NOMAD Micro Home is the Detached Studio You Always Wanted


We’re big fans of prefabricated homes and sheds. The drawback, for some of them at least, is the issue of practicality. If the cost to buy and assemble such a unit on a suitably-graded piece of land is directly comparable to the cost of simply designing and building it in place, then… what’s the point?

Here’s a prefab that’s different and strikes us being highly practical, too. It’s a “flat-pack” micro home that’s currently seeking crowd-sourced funding for launch. We hope it succeeds because the dwelling, designed by NOMAD of Canada, is simple, unfussy, and will offer excellent bang for the buck.


Adam Williams of Gizmag reports that the proposed base model, estimated to cost around $25K, would include “kitchen cabinets, shelving, plenty of storage space, laminate flooring, lighting, and prewired electrical outlets. Shelling out more cash brings additions like a solar power system, grey water treatment and rainwater collection, while a wooden deck can also be added to offer some additional outdoor space.”


You could buy a piece of land, put this house on it and you’re in business — it’s a complete residence. However to us, the most intriguing factor is that you don’t need a lot of flat backyard space to make this your office/studio + guest room. And who couldn’t use one of those?


For more info head to Gizmag and watch a video about the NOMAD Micro Home, or check out the NOMAD Canada website here. Funding for this project is being sought on Indiegogo, meaning you can actually be part of this exciting project.

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The Solar Decathlon is ON!

WHEN: October 3rd thru 6th & 10th thru 13th, 11am to 7 pm

WHERE: The Great Park, Irvine, CA

COST: $0 – it’s free!


Let the games begin. Over the past few days, an open expanse has been transformed into a village of cool, energy efficient homes. There is genius at work here, to say nothing of collaboration and innovation as teams from all over the world go head-to-head in competition. It’s the Annual Solar Decathlon, and we are proud that it is held right here in SoCal, an hour south of LA in OC’s Great Park.


From their website: “The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”

“Open to the public free of charge, the Solar Decathlon gives visitors the opportunity to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money today.”


So what is there to see? Here’s a rendering of a house called LISI by Team Austria, from the Vienna University of Technology. Tour it in person and see how this stunning home was conceived and built.


One of two local teams in competition hails from USC. “In designing fluxHome, the University of Southern California team focused on developing a truly accessible model for energy-independent, low-cost housing that reflects the best qualities of indoor-outdoor living in Southern California.”

We reported a few months ago on a second local team in the decathlon, comprised of students from SCI-Arc and CalTech. It is truly inspiring to these young minds at work designing homes that will most certainly influence our future landscape here in the LA area.

For more info about this fun, free and very informative event, head to the Solar Decathlon website. This is a great opportunity, we hope to see you there!

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Photos courtesy of Eric Grigorian of the US Dept. of Energy. Renderings by Team Vienna and USC.

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Houses Local+Global: Pump House by Branch Studio Architects


From Gizmag’s Adam Williams: “The most appealing homes don’t have to be the most expensive or imposing. We’re reminded of this yet again by Pump House – a basic but idyllic weekend retreat designed by Australian firm Branch Studio Architects (BSA). It was built with a modest budget, and boasts the advantage of operating off-the-grid.”


Completed in May of this year, the structure is clean and unfussy. Materials are basic: plywood, corrugated metal sheeting. Solar panels power the lights and a wood-burning stove provides heat.


Imagine something like this on a piece of land you own in the local mountains. Or in your big back yard, to use as your office, art studio, playroom or guest suite. The design is simple…


But the options are endless. There are lots more photos, head here.

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Houses Local+Global: House Tunquén by Branko Pavlovic & Pablo Lobos-Pedrals


From the architect: “The house is located in an area with an intricate topography… The dramatic slope is understood from a resignation to the inevitable need to build livable floorplans.”

Sound familiar? Given that so many of our local residences are built on hillsides or in canyons, it seems that this home in Tunquén, Chile would be a great fit right here SoCal.


From the ArchDaily: “The house is designed as a lightweight volume, entirely in pine wood, set on a concrete base that links to the rockiness of the ground. On the outside, it has worked as a continuous black shell that has been cut and detached from the cover and from the ground, to bring up the openings of the windows.”


