Thursday, March 29, 2012

Petition the White House in support of small houses

Like small houses? Want to see more? Sign this petition and ask the White House to reform zoning laws.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Build it on the Cheap

If you are looking to build a new home you know that sometimes the land can cost as much as the house itself. Everybody has one idea on their mind and that is, "How can I get cheap land?" Land-grabs are over despite some fraudulent claims on the internet. What we have found, however, is that some very cheap land CAN be had. This is not $20,000 for 5 acres in the middle of nowhere and no water supply in sight. What if I told you that you could have a building lot near mountain recreation that would allow you to build a 900sf home. "Big deal", you say, "there's lots of that." What if it could cost you only $736. That's not a typo, let me spell it out: Seven hundred and thirty-six dollars. Every year (more or less) Clackamas County in Oregon auctions off their surplus land. Some of this land has been county owned for some time, some may have been repossessed and have some back taxes to pay. Taxes on small vacant parcels in the middle of nowhere tends to be in the range of $20 to $50 per year or less.

The particular parcel that we found is item number 15 at This is a 30x80 parcel outside of Zigzag, Oregon. The zoning code at describes how this parcel can support a house with 480sf of ground area (20x24). Two stories makes for 960sf less about 60sf for stairs. The opening bid is $736. We've been watching this website for years and we're pretty sure this parcel will stay low, perhaps a couple of thousand. This would make an absolutely ideal cabin if you are into winter recreation or summer mountain air.

We made some preliminary sketches for this small parcel. Downstairs is completely open with a kitchen and laundry under the stairs. Upstairs is a bed and bath with the rest of the area being an open sleeping loft. You could include more space with a second loft over the bedroom and a fairly steep roof. You'll want a steeper roof anyway to shed snow. A 12:12 pitch would not be out of place on a small cabin. Think chalet.

There are other lots in the mountains as well. Items 9, 10, and 16 are all smaller parcels with low opening bids. If you are interested in one of these lots, have Istockhouseplans design a cabin for you. Our recent love of small homes has expanded our thinking outside the box and we're excited for a challenge.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What NOT to do

Due to mounting pressures in other arenas, last week's blog post missed the mark.  But we are prepared this week to offer a small round of funnies.  Please always background check your contractor and make yourself aware of energy efficiency practices.

We are particularly fond of the fixed R-21 door: