behind (this is for our Philly rowhomes)
- First floor half below grade
- Passive solar design and automated climate control
- solar chimney from ground to top floor
- solar orientation and shading
- radiant on bottom floor only (heat seems to rise)
- automated windows based on internal vs. external environment
- Rain collection barrel (art piece?)
- Small (1/3 – 1/) basement if any at all
- Interior courtyard
- Split level floors / multi-elevation
- Vines & ivy as awning and/or privacy fence coverage
- Alternatives to drywall (portions unfinished, portions pain/stain, portions earth clay…)
- Built-ins: shelving, storage, seating, beds, desks…
- Second floor plywood (or plyboo or other environmentally sensitive sub to plywood) only?
- washer/dryer under vanity
- open bathroom, no shower walls, toilet closet only…
- new w/ old
- Reclaimed materials & fixtures that are unique but can be repeatably obtained for multiple homes in any area of the country (doors, windows, sinks…)
- Sand concrete by hand (sweat equity)
- No lower cabinets in kitchen? open shelves
- Hardibacker & stucco
- Translucent material with better insulation than glass
- Sloped green roof
- Straw Bale in front & back only (rowhomes again with space to spare in front and back but not sides)
- Multi-shades (grey) exterior Hardi
- Don’t be afraid of IKEA (I just added this one and I constantly go back and forth with it)
Feel free to add to the list. You can critique is you really have to but this is really a brainstorming session first. Critiquing and narrowing in on the best ideas happens in the next step.
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