Update: Since the popularity of this post has increased, I wanted to extend an invitation to work with a motivated client seeking tiny house design. Please check out my page www.neilsilva.com or company site www.8TFive.com for details.
Tiny Houses are becoming more and more of a trend for those who do not want to purchase a traditional style house but want the comfort and flexibility that come with a custom, sometimes mobile, dwelling unit.
Think of tiny living as like your own personal studio apartment that has all the amenities you would need designed to function within a single space.
Tiny Houses can often times include hidden compartments for storage, expandable walls, and sleeping lofts aimed to maximize living space throughout the day.
Usually around 500 sf or less in area the tiny houses offer its inhabitants an ease for maintenance, heating & cooling cost savings, as well optimized space for those that do not require or want the added square footage of traditional style homes like a ranch, bungalow, or farmhouse for example.
Although the terms tiny houses or tiny homes can really reflect any style of dwelling unit, the idea is that micro living is emphasized throughout the structure.
It can be argued that there is a classification that separates the ‘living simple’ buildings into tiny houses and small houses.
Some suggest that any home under 400 sf is considered among the tiny houses while any home unit between 400 – 1000 sf would be a small house.
See Also: 7 Trendy Tiny House Floor Plans
Editor’s Note: A collection of our current favorite tiny house floor plans so far in 2016.
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Regardless, the average size of a new single family home in the United States in 2013 was around 2600 sf which is up from 1700 sf back in 1978.
So whether referred to as tiny houses or small houses, the architectural and social movement for tiny houses is a significant reduction in building footprint.
Sustainability is one of the driving forces behind the movement. Recycled or reclaimed materials might also be utilized in the construction of the structure.
Although there are a small growing number of manufacturers who generate templates to select from and customize to your personal preferences.
Still the custom tiny houses show below showcase some creativity and unique reflection of their owners. Living small does not mean sacrificing personality.
Ultimately a tiny home is designed with the occupants in mind and their particular lifestyle:
- For example, do you want to travel and have access to hooking up your tiny home to hit the road with? A trailer frame and road regulations is key.
- Will the home want to be located near a lake, ocean, river for activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking, etc? Secured storage might be considered.
- Maybe you a biking enthusiast and enjoy hitting the trail every morning. Well proper secured storage should impede interior living space.
- Or perhaps a strong connection to the natural landscape around is important to you. Large windows can be incorporated but consideration for southern orientation, summer solar gains and winter heat loses will keep it efficient.
There are many variables that potentially might come into play when considering the possibility of designing your own tiny home.
So where do I go to purchase a tiny house of my own?
There are a small number of manufactures out there that you can purchase pre-designed units from and potentially customize to your liking.
We are working on a post to list out some of the top Tiny House manufacturers.
Otherwise reaching out to perhaps an architect and contractor would be a good place to start. Engaging with a design professional to start to figure out the feasibility of your project will let you know if you are going down the right path.
Do you have a site or location in mind that the building will be situated upon?
Perhaps you own a small piece of property and do not want a standard or large size home for a number of different reasons. Well analyzing site characteristics can significantly influence where the ideal location for your tiny house should be.
- How open is your site to the elements wind, water, sun, etc? This might impact if a tiny house should be located near trees, on a small slope, etc.
- The climate (if it will be a stationary dwelling unit) will also impact the design of the building. Will insulation be critical to ensure comfort.
- Sometimes orienting the building a few degrees can help improve solar warm in the winter and avoid assess heat gain in the summer.
- In a warmer climate? Cross ventilation of the space, shading elements, and other passive heating and cooling strategies can reduce energy use.
Since sustainability is important in the design of tiny houses (as it should be in any building), the utilization of energy needs to be assessed within the design.
See Also: Smarter way to use Space in your Home
Sure placing a propane tank down somewhere and calling it a day might serve your initial needs, but will it continue to help you reduce your overall annual energy usage?
Understanding the energy consumption of any of the tiny houses that get constructed should be important. From lighting fixtures and small refrigerators to hot water tanks or pumps, the utilization of natural resources will help you operate for longer on less.
Technically an approach that once again applies to any building however it is usually the clients who seek out tiny houses that really drive the desire for more sustainable action within their tiny home.
Tiny Houses & Living Simple
Some homes that were designed and built for small living were in response to Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005.
These sleeping quarters needed to be affordable and efficient to built while still maintaining the look and feel of the local neighborhood before the storm.
With infrastructure still being restored at the time and urgency given to sheltering those effected by the hurricane, these tiny houses needed to be optimized for performance – short term and long term.
The tiny houses we see today embody the simple living philosophy while promoting all the same values of a traditional sized home; health, happiness and family.
Regardless of the style, making a house feel like home is important.
Beyond the construction of tiny houses (or any home for that matter), how the interior is decorated and furnished also reflects someone’s personality.
So weather you have a contemporary tiny home – we highly recommend checking out Modern Artisans for handcrafted art and decor – or are country at heart with an Antique Farm House style, its important not to lose the character and charm!
To some degree, spaces can be transformed to function multiple rolls.
A kitchen wall can be designed to be pulled out which makes available certain functions of the home. While not in use the wall can be moved back to allow more room for other functions to occur; such as sleeping, eating or living.
At MIT’s Media Lab, exploration on tiny living has been showcased in a project called CityHome.
“CityHome is an ultra-efficient, responsive urban home, providing a hardware and software ecosystem for personal space customization. A micro-unit apartment developed by Kent Larson’s Changing Places Research Group.”
I know … pretty awesome right? Although designed with apartment living in mind, the same concept applies to the notion of tiny houses.
Put this up on the shelf next to flying cars … but great concept!
Explore your Own
Thinking about tiny houses as an alternative to entering into traditional mortgage loans and larger single family homes?
Browse to images below to start to get some ideas for what you might be interested in. We highly recommended reaching out to us if you have any questions as we can provide you with some further insight into what your next steps might want to be.
Figure out a budget for the project, what your needs and wish list items are and then convey that to a design professional. It is possible to figure out if the project would be feasible to start from.
Understanding any building code compliance issues you would need to fall within or regulations that might impact the structure will be important to the overall success of the build.
Editor’s Note: See a remarkable new Tiny House get built from the ground up by an architect into a high tech and modern unit .
Depending upon how detailed you would like to get, a design professional can assist you in selecting specifics to your tiny home. Coordinating the location of systems with the overall design of the dwelling unit is extremely important especially in tiny houses because of how valuable space is.
You definitely want to have the comfort and flexibility of every inch of space!
Do you currently have a tiny home or are thinking about tiny houses in general, send us a message and we’ll help spread the success of your small home build.
Images of Tiny Houses
Have Tiny Houses to add to this list? Share it in the comments.
20 Tiny Houses for Living in Small Homes
Images above are captioned per image from various sources.
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