As the concept of the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) has been developing, so has that of the tiny or little house. A well designed little house is like an oversized house except all the extra space is removed. Superfluous space is considered a burden so anything not working towards meeting specific needs or enhancing quality of life is removed. All space is designed to be strictly functional.
Jay Shafer has been building tiny homes ranging in size from 50 to 750 square feet since 1997. These tiny houses include living and sleeping areas, kitchens and bathrooms. Jay's decision to focus on small, hand-built houses has more to do with minimalism, sustainability, efficiency and affordability than it does with creating a housing model for seniors but the principles could certainly be applied and the floor plans modified to suit an older client. Prices for a tiny house vary with size and amenities. A basic one room summer cabin might cost $15,000 or less. Spending at least $30,000 will allow for a year round home complete with working bathroom and kitchen.
On his website www.tumbleweedhouses.com, Jay writes that "How each house gets used depends on the occupant's particular needs. What one person would enjoy as a quiet studio in their backyard, another couple might choose to inhabit as a full time residence. What some people see as the perfect weekend hideaway in the country, others will use as a beautiful free-standing addition to their existing home for accommodating an elderly parent, an adult child, guests, or as office space."
From the Tumbleweed Tiny House 2010 Catalogue
Model: Whidbey Total Square Feet Including Optional Bedroom: 557 square feet
The Whidbey's kitchen includes a dishwasher, full size range with oven and built in microwave. The tank-less water heater is tucked away out of view and there is a washer/dryer combo in the kitchen. If the front steps were removed to create a zero step entry and the bath expanded so as to include a walk-in shower, this little house could easily serve as a choice for aging-in-place. Cost:Materials for the one bedroom version are approximately $43,000 and with the optional bedroom $50,000.
In 2005, after many homes in the Gulf Coast were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, architects were challenged to design some low cost emergency housing. Marianne Cusato built the original 308 square foot Katrina Cottage which became a prototype and was later adapted to about two dozen versions designed by a variety of architectural firms.
Lowe's teamed with designer Marianne Cusato to create this, first of its kind, Katrina Cottage located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Lowe's now offers prepackaged Katrina Cottage kits including plans and all materials for construction.
Katrina Cottage - Original 308 square feet
Katrina Cottages are typically small, ranging from less than 500 square feet up to about 1,000 square feet. While size and floor plans vary, Katrina Cottages share many features. They are mostly prefab houses constructed from factory-made panels and can be built quickly and economically. Several of the cottages have options that allow them to be expanded over time. The cottages were designed with durability in mind and meet both International Building Code and most hurricane codes.
The living area of this Katrina Cottage has no interior walls. Instead square pillars and long curtains frame a space used for sleeping. The Murphy bed can be folded up against the wall during the day.
Katrina Cottage - Expanded Version 517 square feet
Designer: Geoffrey Mouen
This Cottage is equipped with a generously sized
dressing area to add efficiency and comfort for the
Like Jay Shafer's tiny houses, the Katrina Cottages need "tweaking" in order to work for those who want to age-in-place. Raised porches and stepped entrances need to be eliminated. Bathrooms need to be enlarged to allow for ease of maneuverability and bathroom fixtures need to be carefully selected for safety and comfort. With some minor adaptations, however, these smaller homes are a strong addition to the Senior housing market.