Today, we’re officially unveiling a new feature of The Tiny Life that we’re super excited about. If you listen to our podcast, Tiny House Chat, you’ve probably heard our latest episode about our new tiny house plans review page. It’s high time for us to write a blog post about this new resource, and we’re eager to share it with you.
If you’re going to build a tiny house, one of the most important steps happens way before you ever wield a chop saw: choosing a house plan. There are hundreds of tiny house plans on the market, and they’re scattered all over the Internet, and you can’t know for certain what you’re going to get for your money. Ryan and I wanted to help put an end to all the confusion.
We rounded up our favorite tried-and-true tiny house plans and gathered them in one place to help you find the plan that’s best for you. The houses come in all shapes and sizes, but we they all have these two criteria in common:
The house has to be on wheels.
The house has to have been built and lived in before.
The second point above is how we know a plan can succeed as a safe and comfortable home. You can create conceptual 3D tiny house models all day long, but until they exist and function as both a solid structure and a full-time home in the real world, there’s no way to know how well a design will actually work.
We then collected the plans and pored over them for hours, inspecting all the details that a newbie builder would need to consider – and all the ones that you wouldn’t have thought about either!
Here’s what you can find on the tiny house plans page:
Sixteen main criteria to help you know what to look for in tiny house plans
A detailed at-a-glance comparison grid to quickly compare all seven tiny house plans
Our recommendations for different plans based on your needs
A free “How to Read House Plans” guide
Thorough reviews of every house plan
Photos and screenshots of the plans so you know what to expect when you buy
A “new builder friendly” ranking for each plan
In-depth interviews with the plan designers to gain more insight into each design
We hope that this resource will simplify and streamline the process of choosing a house plan for your own future tiny home. The tiny house plans we picked to review are the cream of the crop for what is available for sale, so we feel confident recommending them to you.
To see the full tiny house plans page, click here or click the “Plans” tab in the menu at the top of the page. Happy hunting!
Life has been very busy as of late with lots of new things coming down the pipeline for us here at The Tiny Life, but when I saw how nice it was going to be this past weekend I knew I had to close the laptop.
It takes work to break yourself away and make time for relaxation with friends. In a world as fast paced as ours, we need to keep sight of what’s important. The work will never be done, but time with friends and family is a precious commodity. This past weekend I decided to take advantage of the perfect weather by having a cookout and campfire.
They say the best way to clean your house is to throw a party…it’s so true! But in a tiny house, that takes me all of 15 minutes of work! It was going to be a small group, but still bigger than I could seat in my tiny house. So when the invite went out I said BYOB and BYOC (bring your own chair). We had a mix of meat eaters and vegetarians, so we had burgers and hotdogs for the meat eaters and veggie patties and veggie kabobs for my vegetarian friends.
Because of the number of folks, I decided to host it entirely outdoors. I had my grill all set up, plus I brought out a folding table that I’m able to keep tucked away most of the time and bring out when I need some more working room. With the table setup, I laid out everything we would need to keep folks outside the house. I left the door to the tiny house propped open, as people inevitably want to check it out.
Amy and my friends Caroline, JR, Jared, and Lauren came over for food and to hang out. Amy brought the veggie kabobs and tried her hand at grilling for the first time; we all got together, chatted and grilled. Once we filled our plates we moved over to the fire.
After eating and chatting, Lauren broke out supplies for s’mores, but instead of marshmallows, she brought Peeps. So we roasted the poor marshmallow chicks over the fire and ate s’mores. All in all it was a great time, grilling and sitting by the fire and enjoying the stars after dark.
What type of tiny house party are you going to throw first?
I remember the moment I knew tiny houses were right for me: when I first got to see a tiny house in person. You see these amazing photos and great video tours online, but nothing compares to walking into a tiny house in real life.
The best part of running the Tiny House Conference is seeing that look on hundreds of faces as our community comes together to tour a ton of tiny houses in person. The feeling of seeing so many houses is pretty magical.
Each year we have a lot of houses at the Conference. This year we’ve confirmed 8 houses with many more soon to be added. With each of these houses we have their builder/owners on hand to answer all your questions. Since each house is as unique as its owner, you get to see a huge variety to help you figure out what works and what doesn’t work for you as you design your own tiny house.
I thought it would be fun to put together a “State of the Tiny House Union” 2015 edition! So looking back at 2015 here are some of the things I’ve noticed, lessons I’ve learned and trends I’ve seen.
Results From The 2015 Tiny House Survey
In early 2015 we started getting the word out about the Tiny House Survey, which is the single largest census for the tiny house movement. We had last done a survey in 2013 and it was clear that a lot had changed with our tiny little movement, so we launched a new survey. This time around we learned a lot from the first survey and improved it a ton, this time we were able to capture a lot more really meaningful data that was designed to answer some very important questions about the tiny house movement. It is important to note that we of course couldn’t survey everyone in the movement and our survey wasn’t perfect, but we were able to get a large enough sample size (just shy of 2,000) to clearly understand trends.
