Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting Closer to smaller living: Stage 1.4 - Separating Needs Versus Wants.

A Micro Home is all about balance and change.  Most Americans live in insane sized homes, Myself included.   I have 1900 sq feet of home plus a full basement and full garage.  For just my Wife and I it's insanely over-sized.  We could live like kings in a 650 sq foot apartment with two bedrooms, and even then it's still a major waste of space and resources.   What do we do with all that space?  we fill it up with stuff we  just do not need.   A nice oak dining room table that will sit 6 people,  Nice pretty furniture in the living room that we never sit on.  And the basement full of junk we never use.

So I started the list of things I like doing and need space.  

Wine Making.   I currently take up about 25 square feet for my wine making supplies and space to do it in.  I ferment 3 carboys of wine at a time to make about 36 bottles of wine every 3 months.  Do I really need to?  no.  I can scale back to a single 3 gallon batch and reduce the space needed by 1/2 and still enjoy the hobby.  I just cant give away as much wine as I do now.

Cooking.   I love to cook, but I dont need a 38" wide double convection oven with 5 burners to do it.  A single crock pot, and a small camper range can do the job nicely.  I would need to go through my pots and figure out how to reduce what I have and what I need.  A bread pan can do as a Meatloaf pan and even a cake pan.  yes all my cakes will be small and oblong, but taste the same.

Home Office.   This one is easy in some ways.   Laptops.  The hard part is the printer.  I have yet to find a nice tiny color laser printer that will fill the need.   I want laser because inkjets become unusable within a month of no use.  Laser printers can sit for years and fire up and print perfectly.   Outside of the printer, everything else in the home office can be thrown away.  I dont need a desk, a fold up tray or the dining table will work just fine. I really like my triple monitor setup,  but buying a nice large laptop with the fastest processor in it will make a big difference.  Spending $2500 on a laptop instead of  $800 for a laptop, $800 for a desktop PC, $350 for monitors, $450 for a desk, $200 for a chair, etc... Is a LOT cheaper and I end up with a faster and better computer than if I do the traditional desktop+laptop setup that most people have.

Gaming.    I love video games, it's my escape and time waster.   No I dont like gaming on a computer,  I love my Xbox though.   Luckily an xbox can do double duty for gaming and entertainment.  Plus if you get the right flat screen TV it can also work for the laptop as a second screen or much larger screen.  a Single 32" 1080p monitor will turn any laptop into a desktop.

Motorcycling.   This one is hard to deal with in smaller spaces.   You dont have a garage so storage of the bike will be outside in the elements all the time.  IF you get a tiny bike, you can store it on the porch (if your micro home has one) but it will block the entryway.   I have yet to find a solution to this.

Those are my wants.  And yes I consider some of them as needs, but they are in reality only wants, luxuries that I can live without.   How do I include all my luxuries into my life?   Reduce them to their essence.   If you love making arts and crafts,  do you really need a whole Sewing and Craft room?  cant you reduce it to a bag and then buy what you need when you need it?  Yes that means you cant go out and buy a metric ton of beads or fabric when it's on sale.  How small of a space can you reduce your hobby into?  Some like "furniture making"  cant be reduced.

Needs:  I need a shower.  Luckily my wife does not care about a bath tub.  So that makes the bathroom smaller and saves space.   We have owned an RV and I have done the RV shower thing.   IT's not fun,  enough room to turn around is really important to me,  IT also needs to have windows for light and a fan for moisture/smell control. I am realistic,   no long showers = smaller water heater,  Although hot water on demand systems are a possibility but only if you are Grid connected.  I cant find any that work for 12Volt solar systems.

Kitchen that has enough room to work in.  That means a larger galley than most micro homes have.  I want a microwave above the stove. and an oven.    IT also needs an additional fan for smell and moisture control.

Guest space.   we would like to be able to accommodate guests on a occasion.  This means having TWO sleeping areas or the possibility by having the couch convert into a spare bed for two.   This seems to be more of a "want" but with my daughter and other very close friends, it's really a need.

Entertainment/work space.  Space for my wife to be able to work at the same time as I do.  And allow her to watch TV or do whatever she wants while I work/ etc...   Being able to feel at home without forcing the other person to do what you want is important for a happy family life,   make sure the space is there.

Pets.  Cats need a place to eat and to go to the bathroom.  How can you have a kitty box that is not in the way and will not stink up the house horribly.  I am thinking of a second vent fan for the kitty bathroom.  Micro Dog owners have an advantage here.

Again,  Some of the needs feel like Wants.  But if I want to stay married, it becomes a need.

One more NEED I have yet to come up with,   multiple exit doors or improved fire safety.  I cant see how to add a second emergency exit into a micro home.  In case of a fire you have literally seconds to get out.  In a micro home you have even less.  I really am uncomfortable with the single Exit door that all micro homes have.   Plus with Loft sleeping, there is no way you can get out without going down to the main floor.  This means really going overboard with smoke, fire and Co2 alarms   plus adding multiple fire control measures.  Having several extinguishers in the micro home takes up more space, but I would rather be able to put that fire out or reduce it long enough for my wife and I to get out.  I am looking at small scale built in systems that use piping and spray heads in key locations.  I know, Most RV's and cabins don't have that now and they are safe.   This is my little bit of paranoia that I have to satisfy.

All of the above will significantly effect the side and design of my micro home, and these MUST be decided before anything else.  Failure to consider your wants and needs before you even start to think about the home size or design will lead to you being unhappy with the home after it is completed. You need to start your lists now and start thinking about what you NEED and what you WANT in your home.  What are the compromises you are willing to take and how can you simplify your life to fit inside a micro home.

No comments: