(Tiny) Homeward Bound

Designing and Building My Tiny House

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Books, Books, Books

I’m a big believer in research, especially when you’re trying to do something that is more than a bit of a stretch for you (i.e. building a house with no experience).  But, I realized that maybe I had gone a bit overboard when I stacked up all of the books I had accumulated and got this pile:

Which includes two of the same book.  Because I checked one copy out of the library without realizing I had checked the same book out the week before.  And to be fair with this list, all but two of these books are library books (I love libraries!).  The two non-library books are Little House on a Small Planet (a gift from my sister for Christmas) and Michael Pollan’s A Place of My Own (I love Michael Pollan and the library didn’t have this one).

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to run through some of the books and whether I thought they were helpful.  So, here goes (starting with ones that are due at the library yesterday…oops):

Shed Nation: Awesome.  Good for inspiration and for practicalities.  It’s written for a rank beginner but not overly simplistic.  Also, it has good info about how to choose some green building materials and what the trade-offs are between materials options.  It’s by a guy who works at the very cool Yestermorrow (which is hosting  a tiny house workshop in September).  I’m sad this one is due back…but I might just have to get it out again.

Shed Chic: Not so much a how-to guide as an inspiration guide.  Lots of pretty pictures of cool little sheds (all with different purposes and very different styles).  It’s a little frustrating to me right now because I’m at the point where I look at pictures and want to see the full layout (like the gypsy caravan…how did they fit all those pieces together?).  But, its awesome for seeing what kind of style appeals to you.  It’s kind of like reading shed porn.

Green from the Ground Up: The book that I ended up with two copies home.  Which is fortuitous because this is my current favorite green building book.  It is good both for looking at the big picture and for thinking about small decisions like what kind of insulation should I use.  It has a very very reasonable approach to things, which makes sense given the authors’ backgrounds.

Tiny Houses: Also a kind of shed porn.  Runs through a bunch of case examples of tiny houses with good pictures.  Good for giving you a sense of what is possible, but not at all a how to book.  Most (but not all) of the examples are pretty modern in style Written by one of the new tiny house superstars, Mim Zeiger.

Sheds The Do-It-Yourself Guide for Backyard Builders: One of three David and Jeanie Stiles books I ended up with (and the best of the bunch).  The other two were Rustic Retreats and Playhouses.  This is definitely a how-to guide and an awesome one at that.  Occasionally, it assumes you know some things which I didn’t (but are easy to look up), but it does a very nice job of talking through the options for sheds, the general how to build one, and then several specific projects.

Small Spaces: Be wary in general of getting books that are called “small”.  Small is usually quite a bit bigger (some of the books were going up to a couple thousand square feet which is very very different from having 120 square feet).  But, this book had some good ideas about how to maximize storage space and things like that.  Not my favorite of the books, but an interesting skim.

OK – I think I’ll save the rest of my stack of books for a second post (and I’m off to the library…so there may be more coming home with me!)

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Current Plan

So, it’s been a while since I posted (not that all that many people are watching), but I have been busy. Especially in the last week or two. Lots of reading. Lots of Google SketchUp. And here’s my current favorite plan for my tiny house.

This plan is for an 18ft, wood house with salt-box style roof.  The house would sit on a trailer (not shown).  The plan shows an outside deck, but that would have to be either something that folds up on the side of the house or comes separate.  Also outside is a small storage box that would sit on the tongue of the trailer (for kiteboard and snowboard gear).  Inside is a composting toilet in a wet bath; small kitchen with range, fridge, convection oven, and sink; loft with extra storage accessible via a bookcase ladder;  Dickinson propane marine heater; and a built-in window seat.

PS Did I mention I love Google SketchUp?