The Complexities of Keeping It Small and Simple

That is the great headline in the New York Times that says it all, the contradictions and problems of building small, green and modern. Paul McKean and Amy Donahue, both architects in Oregon, ran into them all with their modern, green roofed 925 SF second home:

-restrictive covenants that set minimum floor areas of 1400 SF plus a two car garage- "The landowner had imposed the deed restriction as "a way of maintaining the value of the neighborhood by requiring homes to be large and expensive,"

-bankers who only handle homes over a million bucks and "suggested they go with a large Tudor instead."

-when they finally got a loan, it barely covered the costs of construction;

-flood plain restrictions that normally would result in a clunky raised ground floor. From the Times: A key concept for the house was "to literally have no footprint," Ms. Donohue said. The roof is engineered to sustain plants and soil to absorb rainwater. Planters with native grasses, which are embedded in the cedar deck and walkway, also help absorb rainwater while screen-covered inserts in the concrete storage units allow floodwater to flow in and out. "There's the idea that nature is running through the building," Mr. McKean said. Other features include tigerwood flooring certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a vegetable wax finish, a water-conserving toilet, an on-demand water heater and in the bathroom a solar tube — a type of skylight that intensifies natural light — to use in place of a regular electrical fixture. ::New York Times

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