mini house for green brooklyn contractor

The book Mini House Now is a picture book of small houses, specifically houses with less than 1080 square feet. They are all free standing houses, most of them in the country side but one or two surrounded by other houses.

The pictures are great. Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph a small room? Try it. It is basically impossible to get any detail. you’ll get part of a wall and half a door. But they did it. Really great photos.

The houses are all modern. No old houses, which is a statement since most old houses are for the most part small. It is only recently that we started living in large houses.

In the US houses have steadily gotten larger since the 1950’s to today where it is common for your normal middle class US family to live in a suburban Mc Mansion.

But this trend is on the decline. Mc Mansion has become a symbol for all that is wrong with the old school style of building: crap materials, crap energy efficiency, crap longevity, crap values. There is more crap to a Mc Mansion but you get the point.

I love the efficiency of a small well built home. I love the saving of resources, the lower energy needed to run it, the smaller building footprint allowing for more natural space and the coziness of it.

And truth be told 1080 square feet isn’t that small, let alone mini. Anyone living in Brooklyn or Manhattan knows exactly what a 1080 square foot apartment looks like. It looks big!

Most of us in Brooklyn live in a space half that size! Don’t believe the hype of the real estate agents. I am one and I know. Most people live in a space about 600 sq.ft. (although they might think they are in 800 sq.ft.).

The average one floor apartment in Brooklyn is in a 20×40 foot Brownstone. But that does not mean your one bedroom is 800 square feet of space no matter how friendly the rental agent is.

Once you take away perimeter walls the interior is 684 sq.ft. Take away the space for common stairs and you’re left with a 600 sq.ft. living space. Yet that spacious one bedroom apartment with den is perfectly fine for many a New Yorker.

And 1080sq.ft.? That is a duplex reserved for working couples and successful people.

That is the reality for most New Yorkers and we deal with it just fine, thank you very much.

In fact that is one of the things I love about being a green contractor in Brooklyn – by the very nature of the brownstone size it is so easy to renovate small, beautifully and ecologically.

Yet here is a book claiming that not only is our NY space small, it is MINI!

And what about the rest of the world? Clearly the author has not spent much time in a shanti town where no house is that large. In fact most of the world lives in a space smaller than 1080 square feet. And they usually share the space with several children, an old grandmother, and two chickens in the doorway.

Nonetheless the book has great examples of beautiful houses. And they show that us Westerners can make a very nice house that meets all our western needs yet does not consume half the world’s resources building and running it.