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House Hacking Catalog

Housing can create wealth for existing and new residents. It can also create opportunities for growing, improving, or preserving a neighborhood. House hacking is a powerful tool for Lean Urbanism. It helps overcome the barriers to entry, and accomplishes individual and community goals.

We created this House Hacking Catalog to show how it’s possible and to provide inspiration, information, and ideas to make it happen. It contains descriptions of the types of buildings, rentals, and construction that make good options for house hacking, plus issues to consider including financing and finding the right property, as well as additional resources.

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Lean Exercise Spaces – Open Gyms

Despite heroic efforts to get more people into health clubs, private and public health measures have failed thus far to significantly increase our abysmally low rates of physical activity. This paper explores the Lean ways in which parks and a variety of everyday spaces can be utilized, designed, and built to encourage people to move more. The particular focus is on presenting and utilizing existing outdoor public furniture and other features for the additional purpose of “exercise equipment,” with little to no added expense or maintenance. This “open gym” approach to exercise space is recommended as a Lean means to improve health, increase sociability, and even spur economic development, serving as magnets for related and complementary businesses, as active, safe parks have the potential to encourage revitalization of nearby properties.

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Lean Opportunity Resides in Small Towns

At a time when we are re-connecting with our urban roots, a return to Small Town America may be the perfect anecdote for recouping a vast amount of discarded national wealth in infrastructure, natural resources and historic architecture while simultaneously building community in a Lean way, with Lean tools and tactics. Our rural and suburban landscape is home to a network of more than 25,000 small urban gems boasting hidden assets and opportunities — places that may be the best locations to pioneer trends in Lean living, entrepreneurial business and building.

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Lean Sprawl Repair – Mall Retrofit

As a comprehensive method for transforming car-dependent environments into walkable, diverse communities, Sprawl Repair includes small-scale and inexpensive interventions. Sprawl Repair works at multiple scales, from the region to the neighborhood and the building, and utilizes a variety of tools that are cost-effective, incremental, and can be quickly implemented. This paper will demonstrate how a mall, the most promising contender for Sprawl Repair, can be retrofitted in small, efficient steps, creating much-needed, cheap space for incubating new businesses and artisan uses, as well as providing affordable student housing.

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The Lean Business of Place-Based Enterprise

Within every community are two economies: one is locally generated, or “place-based,” and sustains assets at home, while the other operates remotely, extracts local value, and sends it elsewhere. Regeneration of a community depends on retaining and growing small, locally owned enterprises that simultaneously build cultural, social, built and financial capital. While big businesses dominate global markets, command the entrenched financial and banking powers and are incentivized by misguided government policy, emerging startups can disrupt the status quo and prove that local economies can compete successfully if they connect with their customer base and build capacity through local networks. The challenge for Lean Urbanism is to take charge at the association and neighborhood levels: to monitor, harness and replicate emerging local business successes and through bottom-up vigilance influence top-down policy to change not just the economic dynamics of a region, but strengthen its cultural, social and built landscape.

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Lean Ethics – the Big and the Small

Regulation and government programs are supposed to protect the consumer and empower the market. Too often, though, they favor big, incumbent businesses. They require things like bonds, copious paperwork, and multiple layers of review. They are too expensive and time-consuming for small builders, small businesses, and homeowners. Programs politicians told us would create opportunity for everyone instead create opportunity for big incumbents. The young, immigrants, people who work with their hands — “makers”— suffer particularly. Such suffering is unjust in a system that is supposed to create opportunity.

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From Landlord to Leanlord

Owning a small piece of your neighborhood can be good for you and good for your city. Owners of small buildings benefit by generating income and building wealth, as the immigrants to New England who bought and rented out “triple-deckers.” Small building ownership faces challenges, mostly due to lack of economies of scale. However, every asset class has inherent challenges, so budget for them and focus on the benefits.

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Lean, Energy-Efficient Buildings – Seven Principles

The built environment accounts for approximately half the energy use and carbon footprint of the United States. Lean Buildings reduce energy flows by tapping basic natural heating and cooling techniques and renewable energy sources in ways that are region-specific and climate-sensitive. Seven defensive and offensive strategies — from use of local and recycled materials to heavy insulation, from building orientation and passive solar systems to dense urban configurations — address the reduction of material and energy consumption in the U.S and similar climates. Issues of energy quantity and quality, energy codes and metrics, as well as building size and configuration, are also discussed.

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The Camp Meeting Movement as a Lean Archetype

The Camp Meeting ground is a land-use form particularly American, evolved to create community, integrating architecture, nature, and urban design using innate rules of human behavior. Camp Meeting grounds are the source for uses as diverse as resort villages, bungalow courts, trailer parks, condominiums, home owner’s associations, land trusts, even some town centers. They are also about self-building, occasional prefabrication, and compact, human-scaled structures. The ideas and social experiments, construction know-how and urban layouts have influenced the country for hundreds of years. The lessons still hold.

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Leaning Toward Live-Work Units

Strong economic, demographic and household trends reveal a tremendous pent-up demand to use homes for employment, pressuring the marketplace to accommodate all types of live-work units. Yet for the past half-century, live-work units have essentially been made illegal or discouraged in most places. Changes to zoning and building codes, as well as management and permitting procedures, are required to allow the full spectrum of live-work options to be restored.

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