The lozenge-like Kanin Winter Cabin is just a little over 100 square feet and so lightweight that it took a military helicopter to its spectacular location. That’s the Slovenian Army and Mount Kanin, on the Balkan country’s Italian border. The cabin was designed by OFIS Arhitekti and Contemporary Building Design (CBD) and is constructed of glass and aluminum panels over a cross-laminated timber frame. It’s primarily meant as a test of materials and architectural design techniques for difficult terrain and extreme weather conditions. You can judge the terrain from the photos; as for the weather on Mount Kanin, it defeated the army’s first three attempts to deliver the cabin. Should be a pretty thorough test! But the location was also chosen for its scenic beauty, and the structure will be available as a shelter for the hikers and mountaineers who frequent the area. There’s not much inside except a rack of antlers and a few shelves to sleep on, but it can accommodate up to nine people and has stunning views of surrounding peaks and the Adriatic Sea.
Anyone who’s worked on a serious construction project knows how important it is to have the right tools. It can mean the difference between endless swearing and frustration – and sitting back with a beer and admiring your handiwork in the evening. We spent some time rounding up the best tools for the job – tools that will save you time, frustration, and most importantly, help you build a better home.
There’s nothing better than the word “free” and today we wanted to share a set of free tiny house plans. What’s the catch you ask? As far as we can tell, there isn’t one! Thanks goes to Andrew Hickman, a visionary architect who designed his very own earthship, and later provided a client with these plans for a tiny house. Just save them to your computer and print them for your own use.
Note: These are fairly large images, so we provided a .zip file you can download as well. Click here to download.
Do you dream about building your own home, but aren’t sure where to start? It’s a common problem. While we all enjoy seeing some of these impressive hand-built tiny homes, the high costs often turns people off. One of the more common requests we hear from visitors is for building plans, and unfortunately most of the time there either aren’t any available or they cost money. Luckily that’s not always the case, and today I wanted to share a basic, yet helpful resource that costs nothing. Below you’ll find basic building plans by Steve Maxwell for a one room cabin. While not the most complete set of resources, it does include a well-thought out list of materials and a few pages of information about how to approach your project.
Click the images below to get the complete PDF (no email required, it’s 100% free)
Flatbed trailers make a great choice for an alternative foundation to use when building a tiny house. They afford you the opportunity to tow your home anywhere, and with a variety of different sizes you can find a length that fits your exact needs. It also marks one of the very first steps many aspiring tiny home builders take, and it’s a significant investment. For those reasons, it’s important to think about the pros and cons of a fully prepped trailer vs. a used one you need to spend time and money modifying to fit your needs. Today we’ll explore the ideal trailer specs, and explore some of the basic methods to attach a sub-floor to the trailer so you can begin framing your tiny home.
The ideal trailer includes:
Heavy duty axles each rated at 5,200 lb GVWR
8’6″ wide and anywhere from 20-22′ long (or larger, it’s up to you). Keep in mind the Department of Transportation limits the dimensions to 8′-6″ wide x 13′-6″ tall x 40′ long.
Electric brakes with working lights. You want to be sure to have extra stopping power when hauling 10,000 pounds of precious cargo.
Steel flange welded to the side to maximize width and reduce the amount of overhang and maximize the width of your frame.
Minimally curved fenders are less invasive in terms of space they take up, making it easier to build around.
High load tires that can sustain the weight of a tiny house without risk of blowing out.
A steel beam deck is preferable to a wood lined one, as it provides better strength and lighter weight.
One of our favorite sites, Tiny Home Builders, offers several different size trailers priced between $3000-5000 depending on the size. They come fully prepped for a tiny house build, meaning you don’t have to worry about shaving off piece of metal or welding anything. Other vendors you might consider include Mac-Lander, Tumbleweed, PJ Trailers, and Iron Eagle. These companies all have experience modifying trailers for tiny house builds, and sell ready-to-use models that don’t require any prepping or modifications. Expect to pay around $3-4,000 for a brand-new trailer and of course you should check Craigslist to see what might be available. You never know when you might find a great deal on a used one.
Types of Trailers
Although the flatbed version shown above is our favorite choice and probably the most popular among builders, you do have other options. They include:
Deck-between: This is the most popular choice, and the same as the one you see above, with a deck between the wheel wells. They sit lower than the “deck-over” style, making it a good choice to maximize building height, especially when incorporating a loft. If you do not have the luxury of the extended steel flanges, the width will be closer to 6′ instead of 8′.
