ft Marshall has acc

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Marshall has accommodated a large room with wainscoting chair rails and crown molding with the same eye for color and joinery as the exterior; a conventional RV propane heater set in a period mantelpiece with a surround of punched tin “tiles”; a small all-in-one kitchen unit; an incinerating toilet; and out the back door an outdoor shower Yet for all the stuff inside the little house it feels roomy and bright Much of the credit for that goes to its 10 ft high cathedral ceiling-something you don’t often see in an RV-and a generous number of windows But the show-stopper is the house’s fir flooring Recycled from the cookhouse of a land-grant farm in nearby Novato the fir has the color of honey and the feeling of home When I finally met Steve Marshall later that week it was no surprise that he’s been a cabinetmaker for more than 30 years He even sounds like a woodworker thoughtful and exact in his speech So what prompted such a methodical man to build such a charming oddity a turn-of-the-century farm house on wheels Economics and aesthetics“I guess I arrived at the concept from several directions” Marshall said “First of all I wanted the house to feel right The architecture of say Point Reyes in 1910 defines so much of this area It was the peak of the railroad era yet it was also a period in which life hadn’t changed all that much from a hundred years before it There was a sense of continuity So when I arrived here in 1973 and worked as a carpenter for several years it really felt like I’d come home” “And the trailer…” I prodded “Well” he continued “that probably grew out the years I knocked around learning my craft For the longest time I knew that a mobile home had it all-except the aesthetics So I wondered about applying different surface treatments to the mobile home-windows nice doors wood trim and other civilizing touches When I started buying lots and building real houses my fascination with mobile homes receded but it was probably bubbling in the background all the while” “So what brought it to the surface” “Economics The economics-and logistics-of building anything in Marin County are unbelievable A simple addition can easily cost $100000 or $150000 and what with all the permit compliance can take two years to complete On the other hand my crew and I can turn around a little house in six weeks once the homeowners decide what finish details they want It’s completely customizable And since it’s delivered complete to the site there’s no on-site construction to rile up the neighbors “Plus there’s a element of freedom that’s appealing If you want a writing studio or a home office or a place to put up company or a satellite building to park your kid in for several years before he or she goes off to college…it’s a great solution Later on if you want to move it to another part of your property or even sell it you’re free to do so” And moving it Moving on moving in“Moving it is easy “Marshall said “There are a litany of things the county requires but the move was simpler than I imagined Permits included it took about $2000 and a half day to move and set up the house Technically the little house is a recreational vehicle (RV) but because the house and trailer together weigh less than 10000 pounds you don’t even need a commercial chauffeur’s license to move it” I was just beginning work on a new book on second units (In-laws Outlaws and Granny Flats) so my brain was spinning Could this little house be used an in-law Not surprisingly Marshall’s answer was careful: “As far as local zoning codes anyone can park an RV on their property Living in the vehicle while proscribed by local codes is something of a gray area in practice As long is it’s not an occupied residence it’s legal but out in the sticks usually no one is looking The closer you are to civilization the more you’re at the pleasure of your neighbors So while the law is specific its application varies from neighborhood to neighborhood” Marshall pointed out that the majority of the Little Houses he sells are for day uses such as yoga writing or art studios home offices and the like He also noted that in unincorporated Sonoma County little houses can be used for Home Care Units for people who need care on their property As Marshall spoke I recalled a fall my mother took Elderly people are prone to sudden mishaps such as falling and breaking a hip and the Little House’s quick turn-around time could be a blessing in such an emergency It would be hard to imagine anyone–including neighbors–objecting to care for a family member In his quiet way Steve Marshall summed it all up “Ultimately it has to do with respect for your neighbor If you are not imposing on them and you’re moving in something they find pleasing or necessary chances are good that things will work out” Create Your Own In-Law If you’re interested in second units please check out my recent book? 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