Posts Tagged plans

Sketchup Coming The 2015 Tiny House Conference

I am really excited to share some big news, the makers of Sketchup are going to be sending a team of folks to the Tiny House Conference to help run training sessions at the conference!  The 2015 Conference will be in Portland, OR April 18-19th 2015 (details here). For those of you who don’t know, Sketchup is a free 3D design program that is perfect for designing your tiny house.  Many people already know about it, but for those of you who don’t, it’s a tool you need to learn.  It will be your go to tool in designing your tiny house.

sketup logo

So at the conference we are having two sessions on Sketchup.  The first will be run in conjunction with one of our speakers, James, he is a master with Sketchup having helped draw up Macy Miller’s very popular tiny house and plans.

The next session is going to be a bonus session that I haven’t had a chance to announce, it just got put on the calendar.  This will be with the experts from Sketchup, showing you how to do things, answering questions and getting hands on with the software to design a tiny house.

For those who are new, check out Michael’s video from Tiny House Design

 

Come Join Us in Portland, OR April 18-19th 2015

Tiny House Plans For Families

As more and more people join the tiny house movement we are getting a lot of folks looking to make the leap with families.  I get the question a lot: “how do I live in a tiny house with a family?”  People want to know how they can enjoy the family life and set up houses for tiny house families.

Tiny House Families

Tiny Houses can be family friendly.

There are a few approaches to this:

  1. Choose a small house that has enough room for the family, but the per person square footage is reasonable
  2. Build a slightly bigger, tiny house; maybe expanding to 10 foot wide and up to 40 feet long.
  3. Start with a small house when your kids are small, then add on or move to a bigger house later
  4. Build multiple tiny houses: adult’s/kids houses, sleeping house/living and kitchen house, other arrangements

The point here is to not get tied up in what a tiny house is supposed to be, but what works for you and your family.  I have people email me all the time who feel that they have to live in a traditional tiny house that’s 150ish square feet. Nope!  Forget that unless it’s right for your situation.  Tiny houses have thrived because they are flexible housing solutions, not some rigid definition.

Some of my most popular posts of families who live in small spaces are:

I also have posted some small houses that I think could lend themselves to being used for a family or adapted:

When it comes to designing a tiny house for a family I thing there some important things to think about when it comes to the layout, storage, number of rooms etc.

First step is to create a list of needs.  What does your family need to function or put another way, what does a house need to provide you with to live your life?  I like to think of this room by room, I’ll go around the person’s current space and look at what function or activity takes place in each space.  So on our list we will put for the kitchen: pantry storage (10 cubic feet), food prepping area (sink, 6 square feet counter top, trash can, cutting board, knife), washing dishes (4 square feet for dish drying rack, place to hang towel, soap, sink)

You can see the idea here.  We are trying to operationalize everything in our house, making sure to only write down the core functions, our true needs and the minimum that we need to achieve them.

Here is a video of two parents that have designed and lived in their tiny house for a few years now with two young kids:

 

I think the two biggest challenges when it comes to designing a tiny house for a family is storage, larger food prep/eating area and extra bedrooms.  For storage realize that not all your possessions have to be crammed into your tiny house.  You can read about my extra storage space which is a cargo trailer here; families could easily do something similar, maybe even have the trailer sub-divided into compartments for each person.  Also think about rotating wardrobes, for many people they have a winter set of clothes and a summer set of clothes, try to have another place to put the out of seasons clothes.

For extra cooking space for bigger meals, design the kitchen around what your needs are.  If you freeze a lot of things, have a space for a freezer.  If you supplement with canned vegetables, build in a can rack.  Here is a pinterest board that I’ve made up of great space saving storage ideas for tiny houses:

Follow The Tiny Life’s board Tiny House Storage on Pinterest.

The biggest challenge for tiny houses for families is the extra bedding spaces.  I think there are two approaches to this: 1) have bedrooms for every person or parents, boys, girls.   Or 2) have spaces that convert to a bedroom.

First here are some small house designs that have multiple bedrooms that might work.  Please note, these are just floor plans, there are now building plans for them.

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source: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/books/

Small-Home-Building-Plans

tiny house design plans for a 2 bedroom space

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Options for a family friendly tiny house, one bedroom for couples and 2 bedrooms for families with kids.

Two Bedroom Tiny House Plans for a family

Two Bedroom Tiny House Plans

simple small house for a family to live in a tiny house

The next major option for beds for you children might be having convertible spaces such as having some of these ideas below in your living room, at night it would become the kid’s bedroom.

Day bed for kids beds in a tiny house on wheels

A futon that lays flat to become a bed, then a trundle comes out for another bed.

trundle-bed-children-creatively-closes-private-tent-with-light-1-thumb-630x546-21614

This is a trundle bed, but I liked they made a tent which would be fun for kids, but also allow them to close the flap and afford them some privacy or alone time.

Here is a elevated trundle that has two beds and storage for kids in a tiny house

Here is a elevated trundle that has two beds and storage.

A standard boys trundle bed for kids to sleep in

A standard trundle bed

A double bed, bunk bed Murphy style for kids in a tiny house

A double bed, bunk bed Murphy style

Two-Bedroom-And-Book-Storage-Design-For-Small-Space

two bedrooms in a small space.