Deck-over: This popular type of trailer doesn’t include the wheel wells, meaning you’ll build over them. It might be a good choice if you don’t need a loft and only want a one-story house, but when height matters, the “deck-between” style is much more preferable.
Gooseneck: This type includes a hitch connection that rises from the front of the trailer, and is usually found on larger trailers around 30′ or more in length. The gooseneck can provide a bit of extra building space. Check out the popular Minimotives site to see how Macy used it to build a loft space for sleeping.
Dovetail: This type includes an angled portion at the rear of the trailer that drops down to allow easier loading for cars or tractors for example. This type is not recommended for using as a foundation, as extra work would be required to make it suitable for a house.
Once you get your trailer, the first question you might have is “how do I get started”? If you bought a trailer from a company like Tiny Home Builders or Tumbleweed, you don’t have to do anything to modify it, and can start prepping the subfloor right away, but if you found one on Craigslist you might have a bit of prep work ahead. Depending on the condition, this could be fairly involved, requiring cutting steel, welding, and removing rust. You’ll need to remove all vertical metal side rails and anything that sticks up above the surface as you prep it for subfloor installation.
This type of trailer would not be recommended, as the raised sides and ramp would need to be removed. Even if you find something like this for a great price, the time and effort spent making it work might not be worth it.
Styles of Subfloor – Recessed or On Top
You have two basic options when installing a subfloor. You can build on top of the trailer, or embed the subfloor within the frame. The image below does a great job explaining the benefits of building on top of the frame rather than recessing the floor into the frame (click to enlarge)
As you can see, building a subfloor on top of the frame provides consistent insulation and leaves more room for plumbing clearance underneath. Depending on the climate where you live, and your plumbing situation, either method could work.
Attaching the Subfloor To the Trailer
Of course the most obvious question you might have at this point centers around how to attach the subfloor to the metal trailer frame. It’s actually not as difficult as you might first imagine. The basic idea is to drill holes through the wood and metal and use bolts to secure the floor joists. Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders recommends drilling a 1″ wide hole, and using 3/8″ lag bolts, nuts, and a washer to secure it to to the trailer.
Obviously you want to make sure you squeeze every possible inch of space out of your build, and if you purchased a flatbed trailer that doesn’t have the steel flanges, you’ll probably want to build trailer bed extensions. This basically requires securing a few pieces of lumber to the entire length of the outside of the frame, only separated by the wheel wells. Scratch Pad Tiny House put together an excellent series of videos showing how they build their extensions, and then attached them to the trailer.
What do backpackers and tiny house dwellers have in common? They both look for creative ways to save space, reduce weight, and maximize utility. When you live in a small space, whether 100 or 1000 square feet, every inch starts to matter. Clutter builds up quickly, as does the insanity and it’s important to get creative when building your home, thinking of clever ways to use those nooks and crannies to your advantage. Below we gathered some ideas that highlight some of the more creative ways that homeowners save precious space.
1. Marine Woodstove
Space is an issue on boats too, so if you’re planning to heat your tiny house with a woodstove, take a page from the nautical handbook and consider the 12x12x11-inch Sardine from Navigator Stove Works. It provides all the charm of a traditional wood stove but takes up very little space.
2. Pop-Out Balcony
So we realize this might not be a realistic option for most of us because it costs a lot, and you might not like the idea of sitting on a glass floor, but we had to share it. The elusive pop-out that many RVs include is something many tiny house builders would love to incorporate into a build, but that’s easier said than done. Soon to be available from Kwaneer, the Bloomframe is an aluminum-frame window that expands into a sunlit sitting area.
3. Pocket Shower Curtain
The bathroom can get messy fast, especially if you don’t have much storage space to stash your essentials. This shower curtain from Maytex features large mesh pockets that might let you do away with cabinets altogether. Find it here for $14.99 at Amazon.
4. Dishwasher Drawer
Off-grid houses may not have electricity to run a dishwasher, but if space is the only concern then a smaller (and greener) drawer-style unit could be the perfect fit. It’s not cheap, at around $600 or so, but you can find it here if you’re interested.
5. Stair Storage
This is a popular strategy we see used in plenty of small houses, where the hollow sides of a stair can include extra cubby-hole space. Alternatively you could build drawers that pull out into the risers. This one below even includes extra space for a dog crate.
6. Sofa Bunk Bed
Any sort of sofa that converts into a comfortable sleeping surface is worth it when you live in a small space, especially if you have guests staying over for the night. While most converting sofas offer just one small space, this innovative design from Bonbon gives you twice the sleeping space of a traditional sofa bed when it transforms.
