Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tiny is terrific!

Could you imagine living in a house less than 100 square feet? Jay Schafer could. In fact, he liked the idea so much that he started the Tumbleweed Tiny House company to design and sell his lilliputian creations. Now people all around the country are living in small, semi-portable Tumbleweed houses.

They come in various sizes ranging from 70 to 770 square feet. Building plans can be customized, and if you aren't the do-it-yourself type you can even have them build and ship it to you in about three months. All but the largest versions are built on trailers, so they can be towed anywhere, plugged to electricity (or solar/wind/hydro/etc power) and made your own.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Building materials in Baltimore

An entry in the Cheapskate monthly newsletter reminded me of a favorite shopping destination here in Baltimore: Second Chance Architectural Salvage.

Not only do they give old buildings new life by rescuing unique architectural elements from demolition, they also provide job training for low-income residents of Baltimore by providing instruction in construction skills from carpentry to precision deconstruction techniques.

While their main focus is building materials, they do sell furniture too. On my last trip to Second Chance a few weeks ago, I came away with a lovely little cherry dresser, gently used. You never know what treasures you will find in their warehouses! Remember, antiquing is recycling.

Here are some other local stores that give construction materials a second chance...

The Baltimore ReStore. Grand opening coming up on April 5. This Habitat for Humanity fundraiser serves the community by providing discount building materials, and serves the environment by keeping these materials out of landfills.

The Loading Dock. Their motto is “Don’t Dump: Donate!” ...proving that you really can build a house with what people throw away. Look for them at the Ecofestival during Baltimore Green Week.

In other cities...

New York "Build It Green"

Or check the national directory at the Building Materials Reuse Association webpage.