Tiny houses may be trendy, but small houses are smart homes that are good solutions for many people.
That’s the feeling of a couple of Mainers who specialize in designing and building small — but certainly not tiny — houses. Their particular architectural niche hasn’t inspired as many how-to websites, admiring slideshows, explanatory articles, earnest documentaries and even sometimes-hilarious parodies as tiny houses, which generally are considered to be between 100 and 400 square feet. But small houses still have been gaining popularity in the last few years even as the burgeoning tiny house movement has grabbed what seems like all of the headlines in alternative design.
“There’s a ton of interest in small houses,” builder Jim Bahoosh of Morrill said this week. “From people all over the age spectrum and all over the economic spectrum. I’m as busy as I want to be.”
Bahoosh, who works by himself to build houses that generally range from 500 to 900 square feet, was putting the finishing touches on a two-story cottage tucked into a postage stamp-sized piece of land in the crowded, quaint village of Bayside in the town of Northport. He and a business partner purchased the property to build a speculative small house on it with hopes of eventually finding a buyer. He started construction last October and the 1,000-square-foot house, built with deep gables and lots of light, was under contract before they ever had to advertise it for sale…
“Somewhere between the tiny house and the McMansions, there seems to be a missing piece,” he said. “I think people are not happy in a bunch of wasted space with a bunch of clutter … and we don’t need to go down to everybody living in a camper trailer to make way better use of the spaces we have now.”
A couple of years ago, he and Holland decided the time was right to get louder about their small home designs and work to share them with more people.
“We were seeing an unmet need, and a middle class that was under some pressures. We weren’t seeing people designing for them,” he said. “We’re still building these great big things, and we’re not building places where people can grow old in place. In an aging state like Maine, we should be addressing that.”
Bahoosh said that is a concern of his, too. He pointed out ways that his Bayside house utilizes what he calls “universal design,” a way for people of different physical abilities to use the space, such as a first-floor room that could be used as a bedroom for someone who can’t get up the stairs.
“I call it thinking ahead,” he said…
Foley said that he and Holland also work hard to listen to their clients and to figure out what they want and need in their homes.
“Everybody has a different story. And we want every square foot to have a reason, and a purpose and be wonderful for people. The main thing is to be thoughtful,” he said. “A building is just the frame around a picture. The picture is your life.”