 

Your Turn!

  • What did I miss?  What else would you need for your family?
  • What will your tiny family house look like?

Roll Out Guest Bed For A Tiny House

My buddy Drew over at Tiny Revolution has just put out this video of his new roll out guest bed that is really neat!  Basically he built a dual wooden accordion mechanism which opens up to become the bed platform and then the other one opens to be the bed support.  Check out the video and if you go to his website here you can download the plans for free!

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The Planning Stage Of Building A Tiny House

So I thought I would tell a little bit about my planning process before I even picked up a hammer.  This is a very important step in building your home and shouldn’t be overlooked.

What's the Plans?Before you even think about what your Tiny House is going to look like, how you are going to organize things, colors, etc.  You should sit down and list everything you do in your home right now.  Too often people plan for what they THINK they’re going to do in their tiny house, but few realize that the best indicator of what they are going to do is what they’re doing now.

Think about what you do in your home every day and make a list of all those things.  Then create a separate list of those things that happen every now and again. Take these list and order it in terms of priority and then start to think about what you will need to achieve those things.  From this line of thought the form of your house will emerge, because form follow function.  If we focus on what the house need to do for us, it will begin to take shape.

Experimenting With Floor Plans

At that point start sketching various floor plans until you come up with something you like. Think about how you can group related things to one area.  For example, if you walk into your house, take off your shoes, jacket and hat, those things all should be stored together and ideally by the door.  In the kitchen we need want everything in arms reach. the fridge, sink and stove make up the “work triangle” but we also want to consider where our trash can will go, how are we going to store food items in a pantry and so on.

Once you have something that seems reasonably close to what you want, grab some masking tape and map out the entire floor plan to scale on the floor or in your driveway.  Make sure it’s life size so you can get a real good sense of the space.

From there act out an entire day of your life and see how things work out.  You might feel ridiculous playing house in a fake tiny house, but you’ll soon see how this exercise will help your design. Consider things like where your trash or dirty laundry goes, clearances for doors, how wide doors and passage ways need to be for you to pass through them comfortably.

Make Adjustments

It is at this point that you will discover things that don’t work and need to be changed, make them and start the process over again.  After you have worked out a solid plan, set them aside for a while and then after a few days, revisit them.  It will be surprising what things jump out at you that you were blind to before.  You can even enlist friends to get feedback from them on the design; sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will be useful.

Consider Already Made Plans

Tiny House Plans

At this point I would take a look around at some of the tiny house plans that are out there and see if one of them is close to what you have come up with.  It might be worth purchasing plans if you are new to building if it matches your needs and budget.  If you opt to come up with plans yourself then be prepared to do a lot of research and work to come up with a solid plan.  I would strongly suggest learning Sketchup to design your tiny house, which is free and pretty easy to learn.  Finally draft a parts list of everything you will need.

Envision The Build Process

Once the plans are pretty firm, set a few hours aside to mentally work through how you will build the house.  Think about the process of building, envision it, where do you start, then what is after that and after that?  You will inevitably find some things that need to be rethought or given some thought when you discover the order will impact other parts.

tiny house planning

From there consider work flow and your building site, where will you build?  Where are your tools stored?  Where will the materials be stored?  Is there power on the site, if not how will you get it there?  How will you handle trash?  Where will you setup your work station?  How will you get the trailer in and more importantly think about how you will get it out if you do have to move it?

If you need to get materials brought to the site in the back of a truck or a delivery vehicle, can they get close enough to where you need them to be? There are a million things to think about, but take the time to work it all out.  All these things are important and if you don’t plan for them, you’ll find that it’s going to be a lot harder than it needs to be.

Sourcing Materials And Scheduling

Next consider where you are going to source your materials.  The big ones are your windows, trailer, roofing, dimensional lumber, siding and any specialty items.  Windows, trailer and roofing often take a few weeks to get delivered if you are special ordering them, so consider the time line on things.

stack of wood

Since we have already broken down our plan to develop a detailed parts list, I would take your parts list to the store where you plan to purchase the bulk of your stuff and get prices and lead times on it all.  It’s important to consider lead times, how you’ll transport it to your house and any other materials that you’ll need to install it.

If you are trying to use reclaimed materials then hit craigs list, restores and other sources for the parts.  For those going this route, I’d strongly suggest getting all your doors and windows first, then drawing your plans.  This is because if you design your windows and doors ahead of time, you’ll never find a part to match it.  So going this route design around the reclaimed materials and if possible choose doors and windows that are standard sizes and shapes.

Final Words Of Wisdom

One of the best tools in my tool box was a lawn chair that I would sit in and contemplate a problem I was having.  If you run into a problem, don’t be afraid to give yourself some time and space from it so you can come up with the best solution.  It’s important that you do it right the first time.

When we are tired from a long day of working on our tiny house, it can be easy to want to just get it done or rush through something.  Whenever I got like that I knew it was time to call it a day, no matter what time it was.  There was even some days where I had only been there for an hour and I knew I wasn’t in the right head space.

Your Turn!

  • What are you thinking about for your design?
  • What tips can you offer to help others?

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