7. Fold down table/bookcase
Plenty of tiny houses incorporate some kind of foldaway table, a convenient thing to have when you need a workspace or dining table but also want to free up that space at times. This design available on Amazon has a bookshelf built in, and at a cost of $150 it seems well worth it.
8. Sliding Pantry
We’ve said it before: a sliding pantry is a great way to store dry goods in a tiny kitchen. For all you DIY’ers out there, Mallory & Savannah have detailed instructions on how to build your own over at Classy Clutter.
9. Over-The-Sink Cutting Board
Every inch of counter space matter when you’re prepping a meal, and we see this sort of design enhancement used in lots of tiny houses and RVs. If you didn’t have the foresight or resources to build a matching wood block to fit over your sink, don’t fret – Crate & Barrel offers a cutting board that can be placed right over the sink that even includes a cool drain basket thingy.
10. Doggy Bowls in a Drawer
This idea will keep you from tripping over your pet’s water and food bowls while you’re trying to make your own dinner. Maker Bailey Fine Pet Furniture seems to have gone out of business, but it looks like an easy DIY project.
11. Painting doubles as jewelry holder
Of course you could use this sort of approach to hold a number of other things besides jewelry, assuming they’re slim enough to fit behind the frame.
12. Recessed Pantry
Take a moment to think about where you might have an open space along the wall in your home, and build a recessed pantry to squeeze a bit of extra storage space without taking up any extra square footage.
Do you have any recommendations for ways to save space in your house? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Not sure if you’re ready to make the transition to full-time tiny living? Maybe you’re just curious what it’s like to live in a tiny house and want to “try before you buy” to see how it feels. Thanks to websites like VRBO, Airbnb and Homeaway, you have quite a few options for finding tiny house rentals just about anywhere in the world. We looked around and picked six of our favorites, based on the number of positive user reviews and of course, their square footage footprint. With their humble size, most of these rent for very reasonable rates, usually $100 or less per night. Any one of these places would make for a perfect romantic getaway with your significant other, or a small group of friends, assuming you don’t mind sleeping in close quarters. If one thing’s for sure, it sure beats staying at Motel 6.
Cozy Half Moon Cabin – Gasquet, CA
Way up in Northern California you can find this rustic getaway, which features a bare bones sort of approach to living. Part of a permaculture village featuring other sustainable houses, this would be a great place to get a feel for what it’s like to live off the land, pure and simple.
If you plan to visit the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, you’ll have plenty of options for tiny house rentals in between Portland and Seattle, but this is one of our favorites. Set in a grove of cedars, your only neighbor is the 150 acre state park next door. It has a solarium downstairs and a nice second story deck where you can relax, play some cards and enjoy a cold brew with friends.
Next time you plan a visit to the Bay area, make sure you consider a stay in this tiny house located in Berkeley. With its convenient location to BART stations you’ll have no problem getting into San Francisco, and you can avoid the high priced hotels there too.
We recently wrote about this very unique cottage, once a silo, now converted to a storybook home fit for Rapunzel. This tiny space is totally unique in its appearance. Located in the hills of Western Massachusetts it offers a quiet place to escape and hike the Appalachian trail.
The only one in the list that fits the definition of a tiny house on wheels, this place offers a quiet refuge in a rural location right above beautiful Puget Sound. The familiar-looking design comes from Tumbleweed, and it was hand built with love by its owner, Brittany.
Southern California offers plenty of sun, temperate weather, and lots of gigantic mansions along the coastline. Which is why we’re happy to see this tiny gem tucked away. Aimed at “green conscious” travelers, the hand built cabin offers all the amenities you need to enjoy your stay.
Like most of you, I have very little building experience. The last structure I built was probably a basic wedge shaped skateboard ramp when I was about fifteen years old. With the abundance of first-time builders and DIYers out there who tackle their tiny house build, we thought it only appropriate to develop a new category for our blog that focuses on building tips. Our aim is to cover everything from the most basic things like how to correctly hold a hammer to more involved carpentry practices like how to properly cut dove tails. There’s a whole vocabulary that comes with carpentry and building, and going forward we plan to connect with experienced builders who are willing to put down the handsaw and plug away at the keyboard to share useful insights.
With that said, today I wanted to begin by exploring the topic of siding, which is arguably one of the most noticeable aspects of any house, a pure expression of the home’s personality. In this article we’ll explore some of the different styles and materials to choose from, and look at how one tiny house duo installed their own reclaimed wood siding.
