One of the many things we’ve been looking at as we change our focus is the changing landscape of housing size. I think the part that has fascinated me the most is that there isn’t just one trend. It’s a bunch of trends that work for different demographics. I’m not sure why that would surprise me, but that’s because I wasn’t looking at the big picture, I guess. Just thinking about the needs I see in greater Austin I can identify these:
Tiny houses: This would work great for people who are displaced (disasters, etc.) or have been homeless. Minimalists also love living in a small amount of space, as do people who really only use their homes for sleeping and spend most of their other time elsewhere. Tiny house communities with communal space for entertaining, group meals, exercise, and storage of bulky items can be appealing to people who like to socialize. A real negative is that people do need to have storage for their bulky items (bicycles, kayaks, books).
Container homes: I have to admit I’ve been interested in building residences out of shipping containers for years. You can link them together or use them as a basis for adding on living space. What we would need to do is look at whether it’s cost effective.
Creating smaller dwellings from larger ones: We’ve all seen beautiful old houses that have been turned into apartments. Many of us have either done or undone such projects. For people looking for a smaller home or want to live near downtown areas, this might work.
Sharing spaces: The “upsizing” trend is where members of extended families buy a large home and share it. In many cultures, it’s the norm for generations to live together. It makes child care easier, and at other stages of life, makes elder care simple. Designing houses that make this easy intrigues me. Looking at the house where Carol and Russell live now, with more than one kitchen and living area, plus many bathrooms and separated bedrooms, makes me think this wouldn’t be so hard to do.
And, of course, unrelated people sharing homes is another trend that’s happening more and more, especially with rising home prices. People like my older son, a school teacher, can live in a much nicer and larger house if the expenses are shared.
Many of these ideas won’t go over well with a lot of zoning laws. There are laws stating how many unrelated people can live in a house, laws requiring buildings be made a certain way (ruling out manufactured homes, container homes, and some tiny homes). And building homes in suburbs or rural areas won’t help people who want to live near schools and work.
Do you have any pros and cons with these ideas? We aren’t necessarily planning to focus on any of these areas, but they are things we’re learning about.
Do you know of any housing/real estate needs that you don’t see being met very well?Hermann says please like and share!