View Full Version : Micro houses

Private jet
11th May 2013, 22:11
Seriiously looking into "downsizing" at the moment and recall reading an article about micro houses in a newspaper several months back. I'm not talking about those tiny pods that are 3x3m, these were larger than that with a seperate bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and main area. I've done a search and cant find any suppliers/constructors in the UK which amazes me considering the chorus of complaint regarding lack of affordable housing and the 1 in 3 that are now single person households. Low maintenance + low energy costs add to the appeal, as long as the site location is good of course. Does anyone have any experience of these houses?

11th May 2013, 22:25
Ikea launches $80,000 flat-pack DIY house | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2108775/Ikea-launches-80-000-flat-pack-DIY-house.html)

In addition, of course there are 'Park Homes (http://www.parkhome-living.co.uk/)' aka Mobile Homes (though these are not strictly mobile) which require a site (usually a caravan-type park - think US trailer park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailer_park)).

PARK HOME MANUFACTURERS - Park Home Living (http://www.parkhome-living.co.uk/park-home-manufacturers)

Private jet
11th May 2013, 22:46
Thankyou for the links there, i'm certainly NOT downsizing to a mobile/trailer/static caravan.... or whatever they are called. :eek: The Ikea house looks like a shed, the ones i recall seeing were much more architecturally "sophisticated". Pretty sure i was ex UK at the time though. I'm amazed nobody in the UK is seriously developing or marketing something small but of high quality. A gap in the market perhaps?

11th May 2013, 22:48
There's this:- dwelle. sustainable micro-buildings... zero carbon sheds for living, micro homes, garden office studios, holiday cabins, play rooms, home gyms and beach huts (http://www.dwelle.co.uk/)

Of course you could buy a genuine mobile home (a camper van or motorhome), or simply a trailer caravan.
Some are quite large - up to the size of a bus (and self-contained, requiring only somewhere to park it).

11th May 2013, 23:02
Without seeking to be controversial, there's Traveller Homes (http://www.rooftopgroup.org/our-homes/gypsies-and-travellers/houndsfield-lane) - some of which (seen at the Dale Farm site were the size of a typical bungalow):-

11th May 2013, 23:13
There are also Swedish (http://www.svenskhomes.co.uk/) and German (http://www.hanse-haus.co.uk/) companies that will fabricate a complete structure to your (small or large) requirement.

You need to secure a piece of land and acquire planning permission (and arrange service connections).

11th May 2013, 23:19
Rereading your opening message, I believe that what are sold by developers as 'retirement homes' would seem to fit your ideas. Some are semi or detached one bedroom bungalows or multi-storey blocks.

11th May 2013, 23:24
You need to secure a piece of land and acquire planning permission (and arrange service connections).

And therein lies the crux of the uk issue. The houses are cheap enough but those that can afford them to make it a viable solution can't afford the land or the planning permission. Those that are using it to downsize can afford the land and the planning permission. However not freeing up affordable housing.

11th May 2013, 23:44

Web Site By OFAH-Developments - www.Plots-plans.com (http://www.plots-plans.com/UK%20Page.html)

R.HOUSE Timber Frame Homes from Skye :: Affordable, contemporary homes constructed for you on Skye in the Highlands of Scotland (http://www.ruralhouse.co.uk/)

Aboyne House Type (http://www.deesidetimberframe.com/timber-frame-kits/self-build-timber-frame-developments/timber-frame-house-types/all-homes-stored-here/portree-house-type/)

12th May 2013, 00:49
In addition, of course there are 'Park Homes' aka Mobile Homes (though these are not strictly mobile) which require a site (usually a caravan-type park - think US trailer park).
I'd be wary of those. They seem to attract an alarming number of hurricanes and tornadoes.

12th May 2013, 04:00
I have friends living on 35 to 38 foot yachts. In the uk you could live in a 48 foot narrowboat. I believe Richard Branson used to live in one near London.

12th May 2013, 05:41
In addition, of course there are 'Park Homes (http://www.parkhome-living.co.uk/)' aka Mobile Homes (though these are not strictly mobile) which require a site (usually a caravan-type park - think US trailer park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailer_park)).

I believe the site owners make you buy the trailer from them (limited choice) and then charge you ground rent for the pitch and services (putting you at their mercy). Finding a buyer for your used trailer is also a lot harder than selling bricks and mortar.
My SIL found this out to her cost, despite six months of warnings from us. :ugh:

12th May 2013, 06:22
Private jet: I've read through a page of this thread and no-one has mentioned that what you're describing is a flat, or appartment if one wants to be posh.

You have not identified a gap in the market because there are not a lot of single people who want to live in a detached one bedroom house in a field.