You have many options when it comes to siding, from metal to wood, or a combination of both.
Common Siding Materials
For a long time wood was the only choice for siding. Despite new materials like vinyl and cement, wood is the traditional choice and also one of the most versatile. From cedar shingles and live edge clapboard to pieces from a reclaimed barn, you have an abundance of choices for wood siding and it’s probably the most eco-friendly material. One downside is that it won’t resist fire very well, and the constant exposure to weather means it usually needs a bit more maintenance than metal or vinyl. Over time it fades to a gray color, but you can always paint or stain it.
Although not as common, using a metal material for siding has its own advantages. For one, it won’t burn, which is something to consider. On the other hand, it dents more easily than other materials. As for the type of metal, the most common seems to be corrugated aluminum, although steel is often used as well. Depending on where it’s sourced, metal can be a “green” option. One downside is that it can rust, something that happens much more in a salty environment. We notice a growing number of houses using a combination of wood and metal siding, blending contemporary and rustic, which makes for an interesting look.
The favorite choice among cookie-cutter houses, and most homes across America, vinyl is known for its durability and low maintenance. You can find all sorts of colors and designs to mimic traditional shingles, clapboard and any other popular style. While it might cost a bit more than other materials, it will last a very long time. Given its plastic appearance, many homeowners opt for something with a bit more personality and authenticity. Given the hand-built nature of many tiny houses, where sustainability and resourcefulness takes center stage, we don’t see vinyl used very often and that’s a good thing in our opinion.
The “Mica” design by Tumbleweed uses a hot rolled weathered steel siding for a completely unique look.
Popular Styles of Siding
From brick and stucco to reclaimed wood and cedar shingles, you have a lot of options when it comes to siding. We picked some of the more common ones used for tiny houses. Because weight is often an issue, certain materials like stucco, cement, and brick don’t often make sense, but if you don’t plan on moving your home they might be decent options.
Board and batten is a traditional method that uses a vertical arrangement. Typically seen in New England homes and cabins in the woods, it’s one of the least expensive styles, and also uses very few screws, making it a bit more affordable. Often overlooked for alternative styles, it has been around for a long time and remains a tried and true method for good reason.
It’s created by using wide cedar boards spaced with narrower boards (battens) covering the joints. You have the freedom to pick whatever width boards you like, though a common combination includes 1″x3″ battens and 1″ x 10″ boards.
One advantage of this style is its ability to expand with humidity and contract during cold and dry winters, making it a good choice for homes that see varying weather patterns as the seasons change.
This lovely house in Portland mixes siding options, using staggered shingles and reclaimed clapboard for a unique appearance.
Clapboard (also known as lap or bevel) siding uses planks of wood installed horizontally, where the piece above overlaps the one below. This is a very common style, and it comes in a few variations. Regular clapboard is the simplest, while insulated and beaded styles offer a bit more versatility and protection.
“Wavyboard” siding, shown here, uses natural “live” edges to create a distinctly rustic style of clapboard.
Shingles give a smoother and more consistent look, and can be arranged staggered or straight edge depending on your preference. Traditional shake siding comes in the form of a wooden shingle made from split logs. Although the terms shake and shingle are often interchangeable, historically shakes bring a more rustic, hand-split connotation whereas shingles are sawed thicker and made commercially so they appear a bit more uniform.
Terms you should know:
Batten – vertical strips that cover the seams between boards used in vertical siding.
Course – a single horizontal row of siding.
J-Channel – a piece of trim material, usually around windows and doors, that accommodates the ends of vinyl or metal siding.
Reveal – The amount of material that’s actually exposed and visible. For example, shingles overlap each other and the reveal is amount of shingle that’s not tucked underneath the adjacent course above it.
Shake – As it refers to wood, a shake is similar to a shingle except it is split one or both sides resulting in a more heavily textured surface.
Sheathing – the plywood, wood or other material that forms the outer surface of your home’s structure that the siding is attached to.
Shingle – As it refers to wood, a shingle is a small square or rectangular piece of siding material that’s sawn on both sides.
Square – The unit of measurement used in the siding industry. A “square” equates to 10ft x 10ft (or 100 square feet of area).
