Project: “200” (Constraints)


Since my beloved LifeEdited contest is no longer taking entries, I’m motivated to apply the mentality to something far more replicable — something new!

I’ve been thinking about the constraints for this for months.  I’ve even tried out a few designs, with admitted difficulty.

Here’s the plan so far (continued after the break):

  • Design a tiny house
  • Implement open-source Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB) of the Open Source Ecology project’s “The Liberator”
  • Limit the house to 200 sq. ft.
  • Build each floor as 100 sq. ft (just to make it interesting and maybe climatically efficient).  (There’s also maybe some greywater awesomeness to building up!)
  • Don’t rely on the CEB’s for structure but for facade and thermal properties
  • Internal structure will consist of
    • 2×6’s
    • 1″ sheathing
    • 1/2″ drywall
    • 3/4″ sub-floors
    • spray-in insulation
  • Implement rainwater collection, filtration and storage
  • Maximize sunlight while minimizing window size
  • Everything must be modern and as efficient as possible
  • Build price would be should be under $50,000 US
  • Foundation is poured concrete with proper footings
  • No ignition-based anything (no fireplaces, gas stoves or water heaters)
  • Should be enough for two parents and two small kids (hey!  someday I might get
  • Be acceptable to structural regulation in Montgomery County, Ohio building code (If I have to pick a place, why not home?)
  • Desk should use The Tread in its design (NOTE: just their treadmill, not their desk).

I’ll edit this post later.. These are my constraints.. I’m going to try putting up a SketchUp file for the world to work on with me soon.  The pictures are what I got done on it tonight.

This project is for fun and to share with the world.  AKA, I can’t pay you, even if I wanted  Maybe someone can help me figure out how to properly GPL it?



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8 thoughts on “Project: “200” (Constraints)

  1. Yair says:

    Hey Joshua,

    This sounds great!…but I have a question:

    Where these houses are prentended to be replicated? are they focused for new development? or to renovate urban areas?


    • vulariter says:

      Excellent question, Yair! With urban areas (like my hometown of Dayton, OH) in need of something to replace the torched houses, this seems like a logical setting. However, being more of a suburbanite (I must admit), seeing one of these on 1/4 of an acre would be exciting.

      It might also be interesting to try it from a third world perspective. I doubt, however they’d be able to do the framing, without prohibitive expense.

      I’m open to ideas. What are your thoughts? If we can come up with something modular and easily mass-produced, maybe even the third world could use them. A little village of these somewhere in the desolate land of Detroit, MI comes to mind too…

      Like I said, I’m open to ideas.. 🙂 Thanks for posting!


  2. Clark says:

    It sounds like an interesting idea. I checked out the website links. Q. Why only 200 sq.ft. Is it for possible shipment of modules? Q. Do the building codes there follow the standard UBC. similar to California except for earthquake requirements? Everything electric, low voltage self generating? Sewer..composting? Mostly off the shelf components, easily available at your local building supplier?

    All the best, Clark

    • Yair says:

      I agree with Clark. Why 200sqft?? Now, it sounds great; but please can you share a little bit why this number should be important. Because I am thinking that 200sqft (that it is less than 50% of the area of the Lifeedited challenge) is great module for multiple levels, like the render you posted shows.

      I am waiting to hear more details about this ‘experiment’. 🙂

      • vulariter says:

        Good to see you back again, Yair. Good question on the 200 thing. 🙂 In all honesty, I just thought, “let’s get crazy!” I think sometimes about Japanese apartments, and how their culture squeezes so much more out of tiny spaces. After getting some feedback from people reading my blog, I open the decision to all. What size space is enough for two parents and two kids (under 10)? I’d love to see our design become the starter home and retirement home model for the future. Let’s exploit our human love for DIY and see where we can go with it. What do you guys think? Less or more, the size is open for discussion. Let’s hash it out, open-source style. 🙂 -joshua

      • Yair says:

        Thanks for answering. Your answer is very good. If the reason of the 200sqft constrint is “let’s get crazy or creative” with this amount of area is OK. It reminds me of a music freeware called “the Moonfish” (a simple music tracker/sampler that let you create electronic music with limitation of only 4 channels instead the musci industry standard of 16 or 32 channels) so i thin to have just like a merely limitation is ok.

        However, in my opinion, the challenge should be limited to 200sqft per floor not 100sqft (c’mon a queen bed is 46sqft) What do you think?

    • vulariter says:

      Thanks for stoppin’ by, Clark. You raise some interesting and poignant points. I do think shipment is a factor in how large a space our tiny house design should take. It’s my intent to steer as clear as possible from the social stigma attached to mobile-home shaped living spaces. Let’s try to coax something unique and laterally desirable. I’m looking into the issue of building code. It would be great to hear your suggestions on the matter. Maybe we should design for the most stringent regulations (is that California)? The rest of that sounds great, too. The composting thing would be an option, but we should ease into the culture shifts. I envision our designs to be a sort of modular Model T concept; one in which people have many options on a bulletproof, durable base. Glad to have your input! -joshua

      • Yair says:

        Actually there is no problem with the building code regarding the size. Maybe with the horizontal roof but I need to check that in the IBC 2000.

        It is a housing project so there are not so many ordinances to follow.

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