HeliHouse

I’m obsessed with learning to fly, helicopters and airplanes. I know a few people with their licenses and it sounds like a blast… real freedom… like owning your own time machine.

The HeliHouse sits on top of a mountain. It would be built modularly one piece at a time. Each sub-2000 pound modular element is flown in by helicopter and assembled on site.

The foundation sits on micropiles like a powerline tower. These five inch concrete pylons are drilled into the ground and filled with concrete and steel so that a platform can be attached.

On top of this, a simple metal frame is attached and clad in mirrored glass. The mirrored walls would make it virtually invisible and blend into the natural landscape except for moments when the sun would reflect off the surface making it stand out like a jewel.

The interior is small, just 16′ x 16′. It’s one room except for a glassed-in bathroom and an alcove for a micro kitchen. The bed is tucked in below the floor and rises into place when it’s time to turn the living room into a bedroom.

The roof is 24′ x 24′ which is just big enough for a small helicopter to land. Rails around the helipad retract during landing operations and a staircase extends when the pilot and passengers need to descend to the house level.

A large deck extends in front of the home so the visitors can exit the elevated house and explore the surrounding wilderness.

Power would be provided by a solar array and lithium battery bank located on the mechanical level below the main living space. Also located in this space is a composting toilet system separating the occupants from their daily business as well as a rainwater collection tank for supplying potable water.

Heating would be provided by its passive solar design and an aircraft diesel-powered heater – similar to a marine or RV space heater. Turbine helicopters are powered by Jet-A fuel which is essentially kerosene, or a lighter-weight type of diesel fuel. The helicopter could offload a position of its reserve to keep the home’s diesel tanks topped off. The entire assembly would be completely self sufficient except for the kerosene powered backup heating fuel.

Visitors could fly in and stay for as long as they have food to feed them. This is an extreme tiny house design, to say the least, but fun food for thought.

New Book – Second Edition of Tiny House Floor Plans

I just completed and published the second edition of my first book, Tiny House Floor Plans. You can order the book in print or as an ebook.

Cover of Tiny House Floor Plans, Second Edition

I published the first edition of Tiny House Floor Plans back in 2012. It was a top-rated book, averaged four out of five stars on Amazon, and had almost 450 reviews the day I retired it in 2021.

Tiny houses were still small and simple back then. Most tiny homes were owner-built, and there were only a few professional builders in the business. A typical tiny house was about 20-feet long, had a 5-gallon bucket sawdust toilet, minimal off-grid power, and you took a ladder to get into the loft. For example, the tiny house that made the movement famous was Jay Shafer’s original Tumbleweed. This house measured only 12-feet long, including the porch, and had less than 100 square feet of interior floor space.

Sample page showing an 8×12 tiny house floor plan. There are 24 12-foot tiny house designs in the book.

Today, people expect more from a tiny house. A 20-foot tiny house is considered relatively small in size these days. Most tiny homes have stairs that take you to the loft, plus conventional toilets or commercially made composting toilets. The interiors are finished to high standards with modern appliances, laundry machines, full-size refrigerators, and lots of fine woodwork.

Sample page showing an 8×14 tiny house floor plan. There are 28 14-foot tiny house designs in the book.

I suspect a combination of a demand for the finer things and the tiny house television shows drove these changes. Nevertheless, as the Tiny House Movement grew, it had to accommodate a more diverse group of people with different needs, so the houses naturally grew and changed with the times.

Sample page showing an 8×16 tiny house floor plan. There are 32 16-foot tiny house designs in the book.

This is why it seemed about high time for me to redraw my book. You’ll find nothing from the original version is in these pages; all the drawings in this second edition are brand new. You’ll find over 350 tiny house floor plans of homes ranging from truly tiny 12-foot-long tiny houses to giant 36-foot long homes. Most designs have stairs, and some of the larger homes have two flights of stairs, each to their own loft. I’ve even tried to include a space for laundry machines in all the medium to large designs. 

Sample page showing an 8×18 tiny house floor plan. There are 36 18-foot tiny house designs in the book.

All designs show a utility closet with an external access door. Too often, I see mechanical systems stuffed into tiny houses as afterthoughts. I think it’s best to plan ahead and carve out a place for these items, so they are kept separate from the living space. It’s safer, more convenient to access and repair, and this approach doesn’t rob you of valuable interior storage space.

Sample page showing an 8×20 tiny house floor plan. There are 44 20-foot tiny house designs in the book.