The good folks at Tiny House Giant Journey offer a detailed explanation of their siding choice and the installation that went with it. Here’s a video explaining their process:
Remember the towable tiny house designed by some students in Vermont? It remains one our more popular posts, and part of the attraction came from its portable design which makes it easy for any vehicle to tow. Well today I wanted to share a couple slimmed down versions that you can tow with a bike! Personally, the idea of lugging one of these around for more than a mile seems like a recipe for self-torture but for other more intrepid folks these mini campers could be a perfect alternative for the traditional camper/car road trip.
The Wide Path Camper
The most recent example to get a lot of press is this lightweight micro-camper that’s set for production in 2015. It weighs in just over 80 lbs., making it light enough to tow behind your bike (assuming you’re in good enough shape), although I imagine hills will become an even bigger enemy with this thing attached.
It folds out from a compact size in order to make room for a sleeping/sitting area.
With just enough room to sleep two people, the bed stretches across the interior and folds up to make room for a small table and storage areas.
The designer behind this thing, Mads Johansen, claims it can sleep 2.5 people. We assume the .5 refers to a small child and with around 79 cubic feet of storage space inside, you imagine sleeping with two adults and a kid might not make for the most relaxing vacation. But for anyone out there who loves touring the countryside on their bike, it might be a decent solution for a couple days worth of adventures, Clark Griswold style.
This one seems like the most sensible model, and the lightest at just 56 pounds. It has three storage compartments and folds into a compact bundle when you’re riding, making for less wind resistance. The design includes some other great features as well, like a pivoting wheelset – think independent shock absorbers, which allows the wheels to operate better on uneven surfaces. The trailer is height-adjustable as well, meaning you can attach it to any size bike with ease. As for the tent, it only accomodates one person, so you would need to carry an extra sleeping tent with you if you’re planning a family voyage.
The Bushtrekka costs $899.99 and is available via Amazon for anyone interested.
The Burning Man Camper
Perfect for those who identify with the burner lifestyle, or perhaps a post-apocalyptic tour of the countryside. Designed by a guy named Paul, it has everything you need to survive a desert festival. It weighs 100 lbs. and includes a solar powered oven, solar water heating, solar lights, and a mini wind turbine to produce a bit of extra power. There’s even a urinal funnel on the outside (don’t ask us how he handles number 2). Via dvice.
Mini Mobile Camper
This is one of the coolest designs by far, and designer Kevin Cyr takes a page from the 1960s vintage trailer style. He makes these scaled down mini campers that look like a regular one you might tow with a car. He focuses on the little details, even using faux wood siding and mini plug outlets. While these designs are not very practical for traveling any far distance, they are certainly impressive.
One of the most pressing needs for tiny houses and other small living spaces centers around the sleeping situation. Working to make the most of a small space requires a bit of ingenuity, and finding room to host guests or the additional child proves challenging in many cases. With that in mind we gathered some of the more interesting solutions we’ve come across together here.
Ever fantasized about having a sleeping partner who goes down whenever you want and gets out of the way when you’re finished? This elevator bed designed by Tommaso Giunchi may not be exactly what you had in mind, but it’s probably as close as you’re going to get – and it’s a great solution for a small area with high ceilings, assuming you have a large budget. (LifeEdited)
A bed and a desk are two pieces of furniture it’s hard to do without, and they both take up a considerable amount of space. The StudyBed cuts that space in half by combining them, and the best part is that you don’t have clean the desk or make the bed to do the conversion! (Shelterness)
The Living Cube
Here’s another clever – if geometrically misnamed – combination from Swiss designer Till Könneker. The Living Cube manages to combine a bed, walk-in closet, shoe storage, and entertainment center into a compact “polyhedron” that our sources tell us is technically a rectangular parallelepiped. (Enpundit)
Stair Landing Bed
This London apartment was blessed with a giant skylight and a stairway leading to a rooftop garden. Locating the bed on an expanded landing takes advantage of these features by saving floor space and letting the occupants wake up to natural sunlight. (Enpundit)
Because of its odd shape and low headroom, the space under the stairs is often used for storage. But it can also make an out-of-the-way sleeping area with the foot of the bed positioned at the low end so you have room to sit up and read yourself to sleep. (Good Home Design)
Bunk Bed with Trundle Bed
Having more children doesn’t have to mean using more floor space. Bunk beds are a traditional option for families with two; have one more and you can add a trundle bed underneath. (Atlantic Furniture)
Kitchen Table Turned Bed
We showed this one as part of a post highlighting the impressive eco-friendly cabin in Tahoe National Forest. As part of the interior design they include a kitchen table that quickly unfolds to reveal a cozy bed. This sort of modular furniture provides a huge amount of utility in either form.