Net-Zero Energy Tiny House in Berkeley

This Berkeley tiny house has been getting a fair amount of attention recently.  Built by New Avenue, Inc., the 420 square-foot backyard cottage is spacious enough to include a living room, kitchen, dining area, loft, and bathroom.  It was built for $98,000, which includes all the bells and whistles one could ask for in any home regardless of size.

The owner is Karen Chapple, an associate professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.  She powers the home with a 1.67 kW solar array on the main house that is leased through Sungevity.

Karen’s Cottage has an insulated concrete slab, 2×6-construction walls, R19 recycled denim insulation, insulated hot water pipes, an on-demand (gas) water heater, and Marvin Integrity windows with low-E insulated glass.  Chapple also installed IKEA kitchen cabinets, an induction cooktop, and an Energy Star dishwasher.

The structure is what many call a “backyard” cottage or accessory dwelling unit.  I understand Chapple will lease the cottage when not in use by relatives and other visitors – providing an income stream to help pay for the mortgage.

New Avenue sees the future in these ADU-type buildings.  The start-up can do everything start to finish as a one-stop shop for design, engineering, construction, and financing.  Kevin Casey, founder and CEO of New Avenue, told me in an email that his company has four other homes in the works and expects to build about 10 or more this year.

Credits: New Avenue Homes.


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  • bd_tiny

    Very cool! Working on a tiny house project: http://www.blakestinyhouse.com

  • Javana Cosner

    Where’s the Washer and Dryer?? I hope inside that white closet by the dining area?

  • Aaron

    $100k… There aren’t many with that kind of money to throw around who have any interest in sustainable living and small homes. Something like this is destined to be a backyard trophy home, so I can’t imagine that there’s going to be much demand. I see this kind of thing so much on this blog since I’ve been following it. The designs and style are ingenious, but what is the point of providing sustainable alternatives if only a small minority can afford them?

    • megawatts

      Assuming that they did not include the land in that price they’ve got about $233.00 psf cost. Yowza, I could have built that for about$ 64.00 sq ft max even in our high price area, and still make a small profit!

      • megawatts

        Leaped First! Missed the ‘solar’ ! Upon reading thru a 2nd time I caught that! Having no idea of the costs of solar, perhaps someone in the trade could write and explain what may have been used in an application like this, and associated costs incurred please. It may be possible to EDUCATE more of us that are connected to the ‘trades’, but have little idea of the real costs of solar in various applications….thanks

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=520699481 Amy Turnbull

      Thank you for your insight, Aaron. Yes, it’s true. I love the compact, finished look and feel of this home but it does not address the reason for going small in the first place–affordability!

  • Aaron

    I should add that I’m not ranting about the blog. Cutting edge design is typically focused on the luxury market. For cutting edge green design to do the same is just stupid.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      It’s all good, Aaron. I agree that an important aspect of this movement is making sustainability affordable. While $100k for a small home is a little expensive, it can be done for less. Plus, check out the numbers. There’s actually a pretty compelling financial case behind this ADU: http://newavenuehomes.com/clients/story/karen%E2%80%99s-cottage

  • Greg

    There are toilets that take up less space. If the bathroom were to be a wet room, a water-resistant toilet paper holder could be bought at a boat supply store.

  • http://twitter.com/MrBurton MrBurton

    Very interesting. I would imagine the cost is more for the location than the actual building supplies. Although I would say it is green, there is no mention of the prefabricated wood panels that was used?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4RMW2J3T4HWZQU3ZXF6Z2HZ77M Judy Perth

    very cool. i think i may get a little claustrophobic in that small of an area though. i’ve been learning a lot more about eco-friendly living and different ways to make your life green. i don’t think i could go as far as living in a 420 square foot home.

  • Dannyksfun

    Thanks for covering this story Preston. It is inspiring to see how easy it can be to achieve such a cool result! I know I work with Sungevity so may be conflicted but this strikes me as the sort of good news story we need more of across America. Shine on, dannyk.

  • Alex Gore

    Wow, it is very good to see that Karen Chapple, is practicing a condensed living situation. I would like to see how it is situated on the lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndrewBennettDickson Andrew Dickson

    The price does seem a bit high, working out to $204/sq ft. I am sure most of that is in equipment, but high still.
    The good thing about a project this size is that you can DIY it, and that shaves a great deal of expense.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/sweluhu Junior Eluhu

    Nice

  • Nyhomesales

    This is the  old “garage apartment- studio home” concept with a new twist !
    Gone Green!  Love the home! 
    Need it to be a little more cost friendly in building

  • Tncutler

    what are the dimenstions? 22 x 16?

  • Diana Diaz

    Nice home but for most folks it’s too expensive.  One can build a home with friends and free supplies from Craigslist and ect for so much less.  We as a society we have to deal with the building codes and try to over turn the red tape that is not letting small or tiny homes a reallity. 

    Go to work shops in your area to learn how to build your own little home on wheels or share a piece of property with family and put some tiny homes on it and live mortgage free and gets some pride in saving money not spending it like there is no tomorrow!  Tinyhousetalk.com

  • Diana Diaz

    Nice home but for most folks it’s too expensive.  One can build a home with friends and free supplies from Craigslist and ect for so much less.  We as a society we have to deal with the building codes and try to over turn the red tape that is not letting small or tiny homes a reallity. 

    Go to work shops in your area to learn how to build your own little home on wheels or share a piece of property with family and put some tiny homes on it and live mortgage free and gets some pride in saving money not spending it like there is no tomorrow!  Tinyhousetalk.com

  • Pat

    The alternate step stair case is not legal in all states. I know you can’t use these in Georgia for one. Pat

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