Innovative Solutions Required to Address Soaring Cost of Living

Innovative Solutions Required to Address Soaring Cost of Living

Good grief, if you are anything like me, Kelowna’s current real estate market may be causing you feelings of nervousness, uncertainty or simply disbelief.

 I find myself thinking thoughts like, really, $600,000 for a tear down? How are these prices possible? This market cannot be sustainable! My kids are never going to be able to own a home in Kelowna.

I’m willing to bet that many of you who have been looking to purchase real estate in Kelowna in past year have had similar thoughts. Whether you are looking for a primary home to call your own, or you are an investor looking to obtain a revenue or development property; the numbers just don’t seem to add up.

According to the Okanagan Mainline Real-estate Board’s statistics, the average price of real estate in Kelowna has increased 10 per cent since March 2016.

High demand and low interest rates are driving prices up in our beautiful city. How much longer can this go on? When a half million dollar price tag on a town home doesn’t even seem shocking any more I have to wonder, where it will end?

Since CMHC is insuring mortgages and offsetting bank risk, will our banks just keep lending more and more money to the average Canadian? When interest rates rise, and people default on their mortgages, the banks won’t be out of pocket, the consumer will be.

Is our economy on the verge of a downturn or is it as strong as it seems? We know BC exports such a lumber and coal (yes, I said coal – that is a whole other blog) are thriving and are the backbone of our stable economy here in BC. Perhaps, with this natural resource economic base, our growing post secondary institution infrastructure, a strong tourism and tech sector as well as a steady stream of people moving to the Okanagan from all over our country, we could be in for high land and home prices for the foreseeable future.

With all of these thoughts swirling in my mind I decided to ask some local experts. I spoke with my friend, Ted Rhind, a mortgage broker with Invis. I asked him what trends he was seeing in the lending industry.  He stated that he has noticed more people co-owing homes together, whether it be with siblings, friends or parents. Also, he noted, more and more clients are looking for homes with suites. Interesting stuff; people are getting creative, looking for new ways to generate more income through renters or co-ownership in order to qualify or a mortgage.

I then asked the knowledgeable Terri Ann Novello, from Century 21, about her thoughts on the future of the local real estate industry. She predicted that Kelowna's real estate market will remain strong over the next 5 years. She has clients from the East to the West Coast of Canada. She told me she believes that as a strong community, we have to keep in mind not everyone can afford the average priced single family home. As a result she has noticed that our City Council and local builders have started to become creative so that buyers will be able to purchase a home in our community. She sees this innovation as essential in keeping Kelowna one of the best and most diverse places to live.

Again, our expert has provided us with some interesting insight. Novello speaks to the need for new and innovative solutions to keep housing options diverse and more affordable. Our current City Council does seem open to new urban planning concepts. Most recently, they created a four dwelling housing zone called RU7.

Perhaps it is time for even more forward thinking zoning options.  A micro home zone that allows for smaller lot sizes to maximize land use for small, efficient, single family dwellings comes to mind. One of the biggest challenges faced by those wishing to follow the “little living” movement is with City zoning bylaws. Could our City become a model for innovative bylaws that allow people to live more affordably and with less environmental impact? I think I’ll ask them.

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Pura Vida - Costa Rica Lifestyle, Canadian Address

Pura Vida - Costa Rica Lifestyle, Canadian Address

“What do you do for a living?” This question is within most peoples’ arsenal of small talk and often arises shortly after questions like “what is your name?” and “where are you from?” Often, when I tell people that I build micro homes they are fascinated, state that they absolutely adore them and describe the various tiny home television shows that they watch regularly. However, upon my family’s most recent trip to Costa Rica, this dialogue changed. The locals had never heard of micro homes, in fact, micro homes were the regular sized dwelling in their country. I had to explain that our average home size in Canada is roughly 2000 sq ft and our company specializes in building homes under 1000 sq ft. This was definitely a foreign concept to the local Costa Ricans, and when I looked around, I could see why. Typical houses, like the one pictured above, ranged between 400 – 800 sq ft.

This got me to thinking about the history of home sizes and the factors that influence the size of dwellings in various parts of the world. My first thought was that we live in larger houses in the north because we spend more time in doors. I felt that this theory was proven as I was greeted by people, outside their homes, at every house I attempted to photograph. I could walk around my neighbourhood taking pictures of houses all day and rarely run into one of the home’s residents (as one would suspect with temperatures dipping to -25 degrees Celsius this past week).