Lon More
12th May 2013, 08:24
I'd be wary of those. They seem to attract an alarming number of hurricanes and tornadoes.
Tornado magnets in the Mid-West. Something to do with the temperature difference between them and the surrounding country IIRC.

Thought about using some shipping containers?


12th May 2013, 08:53
Nice plan, Lon! Does someone sell the blueprints so one could maybe actually get such a structure approved?

My own observation is that STORAGE is near always sorely under-done in normal house plans, and more so in micro ones.

A suggested alternate strategy is to surf the paradigm split between inhabited and not inhabited structures by building, as the primary item, a large, cheap, not legally inhabitable structure (to meet code limits) for storing all the whatever that even retired life causes to accumulate -- and fairly calling it a barn, office, shed, or whatever when doing the paperwork. The initial and recurring costs for such structures are vastly less than for inhabitable ones.... for sensible and nonsensical reasons relating to building codes, tax practices, schools, roads, and local manias about whatever pristine spot of earth one may seek to despoil for personal convenience.

Building such a thing for storage of any and all possible debris one may already have or acquire in future indefinite solves one of life's great problems.. at a comparatively modest cost. It also provides some of a base for operations for whatever the next phase may be... whether living in a mobile or immobile RV, or a house in a box, or whatever may reveal itself as sensible as one comes to better know the land, the locality, the neighbors, oneself, etc. And likely, if one is a bit nice to the neighbors now and then, nobody will object if one camps nearby, or parks aside it, etc., while on the long road to a practical solution for what you really need and desire.

One may reckon that the investment in land, carefully acquired, will be durable in value, while the other stuff for living and such will disintegrate on its own at a rather milder slope than if done, for example, in the manner and style of Balmoral.


12th May 2013, 08:55
Does an IKEA flat pack house come with one of these?

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRb_f93n4r0MrwLybbGJCixhonnoB_hThyqyh1UDjw n2uUECkr4

Worrals in the wilds
12th May 2013, 09:08
And one of these in the garage. :}

Sounds like you want a donga.
Donga - Modular Villages - Dongas Mining Camps (http://www.modularvillages.com/donga)
Remote area staple in Australia, though they tend to be set up in camps by big employers. One minute you're quietly driving along a remote highway, the next you pass a small town being transported on trucks to the next Big Hole :eek:, complete with donga post office / general store, donga executive suite and donga pub.

12th May 2013, 10:21
The UK planning regs. are antediluvian. They work like this.
1. No
2. Oh, I'm sorry Mr Construction Company, I didn't recognise you. 1.5 mill for party funds? That'll do nicely. Build any cheap crap you like.

I've just completed a 2000 sq. ft. home for under 100,000, designed & built by me with zero planning inspections.

I did it in Canada.

12th May 2013, 11:34
Err - wrong. Presumably in 2 you are talking about S106 payments, soon to be replaced by the NHB or whatever. Monies go to community schemes - village halls, cycle ways, play parks etc etc.

12th May 2013, 13:14
...I seem to recall reading an article about a scheme to supply student housing based on ISO containers stacked two high. They were single accomodation but had all mod cons and looked rather nice, in a landscaped compound.

Earlier I'd stayed with a Dutch acquaintance in his 5 storey house in Leiden. Effectively it was one room plus a staircase wide. It was very efficiently designed but it would not appeal to incipient crumblies like wot I are - too many steps. Plus side could be it might keep one fit (ter).

The Ancient Mariner

12th May 2013, 13:20
A company called Snoozebox do temporary hotels made out of shipping containers for festivals and sports events.

12th May 2013, 14:01

No, I don't mean S106. I mean the larger scale legal and regulatory framework that effectively excludes owner-builders in the UK.

There are effectively no rules about house design and building over here. The houses that get built are neither ugly nor unsafe. If anything, owner-built houses are better quality than commercial contractors (this is not necessarily true of renovations). Electric, plumbing and sewer must be inspected, but that's it.

Wooden houses not as good as brick? Rubbish. UK climate conditions are easy compared to much of the USA and Canada.

12th May 2013, 16:15
Foxy, about 14000 a year get built under the self build setup here, evidence being the number of vat reclaims.

Did mine (1650 sq ft) in 1995 when it was a bit more unusual. Cost 48 per sq ft including land, 32 without. 17 weeks.

Still the best thing we ever did.


PS: Timber frame, 6" of insulation in the frame.

12th May 2013, 16:16
PrivateJet, when I was looking at building a guesthouse I did a lot of googling for "prefabricated house" and found a surprising number of companies with good - sometimes stunning - designs in that field. None of them were in my neck of the woods; nevertheless I did get many good ideas.

