Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Efficiency by Design - Logistics

Of course, good design and material optimization are important but there's a third leg to stabilize the whole thing. Optimizing materials on paper is no good if the notes aren't followed in the field. You could create a precise cut chart that gets all but ignored unless your site is set up to accommodate the extra steps.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Efficiency by Design - Design

The mere design of your house can have a big factor on your lumber bill. Think about the jogs and other dimensions in light of the dimensions of your materials. Are you attempting an 18" jog? Or worse 26"? Why is your floor 24'-6" wide?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Efficiency by Design - Roofs

After all the work of optimizing the rest of the house, you might think we could call it a day and cap our house. But wait, there's more! Efficiency by Design is a thorough study of EVERY part of the house. Why stop early when there's still a roof?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Efficiency by Design - Walls

Walls are so misunderstood. In a world of "More wood is better!" it's hard to know what to cut. Efficiency by Design can optimize your walls to help you know what's what and what to cut.

What's in a wall? There are three basic parts: First are the studs that stand straight up. These are held in place by plates at the top and bottom. Finally all of it is tied together with sheathing. How do they work?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Efficiency by Design - Floors

What's the difference between a floor and a ceiling? Not much. If it's unfinished below, it's a floor. If it's unfinished above, it's a ceiling. If it's finished on both sides it's a floor and a ceiling. With the exception of trusses (which we'll discuss later in Roofs), both are built very similarly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Efficiency by Design - Foundation

The foundation of your house is perhaps the most important feature. Get it right and the whole house can last for a hundred years or more. Get it wrong and you'll be plagued with callbacks.

We at Istockhouseplans understand this concern. However we also like to weigh the other side of the balance with efficiency by design and optimizing your materials. We did the research and found out how to keep your house strong and save money at the same time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Efficiency by Design - Introduction

We spent some time harping on material optimization a few years back. Touted as advanced framing, there was some push back on implementation. Framers get stuck in a rut, get used to a way of doing something, have a feeeeling that something performs better. Meanwhile, we designers sit behind our computers with our soft, smooth hands crunching numbers and telling you what to install. Your experience might differ from our callouts. And that's okay.

But since that time we've honed our razor to an even sharper edge. We've done away with the concept of advanced framing and developed a system known as Efficiency by Design. What's so efficient about it? Pop quiz, what would you rather save on most: material cost, labor costs, or loan interest?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Multnomah County Property Tax Appeals

The news is out. It seems like Multnomah County is taking advantage of the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) situation in Portland. In 2010 the city decided to waive systems development charges (SDC) on new ADU creation whether that be converting a garage, carving space out of a basement or building a brand new structure. This was great as it enabled the building of thousands of permitted ADUs.

(cue impending music)

Now that we have a bajillion ADUs in the city Multnomah county decided to strike. Obfuscating state code they have interpreted a re-use as a re-zone and have JACKED property taxes up on many properties with newly built ADUs. The problem is that they are not only reassessing the improved value of the ADU itself but pretending as if the house is brand new construction as well. Even if it was built in 1924! The net effect is that Multnomah County is shooting themselves in the foot by killing the detached ADU industry.

The Oregon State Department of Revenue has said that Multnomah County is probably doing it wrong but they aren't enforcing or overruling any judgements yet.

Plenty has been written on this already and developments are appearing. The point of this brief is to not dig into more detail but to offer some solutions:

  • Contact the county staffer about this:

Dave Austin

  • It's possible that a class action suit may arise.

  • Or appeal the taxes on your own. I hope you're smart!
  • There are several exemptions you can file for including active military service, veterans, elderly, disabled, enterprise zones and non-profits. From personal experience it is not terribly difficult to become a non-profit. Doing the paperwork yourself is fairly cheap and you don't necessarily need 501(c)(3) status to be a state non-profit. But be sure that your non-profit use is accurate and that you are not the sole beneficiary. If you are housing your elderly folks, maybe you could set yourself up as a care home?
  • You may also be able to revert your taxes by connecting your ADU to your main house. Some restrictions may apply. The County may or may not reassess backwards. Contact us for a free assessment of your options.
Good luck! Hopefully we can just get this reversed and tar and feather those in charge.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Creativity Unleashed!

It's been a while since posting. The creativity muse hit hard the other night. Think 2x4 and back of the head. When consciousness was regained, this was on the computer screen:

After another muse attack (bag of doorknobs this time), this variant appeared:

Both are available for sale on a T-shirt or, say, tote bag. (Ice pack would be nice). This second one looks real nice on a thong.

See the full collections on CafePress:

"Tinier Than Thou" apparel and gifts
"Mine's Tinier" apparel and gifts

Or if you prefer, Zazzle.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Brace of Bracing

About two and a half years ago we promoted Simpson Strong-tie's Wall Bracing Calculator.  A new contender has entered the ring, APA (the plywood people).  We played around with their new calculator and found it to be a little different than Simpson's.  For one, the walls are adjustable more on the fly.  With Simpson, you need to use their Java back button and re-enter inputs.  With APA you can see changes as you go.  The biggest difference is that you can enter each braced wall section and opening so that APA can calculate not only the total wall bracing needed, but each panel as qualifying or not.  Pretty slick.

To play around with it, go here.  You will need an account to access their website but it's totally worth it.

And make sure you save your work (as an XML file, very cool) before exporting to a pdf.  The pdf feature is temporarily broken.  *edit* PDF function fixed.  But the xml feature tells me that I could edit the hard data in a text editor, similar to a Google Earth kml file.  Take that, Simpson!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ebook is Live!

"200 Square Feet" our first ebook is now live and free for a limited time.  You can find it on Amazon or check here for other international markets.  Free promo period will end on Saturday at midnight PST (UTC -8:00).  If you are interested in tiny house ideas, details, and designs, please check out the book.  We've included over a dozen different plans for 200sf and smaller shelters.  We've also set up a support website for the book.  Of course, your referrals and reviews are highly appreciated.  Send us your questions and comments!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Busy Elsewhere - Announcement

For the last few months we have been busy writing.  Not on this blog, obviously.  All of our wordsmithing efforts have been going into creating an ebook on tiny home design.  Several designs are being created to go along with the book.  We are aiming for a Cyber Monday release.  Standard price will be $3.99 for the book in either pdf or Kindle version.  But during Cyber Monday week (Monday through Friday) we'll be introducing the book for the low price of free.  For five days only you'll have the opportunity to see our content for nothing out of pocket.

What you'll get:
Ideas, some building theory, comparisons of construction types

What's not included:
Building on a trailer (plenty of others doing that), detailed step by step construction guide.

Stay tuned to this blog or use the subscribe feature on the right to be the first to know.

*edit: if you want to add yourself to the notification list, visit http://eepurl.com/87lin