design (189)

Advice to Californians Building New Homes After The Fires

I’d like to get this out to as many people as possible. Please send it to anyone you think might appreciate it.
       -LK

Poster from 1885, designed to encourage people to move westward

I would like to offer some suggestions to people whose homes were destroyed by the California fires of 2017. I have built three homes of my own and, as well, been publishing books on building for some 45 years now. From this experience I’ve come to some conclusions about practical, sensible building.

Much of the emphasis in our books has been on owner-building, and if you will be doing design and construction yourself, these are things for you to consider. If not, these are ideas you can discuss with architects and/or builders you may be working with — the principles are the same. 
Much has been learned about building homes in the last two or three decades. You may be able to take advantage of building materials and techniques that weren’t available when these homes were built. Here is a chance to do things better, to learn from experience, to create a home built from sustainable materials that will save energy, that will be better for you and the planet.
Please note: These are just random ideas for your consideration. This isn’t a check list, where you try to incorporate each suggestion in your plans. The purpose here is to stimulate thinking. Maybe you’ll find two or three ideas that will work for you.
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Basque Shepherd's Trailer

I went to the 65th (!) reunion of my class of 1952, Lowell High School, San Francisco, on Friday. About 80 people out of a class of 250 attended. Even though I’ve taken a different direction (wealth, politics) than most of them, I still love seeing these friends of 70+ years.

It was held at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco, and this wagon was parked out in front. The curved roof, with bed at one end is, I believe, an excellent configuration for a tiny home, far better than the poster boy for tiny homes, the steep gable roof with ladder to loft for sleeping — a bad design, in my opinion, for many reasons. Here you can have drawers under the bed, and the curved roof gives you a feeling of spaciousness, as opposed to the claustrophobia of many tiny home designs.

This is also the basic design for the vardo of the Roma people in Europe.

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Isetta 300

This is a 1-cylinder Italian microcar built by BMW that got 94 miles per gallon in the ’50s. There were a lot of them in Germany when I was stationed there in the USAF in the late ’50s. This one was being refurbished by Ricky J in Prineville, Oregon, when I was there for the eclipse last month. Ricky has a fleet of old cars that he’s restoring, each one a gem by the time he’s through..

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