It is said again and again in the recent decade: housing is the one major industry that has resisted disruption. In spite of the facts that material costs are all over the map; there is a severe labor shortage; buildings account for upwards of 30% of greenhouse gases; extraction, manufacturing, and construction carbon and waste are generally unaccounted for or to; and, there is a severe housing crisis for those having no home to those affording a house on a middle income. Yet the industry barely budges. Small residential projects and developer houses are built as they have been for centuries, with few innovations. Aren’t we done with this? I am.
Introducing the Poche_Truss (PatPend), an audacious disruptive innovation in residential construction. It is a low tech invention that sits right under our collective construction noses, embodied in the humble truss.
What is not to love? The thin profile of the structural frame and the spacious unfolding of setting them sequentially to magically create space. In my career it was inevitable that this humble construction strategy would take hold of my imagination. In 1997 I flipped the trusses upside down on the Shaffer house and never looked back.
A short two dozen years later, On January 22, 2021, a provisional patent was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office: Wall Roof Truss Building System, Inventor: ml Robles. Presentations on this building system are ongoing.
Our first wee house in a backyard is done! #14 under Boulder’s revised ADU regulations. Its total cost, excluding land, in 2019-2020 was $190,600, at 540sf that translates to $353/sf.
Our second wee house in a backyard is under design. This one is substantially different. For one, lumber costs have more than doubled in cost and preliminary cost came in at almost $500/sf. A 41% overall increase! Plus – Boulder adopted the IECC’s 2018 energy conservation standards. But wait, there is more – COVID-19 happened and the city approval process is spiraling in excess and redundancy. Yikes. I, however, remain undeterred in building ADUs to change the way we make small houses and use our urban land. ADUforMe and Studio Points are making their way through all of this. We bring a solution to the table. Coming soon…the Poche_Truss!
ADU for Me.com will be the platform for all things ADU. Looking to build one? Rent one? Find architects or builders who specialize in them? Just wondering how and what others are doing? ADU for Me.com will be the AirBnB for ADUs plus the HomeAdvisor of ADUs plus the NEXTDOOR for ADUs. Accessory Dwelling Units – aka ADUs – are swelling across the country and placing regular folks in the position of being a developer and landlord. ADU for Me.com is the resource to help successfully make those transitions. So, interspersed with the Good Design is Like That writing, you will find information about ADUforMe.com until that site gets launched. Pardon the dust.
ADUforMe Boulder – Do you wonder if you can have an ADU on your property and where it can be located and what size it can be? I can help find answers.
does housing need to be brave?, you might wonder. Do you remember the pressure
in high school to fit in? Or the challenge in your profession to do as everyone
else does? These days it seems that value has been found in making mistakes and
stepping outside the lines, essentially in following an untried path. Yet some
things, no matter the unconventional line you might be walking, some things
seem to be held in place with much deeper roots. Housing is one of those
things. To convince your neighbors or city council or even your spouse that
providing a place for a stranger to live in your backyard in a modest small
house is a good thing, can be an unexpected uphill battle. Most of us living in
desirable cities realize that the oft spoken housing crisis is quite real. Land
is valuable beyond what any of us imagined when we bought into our single
family houses decades ago. And population growth is not a far off phenomena
going on in lands far beyond our reach. This is going on right here, right now
with ever expanding consequences. And as I often have pointed out to my city
council, you would not know we were in the midst of a climate crisis to walk
through our city and see the smashing up of old structures and tipping them into
the landfill and the super sizing of new constructions with barely lip service
to green building much less renewable energy or regenerative practices.
the immediacy of climate change disrupt our patterns?
I like to think small. I like to think about the single things any one of us can do in our daily routines. Like recycle that can or bottle. Like walk or take a bike. Like turn off lights and grow native grass to reduce water use. Things we have heard a million times over the past decades, these should all be second nature by now, you think? I met a man at a political event just a day ago. As we got to talking something steered the conversation to recycling and I matter-of-factly acknowledged that we certainly would know that cardboard and wood are recyclable and reusable. His response shook my reality. He said, no, he did not recycle. Yes he lived in Boulder, yes he lived in an apartment building with massive recycle bins. But no, he did not recycle. That was for white people. SILENCE
How does this happen?
How is it that the consequences of our actions do not trickle upward to the
consequences for our planet? Do I recycle because it rocks my little green world
or do I recycle because I know that we live on a planet of finite resources
with a population explosion that is severely taxing the ability for this planet
to supply our growing needs? I saw that vulnerable little blue marble of a
planet in those photos from space. They made my heart swell as I thought of the
millions of creatures that make this home. It is nothing short of a miracle, that
this much life has arisen in ecological cooperation for billions of years. And in a couple of hundred years humans have
taken the path of dominating every other specie on the planet.
I return to
thinking small. Because that is where you and I can still see the wonder of
life. I practice architecture. And what I have noticed is that it is
increasingly difficult to include the word beauty and even sustainability into
the client conversation. I am convinced that the Internet has made us stupid. It
provides a means for untrained people to gain limited information about things
they truly know nothing about and cannot begin to know from a stroll on the
Internet. This may be nice for looking up facts like, what year was Elvis born?
But it is such a disservice to use it to educate yourself about how to make a
house or a space. It provides false understanding and closes you to the true
sources of a great house or a delightful space.
world we can still find many places to hide our heads in the sand. While you
are there, check out that gain of sand for it holds all the connections to
I see small houses that way. Although backyard houses are just bit players in the housing options, they are a key nexus that can nudge us to use less and to participate more and with good design, small houses can provoke us to feel our interconnection. That is no longer small, that is brave.