James Stuart is relatively new to the small house movement. Based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, his company Twelve3 makes 10-square foot and 12-Square foot micro houses. Thinking about a new small house, a guest house, a studio, or a rental – check out Twelve3. Pricing is dependent on options but starts at CDN $24,500. Read more below to hear it in James’ own words.
When I started designing the cube, a conscious decision was made to make it comfortable and practical. Somewhere you could be happy to invite friends over to, somewhere you would be proud of. A home, not just shelter.
So I started with a blank piece of paper and concentrated on what I liked about a conventional home and tried to eliminate what I didn’t like. It had to be bright and airy, nothing toxic involved in its construction, and built in as environmentally friendly way as possible.
I decided that the bedroom and bathroom had to be on the same floor because I did not want to negotiate narrow stairs or a ladder in the dark if I wanted to use the washroom at night which is a problem in most micro houses. With the main living area higher up, I could get more light inside the cube. By having the large french doors on the 12×12 unit, it makes it easy to invite the outside in. The first impression you get when you walk in the front door is how large and airy it feels. Everyone can’t believe its only 12×12.
When we approached the city to get building permits they immediately reverted to the default of “no”. It took multiple visits, and we finally got to the point where we were working together unofficially to get the design to a place they were willing issue me a building permit.
It took a while to get the first one built, we made mistakes, had to undo things and redo them, we still with that only produced one pickup load of waste, and with subsequent units think we can reduce that by half. At this point I am happy to say that it looks like we are going to be able to team up with one of the bigger local builders, to take advantage of their experience and knowledge, allowing us to sell the units at a very affordable CDN $24,500.
I managed to get a friend to allow me to build the unit in his backyard, the main reason we picked his neighbourhood was that his neighbours were much more amenable to the idea of people coming to look at the house, the funny thing though is that people, even though they know what they are coming to see, still walk by, its very unobtrusive, it blends in beautifully.
I moved in almost two months ago now, having decided that I needed to prove to people that I could live comfortably in the Cube, even in Canadian winter weather. I rented my house, put most of my stuff in storage, and began to adapt to my “cubic” life. I have more storage than I need, so there is plenty for two people. When I go shopping I am buying groceries for a few days at a time, not a couple of weeks. I ripped my CD’s and DVD’s to a terabyte hard drive with lots of space left over.
Last months power bill (propane and electricity) combined was $31.00. The average North American 1 bedroom apartment produces 5 tons of CO2 per year. A Cube will produce 0.8 tons a year. Its shows you care.
Things happen that make you think living in a small house is a very good idea. There was a power outage, everyone round me is in the dark. I have installed an RV power panel to handle the power distribution with a 12v deep cycle battery connected to it as backup. I’m sitting there, my lights blazing away – they are all low voltage 12v. There’s a knock. Its the neighbours. They all came over to my place to be warm and comfortable till the power came on again. It was only out for a couple of hours – but they get it now.
Learn more about Twelve3.
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