12th May 2013, 18:44
CG - I know it happens, but I didn't want the planning nightmare. My bro has been trying to get permission from his local council for 8 years. Nothing fancy, just a 3 bedroom home to replace a 2 bedroom derelict on the same site. Council keeps saying no for no good reason. It's with the SoS now.

Mine has cost me 38 per sq foot. 6" walls + 1" fancy foam. That's with all the quality bits you don't get on contractor-built homes, like 40 yr shingles. It's south-facing with big windows - my heating bills are half my neighbour's.

p.s. Planning permission here cost $190 and took 34 minutes, with the nice lady telling how to fill the form in.

Lon More
12th May 2013, 19:20
I can't remember where I found the plans exactly, been around for a while. There's a site here (http://dornob.com/boring-or-brilliant-simple-shipping-container-house-plans/#axzz2T44YtNKX) that might help.
There are a couple of UK magazines specialising in Home Builds. Both carry a list of plots for sale and there is an exhibition centre somewhere in the Home Counties IIRC with a number of examples of home builds on site.

Personally my ideal would be on the coast, a sheltered earth dwelling, totally invisible from anywhere except at sea.

12th May 2013, 21:19
Always wondered why steel-framed houses weren't more popular in the UK. Timbers all well and good but you'd presumably need less framing to get the equivalent structural strength, meaning simpler and more flexible designs would be possible.

I'm quite taken with this idea, although I reckon our local planners would have a kitten if I submitted a planning app for one:

Naturhus: An Entire House Wrapped in Its Own Private Greenhouse | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building (http://inhabitat.com/naturhus-an-entire-house-wrapped-in-its-own-private-greenhouse/)

It would allow you to remove the roof and use the space as a top-deck, also the solar gain during the winter would mean your energy bills would be much reduced. Also opportunities to cultivate food etc etc.

12th May 2013, 21:47
..and the cost of that huge amount of glazing?


12th May 2013, 22:50
Have we got Private Jet properly boxed in now? We all launched into the suggestions without considering whether he's downsizing from Castle Menzies, a flat in Monte Carlo or a semi-d in suburbia and, of course, what he has to rid himself of in the downsizing.

I do like Arcniz's suggestion of a depository for what one doesn't need "right now". The George Foreman electric skillet, those deckchairs where the plastic's been UV'd to water biscuit consistency but the aluminium frames are fine, and so forth. The solution, Arcniz, is a 40' high cube container and I'd be happy to design the interior shelving or separation cubicles for you, just let me know how many used lawnmowers you need in there and whether they're electric or petrol. And come on, there will be a yearly inventory, won't there?

Edit: for Dead_Pan and Fox3. Double glazing for that size house would probably be ridiculously expensive, agree. But when we did the sums for the new guesthouse steel framing and wide expanses of tempered glass came out way ahead of 100% bricks and mortar. To the tune of about half the cost per M2 of wall space. We don't face Swedish winters though, and the veg patch can survive our minimum temperatures.

12th May 2013, 23:34
The mega-greenhouse would only require single glazing, as it works as part of a two layer system, but you need the house as well.

Nothing but glass on the south wall tends to lead to overheating in summer and far too much heat loss at night/winter. I have 8.5% glazing on the south wall (window area/floor area) which is correct for my situation; about 45 degrees latitude, midwinter -20 Celsius, midsummer +30 Celsius, 1750 hrs sunshine.

The cost of my heating this winter was about $1000, heating coming on around 1 Oct and off 1 May. I do not require ac in summer. The heating is all electric as it isn't required when the sun's out, has cheapest initial cost and is fully programmable.

13th May 2013, 08:54
Sure, glazing would be expensive but then it would only need to be single glazed and then only really on the sun-ward sides. The rest could be clad with timber panels with the occasional window port. Also depends on what glazing you use - commercial greenhouse glass isn't that expensive and you could use the likes of polycarbonate for parts of the structure.

You would save on the inner house structure as this wouldn't have to be weatherproof, hence no membranes etc. This could actually be built very quickly and simply (esp if the outer structure was built first - no weather delays) using breeze, timber even straw-bale if that was your thing.

Heat loss from the outer structure at night would be an issue however you'd gain from having no wind/rain chill on the house. Also, the outer structure air mass would be heated by the losses from the house, rather than it being immediately lost to the environment. Additional passive heating could be provided by strategically placed compost bins (externally vented of course!), trombe walls and other thermal masses etc.

Defo think this idea has potential.

Private jet
14th May 2013, 00:13
I wish i'd never asked...

I, and Mrs PJ currently have a "mini stately home" with 9 bedrooms and lots of land (It was a Country Life job) We fancy a change. Whats wrong with a minimal maintenance, up to date home? As long as the LOCATION is right. Some of the attitudes on here are what was to be expected.