December 26, 2009

Private Sector Doesn't Do Affordable, Sustainable Housing

What does a guy have to do to get an affordable, efficient, tiny house around here? Something about the size of the average two car garage, say, 400 to 500 sq. ft. It would be nice to have some space outside for a large garden, a few solar panels, a compost pile, and a bit of nature. Somewhere to escape the crushing burden of rent or mortgage payments and live a simple low-impact life.

I dream of a home that is different from the ubiquitous boxes that cloak our landscape as monuments to the dinosaur of for-profit housing. These McHomes may not be energy efficient, or have room for a garden, or encourage community, but they sure do maximize profits for developers, builders and realtors.

Why is a gargantuan mortgage the only option for securing shelter? Shackling yourself to the Big Banks for 35 to 40 years is not my idea of freedom. What if you don't want a 3000 sq.ft. cookie-cutter house in a prestigious neighbourhood with a front double garage and postage stamp yard? What happened to reasonable sized houses? What is wrong with tiny homes?

Across the land where the average size of new homes is growing (currently about 2500 sq. ft.), you will find it is illegal to build a house smaller than about 15oo sq. ft. Architectural restrictions in your enclave ensure any individuality is banned along with outdoor laundry lines.

We know that monocultures are very susceptible to disruption. Diversity is the key to survival. But you will not find that in your regular development.

No orientation for maximum solar gain, no solar water heaters, no straw bale, no grey water systems, no wind turbines, no tiny homes. No, you are not going to see any alternative, forward-thinking innovations here, because these homes and developments are about one thing, and one thing only - maximum profit.

Don't look for answers from the private sector. They are unwilling to provide affordable housing, and are not concerned with providing solutions to our environmental challenges.

A local developer recently quoted in the Sooke News Mirror said, "the imposition of affordable housing makes our business unsuccessful."

It is time to set aside self-interest and think instead about our survival. Securing shelter, a basic human need, should not make one a slave to the bank for half a lifetime. And those with cash on hand should have more of a choice than the unimaginative, expensive, inefficient wastes of space currently offered.

If the private sector can't, or won't, provide affordable housing, then the government should. If they refuse, then they should let the people organize and support their efforts, because the people CAN provide affordable, sustainable housing when profit is not the number one motivating factor.

All I want is my little hobbit house, in a cooperative community of forward thinking individuals willing to show that housing for all is not just a dream. It is attainable if we stand together and work toward that goal without greed in our hearts.

The imposition of unaffordable, inefficient housing makes us, and our planet, unsuccessful.


  1. Anonymous12/26/2009

    Ok. You *can* do this. We have most of the links available at our website--

    We have found this is much easier in the country or in unincorporated counties without zoning problems. Get your land, decide to be on or off the grid, (on costs a LOT), and then build your house either by yourself with a plan or kit or by a company specializing in tiny homes.

    If you are in the city, look for *grandfathered* in carraige homes or accessory dwelling units. Buy the property, rent out the larger home, and voila. Do not say the word "rent" if getting an FHA loan.

    Welcome to the Movement!!

  2. Are you familiar with earthships? They are quite amazing. Check out the movie "Garbage Warrior" or their website It's a wonderful thing they're doing.

    Thanks for your blog. I really enjoy it!


  3. accessahut, and Christina,

    These are exactly the kinds of alternatives I am talking about. Thank you for sharing the links, and thank you for visiting.

  4. Just in case anyone from australia is looking at your wonderful blog:
    We are building tiny homes through a developer and none of us is motivated by profit!
    I love your blog, keep up the good writing mate, its very encouraging!

    1. Hey Moira, we do get a lot of visitors from your part of the world, and I am sure they would be interested in your exciting project.

      The statement from your site sums up how I feel:

      "Our common thread is a deep belief that through living cooperatively we can enjoy more rewarding, environmentally sustainable lives that nourish each other and which can ultimately benefit the planet."

      Who is encouraging who here? I am inspired by your story. Good Luck.


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