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Responding to Demographic and Environmental Challenges With Compact Design

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

a modern farmhouse style home
The Modern Farmhouse prototype from Compact Residential

Housing and rental markets in and around cities are expensive and often inaccessible to seniors, young adults and other individuals who may struggle financially because of modest or low incomes. Affordable housing initiatives, robust public transportation systems and socially focused government programs can address some of these inequities, but there are additional strategies that can support the notion of a more accessible and egalitarian society. One option is the relatively affordable accessory dwelling unit (ADU). These compact homes are the size of a typical apartment but are a detached residence or outbuilding on an existing property.

Recently, many suburbs and towns in New England have been addressing housing shortages and affordability by allowing ADUs through a special permit process. These towns have been responding to recent social and cultural trends including retirees living with adult children (NYT - ADUs and Parents), adult children living with parents, towns seeking to expand affordable housing stock, and retirees seeking new and innovative retirement communities. As these towns become more amenable to allowing ADUs, some places like Hingham, Massachusetts are even changing their bylaws to allow for a limited number without having to ask for an exception to existing zoning rules (Hingham bylaw change).

In addition to the changing demographic trends, the rising awareness of the climate change crisis coupled with the necessity of switching to alternative energy sources suggests that smaller, more compact homes can be a simple and responsible housing solution. Ultimately, building compact homes is not only about creating accessibility to good housing stock, but also providing common sense HVAC solutions to changing global trends in energy consumption.

Compact Residential provides an innovative housing product that is spatially and energy efficient while providing comfort, livability and ADA accessible design. We create thoughtfully designed accessory dwelling units (ADUs) for existing properties allowing your family members and friends to live next door. Partnering with local contractors, we strive for consistency and quality in the design/build process with an array of standard models (much like a car manufacturer’s) and multiple finish options (ie. “build your own” options) for easy and flexible shopping. We hope these houses will appeal to conscientious consumers who seek efficient and affordable accessory homes while investing in new housing solutions. Most consumers will already own the property and, in many cases, there will be an existing house present on the site. These properties, in most cases, will need to be at least 8,000-10,000 sf. (to accommodate the restraints of an existing structure as well as setbacks and building codes) with initial target areas to include New England suburbs and towns outside of RT 128.

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