Towards a better tinyhouse

Inventing to freedom?

Exterior cosmetic veneer

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Just as an idea to improve appearances or mimic an expensive look without as much cost, I went looking for “exterior veneer”. It looks like it is available, both in wood (looks like normal siding though) and stone, and I wonder if there are other materials, too.

Looks like it could hep a bit with the cost/performance ratio for aesthetics… Also, it seems like it could be interesting to use stone veneer, I don’t know how thick it is, but if you could get some thin stuff maybe it wouldn’t be too heavy. Who expects a building that is apparently be made of stone, to be portable? You could have a way to hide the wheels when stationary with a concrete-lookalike material or something.

As mentioned in the note on the right, the zoning barrier to practical tinyhouses is really the doozy. Based on what I have read in some papers including that one about garden suites I think I posted on this blog (I’ll try to get that up again here later, I have a draft post with a bunch of reading material on the zoning issue for ya in the works), people make gut instinct decisions when they see a garden suite, or other tinyhouse-like thing, and will end up objecting to it if they don’t like the appearance of it.

Let me be clear here, too, that when they object, they don’t say “It no look pretty! No like!”, no doubt partly because it is obvious that you shouldn’t really be preventing progress based on such a trivial concern, and so they don’t want to admit it.

But there is more to it. Even people who will are decent enough to agree that appearance shouldn’t be a major issue, that that shouldn’t be top priority in this world, will still have a problem with it. They will likely come up with post-hoc rationalizations about why they don’t like it, like “introduces transience to the community” etc. etc., and good luck trying to tell people that these don’t really make any sense. Even if you do, they might just come up with an endless supply of vague objections, or over-value any legitimate ones. And fat chance telling them they are just being irrational – and if they, at the end of the day, don’t like it, and other people are like that too, and can’t practically be convinced otherwise, let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter that there are not being reasonable. There aren’t anywhere near enough protections in our country – or rather I should say culture, perhaps – against this sort of irrational tendency people have. Plus it could still actually potentially lead to a legitimate concern, namely reduction in property prices “values” (prices, actually) if potential buyers don’t like the appearance. (though tinyhouses can increases property prices (and value too) plenty, sometimes (including due to density increases).

Even when it does decrease it, that is usually a very small amount, like $5000 on a whole house according to some documents I have read regarding accessory dwelling units, which frankly is just part of normal fluctuations anyway that occur as a result of other, productive activity. The thing is, if you can’t handle that, remember tampering with the market to artificially prop up prices is only going to lead to disaster, as it is doing now, as reality must catch up to you eventually. Nevermind the problems with suppressing progressive activity based on short term whims…).

So I think the cosmetic appearance is really quite an important feature for a tinyhouse, until they are fully permitted, as the MedCottages have been in Virginia, for instance. And improving public perception with better cosmetics would help with the political problems a good deal. Frankly the tumbleweeds would never have been featured on yahoo news, or in glamor-mag, or whatever it has been, if they didn’t look so positively charming.

But, to me, the good news is that there are already a lot of people focused on appearance, and great stuff being done there – hell, “design” to most people, means cosmetic design.


Written by gregor

April 22, 2011 at 00:42

Posted in Uncategorized

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