Tom Bender has been working on a series of
affordable solutions that address on-going
flexibility in houses as a family's needs change over time.
Families currently relocate on an average of every 7 years. This means transaction costs that can be 8-10% of the total cost of a home. Staying in one house that can change as needs change avoids those costs.
Our existing stock of large houses can be retrofitted for conversion into duplexes, triplexes, workplexes, or flexplexes to accommodate more people who are working where they live, and sharing space and support services.
Tom redesigned the privately owned Redwing House in Nehalem as an example of a large1970's house that can accommodate eight residents or couples and/or home occupations. The home has two kitchens and 4 bathrooms and can be two separate apartments of varying size depending on how the bedrooms/workspaces are apportioned. The house was also retrofitted to be energy efficient with low flush toilets, energy efficient refrigerator and laundry appliances, extra insulation in the ceilings and other improvements. We often think of it as our future retirement home - a place where a group of elders can live and be taken care of together.
New houses can be designed to allow a family to continue to live in the same home and neighborhood as their needs change over their lifetimes, and to accommodate different patterns of use for later residents.
A bedroom once used for children can become a home occupation or an accessory dwelling unit rented out for additional income or for a caregiver to live on premises.
Such designs can also work for extended families and group houses for young members of the community wanting shared space, as well as elders looking for innovative assisted living options.
One very affordable solution Tom has been working on involves well designed, well built, energy efficient modular homes that are manufactured elsewhere and trucked to the site. He calls them FlexPlex (enjoy this downloadable PDF). Houses can either be finished off as self-help projects by residents or can be finished by conventional builders.
NeahCasa has developed replicable flexplex plans that can be shared with other CLT's or sold to private developers. See the 2008 Planbook for a beginning.
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