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The eco-friendly, small home movement marches on with this offering from Karoleena Homes, the Calgary builder’s first move into prefab and modular housing.

Special Giveaway: Follow this link to get your copy of "The Big Book of Tiny Homes".

Advertised as a holiday home, backyard studio or laneway house, the Karo Cabin will be factory-built and shipped to a site of the client’s choosing anywhere in North America accessible by road.

What’s a “laneway house”, I hear you cry? In Canada, specifically the west coast in and around the packed metro area of Vancouver, The EcoDensity movement is attempting to increase the residential population per square mile, thereby more effectively reducing the city’s ecological footprint. Encouraging homebuilders to create smaller housing structures on open land in existing lots is one of the key components of the Ecodensity mission statement.

Sustainable homes are built using sustainable methods, materials, and facilitate green practices, enabling a more sustainable lifestyle. Their construction and maintenance have neutral impacts on the Earth. Often, if necessary, they are close in proximity to essential services such as grocery stores, schools, daycares, work, or public transit making it possible to commit to sustainable transportation choices. Sometimes, they are off-the-grid homes that do not require any public energy, water, or sewer service.

If not off-the-grid, sustainable homes may be linked to a grid supplied by a power plant that is using sustainable power sources, buying power as is normal convention. Additionally, sustainable homes may be connected to a grid, but generate their own electricity through renewable means and sell any excess to a utility. There are two common methods to approaching this option: net metering and double metering.

Net metering uses the common meter that is installed in most homes, running forward when power is used from the grid, and running backward when power is put into the grid (which allows them to “net“ out their total energy use, putting excess energy into the grid when not needed, and using energy from the grid during peak hours, when you may not be able to produce enough immediately). Power companies can quickly purchase the power that is put back into the grid, as it is being produced. Double metering involves installing two meters: one measuring electricity consumed, the other measuring electricity created. Additionally, or in place of selling their renewable energy, sustainable home owners may choose to bank their excess energy by using it to charge batteries. This gives them the option to use the power later during less favorable power-generating times (i.e.: night-time, when there has been no wind, etc.), and to be completely independent of the electrical grid.

Smaller homes are less expensive than larger ones in terms of taxes and building, heating, maintenance, and repair costs. In addition to costing less, small houses may encourage a less cluttered and simpler lifestyle and reduce ecological impacts for their residents. The typical size of a small home seldom exceeds 500 square feet (46 m2). The typical tiny house on wheels is usually less than 8 ft by 20 ft, with livable space totaling 120 square feet or less, for ease of towing and to exempt it from the need for a building permit.

Small houses may emphasize design over size, utilize dual purpose features and multi-functional furniture, and incorporate technological advances of space saving equipment and appliances. Vertical space optimization is also a common feature of small houses and apartments.

As small houses may be attractive as second homes or retirement houses which 2 out of five people are over 50, their increased utilization may lead to development of more land. People interested in building a small home can encounter institutional “discrimination” when building codes require minimum size well above the size of a small home. Also, neighbors may be hostile because they fear negative impacts on their property values. There has also been opposition based on this fact, due to concerns about increased taxes.

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