What I hope people will take away from this new edition is the inspiration to design and build your own tiny home. There are a million ways to layout a tiny house with all sorts of combinations still yet imagined. I hope my book gets you started on that path or at least feeds that creative flame that has already been sparked. I wish you well on your way to finding freedom in a tiny house.

Sample page showing an 8×24 tiny house floor plan. There are 48 24-foot tiny house designs in the book.
Sample page showing an 8×28 tiny house floor plan. There are 48 28-foot tiny house designs in the book.
Sample page showing an 8×32 tiny house floor plan. There are 48 32-foot tiny house designs in the book.

I stopped at 36-foot tiny house designs even though one could probably go up to 40 feet because when you add up the length of a typical truck plus the full length of a 36-foot tiny house you are very close to the legal limit of 65-feet for the entire truck and trailer.

Large heavy duty pickup trucks with crew cabs are just under 22-feet, plus a 6 foot trailer tongue, plus the length of the 36-foot house and you’re at 64 feet.

You could build a tiny house larger in width, length, and height than the legal road limit and get a special move permit when you wanted to move it, but why would you build so big? At that point the house is so big and expensive it might make more sense to built it on a foundation.

In other words – and in my humble opinion – tiny houses that are larger than 8′ x 36′ are probably in another class of housing like maybe we could call them ‘Giant Tinies’ or just stick with Park Model RV like the manufactured home industry likes to call them.

Anyway… that’s the long-winded reason I stopped at 36-feet and didn’t include any houses wider than legal road limit of 8.5-feet.

Sample page showing an 8×36 tiny house floor plan. There are 48 36-foot tiny house designs in the book.

The book is available now in print at Amazon. You can also order it as an ebook directly from me. Use the links provided here to find both the print version and downloadable ebook version.

I’ll be posting videos of how I draw the floor plans and how I would transform the designs into 3D drawings using SketchUp in the near future. I also setup a special website to focus on the book which you can find at TinyHouseFloorPlans.us.

Post your comments and questions below.

Global Overland Expedition Rig Design

I’m really inspired by the global overland expedition rig built by Jason and Kara at the Everlanders YouTube Channel. Their rig is a relatively lightweight DIY camper made from a welded aluminum frame with riveted honeycomb structural panels. Honeycomb panels have a strong honeycomb core made from aluminum or polymer and layers of other materials laminated as skins. The whole assembly is strong, lightweight, self supporting, and provides some insulation.

What I like most is that Jason and Kara built their rig themselves on a realistic budget. Most professionally built expedition rigs like this cost a small fortune.

I like their truck so much, I was inspired to draw my own using the same construction approach. Even if this kind of truck isn’t your thing, consider that honeycomb panels might also be an excellent option for an ultralight tiny house build.

Expedition rig on the road flat-towing a Jeep. Solar tracker folded flat and secured for highway travel.

To climb up into the camper I imagine using a custom fit Torklift brand extending RV stairs. These fold into very small packages and can be stored below the exterior door.

Boondocking camp setup. Jeep is now disconnected from expedition rig and ready to go deeper into the wilderness.
Side view. Solar tracker automatically follows the sun.

In my version I imagine using honeycomb panels with an aluminum skinned exterior, an insulated polymer honeycomb core, and wood veneer interior. The panels would provide much of the shear strength for the wall but the aluminum frame binds the panels all together. The panels would be glued and riveted to the frame like Jason and Kara’s rig. The floor and roof have more framing members to handle roof loads.

Frame Complete
Panel Installation in Progress
Shell Assembly Complete

Typical RV windows and doors would be used for simplicity of construction and weight. The roof would have membrane roofing material on top of the panels for added weather proofing.

Automatic solar tracker has 360-degree movement on a motorized turntable. The panels are tilted by linear actuators to the ideal solar angle and follows the sun as it moves across the sky.

I also played with the idea of mounting an automated solar tracker to the roof. It’s simply a rack that’s hinged on one side with the whole thing sitting on a heavy duty turntable. Linear actuators lift and tilt the frame up and town. Some kind of computer controller with photosensitive sensors would be needed to direct the panels in the right direction. A wind sensor would be used to flatten the panels during windy days. It would also need a quick and easy way to lower and lock the panels for travel. Trackers that function like this are fairly common for ground mounted installations, but I’ve never seen one that folds flat and mounted to a truck or trailer. Shown here are four 425 watt panels for a total of 1,700 watts of power. This solar tracker is far from a fully sorted design, just an idea.

Dinette converts into a bed. The table detaches from the wall and is used as a bed platform between the facing seats.