More Female Tiny Housers
In 2013, the last time we conducted the Tiny House Survey, women lead the movement accounting for 52%, in the 2015 survey we saw a dramatic increase to 64.1% of the movement being made up of women. This is particularly interesting because most tiny house folks want to build their own tiny house, meaning we have a lot of women builders, it is in stark contrast to the construction industry that is high nineties percentile for men.
Age And Locations Stay About The Same
Overall we saw very little difference in change (+/- 1%) with the tiny house community when it came to the make up of our movement when it comes to age and location.
I wasn’t able to compare 2013’s survey data with 2015’s data because our scales were different, but as a whole, it seems that tiny houser’s income is normalizing more to US patterns. In 2013 we saw that tiny housers were typically more affluent by a good margin, but in 2015’s data we are seeing income following standard patterns for the USA.
Household income for 2015 survey
Data source: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032015/hhinc/hinc01_1.xls
As a whole, tiny house people are more likely to hold a college degree or a graduate (advanced) degree that the average person in the US. College degree attainment for the US is 34% while 35.2% of tiny house people hold a degree. For advanced degrees like a graduate degree, Master’s etc. 5% of US citizen have graduated from such a program, while tiny house people are more than three times more likely to have graduated at 19%. Data source: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=27
The Rise Of The McMini Mansions
Over the past year we’ve begun to see tiny houses that are pushing the limits of what you can fit on a trailer. Triple axles and 30+ foot tiny houses are becoming more the norm in the tiny house movement. A large tiny home used to be around 24 feet, but I’ve seen 32 footers with huge pop outs and even 34 foot tiny houses.
Part of me wonders why all of a sudden are we seeing these large homes being built. Is it because more designs are coming out, is it people want more space, or is it something else? I’ve noticed on TV show builds and custom ordered pro built homes seem to fall in the larger category, while I see more DIYers tend to stick with the smaller homes; this is, however, anecdotal at best.
What does this mean? What does this say? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Part of me wonders if your mentality, which you gain working for a year plus on a build like most DIYers, actually changes. I know when I first started my build, I knew I wanted a tiny and I thought it was right, but during my lengthy build something shifted for me quite dramatically. It simply took time to sink in, to reprogram old consumerist habits, and shift my thinking. The verbiage of talking to some (not all) of the larger tiny homes seems to be how to jam a large house’s function into a small package, not examining what must be cut out to simplify.
When I talk about downsizing material possessions, I often say “it’s not about organizing what you have to fit a small space, but reducing the things which you must then organize to begin with.” It gives me pause when I see these McMini Mansions because I’m not sure the tough internal mental work has been done; that said, I don’t know every facet of the dynamics for each person, so I do put a large asterisk here.
TV Shows Galore
If I had a dollar every time that a studio emailed me begging me to promote their show, casting calls or the like, I’d be rich. Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunters, Tiny House Builders, Tiny House, Big Living, and Tree-house Masters. The ironic thing is, I haven’t had cable TV for over a decade now! I remember me and the other bloggers trying to find someone with cable so we could see the first show and we ended up giving up because none of us did.
All that said, the shows have brought a lot of awareness to tiny houses. It is astounding how much general public awareness there is about tiny houses.
Tiny House Fight For Their Rights
We are beginning to see a lot of tiny houses built and as a results, more legal battles where tiny housers work to secure a legal existence in their own community. Sarah Hastings has been a recent tiny houser to take her house to the city and push for acceptance. We’ve also seen some cities allow tiny houses to slide by, Portland has been allowing tiny houses to flourish while still not coming out and fully endorsing or legalizing them yet.
People REALLY Want Tiny House Communities
There are a ton of folks looking for places to park their future tiny houses, but more specifically people want to do so in communities. Countless community layouts have been proposed and even some folks have tried to develop their own communities. There are some folks that have found parking in trailer parks etc. Legal barriers still exist, but some headway has been made.
There are two communities that exist that have actually moved from idea to reality an import note, I think all these communities are full and may not be open to public tours: The community of the Tacks of Tiny Tack House, Sean of Unboxed and Baliey of Little House Big Adventures. The second community is Lina Menard‘s tiny house community which I’ve had the good fortune to meet all of them and tour their community in Portland.
Finding A Place To Park & Building Codes/Zoning
Tiny Housers still face a lot of challenges when it comes to finding a place to park and making it legal. There is a lot of misnomers around building codes and zoning. There is a huge percentage (almost 34%) of people in the tiny house movement who report that the legal ambiguity of tiny houses hold them back from going tiny.
Ethan Waldman is one of our new speakers for the 2016 Tiny House Conference. We’re excited to have him on board! Check out the videos below to hear more about his speaker sessions: Lifestyle Design and Tiny House Utilities. Learn more about the conference by clicking here.