Designing and Building My Tiny House
Category Archives: floor 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?
As I play with floorplans, I realized I needed to have a good sense of what kind of appliances I want in my tiny house (so there is room). It also makes sense as I try to think through the plumbing and the electrical (especially this one because I have no real idea how this works). Anyway, here’s the bucket list of potential appliances:
- Refrigerator/Freezer – Yes please! The plan is to go small-ish sized (somewhere between 3 and 4 cu ft) I have been known to use my freezer to store yarn (very moth proof) and my fridge to store pots and pans, so I know I don’t need a ton of space. At the same time, I do like to cook some times so don’t want to go too tiny and definitely want a separate freezer compartment (ice cream is a priority). Right now, I’m playing with two models in my floorplan – a 3.2 cu ft under the counter, Energy Star model (like this one) and a slightly larger 4 cu ft Magic Chef one. The Magic Chef one is a bit bigger so doesn’t fit under the counter but has a nice little profile. Unfortunately, I can’t find one that size that is Energy Star. And, I keep going back and forth over whether the extra fridge space is worth less countertop space.
- Stove/Range – I’m looking for 2 burners, probably propane but potentially electric.
- Oven – I’ve gone back and forth on this (and will probably continue to do so). I don’t cook a ton in the oven, but I do love to make bread sometimes. Is it worth it having a full-sized oven? There are some awesome, small marine stove/oven combos like this Princess model, but they are expensive (around $1000). I don’t know if I can justify all of that, but maybe I’ll check with marinas to see if there is a used one for sale. I know Tumbleweed Houses are starting to use this Camp Chef model as a small, affordable stove/oven combo. However, the reviews seem like the oven is a pretty terrible oven – ok for camping but not what I’d want to use forever. Another option I’m considering is using a countertop convection oven, kind of a fancier toaster oven. I think that may be the affordable solution to my trouble.
- Vent Hood – do I need this?
- Microwave – I think I may try to go without this. I mainly use it to heat up water for tea and I can use the stove for this. Especially if I have some sort of oven, I think I may skip it for starters.
- Coffee pot – I realize this barely qualifies as an appliance, but it uses electricity. I love my baby Mr. Coffee and separate grinder, but I might try a French Press so I just have to heat up water.
- Dishwasher – Hell no. Not worth it for me.
Bathroom and Assorted:
- Heater – gah! This is a whole separate discussion.
- Washer/dryer – I will admit, I felt like I made it as an adult when I moved into an apartment with my own washer/dryer. It was awesome to do just one load and not have to stay with the machine while it was doing its thing. But, there’s no way I can justify having a washer/dryer in this tiny space. I survived just fine with laundromats, and while traveling, I became quite good at hand-washing. Maybe I’ll splurge and get something like the Wonder Washer, but I don’ t know if I need it. And if I go crazy, I could try to install a drying rack in the bathroom ceiling. And maybe another one outside (that doubles as a chin-up bar in my ideal world which this gets to be).
- Hot water heater – I will probably use a tankless, on-demand hot-water heater. I was thinking propane, but I’ve heard the electric ones are more efficient so I will do a bit more research on this. I may try to rig up a solar hot-water heater as well to at least minimize use. Part of me says I could survive without this (did without hot water showers for most of my traveling), but for my forever, full-time living situation, I think I would like to have the option of hot showers.
- Toilet – I don’t want to deal with blackwater so am going to go for a composting toilet. I don’t know if I’ll make a humanure one or go for a commercial model. One factor is definitely where to dump the humanure version to compost, given that my current plan is to move every 6 months for at least the first year.
That’s most of the appliances, but since this is close to my list of everything that will use electricity, let me round it out with the rest of that list:
- Maybe extra flat-screen monitor for movies
- Cell phone and charger
- Fan (both for getting rid of moisture and for the summer)
OK – so in the midst of the details, scary decisions, and overwhelming new info (aka…how in the world are electric systems set up), is the fun of designing. I have to say…this has been awesome. What in the world do I want my dream house to look like? How many people get to think about this and then actually build it? All of my friends have bought houses or rented apartments..which means you have grand ideas about your dream house/apartment, then find something sort of close and make it work. I get to include all of my dream ideas (within budget, size, and weight restrictions…sadly the castle tower I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid is probably out).
The first thing I did was to look at all of the tiny houses online I could find. Tiny Texas Houses are awesome – I love the reclaimed wood and the cool details. So I definitely want to think about including things like that. And I have to say, I love the ladder being built into shelves…looks like it fits in better.
But, then I realized I should probably think of more basic design elements (like the shape of the house) first. Like most people (it seems…based on blogs), I started thinking it would be something like a Tumbleweed House. Something like the Fenci seemed appealing – about the right size, nice interior, pretty siding, a good loft, but an open great room to feel airier. But it definitely isn’t perfect so time to think about all of the tweaks!
1. Porch – While it’s cute, it seems silly to waste valuable trailer space on a porch. Especially the porch on the Fenci which is unusable (other Tumbleweed designs have bigger porches which would be nice to have, but then they use up more trailer space). If I get super-ambitious, I could design a fold-down porch (maybe on steel wires, or with fold-down legs too) with a roll-out awning and screened walls. A less ambitious path could be just to buy a camping screen room (like this one) and put it in front of my house.
2. Roof – the Fenci has the extra fancy front roof, which seems like extra hassle, especially given my construction abilities. A simple pointed roof seems like it would perfectly fine for my needs. I’m not sure which one makes more sense – if I go for the pointed roof, I’m probably going to lower the pitch to give myself more room in the loft (I want to make sure its comfortable even if you are not sleeping exactly in the middle of the bed. A shed roof may also work just fine for me – it makes it easy to add in some high-up windows (without needing to mess with skylights). I would just turn the bed in the loft sideways (maybe more of a hassle if it’s a couple living there, but with just me would be fine). Something like the two pictured below would work for a shed roof. I clearly need to do some research about what roof pitch is needed to know how far I can stress the design.
3. Separate Kitchen – I’ve lived in small and tiny apartments, and I much prefer it when the kitchen is open to the living room, not a separate room, like in the Fenci floor plan. If its part of the living room, then a table can triple as counter space, dining room table, and desk. It also makes everything seem more open and big – better in my mind than multiple tiny rooms.
4. Storage Options – I plan on adding in a couple extra things for storage. I kiteboard and knit, so I have kites (backpack sized), boards (like snowboards), lots of yarn and fiber, a spinning wheel, and other extra crafty things. I don’t need tons and tons of stuff, but it seems silly not to maximize the storage space in a tiny house. So, some things I am thinking about adding include:
- foot-lockers in loft along side of bed for extra storage or shelves along wall in loft if using shed roof design
- storage locker over the trailer hitch for kiting gear and other sports gear
- move the front door to the side of the house (next to the wheels) so that I can put in a window seat at the rear end of the trailer with built-in cabinets and bookcases around the window seat
5. Bay Window – This is not a big modification, but I saw a picture of house with a bay window in the kitchen and I love it. Room for some plants, maybe some herbs. A garden window would also work. I know these are expensive, but it may be worth it.
OK – I’m sure there will be more brainstorms but this is enough to get things going for now.
P.S. Click on any pic to see the website from which it comes.