“By contrast, the interiors are continuous and neutral. White grout on the walls and ceiling serves to preserve until dusk the natural light in the inside, and to reveal the variety of colors of the environment.”


“There is  a generously sized room for parents, and two smaller for the children. A large common space, that includes the living room, the dinning room and the kitchen, works as an articulator of the three ‘arms’ of the house.”


The full story on this great house, with lots more photos, can be found on the ArchDaily. Click here.

Plans and construction courtesy of Branko Pavlovic, Pablo Lobos-Pedrals and Rubén Marchant. Photos by of Felipe Fontecilla.

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Small + Earth-Friendly Home Packs Big Punch

Over on Inhabitat, Tafline Laylin reports on a “micro” home with a secret: it’s actually pretty massive.


The Dynamic Augmented Living Environment, aka “DALE” was designed right here in the LA/Pasadena area by students at SCI-Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture) and CalTech (California Institute of Technology). As part of this year’s Solar Decathlon competition, the two combined forces to create a “net-zero” living space, capable of existing completely off the grid.


What’s different and quite cool about this small, sustainable home is what you can do with it. Two airtight, prefabricated modules are set on rails that allow them to separate, creating a courtyard space with an optional solar canopy. Usable living space goes from 600 sq. ft. to almost 1,800 sq. ft., then slides right back to its original size as needed. The two parts can function individually or as a complete unit, offering the flexibility to change with the weather, for example. Or to allow a bunch of friends to come over and hang out.


A sophisticated solar power system provides climate control plus hot and cold water. The stylish, very practical living space isn’t in mass production yet, but that could change soon. See it for yourself at the Solar Decathlon, October 3rd through 13th in Irvine. For more info on the project, click here.

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Houses Local+Global: Duendes House by Estudio Puyol / Meinardy


This home in San José del Rincón, Santa Fe, Argentina would be a great fit for Southern California. The single-level floor plan and integration of indoors-to-out strike us as being quintessentially LA.


Says the Arch Daily: “The house is designed as a series of sequences and promenades that are in permanent flow between the interior and exterior, intentionally created from the layout of the spaces, their design, the system of openings, and the importance of the interior courtyard due to its position as the true heart of the project.”


Photos courtesy of Federico Cairoli, blueprints by Estudio Puyol / Meinardy, Architects.

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The Soleta zeroEnergy One


From Sammy Medina at Co.DESIGN comes this story about a recent innovation in sustainable home design: “The project, currently on display outside the American embassy in Bucharest, was developed by the Justin Capra Foundation for Invention and Sustainable Technologies (FITS). The goal was to design and build a zero-energy shed that could be used as a house, studio, or office in various climates. It also had to be affordable and versatile.”


“Nearly every sustainable feature imaginable was embedded in the house, including solar heat, rainwater collectors, in-floor heating, ‘natural’ and ‘forced’ ventilation systems, LED lighting, and high-efficient fixtures… Best, it’s easy to control: You can use your smartphone to calibrate the interior environment to your exact specifications.” (Images courtesy of Soleta, their website is here.)

If the zeroEnergy One house intrigues you, be sure to reach out to us at Tracy Do Real Estate. We can find a vacant lot suitable for any type of home, whether it’s designed from the ground up or from pre-existing plans. In many cases, the cost of building from scratch is comparable to the price of buying an existing home. To explore your options, contact us here.

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Houses Local+Global: NN House by Kozo Yamamoto

From our friends at the ArchDaily: This Tokyo, Japan residence makes the most of its small footprint. Distinctly urban, it’s a design we think would work quite well in many parts of the LA region.

The architects are Kozo Yamamoto and Assoc., who opted for high placement of windows on this home, allowing for plenty of light while still giving privacy from neighbors that are close by.

The floor plan illustrates that wonderful things can be created in small spaces. A great way to live.

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Houses Local+Global: House 39 by Alex Plana

Occasionally we’ll post houses that inspire us, either from our local neighborhoods or from around the world. These are the residences that make us love our work all the more, and remind us that connecting our clients to their ideal living environment is what real estate is all about.

This simple, clean-lined modern in Curicó, VII Región del Maule, Chile was designed by Alex Plana. Courtesy of the Arch Daily, with more photos here.

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