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Entries in Minimalist Homes (1)

Wednesday
Dec222010

Minimalist Homes May Be Antidote to Sagging Housing Market

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The long economic downturn has led a small number of Americans to downsize their homes to minimalist mini-cabins, not much larger than the size of the average living room.

William Rockhill has been building cabins since 1991 when he started Bear Creek Carpentry in Woodgate, N.Y.

Based in the Adirondack Mountains, Rockhill has built 200 homes, mostly for vacationers buying second homes. That began to change in the past few years when the economy tanked, according to Rockhill. "Most people requesting information now are looking for a simpler, alternative life," said Rockhill, who builds about one home for every 10 requests he receives. "Off the grid is a big thing now."

Rockhill's mini-cabins range from $13,440 for an 8 by 16 feet complete cottage, to $50,400 for a 20 by 24 feet two-bedroom lodge.

Homebuyers interested in a do-it-yourself project can purchase the shells of these homes for $8,320 and $31,200, respectively.

Bear Creek Carpentry may be on the less expensive end of the small-home price spectrum. Jay Shafer, whom Rockhill called the "guru" of the small-home movement, started the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company in Sebastopol, Calif., with homes from $38,997 and up. Shafer's home sizes are 65 to 837 square feet and you can just buy the complete home plans for around $700.

Shafer co-founded the Small House Society, with a mission to "support the research, development, and use of smaller living spaces that foster sustainable living for individuals, families, and communities worldwide.

Gregory Johnson, president of the Small House Society in Iowa City, Iowa, said when the society first began several years ago, about 100 visitors clicked on its website every day. Today, still without advertising, about 1,000 people visit the website on average, though the site has received as many as 70,000 visitors in a day.

Johnson said another reason for the growing interest in smaller living spaces in addition to the economy, is greater awareness about human impact on the environment.

"Living small is a way to reduce our negative impact," he wrote in an e-mail.

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