Inside there’s a tiny kitchen and wet bath. A small refrigerator is located below the cabinets.

Kitchen/Dining/Living space. Cabinet above sink has a drain rack shelf to allow wet dishes to be put away.

In the bathroom, for simplicity sake, I’d use the highly recommended Nature’s Head composting toilet which separates the solids from the liquids and can be vented outside.

Wet bath with Nature’s Head composting toilet, sink and shower.

Over the truck’s cab is a split loft with two twin beds. A divider between them offers privacy, but sliding doors on each side can be opened if those sleeping in the loft want to chat. I designed it like this for my daughters; you may prefer to have a queen bed instead of a divider.

Loft with two twin beds and privacy divider.
View from one of the loft beds with the privacy divider open.

An overland truck like this would be fairly heavy even with the lightweight honeycomb panels and aluminum, so a heavy duty truck would be required. For this concept I chose to imagine using a diesel 4-wheel-drive Ram 5500 chassis crew cab with a super single dually conversion, a lift kit, and Continental MPT tires.

These trucks are built for commercial use. They are not very fast or very good at towing heavy loads but they are perfect for hauling large loads on their backs and are designed for a long life doing hard work at a low speed.

Ram 5500 expedition rig on the road flat-towing a Jeep.

I’d also want to bring a Jeep along for the ride too, and would flat-tow it behind the rig so that when I got to my boondocking campsite, I could keep going deeper into the woods, mountains, or desert in my Jeep.

Jeep could be flat-towed behind the expedition rig.

This was this week’s fun design exploration. It’s just another tiny living option that provides a lot more mobility than a tiny house and could still be built on a reasonable budget just like the folks at Everlanders.

Desert Pyramid Home Concept

I drew this for fun, and it’s not a tiny house. I wanted to explore designing an off-grid pyramid home in the desert. In many ways it’s a fairly normal American home. It has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, two levels, and a patio with a pool, but the shape of a pyramid is dramatic and demands to be treated differently.

The view walking toward the pyramid from the driveway.

I didn’t want to poke a hole in the side of the pyramid for a front door. I wanted to make entering the pyramid a bit more of an adventure, so I chose to create a dramatic subterranean entrance that felt like a journey. To enter the pyramid you must first walk toward it, then around it, and view it from three sides. Once you’ve taken in it’s presence, you must descend through a glass hatch covered staircase.

The glass hatch opens. Decent the staircase to the exterior front door.

From the bottom of the staircase you pass under the long narrow glass bottomed swimming pool where you’ll find the interior front door of the home.

Walk below the glass bottomed lap pool to the interior front door.

Beyond this door you climb a short dark concrete staircase and finally find yourself on the lower level.

Once through the interior front door you climb a dark stairwell up onto the lower level. The the right is a door to a basement.

On the lower level there’s a kitchen, dining room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry/utility room.

Your first view upon entering the lower level is the kitchen and dining room.
View toward stairs to the upper level from the dining room.

The lower living level is windowless except for glass blocks in the ceiling that also form part of the floor of the upper level. Natural light passes through these glass blocks as well as through the stairwell opening to the upper level.

The upper level is open with a staircase in the center.

Climbing the stairs to the upper level you turn 180-degrees and arrive in a glass and concrete pyramid shaped room with four giant pyramid windows. In the center of the room is the U-shaped staircase you just climbed. On each of the four walls is minimalist modern furniture and excellent views of the surrounding desert. An excellent place to host a guests.

Stairs down to the lower level and the interior front door.
There’s plenty of space for ample seating and art.
Along the north wall are two chairs.
At nights the light from the lower level shines through the glass blocks embedded in the floor.

Truth be told, entering this pyramid wouldn’t be easy or convenient, and may become an annoyance to the occupants. But for those who embrace the ritual value of the journey – passing into the pyramid may become a valued trade-off to the day-to-day convenience of a common door.

View of exterior patios, pool, and entry hatch. Notice the curb around the base of the pyramid that collects rainwater into two large underground tanks that flank the pool.

Mechanically speaking the pyramid itself would double as a rainwater collection surface catching runoff around its edge and channeling it into underground storage tanks that flank the pool. A photovoltaic solar array would need to be located nearby to power this desert home.

The wall construction should be a combination of concrete and foam, so that the thermal mass of the concrete keeps the interior consistent without the need for much mechanical intervention.

The exterior of the pyramid must be as smooth as possible, almost polished like a mirror. The glass should be semi transparent but mostly reflective to help keep the interior cool on sunny days.

View of pyramid at night from the closed entry hatch.

