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