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Rehabbed Microhomes in Reno
Julia Levitt, 25 May 08

For me, at least, the term microhomes usually calls to mind the boutique, super-fashionable and somewhat extremist end of sustainable housing. Now two women in Reno, Nevada are making it their business to put the trend to extremely practical use. Pamela Haberman and Kelly Rae of HabeRae Investments Inc. have teamed up to rehab unwanted buildings on existing city lots, and turn them around as beautifully designed, efficient minimalist living spaces.

HabeRae describes SoDo 4, a renovation project involving four single-family homes built for railroad workers in the early 1900s:

The SoDo 4 will leave a small footprint, be energy efficient and will be affordable to a person who wants to experience the changing urbanscape of Center St. The homes will incorporate big city style such as exposed brick walls that are nearly one hundred years old, a sleeping loft with drop down stairs, a front deck to enjoy the urban vibe on Center St. and a private courtyard for more intimate moments. In our continuing commitment to utilize green building principles, the interiors will have reclaimed douglas fir flooring, dual pane/low e windows, extra insulation, energy star rated appliances and energy efficient lighting. With its vaulted corrugated metal ceilings and other space saving features the SoDo 4 will feel larger than its relatively tight envelope.

The exterior will feature drought tolerant landscape, recycled material for decking and pathways, and a raised bed organic gardenspace for each homeowner. An apple and pear orchard surround a rose garden peacefully situated between the homes. The rear common area and private dog park feature several evergreen and maple trees.

The buildings are located within walking distance of a cluster of trendy cafes and shops, though they do still feature private parking spaces for residents. But what I find truly worldchanging about this project is HabeRae's sincere effort to create dense but luxurious living space in Reno. Nevada, the nation's fastest-growing state, is struggling with a detrimental tendency toward sprawl (which can spur both environmental and social clashes, as illustrated by this NPR piece about one Reno suburb's battle over a donkey).

According to HabeRae's site, the group has created more than 22,000 square feet of attractive living space from unused land within city limits.

Thanks to for pointing out this progressive small business!

Photos courtesy of HabeRae Investments Inc.

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Innovative..Go Girls, do your thing!!

Posted by: on 29 May 08

This is a great idea. This kind of thing in a mixed use area almost eliminates the need for a car. I'm a student at Portland State University and I was thinking along this line but for starting shantytowns for the poor and homeless. With composting toilets and a bus to an area for work, I really think it could work. At our University blogsite, we also did a survey on starting shantytowns and got many positive responses!

Posted by: David Best on 6 Jun 08



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