Of course, I realize that the temperature is not the only reason we live so “large” in Canada. This evolution to large homes happened over time. According to an article written in the Globe and Mail, in 1975, the average size of a house in Canada was 1,050 square feet. In 2010 new homes being built were almost double the size at an average of 1,950 square feet. The Globe also noted that the average number of people per dwelling was decreasing in the same time period. In the USA, the National Association of Home Builders reports that the average home size was 983 square feet in 1950, 1,500 square feet in 1970, and 2,349 square feet in 2004.

Why has the size of our homes in Canada and the United States doubled in the last ½ of a century? Quite simply put, I believe it is because they could. Technology such as electric lighting and central heat allowed for living activities to be spread out over more rooms and larger spaces. The advent of vehicles provided a way for people to move out of decaying urban neighbourhoods into suburbs with an abundance of land being parceled into large lots. The rapid rise of media mechanisms allowed the image of luxurious living in large homes to permeate our daily lives like never before. All of this coupled with frequently low interest rates and the ability to get a home mortgage resulted in the large home boom that has been the norm in recent years.

Why has this trend not been so drastic in the rest of the world? According to shrinkthatfootprint.com, new homes averaged between 484 ft2 in Hong Kong to 2,303 ft2 in Australia. They speculate that “There are all sorts of reasons for these differences.  Wealth levels, urbanization rates, land access and climate all play a part.” 

So, why the trend to smaller homes in places like Canada and the United States now? I think there are a few reasons:

1. Design – Until recently the only way to live in a smaller space was attached to others in a condo or townhome building. This style of living does not appeal to many North Americans who have grown up in a culture that prides itself in single family dwelling home ownership.  In addition, the innovative use of smart storage solutions and large window/high ceiling designs have made living in a small space more comfortable than ever.

2. Life Satisfaction - We have discovered that the shift to larger homes has not necessarily impacted us in a positive way or created more happy communities. The evolution of our living spaces has had a direct effect on our relationships with our families and our communities. Staying indoors in less walkable neighbourhoods has isolated us from our peers while having multiple rooms filled with technology for each individual has isolated us from our family. Smaller living works for those who desire to simplify and focus on experiences and connectedness vs. home maintenance/mortgage and upkeep.

3. Immigration - According to the Financial Post “With increased immigration on the horizon, those arriving in Canada may not have the same size expectations, creating demand for smaller units.”

4. Affordability – Housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years and the reality is that whether you are a first time homebuyer, or a retiree, living in a smaller home will cost you less. Money is saved on the purchase price, utilities, maintenance and furnishings. This allows small home owners to have both more time and money for hobbies, travel, community service, sporting and leisure activities.

So here we are. Not all Canadians will immediately transition to living in 500 sq ft bungalows like our Costa Rican friends, but some of us will. Those that do, will do so for many of the same reasons that applied to Canadians in the 1950s and still apply to many people in various countries, like Costa Rica, today. As Costa Rica has ranked #1 since 2009 in the Happy Planet index, (a tool that measures statistics such as life expectancy, ecological footprint and wellbeing), emulating a little of what they are modeling can only be a good thing!

Resources:

https://www.nahb.org/

http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-big-is-a-house

http://www.moyak.com/papers/house-sizes.html

http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/canadians-have-the-third-largest-homes-but-they-may-downsize-to-deal-with-affordability-report

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/mortgages-and-rates/our-love-affair-with-home-ownership-might-be-doomed/article4179012/

http://happyplanetindex.org/countries/costa-rica

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The City of Kelowna – More Housing Required

The City of Kelowna – More Housing Required

As those of us who live in Kelowna have all known for quite some time, Kelowna is a very desirable place to live. The summertime brings hot temperatures, lazy day’s lakeside and an abundance of outdoor activities from paddle boarding to biking and hiking, to name just a few. In the winter we can head up into the mountains to enjoy all they have to offer, just a mere 45 minutes from our front door! Then there is the wine...let’s face it, we Kelownaites really enjoy our wine!

Well, it appears that the rest of the world is catching on. Our tech industry is developing and construction industry booming. Our university and college are both expanding and blossoming. Our hospital has grown and many retirees are looking to Kelowna as a desirable location to spend their golden years. As a rapidly growing mid-sized city we are faced with both opportunities as well as challenges.

