Designing and Budgeting Our Tiny House, Part 1

The Process of designing and budgeting for a tiny house can be complicated, but it can also be very exciting and fun. After we found a strong interest in tiny houses, we watched video after video on Youtube and pin after pin on Pintrest. We observed and reused many of the unique ideas that we found from other people who built their own tiny house.

 

The Layout:

The design is the most important part of building your own house, because if you want or need to change something, it is pretty easy and very cheap to erase a few lines and change some measurements. In the contrary, if you don’t put enough initial thought and planning into your design, you might end up with some very costly and pain in the neck changes. After months of collecting ideas from other tiny houses, we had to somehow draw up a floor plan and try to include all of our favorites. It’s not easy to incorporate so many ideas into such a small house. We had to start somewhere, so we decided on the length and width of the house. We knew that 8.5 ft was the maximum width to pull this house down a county road. We also knew we didn’t want anything too long, in order to keep costs down. We came up with 22 ft for our length and 8 ft for our width. There is also a road height restriction at 14 ft, however we wanted to maximize the height, so we would have enough headroom in our loft. We planed on the house to be about 13.5 ft tall. Our total square footage without the loft came to 176 sqft. Pretty small, seeing as we just came from a 1400 sqft house… with a dog.

 

Tiny house floor plan & sectional view

Tiny house floor plan & sectional view

The great thing about designing your own tiny house is that you can design it custom to your lifestyle and get rid of all the aspects of a normal house that you hardly ever use. For instance, designing our bed to go in a loft. It just makes sense that we didn’t need standing room where our bed is because our bed is meant to lie down on. For us, we had two important things we had to design around, we love to cook and we love our dog. We basically designed our house around the kitchen. In fact, we have close to the same amount of useable counter space that we had in our previous regular sized home. Our kitchen sits in the middle of our house, with a long, 9ft counter on one side, and a smaller 20” counter on the other side. The 9ft counter includes a sink, while the side with the small counter includes a refrigerator, stove, oven, and full pantry under the steps to the loft. One end of the 9ft counter is open underneath for two “Old Tree” bar stools (which you can find for sale on my website). That end of the counter is our dining area. At the tongue end of the trailer, we have a 5ft x 8ft bathroom/closet. My aunt, who is an architect, suggested a change to our original design with the closet outside of the bathroom to enlarging the sqft of the bathroom and including the closet. That was one of those inexpensive and easy, but important changes, I had talked about earlier. Adding the closet to enlarge the bathroom has become very convenient. It created enough room for a full size shower, plumbed toilet, closet, vanity, and enough space left over for both of us to get ready in the morning. Mumford, our dog, would like to come in too, but that is pushing it for space. On the other end of our house is our living room, which basically is just a couch and Mumford’s bed. We have plans to build our own custom couch, but for now we have our old leather couch, which just happened to fit perfectly there. Above the kitchen is a loft for our bed. Continuing deeper into that loft, above the bathroom, is an area for extra storage and the hot water tank. That pretty much sums up the layout for our tiny house.

 

 

After I began this topic of “Design and Budgeting” I quickly found out that there is a lot to talk about and I don’t want to leave anything out, so I am going to make this topic a multiple part blog entry. The next portion will include information about the materials we decided to use and why. I hope you find this information helpful, and please if you have any questions feel free to email me at: oldtree.brian@gmail.com

 

See ya soon!

From the Beginning

We (my wife, Krista, and our dog, Mumford) decided to take the tiny house route about one and half years ago. We were living in our own 1400 square foot house for about 4 years, when we met some friends of ours who were talking about building a tiny house. I had heard about these houses in the past, but I didn’t think much about them, until one day we discovered some videos on youtube.com. After that we were hooked! We started to fall in love with these little homes, they are so unique and attractive. I am a hands on kind of person, so building something like this was right up my alley. I just needed a reason for building one. The more I researched tiny homes and watched videos, the more reasons I found for building our own. There are multiple reasons of why we finally made the decision to build. First, we have always liked the idea of some sort of minimalist life style. Second, we had plans to move out of town and into the country anyway. Thirdly, and most of all, it was an affordable and smart step for us to take in order for us to be able to move. 

 

Within that last reason, there are few more practical reasons:

Lets take a step back in time and explain. I moved from Florida to Idaho when I was ten years old, and I learned a lot about some of the steps you can take to make moving more achievable and affordable. When we (mom, dad, brother, sister, dog, two cats, and myself) first moved to Idaho, we lived in a pop up camper and a tent, while we built a shop. We then lived in the shop with two plywood rooms for us kids, and parked a used camper trailer inside for mom and dad. The camper trailer was a smart idea because, for a low cost, it included a kitchen, bedroom, and an extra bathroom. We lived in the shop for a few years while we (my dad and mom) built our house. That might seem like a lot of steps and quite the process for moving, but it allowed my family to make a large step and move. There are a lot of initial costs to moving to the North Idaho woods, which many people don’t think about. Costs such as, snow plowing equipment, where to store everything during the winter, digging a well, putting in power, adding a septic system, building tools, etc. The slow process they took, allowed them to spread their costs out over time and purchase things when they needed them. That is the basis of our plan. Our long term plan is to build and live in a “regular sized house”, meaning, about 1000 to 1500 square feet. Along with that, we know that a shop is basically required to live in the woods of North Idaho, so we have plans to build a shop too. One option we considered was to build a shop with an apartment above it and live in that while we build our house. Although I really do like that idea, we thought, what do we do with the empty apartment after we move into our house. That’s when we came up with the tiny house idea. The tiny house will allow us to, one, afford to build it right away and two, we can live in it comfortably while we build our shop and our house. After we move in our house, we have the option of either keeping our tiny house as a guest house, or we could sell it and make some money. For our situation, we figured the tiny house idea was a smart move.   

 

From house to house:

We bought our house in town about four years ago as an investment. I’ll admit, it wasn’t necessarily our dream home when we purchased it, but as the years went by we grew a strong connection with the place, which made it tough to sell and let go of our first home. We had to remind ourselves that we bought it with the intent to sell. So, after months of waiting with our house on the market, we finally made the sale. It was a bitter sweet moment for us, but that sale made it possible for us to start our new adventure. Thankfully, we ended up making enough money from our house to begin building our tiny house and maybe even dig a well.  

 

Our Plan:

Fortunate for us, my parents own some acreage and already offered to gift us a piece of it. That was an offer we couldn’t turn down. If you could see this gorgeous property, you would understand. So, find property to build on, check. Then we had to figure out where to live while we build, since we just sold our house. My parents are more than generous and we are more than grateful because they offered us their camper to live in while we build. Place to live while building tiny house, check. Next, we needed a place to build. Again, we are so fortunate for my parents generosity and you can probably see where this is headed, but they have a shop with enough room to fit our entire tiny house inside, which they allowed us to use. Because we were going to be building in the fall and winter, having a place to build indoors was complete luxury. Find a place to build, check. The stars were beginning to line up.

 

Conclusion:

We were finally making some progress. Things were being sold and plans were being made. The next step was designing and budgeting. There are a lot of important steps to that portion of the tiny house process, so I thought I should begin talking about that part in the next post. I have a feeling there will be a lot of valuable tips in the next post. I hope you have found an interest in my Tiny House blog. If you have, please come back and read my next post, “Design and Budgeting a Tiny House”.  Also, while you are here, take a look around my store, OldTreeShop.com. I am using this site to host my Tiny House blog, so I can tell you a little more about me, the owner of Old Tree.

 

Thank you and see you next time. 

Preparing to sell our first home

Preparing to sell our first home