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Joe Wallin spoke to the club after he was introduced by Jess Garrison.  He visited the club on this subject a couple of years ago with his entity “70 times 7.”  Joe’s group became independent on January 1, 1977 and on January 1, 2018 has merged his former group with Fresh Coast Alliance which is based in the Muskegon area.  Joe’s focus is drug and alcohol addiction and Fresh Coast extends their efforts to the complication of criminal records which result.
The Program, for which I subbed as Scribe for Randy White, who was away on his annual LOST WEEKEND, with high school friends who can still remember where they were, involved a former local as the presenter.  The subject involved a BIG coming concept of downsized dwellings for mostly mature folks and younger folks, along with being more affordable and scaled to available land served by utilities.  The enterprise is locally (West Michigan) named URBANEER and is operated by Bruce and Brenda Thompson and David Allen.  There is a background experience with Rockford Construction, but now involves being on the front end of Compact Homes, as being engineered by Champion Homes of Liverpool, PA.  The presenter was Lydia Hatton, who I had to search my memory to recall when she was a youngster enjoying sailing at the SL Yacht Club, being one of the many Hatton’s who matriculated to various careers and places.  Lydia is associated with the business of compact housing, through her affiliation with the owners of URBANEER.
The History of Compact Homes is somewhat recent and it is still evolving through Architects and Community Planners (See Cerf and McDonough) because society is looking for more compact living quarters.  The age of the McMansion seems over and in Europe and the US people seem to be looking for housing that fills their direct needs of shelter, comfort, and refuge, but not the need to make a statement as to their financial attributes, or family size.  Finances are more difficult to come by to pay for a large home, and there are fewer people in a typical household, especially with mature folks and X and Z generation between age 21 and 35.   So, why waste land and money on big homes that do not fit what 50% of the general population desires to live in, for themselves and a family?
The design concept of compact housing can be traced to the old catalogue displays of Sears Housing, which provided basic housing to the mass population, at affordable prices.  Going forward into the 2020’s, there might not be a Sears Home, but there are compact homes (750 sq.ft +\-) that have the ability to slide different modules into the construction process for kitchens, bathrooms, storage, gathering rooms, and bedrooms (think Murphy Bed) so space is different depending upon the owner’s choices, and the needs of the family occupying the home.  Rather than a larger 1800 sq. ft rancher, or 2400 sq. ft two story, the Compact Home design can accommodate, with a basement, 3 bedrooms, a game room, the typical kitchen, laundry area, bathrooms (2+) storage, and eating/gathering area.  This can be done with top of the line fit and finish in the modules, or average level fit and finish, or low cost basics.   All by substituting the size and quality of the finished product module. 
If a typical compact home has a front door, a side entry, some windows with a slider to a patio, and a front porch, on a 25 foot by 35 foot foundation, with a full or partial basement, then depending on the cost of the modules, excluding the lot, the home could be delivered, erected as to the exterior, placement of the pre-chosen modules, and plumbed and wired (for everything in an internet age) for a range from perhaps $200 to +/- 15% per sq.ft. unless extremely expensive fit and finishes were desired.   The lot would possibly be less expensive than the standard of approximately $50,000 today as up to 4 compact homes could be situated nicely on a standard 66x100 foot city lot.   Two 2 car garages could be included on the 4 home compound, as in the future many people will choose to not have their own personal vehicle, but will likely want to call the electric self-driving vehicle (SDV) for necessary longer distance transport, with use of the now available Dial-a Ride for shorter distances.   Home delivery of food staples will be much more common in the future as the mature users find the convenience better than the weekly effort to shop.
An amazing statistic, but coming within ten years, is that about 70% of home occupants in the aggregate will be single, childless, or over age 55.   The internet will provide most information, access to the rest of the world, and AI will assist the homeowner with all the usual tasks…cleaning, medical info, social, daily schedules, emergency connections, contacts for any required maintenance and upkeep, and similar routine matters of home occupancy. 
Lydia stated that a hint of things occurring is that Builders are not being overwhelmed with new building of homes projects.  The typical 1960’s style subdivision is not being built today, because there is no assurance that if it is built, for 2000 sq.ft standard ranch style/2 story multi bedroom homes, that they shall come to buy them.  One big issue is affordability since single family 2000 sq. ft homes with the lot and full utilities costs over $400,000 to build and there is no profit left to the Builder when building to a spec home.  Local units of government have not caught up with the trend in Compact Homes, land use and fill in opportunities.  That typically will change when zoning for single family homes is eliminated, as has occurred in parts of Grand Rapids.   Homeowners of the future will want to be closer to social opportunities, public services, work, friends, and internet opportunities that reduce required upkeep duties. 
Lydia concluded her presentation with the observation that when government reacts to the compact homes that are desired, the availability will become more common, communities can offer everyone affordable housing at the level they desire,  and the current shortage of compact affordable homes will correct itself to create lower cost quality housing as efficiencies begin to occur in the SMART designs that incorporate Integrated Modular Designs (MODES) so 500 sq.ft. will actually be the norm for a single occupant living unit, which will lead to development of an Accessory Dwelling Unit on a larger single family site existing today (think the mother-in-law or granny unit).   She concluded that Home is where the Heart is, for all things Emotional, Social, Environmental, Occupational, Financial and Spiritual.  With trends occurring for Compact Housing, and at a rapidly increasing pace, keep our collective eyes open since it is likely we each will want to have a choice for this evolving housing as we progress along the path of Life…Thanks Lydia for the enlightenment, and your enthusiasm in providing the information about the trends occurring in our lives.
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Member Birthdays:
  • James Bos
    September 7
  • Bradley Bench
    September 14
  • Morgan Rescorla
    September 17
  • Ed Grafton
    September 27
  • Barry Kram
    Bronwen Kram
    September 9
  • Jess Garrison
    Skylar Garrison
    September 9
  • Julie Bunke
    Kirk Bunke
    September 15
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    Bill Burns
    September 22
  • Sue Zwart
    September 27
Join Date:
  • Pete Sherwood
    September 3, 1971
    48 years
  • Kevin Green
    September 10, 2009
    10 years
  • Jason Kik
    September 18, 2015
    4 years
  • Mac MacLachlan
    September 18, 1987
    32 years
  • Bernie Wade
    September 20, 1996
    23 years
  • Craig Sytsema
    September 20, 2013
    6 years
  • Tom Boven
    September 29, 1972
    47 years
September 20th
Sep 20, 2019
September 13th
Sep 12, 2019