One of the challenges that has been front and center in the media recently is the need for more housing, particularly rental housing. The City is implementing a variety of strategies in order to meet this community need. One thing they are doing is creating a new urban residential zone, called RU7.

We, at Little House, see the new zone as an opportunity to gently densify our urban centers. The formerly single family lots (that allowed for a maximum of one additional dwelling) that will be rezoned will now permit up to 4 residential units on a 15 x 37 m parcel of land. The November 14 2016 Report to Council states that “It is expected that builders will experiment with different configurations, including 4-plexes, paired duplexes and combinations of suites and multiple homes. The bylaw is drafted to allow flexibility in housing tenure and configuration, to reflect evolving neighborhoods. For smaller lots zoned RU7, the bylaw will allow two or three units. Lots between 13.5 m and 15.0 m in width will be able to be developed with up to three residential units. Lots narrower than 13.5 m will be able to be developed with 2 units.” Right now, the zone is planned for areas in the Downtown Core and in the Pandosy Neighbourhood.

This new zone could be considered an opportunity for owners of the homes in the area. There are a variety of ways that homeowners could benefit from the fact that their property can now accommodate more homes:

1. Property Values Increase

2. The ability to build additional homes can create ongoing rental revenue

3. The ability to stratify or subdivide and build could allow a homeowner that currently lives in a deteriorating older home to build a new home for themselves and build a home or two or three to sell, effectively offsetting the cost of their new home.

3. Adding various combinations of suites, single family homes, duplexes or fourplexes to the neighbourhood rather than high-rises will increase density at a manageable rate.

4. Development cost charges presumably will be used to enhance neighbourhood infrastructure including laneways and sidewalks.

To find out if your home is slated to be in the new RU7 zone, go to: https://kelownapublishing.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=5051

The next City council hearing on the tropic is December 13 2016 – for the full council meeting agenda go to: https://kelownapublishing.escribemeetings.com/Meeting?Id=da296218-5962-4931-ba89-227539616e96&Agenda=Agenda&lang=English#15

As these newly zoned lots are perfectly suited for smaller home designs, Little House Contracting would be happy to consult with you regarding your development and building dreams!

Contact Tara Tschritter at 250-575-9331 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Walk-Through of 735 sq ft Micro Home

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Want to Tour Kelowna's First Micro House?

Want to Tour Kelowna's First Micro House?

We are proud to announce the completion of our first Little House build. If you live in Kelowna and surrounding area and have thought of building a micro home as a carriage home to generate an additional income stream and enhance your real estate portfolio you won't want to miss this tour!

We welcome you to join us for our Little House Open House, if you are unable to join us on Saturday, additional show home hours are listed for your convenience. We look forward to seeing you!

Date: Saturday November 5 
Time: 10:00 - 2:00 pm
Location: 755 Stockwell Ave

Post open house showings: 
November 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15 Hours: 10:00-2:00pm
November 8 and 10 Evening Hours: 6:00 - 8:00pm

Parking/Access: Access to home is off of lane-way 
between Martin and Stockwell Ave. No parking on 
lane-way. Please respect neighbors by parking in 
designated street parking and walking to home via 
lane entrance off of Richter.

Thank you,

Tara Tschritter, Allison Ramchuk and the entire Little House Team!

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A different kind of Suburb?

A different kind of Suburb?

Seaside Florida: http://www.seasidefl.com/ - have you ever heard of this place? It is so interesting how this suburban sized community that prescribed to the concept of "New Urbanism" is thriving as both a place to live and as a tourist destination. What fascinates me is that even though the size is relatively small (approx 11,500), it has become a successful and sustainable urban center in its own right.

From what I gather, people gravitate to this community because of the beautiful natural setting as well as its walkability, commercial retail and public spaces.

Locally, could we replicate the walkable community in our suburbs, some that have very steep terrain? I have to say, I love the idea of what they have done in Medellin, Columbia. Escalators with landing areas surrounded by local shops: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/14/travel/colombia-medellin-neighborhood/

In Seaside, investors have benefited substantially as the housing prices have skyrocketed due to desirability. The downside of this demand, of course, is that the community presumably lacks diversity due to affordability issues.

