How To Design A Tiny House – Part 3

Macy M7261 views


What is important? (for you)

Tiny houses are not about sacrifice, it is hard sometimes to think of it that way when you are used to much more space.   To successfully live tiny for any amount of time though your house HAS to fit you.  There are no limitations to a tiny house too great… well unless you require a bowling alley in your home, that would be tough to do in a tiny.  When thinking about your design though it is best not to have to start with a blank slate, give yourself some parameters to work with.  Make a list of at least ten things that you require for your home, ten things you won’t live without.

For most people they struggle to think of ten, for others they can list 20 before they take a breath, at a minimum shoot for ten of the very most important things to you at this point in your life.  It is easy to try to plan your retirement but live in the present, what is important now and in the next 5 years or so?  Things can always change and adjust over time but your house has to function now.

Here is a sample list of things that may be on that list:

  • I must have an oven for baking
  • I must have stairs so that my cat can get into bed
  • I must have a wall to display my family photos
  • I must have a king sized bed
  • I must have a bath tub
  • I must have at least 3 burners on the stove
  • I must have a place for books
  • I must have lots of light/windows
  • I must have a spare bed for guests
  • I must have room for two adults to sit comfortably
  • I must have a place to quilt and store all of my quilting supplies
  • I must build with clean/healthy materials
  • I must have a double basin kitchen sink
  • I must have storage for all of my shoes and a place to hang my winter coat
  • I must have a sleeping space for each of my pets
  • I must incorporate my great grandmas vase that was handed down
  • etc.

Your list will be completely unique but spend some time thinking about the most valuable parts of your day and the things that make you smile and make your home, home.  Once you have your list of important items write it down, think of how you can incorporate those.  Some might not be apparent, some might take special/extra considerations.  If you need to store a kayak is there a way you can do that?  A separate out building, a over the wheels trailer with a locking skirted undercarriage?  Once you have your list of priorities you can start to problem solve and use those to help you make decisions along the way.  Do not compromise on those items, you can design them all in, I promise!  

What are the driving forces? (for you)

Everyone has different priorities and there are infinite ways and reasons to make decisions.  There is not ‘one point’ to a tiny house, there is your point.  Define your main considerations in order of importance and use those considerations when making each decision.   Here are some of the common considerations when thinking about tiny houses:

  • Budget – what are you working with, this can be high or low, for some people this is less of a concern and much more flexible.
  • Weight – the fact of the matter is if you are building on a trailer you have a limitation of weight, each trailer has a limit, are you easily going to fit in that specific limit or do you have to be a little more careful and deliberate about material choices and building styles because of your weight limit and house size?
  • Environment – Are you sensitive to chemicals?  Perhaps you are ok spending a little more in order to get materials that are processed in an environmentally friendly way?
  • Timeline – Maybe you have a five year plan, maybe a two year plan, maybe you need to be in your tiny house in three months, this factor could definitely impact your decisions along the way.
  • Aesthetics – Are you willing to pay more and wait longer to get the thing that is ‘just right’ for your vision of home?

Everyone has different priorities and different considerations, if you know your considerations in order of priority you can meet each decision with a set of standards to measure it against.  If budget over rules timeline maybe you choose to forgo hiring a plumber and opt to save some money by taking the time to learn to do the task yourself.  If environmental concerns outweigh budget maybe you spend a little extra on a ‘legit’ composting toilet to divert waste from the reclamation site.  If you want a ‘really cool looking’ wood stove maybe you place that importance above the budget.  Every decision will require it’s own analysis but defining priorities should clarify the process.

The big decisions you’ll need to answer eventually:

The big questions along the design process you’ll eventually need to answer (you can start to answer these by which fit in your budget, weight limitations, timeline, environmental concerns and views of ‘pretty’):

  • What type of trailer do I need?  New, used, bumper pull, goose-neck, above deck, drop axle, etc.
  • What roof line will give me the best functioning tiny house?
  • What is the best layout for my lifestyle?  How big is it?
  • Do I want a loft?  For storage? Sleeping? Guest/kid area?
  • What do I want in my kitchen?  What appliances are important? How much storage do I need for food?
  • What do I want in my bathroom?  Is a bath necessary, a sink? should it be far away from the kitchen?
  • What is required in the living area? A desk/work space, a full couch, a fire place?
  • Is there a separate bed area? ground floor?  Loft? Stairs/ladder?
  • How many windows do I want?  Where are they most important to be located?  Do I want a view from my couch? My bed?  My bathroom?
  • Where is the best location for the door?  Do I want two doors?  A sliding door?
  • How pretty is the outside of your house?  (this one is often an afterthought but can be very important in being able to find a location to park)
  • Where will I park (I leave this last because it is often the last thing worked out and not always apparent until the end)

Do you have any thoughts you’d like to add?  What are your driving forces?

This is a collaborative site, please, if you have something to add/correct leave a comment!


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