Friday, November 21, 2008

::If any of you out there wonder why SM and I live here-read on::

I stumbled across this post on my neighbor(and good friend's) blog and asked for permission to post here because it accuratly defines(and describes) why SM and I have chosen to live where and how we do.
Thanks Tom for your thoughts and expertise!

Slow Home

"There is a crisis of housing. It is a crisis borne not from scarcity but from plenty - too much, too big, and too many.
Large corporations create the majority of our domestic environments.
Our most intimate and important places are built for profit rather than people. The result is a seemingly endless sprawl of cookie cutter houses, strip malls and highway interchanges that are bad for us, our families, our cities, and the environment."
I couldn't agree more. If we are ever going to create neighborhoods and communities that matter I believe this is the way. Go to the site and see the details if you don't believe me.
Slow Home

Here are ten steps to create better homes and better neighborhoods.


Avoid homes by big developers and large production builders. They are designed for profit not people. Work with independent designers and building contractors instead.


Avoid home finishing products from big box retailers. The standardized solutions they provide cannot fit the unique conditions of your home. Use local retailers, craftspeople, and manufacturers to get a locally appropriate response and support your community.


Stop the conversion of nature into sprawl. Don’t buy in a new suburb. The environmental cost can no longer be justified. Re-invest in existing communities and use sustainable materials and technologies to reduce your environmental footprint.


Reduce your commute. Driving is a waste of time and the new roads and services required to support low density development is a big contributor to climate change. Live close to where you work and play.


Avoid the real estate game of bigger is always better. A properly designed smaller home can feel larger AND work better than a poorly designed big one. Spend your money on quality instead of quantity.


Stop living in houses filled with little rooms. They are dark, inefficient, and don’t fit the complexity of our daily lives. Live in a flexible and adaptive open plan living space with great light and a connection to outdoors.


Don’t buy a home that has space you won’t use and things you don’t need. Good design can reduce the clutter and confusion in your life. Create a home that fits the way you really want to live.


Avoid fake materials and the re-creation of false historical styles. They are like advertising images and have little real depth. Create a home in which character comes from the quality of space, natural light and the careful use of good, sustainable materials.


Avoid living in a public health concern. Houses built with cheap materials off gas noxious chemicals. Suburbs promote obesity because driving is the only option. Use natural, healthy home materials and building techniques. Live where you can walk to shop, school and work.


Stop procrastinating. The most important, and difficult, step in the slow home process is the first one that you take. Get informed and then get involved with your home. Every change, no matter how small, is important.

::Slow Home::
In response to a comment on my Slow Home post I am answering here.

How does one afford it?

That is the problem isn’t it? A simple appeal to the consumer will yield little result. The current structure of development prevents affordable alternatives to the status quo. Consumers can’t wait for big developers to change and big developers have no motivation to change. A young family needing a house will purchase the house, out of those available, that best fits their needs. However, just because a consumer buys the best product they can doesn’t mean that it’s the best product for them or the one they really want. If all the cars you can afford are Fords and Chevys and you buy a Ford it doesn’t mean that Ford makes the best car for you. We need a Honda or Toyota in house production.

Look at Daybreak where just a few of the principles of New Urbanism are used – small lots, walkable tree lined streets, detached garages placed back from the street – and you see higher property values and extraordinary demand. All of these things would have been negatives to developers just ten years ago. People buying houses ten years ago might have been happy with a Daybreak style neighborhood but developers were telling them they wanted something different and no one was offering real alternatives. Daybreak is a weak example of what is possible. But zoning codes are still stuck in the 60’s, developers are notoriously conservative and contractors are frightened of change. If it worked in the past why change?

Worse yet if you want a modern house using unique materials in a walkable dynamic neighborhood you run into contractors that are scared to vary from long established routines without charging extra and developers who don't think people want modern homes (they also have no idea how to do them right).

To answer the question of how does one afford something like the Slow Home ethic is a complicated endeavor. Right now I am still figuring it all out. One thing however is sure - it involves a lot more than just the consumer.

I hope to revisit this topic again soon.
Tom Aaron

Posted with Permission