In Medellin, the streets have become safer and the community more connected. The relatively inexpensive transportation system has also allowed the local businesses to thrive. Suburban retail centers need unique features in order to keep people in, and draw people to, the community to sustain the businesses.  Businesses in the suburb of Kettle Valley have struggled in spite of the importance of these little retail spots in maintaining a healthy happy development and decreasing environmental impact (i.e. not having to drive to town to get milk). 

How will technology impact our ability to live in the suburbs with less of an environmental impact? The following article speculates about the future of virtual shopping: : http://www.diamandis.com/blog/no-more-malls-5-disruptive-techs-transforming-retail - I have to admit that the idea of having multiple virtual "Taras" walking around with different outfits assisting me in me clothing choices appeals to me. Virtual stores would decrease our need to drive to the mall therefore benefiting our environment. That being said, I worry about a world of disconnected, lonely and unhealthy individuals if this type of reality prevails. Perhaps there is a way to move forward with this type of technology in a more connected way? Small, suburban boutiques where you go to share with others this type of virtual technology? 

It is encouraging to know that there are suburban developments and technological concepts from which we can lean and enhance innovative new ways of living in our built environment. Restructuring our suburbs to be happier, healthier places by infusing technology and design elements that can mitigate the effect of urban sprawl is exciting!  After all, true live, work, play environments that balance private and public space conjure images of the most desirable communities in the wold.

Are you, like me, interested in being a part of the conversation in Kelowna about our future city? If so, check out the series of "Upside Down Town Halls" that are being presented by Urban Systems. Join me Oct 3 for the discussion on housing affordability. Have your say and learn what leaders in our community are imagining. http://www.urbansystems.ca/finding-our-yimby-reflections-on-affordability-housing-and-the-way-forward-october-3/ - I hope to see you there!

 

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Micro Home Carriage House - Stockwell Ave - Sept 22 2016 Progress Report

Micro Home Carriage House - Stockwell Ave - Sept 22 2016 Progress Report

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Urban Densification – Where, When, How, or Should We Even?

The topic of urban densification is definitely a hot one these days and there certainly is no lack of opinions on the matter. North American communities were created in a post industrial revolution society that encouraged a mass exodus from the city centers to the suburbs. Our habitat was built around roads and the automobile makers prospered. Fast forward to the twenty first century and urban planners are singing a different tune. With the impact that long commutes to the suburbs has on not only our environment, but on our physical and mental wellbeing, the idea of living and working in one space has evolved. Now, this is not a new concept. Prior to the advent of automobiles, European towns and cities revolved around community squares where mom and pop shops, homes and the public sphere were interwoven.

The question that we at Little House get around this topic is: “Do you think your little homes are a practical densification model, or should we be building high-rises to maximize the use of the urban space?” Our answer is that we feel multiple forms of housing options are important to enhance our desirable, growing and vibrant community. We also feel that our suburbs could be enhanced if a development is done mindfully and with the perspective of community members and the natural environment at the core of every development decision to be made.

We are confident that not all neighbourhoods need to densify equally, nor do they need just one type of structure to create a happy, connected community. While high-rises may work really well in certain areas, mostly in the urban core, they certainly are not for everyone. In fact, psychologists have found that people who live in residential towers are more fearful, depressed and prone to sleeplessness and anxiety. They have found that the numbers of units and the design of the structures affect happiness. In countries like Singapore and Hong Kong lower birth rates and obesity have been partially attributed to high rise living. The desire for a more spacious lifestyle is very evident when significant numbers of individuals from these areas are trending towards moving to less dense countries like Canada and Australia.

Human scale is also something extremely important to consider. Through our research, we, at Little House, have come to believe that one healthy way to enhance community connectivity in high-rise neighbourhoods is to build high-rises that incorporate a residential commercial mix. This commercial street level vibrancy encourages walking and casual social interaction. In the most urban areas, if this type of building is interwoven with townhome or microhome developments that have front yards shallow enough to allow for interaction with passers-by, but deep enough to allow for privacy if desired, a diverse, connected neighbourhood is possible.

Important factors to note when considering the type of densification we should pursue are cultural norms and population desires. Although proponents of urban densification advocate for multifamily dwellings, a 2011 study by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America found that roughly four out of five home buyers prefer a single-family home. A single family home has become a status symbol in our society that many are, as of yet, unwilling to give up. So, although townhomes might achieve marginally more densification than micro homes, there are segments of our population that will choose to live in smaller homes with less land if given the option to still own a single family home. In this case, micro homes are a viable and desirable option for consumers.

