I am sharing a book review I wrote for Hermit Haus Redevelopment, because I think some of my readers here would also enjoy it.
The little book I read is called Going Tiny: Failure + Opportunity in the Future of Affordable Housing It’s written by a guy named Davis Richardson, who is apparently the age of my youngest son. But, he’s more ambitious or more lucky. Anyway, his age is a real advantage in this book, and his perspective is just what I needed as I looked for books that gave honest assessments of how tiny homes REALLY would work in communities.
I don’t usually write the same thing in my work and personal blog. This time, yes. Why not?
I really enjoyed this charming and idea-packed little book!
If you are a professional book person, you have to ignore some of the obvious signs of self publishing, like random blank spreads in the middle of chapters, and headings even on the first blank page. I also get a little irritated trying to make out the legends on his illustrations, which are in his charming but hard-to-read handwriting. Really, though, you should focus on Richardson’s words, instead, which are written in a colloquial Millennial style that I enjoyed.
Richardson is an architecture student who decided to build a tiny house on a whim, and learned a lot of lessons about building them and (more important to me) what you can DO with them the hard way, by his own experience. Lucky for us Hermits, he did all his learning in Austin, so the examples he gives actually apply to us. What a handy coincidence!
The main focus of the book is how the ideas and goals of the tiny house on wheels movement (which he doubts will be a long-term trend) can be translated into real housing that is affordable, good for the planet, and good for the residents. This is a guy right up my alley! Here are his thoughts on changing American Dream to something that works today:
There are far more important things than the American Dream…But I recognize the power and hope it can give to people when the dream seems attainable, and when it’s not wrapped up in exclusive social classes and corporate greed. What we have the opportunity to do is to reclaim the American Dream. p. 92
I enjoyed Richardson’s analysis of easy ways to increase density and affordable housing, such as “granny suites” that are like the casita we built behind the main house at Villa Park. Of course, since this is often frowned upon by HOAs and zoning, there is work to be done to make something like this do-able, but I sure like that idea.
Since he’s an architect, Richardson has even made some prototypes and has some interesting ideas that I think can be further developed, who knows, maybe by us. The spark of an idea in this book might be just what some developer needs to turn away from building one more luxury condo on top of a formerly charming neighborhood or Austin landmark. As he concludes:
[I]t’s important to realize that the future of affordable housing isn’t – as the tiny house craze could lead us to believe – a one-size-fits-all solution. Housing deals first and foremost with individuals and collections of individuals whose needs are vast and variable, and our housing should seek to meet the specific needs of each individual. p. 126
I could not agree more. I may have to talk to this young man.