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In 2008, a used house in the U.S. averaged $244,000. That is far more than the average American can afford. Jay Shafer shatters the myth that affordable housing needs to be cheap. In his book, Jay reveals the ugly truth about residential planning and the needless overbuilding that is, in part, to blame for today's mortgage crisis. Did you know that you can't build a house as tiny as the one Jay lives in? That is, unless you know the loopholes! He's done the research, and shares it with you. You'll learn why it is necessary to build on wheels, and see the process of attaching a house to a trailer with step-by-step instructions and pictures. Jay Shafer, the author, personally built a dozen tiny houses and lived in 3 different ones. He is recognized as a leader in the Small House Movement.
For those who have seen Jay's houses on Yahoo! or otherwise and want more information, you might consider this book. I said "might." Jay goes through his history of living in small homes, and then goes on a bender about why small homes are preferable to large ones, why people who design large homes and large neighborhoods are poo-poo heads, calls a few architects pretentious and arrogant, then goes on to talk mostly about how to go about designing these homes in architectural terms. He writes about symmetry of design, and so on, covering more ground in cosmetic design than practical usage of space or structural considerations.
There is useful information, such as how to legally build and live in one of these homes in your area, though the topic isn't exhausted by any means. He also discusses the general building process, but if anything his youtube videos or his website are more detailed.
It's just...Mr. Shafer is preaching to the choir. By the time you've bought a $36 book, you've got your own ideas about why you should build a tiny house. What you want to know is the nuts and bolts. What kind of solar and batteries to buy and how to manage them; how to plumb the house; how to downsize your lifestyle (what to get rid of, what to keep and what to get); things of that nature that just aren't present in a real way. Jay is writing for the home designer, not the homeowner. So if you buy his plans, he's writing a book that's mostly intended for himself.
I guess he wants you to attend his lectures. ;)
Edit: A few folks have asked in the comments for an alternative that does cover the how-to information. I would recommend "Off The Grid: Simple Solar Homesteading" by LaMar Alexander. Check out his youtube channel "solarcabin". He provides a lot of information about his off-grid cabin. While not on wheels like a Shafer Tumbleweed, many concepts still apply.
I was so dissapointed when I got this book after reading the description given on the website. For $36 and a claim that this included, 'plans and how to' I expected so much more.
Is it filled with beautiful color pictures of adorable little houses? Yes. Is it a coffee table book? Not unless your coffee table is tiny. I was shocked by the books size. It measures 7" x 7" meaning the floor plans, which are on half a page are less than 3" square. Forget real detail.
My complaint isn't that the book isn't pretty or interesting but it is being 'sold' as a how-to and it simply isn't. Save your money.
The Small House Book is not a plans book. It is an inspirational book. And it is a guide book to the exploration of micro housing. There are many possible ways to go and these are explored with in the books pages.
First is minimizing impact and maximizing affordability: this is in the sense that a house needs to be affordable and allow a lifestyle that does not kill you just trying to make the payments for the reward of conspicuous consumption. The houses are simple and efficient shelters that in their own right are works of art. In conjunction with this is the minimization of the use of utilities and unneeded environmental impact. Because of the scale of the houses solar and wind are much more effective for sourcing electrical and for passive solar. These facts apply to both the mobile and fixed structures.
Unique to the mobile houses is the addition of freedom. Many of us are being forced into job paths that result in a transient life style. This type of housing allows for the flexibility to move from place to place as required and still have a sense of a personal space. As Jack Sparrow said "She not just a ship love, she's freedom". Well the same truth lies here. Freedom to move, freedom from debt, freedom to live.
The book is very colorful and well illustrated. It can be used as a guide book to get you thinking and as inspiration to do it.
The Small House Book shows you what can be done to create a livable space in a very small area. It is nicely done with many pictures and background information. As with the houses, the book is small sized. It could also use more pictures of the inside views of each house. I had hoped for a bit more detail on each of the houses, especially building the trailer versions. Rather than hurting sales of the plans, I think it would actually spur demand when people can see what is involved and how they are made. All in all, a good book for those of us thinking and dreaming of downsizing and simplifying.
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THE SMALL HOUSE BOOK by Jay Shafer was a disappointment when it arrived. We had been very excited about ordering the book and are very interested in learning about building small houses for retirement not so far down the road. About the book: the photos are nice and the philosophy interesting, but for $ 37, we expected more. Maybe good for the coffee table for visitors, the book has numerous typos and miscalculations. Want more? The reader must buy very expensive architectural plans costing about $ 1,000.
Excellent Book, excellent introduction to the Tiny House Movement. If you are interested, but don't know yet if you want to buy the book, check out the website first to get a feel for the author's style. The author's website is at [...]. I have read extensively online at various websites, and prefer Jay Shafer's tiny house designs over all of the other ones I have found. I enjoyed reading this book cover to cover. I also use this book as a quick way to show my friends that these "tiny mobile homes" are far more carefully designed than the average RV (even though they are about the same size). I definitely recommend this book for: 1) people who like the look of the homes and would enjoy having a coffee table book about them, and also for 2) people who are interested in moving into a tiny house one day, and want direction in what to think about as they make that transition. My husband and I want to live in a smaller-than-average home (less than 400 square feet for the two of us), and have benefited from this book in our planning process as well.
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