Our health and happiness are dependent on many factors, some of which are directly affected by the planning of the communities in which we live. Beautiful and interesting structures should be preserved as much joy is derived by basking in the architectural beauty of heritage buildings.  Preserving historic centers while adapting them to meet modern needs attracts business and culture that is critical in creating vibrant, healthy communities. The Gas Town area in Greater Vancouver is a wonderful example of this. When looking towards densifying these important areas of our communities, we cannot arbitrarily demolish what is there and put up new structures. We must integrate additions into the fabric of the existing infrastructure. Micro laneway or carriage homes are a great option in these circumstances. Micro homes do not overpower the laneway or the existing heritage structures and blend well with the fabric of the neighbourhoods.

We also must carefully consider the planning of open space as the balance between social connectivity, nature and privacy is very important. The ability to control this balance and who and where we interact with is a key determining factor in stress and happiness levels. A micro home pocket community in Kelowna would allow for the preservation of more green space on smaller lots. It will also provide a special separation between homes that is not too close, but not too far, achieving the fine balance between social connectivity and green space and personal space.

Finally, and many would argue most importantly, we need the transportation infrastructure to support any development we create. After spending a few days in my home town of Victoria, the incredible failure to create appropriate transportation corridors to support mass residential development was extremely apparent. I was dumbfounded as to why there would have been such a great expansion of the suburbs of Langford and Colwood, with seemingly no improvements to transportation infrastructure. The traffic was horrendous. Granted, they are currently working on a new bus interchange and talk of utilizing the old rail corridor for mass transit has resurfaced, but I think that we can lean a lot from my hometown. Let’s ensure we look at the ways we move about our city PRIOR to developing. I know this is a priority for our City, so let’s hope we can avoid the mistakes of our island friends!

In my next blog post, I plan on discussing my thoughts on suburban densification as it applies to our micro home products and greater community. We welcome your thoughts on the topic of densification. At Little House, the perspective of our fellow community members is how we learn and grow!

Sources:

Happy Cities, Charles Montgomery

Walking Home, Ken Greenberg

Walkable City Jeff Speck

https://www.fastcodesign.com/3042845/what-champions-of-urban-density-get-wrong

 

http://www.newgeography.com/content/003938-city-leaders-are-love-with-density-most-city-dwellers-disagree

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Kelowna Micro Carriage Home Build

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Carriage Homes - A Little History on a Great Investment

Carriage Homes - A Little History on a Great Investment

Carriage homes have been around for hundreds of years. They were originally a place to park your carriage and often were adjacent to the horse stables. Many times there was accommodation above, or adjoining, used to house estate staff. Over the past century the use for modern day carriage homes has evolved with the advent of vehicles and the middle class.  

Now, carriage homes can be structures that incorporate garages, secondary living quarters, guest houses, granny suites, home offices or workshops.

In the Central Okanagan home owners are increasingly exploring the option of building a carriage home to create an additional revenue stream.

If a carriage home is something that you have thought about adding to your real estate portfolio, here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself:

1.    Is your property currently zoned to allow for a carriage home?

2.    If your property is not zoned to allow for a carriage home, would it be reasonable to rezone to build a second dwelling on your land?

3.    What is the rental situation in your area? Is there a demand for rental accommodation?

4.    Are you interested in managing tenants on your property?

5.    What will the monthly costs of your carriage home be and what amount of revenue will your carriage home generate? Will your cash flow be positive?

6. How long will it take to pay off the money invested? Once the money invested is paid off, what will your monthly income be?

7.    Will the cost of building your carriage home increase the value of your property in proportion to the amount you will spend to build?

8.    Do you have a secondary use for carriage home space?

If you need help answering any of these questions, or others you may have, you are welcome to contact Tara at Little House Contracting – she is happy to provide a no cost consultation on your carriage home investment potential. Call 250-575-9331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Kelowna's First Little House Breaks Ground!

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Lengthy City Permit Processing Extends Build Timelines

The City of Kelowna has recently released a bulletin explaining that an increase in permit application volume has resulted in higher than normal processing time for all Development Permit Applications.

 Application times for regular Development Permits (DPs) have increased to between six and eight weeks. This applies to applications for building structures that comply with the existing zoning bylaw. This impacts Little House customers who are interested in building a carriage home in an RU-6 or RU1-c zone. This also applies to those wishing to build a micro home as a primary dwelling.

 An application for rezoning has increased from the typical four month process to a six to eight month endeavor. This change impacts Little House customers who will need to rezone their property in order to build their carriage home.

 These processing times are in addition to the four to six weeks that it will take you and your Little House Team to plan, design and receive a building quote for your micro home build. If you are considering a Little House build in the coming year, let us help you get started.

 Don’t forget

1.       West Kelowna has opened up all of their residential lots (that meet certain parameters) to allow for secondary dwellings.

2.       There is a major shortage of rental accommodation in the Kelowna and West Kelowna areas. Due to this high demand and low supply the income generated from a rental home will contribute substantially to your net worth and monthly income. To get an idea of what you might rent your micro carriage home for, take a look at this recent article from Castanet that shows average rental rates in the various areas of town: http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/169150/Rentals-vary-across-town

 

Contact Tara at Little House today for a free consultation – let us help you make your Little House dream a reality!

250-575-9331

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Little House Contracting Partners with Kelowna Infill Housing Winner Matt Johnson

Little House Contracting is excited to announce our partnership with Matt Johnson, Architecturally Distinct Solutions. Matt has practiced a thoughtful and cutting-edge approach to architecture for close to two decades, working with some of Canada’s most innovative firms, before founding Architecturally Distinct Solutions.

Matt brings a unique ability to see the big picture and understands the impact design has on a budget, and on the planet. He offers a professional and collaborative approach to working with our clients and is passionate about creating elegant spaces that weave together form, function and sustainability.

Most recently, Matt successfully designed one of the winning Kelowna infill housing submissions that have now been approved by city council, introducing a whole new housing strategy for the city. https://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/Kelowna/16/06/01/Kelowna_welcomes_unique_housing_concept/

Learn more about Architecturally Distinct Solutions here.

 

 

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Micro Homes - Urban Design and Community Connectivity

If you have yet to read Charles Montgomery's book, Happy City - Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, you simply must! So much of what Charles has to say and the experiences of the people and places he speaks about in his book are profound and resonate deeply. What is this underlying feeling of disconnection that I am experiencing? How on earth, when I have seemingly everything could I feel unsettled and unfulfilled? Why, when I visit places in Central America and Europe do I feel more a part of the fabric of the community then I do in my own hometown?

Over the coming weeks we are going to share a few excerpts from Happy City to give you a taste of the answers that Montgomery asserts lay within urban design. "Living Little" is about getting out of our enormous, resource consuming, isolated homes and into our communities. It is about connecting with neighbors and fellow community members from diverse demographics and all walks of life.

In this excerpt, a man from Portland Oregon, Mark Lakeman, finds the sense of community he had been looking for in a Lacondon village on the Mexican and Guatemalan border. He befriends the village leader, Chan K'in Viejo, who advised him "to go home and fix his own village". So, he did.

Read the excerpt here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_eye/2013/11/12/fixing_broken_neighborhoods_happy_city_by_charles_montgomery.html

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Downsizing is Freedom

​At Little House, we have happily come across a great local blogger, Chad Kohalyk, that we feel has a lot of wonderful opinions about downsizing. We will be sharing his blogs from time to time. This first blog comments on the economic benefits of downsizing, or, as we refer to it, Living Little. Enjoy! https://chadkohalyk.com/2016/01/19/d...
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Help Us Plan Our First Little Community

Currently at Little House we are working very hard to establish our very first Micro Home Little Community. During this phase of our planning we could really use your input to ensure that what we create is a true reflection of the needs and vision of potential future community members. If you have 5 minutes to spare to share your thoughts we would ...
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Cashing in on GST Rebates – Another Benefit of Living Little

With the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board reporting that the average cost to buy a home in the Central Okanagan in March 2016 was $566,762 it is no wonder the GST Rebate available for new home builds is not top of mind for most people.Since the GST rebate for new home purchases is only available on ho...
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Trend Towards Micro Living – Things to Consider Before You Build

We are seeing micro homes and suites catching headlines across the nation; it is an exciting and growing trend offering consumers multiple options for housing and downsizing. Selecting the right home building company for your needs, and for the type of new home you seek, is one of the most important decisions you'll make to ensure full value from y...
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Launch Success! Thank-you to Attendees and Sponsors!

From our Little House Team to you, thank you so much for joining us on Friday March 11 2016 in celebration of the launch of our business.We are so proud to be part of this community. Your support, ideas and enthusiasm inspire us and will be a driving force behind all that we do. Our Partners and Sponsors We want to send a special thanks to...
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Little House - Open Houses

Like the idea of micro homes, but would like to learn more? Join us for one of our two upcoming Open Houses and find out about our products and services and how a micro home might work for you!
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Tiny houses for the millennial generation

Amid a volatile global economy, unstable reliability in commodity markets, and ever-rising costs of living, a new movement in American housing has emerged among millennial would-be buyers of homes: the rising popularity of tiny houses and other forms of minimalist living. Experts noted that this development coincided with the gradual rise in t...
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How To Maximize The Use of Space In Your Tiny House.

How To Maximize The Use of Space In Your Tiny House.

One of the biggest things that have made tiny houses so popular is that they are well designed. I can't emphasize how important good design is to a tiny house. So today I thought I share some pointers on how to get the most out of your space! 

1. Use vertical space After talking with lots of Tiny House folks, I have seen this as a trend: maximize the vertical. Everything above 8 feet is all wasted if you don't use it, so capitalize on that. You could have a small chest that takes up 2 square feet of floor space. If it is 4 feet tall, you will have around 8 cubic feet of storage. Take that to the ceiling and suddenly you have doubled or tripled your volume, but haven't given away any more floor space which is a scarcity in a Tiny House. 

2. Everything has a place and is in its place When working with a small space I know that everything needs a place. Without it, your house goes from quaint to cluttered. Make sure every item you have has its own resting place and be sure that it finds its way back once you're done using it. One lady who lives in a 90 square foot apartment said to me "if it doesn't have a place, do you really need it?" and that's a good point. Things that matter and are used are important enough to demand a place. 

3. Double duty on items There are those items which are by their nature, multi functional. You need to capitalize on these types of items. When you consider an item, you should always think if there is something else that can do it already. A perfect example of this is the end table, which transforms to a chair for extra seating. Check it out here.

4. Purpose built – built ins Built-ins are nice, but built-ins with a purpose are even better. Think specifics. When paring down your possessions, you will identify the 100 or so items that will be contained in your house. Take stock of those items and let them dictate the form of your storage. If you are a ski patrol member, your closet should be able to fit your skis. If you live in colder climates, you will need more room for larger jackets than others might. 

5. Go digital / paperless As if being greener isn't motivation enough, going digital, as I call it, means that you are able to reduce the tangible items you need. Digital files take up no space if you have them stored online, with the added advantage of being able to access them from anywhere. Combined with backing the files up, they become safer than real world things. The IRS officially accepts all scanned copies of receipts and bank statements. 

6. Less is more At this point I am preaching to the choir but, the question is not how to organize all your stuff, but on how to reduce the stuff to organize. The mentality needed is the same as you had if/when you went to college. The dorm rooms were tiny and you were broke. You only had what you really needed. Studies have shown that more stuff does not lead to happiness, so focus on the important things in life. 

7. One thing in, one thing out One principle that I like to pull from the Zen/Fung Shui school of thought is this. If you want to add a new item, consider adopting the rule that for every item you bring in, you must give up something else. Now, no cheating – like giving up a pen for an arm chair, but you get the idea. 

8. Be intentional Living with intention will have a profound impact on your life. Be thoughtful in your actions and choices. This extends to your organization and stuff. When you consider purchasing an item, you must first evaluate it and decide if you really need it. I often don't buy it right then, but next time I am in that store (in a week or two). If I still want it then, I usually go for it if it makes sense. 

9. Think inside the box This is a technique that I use when I feel that a certain space is cluttered or if I start stacking stuff. Take a box, fill it up with everything. Then as you need the items pull them out of the box. Six weeks later, if you still have stuff in the box – no, let me rephrase that, you WILL have stuff in the box – you can evaluate what is left. There is rarely an item that I have that I don't use within 6 weeks that's worth keeping. Detailed box theory

10. Most used items easy to access This seems pretty obvious, but having the most used items in the front means you are able to access them quicker and without disturbing other things. This ties back to being intentional. You should be intense about organizing your items in this manner. If you notice that there are items in the back that haven't been touched in a while, it's time to evaluate whether you still need them.

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