The bedrooms receive natural daylight though the glass blocks in the floor above. The master bedroom has its own bathroom.

Master Bedroom

The master bathroom has a shower, tub, toilet and sink. The bathroom also receive natural light from the glass blocks in the floor above.

Master Bath

The bedrooms are typical in size and each bedroom has a walk-in closet.

Bedroom
Bedroom

The second bathroom is just off the staircase landing.

Second Bath
Upper Level Floor Plan
Lower Level Floor Plan

This was a fun exploration for my imagination. It’s not a practical house, but then if that was the goal, something the shape of a box would be more effective. A pyramid requires some dramatic solutions and nothing that detracts from the statement it would make.

Mirrored Tiny House Concept

Call me crazy, but I really like the idea of a mirrored tiny house; but I have a lot of questions about the feasibility. What would it be like to have a mirrored tiny house? Would it blend into its surroundings or stand-out like a soar thumb? Would birds crash into it? Would it cost a fortune? Would the occupants get constantly photographed by curious onlookers?

36-foot long tiny house. Mirrored on three sides.

This design is a simple box with a 3/12 gable roof and a slightly more aerodynamic nose than most tiny houses. The boxy shape would likely be easier to cover with mirrors. The nose and roof would be black metal roofing for durability. The roof would be covered in solar panels on mounts that tilt to the left and right.

As you can see in these renderings the mirrors reflect the surrounding scenery nicely – much like the real photos of mirrored houses we’ve seen on the Internet. I actually think the house might just blend into the natural surroundings once parked. On the road, I bet it would be quite the eye catcher – hopefully not a distraction or difficult to see. For sure it would be a huge conversation starter and photographer magnet.

Fold-up metal stairs fit into the front door recess. Windows have welded metal shutters that open upwards to function as awnings.
The nose houses the water heater, propane tanks, minisplit A/C unit(s), generator, solar system and lithium batteries. Since outdoor minisplit until are meant to be mounted outside, ample venting around the unit and a vent door would need to be kept open when in use.
Solar panels would be on frames that fold either to the left or right so that they could be tilted more toward the sun. I tried to imagine what the design of a 360-degree automatic tracking mount might look like, but kept it simple for this one.

This tiny house design is 36-feet long on a custom trailer design with tandem dual wheel axles. The rear section of the trailer is higher to provide more space for water tanks (fresh, black and grey) under the floors of the kitchen and bathroom.

The tiny house is ready to roll – the shutters are shown closed, the steps are folded-up and secured.

The home’s shutters would be mounted on heavy duty self-opening spring hinges or normal hinges with gas struts for support. It would be super cool to have them on automatic opening gas struts like those found on the hatch of an SUV.

When on the road the house closes-up to keep things safe and aerodynamic. You could also close the house up when in camp to help secure it from would-be thieves. The nose of the house is angled and protrudes over the trailer tongue to provide space for utility gear and an aerodynamic nose into the wind.

You are now inside the Living Room looking back to the kitchen and bunk room in the back. A small eating counter with two stools provide a place for a quick bite or chat with the cook.
View from the kitchen looking into the living room. The kitchen is fairly large with an oven, induction stove top, microwave, full-size built-in refrigerator, double sink, and a lot of counter and cabinet space.
Washed dishes would be placed in the rack above the sink to dry.
The living room doubles as a dining room.
The table shown folded up.

A television, stereo, and minisplit A/C head are hidden away behind the folded-up table. The minisplit would not be functional with the table up, and is hidden above the stereo behind the wood slats. There are three other minisplit head location shown in the floor plan at the bottom of the story.

Living room in night mode.

The sofas are on castor wheels and can be rolled together to form a bed. The bed can be centered off to one side. The sofas have three storage drawers each to provide clothing storage. The shutters or roll-up blinds could be closed for privacy at night.

A bunk bed built for privacy could be constructed for kids, teens, or adults.

The bunk bed length is over seven feet. Bed width is over three feet, so standard twin mattress could fit in each bunk. Simple sliding doors shut when privacy is needed. Opening windows in the bunks provide light, ventilation, and egress in an emergency. A small loveseat sized sofa and a fold-up desk provide more function to the bunk room.

Small Bathroom with 36-inch square shower.

The bathroom is accessed from a hall that separates the kitchen from the bunk room. A swinging door would be used for the bathroom so towels could be hung to dry on a towel bar on the door. Across the hallway from the bathroom is ample storage and full height closets for four people.

Floor Plan. Bunk room on the left. Bathroom, hallway with closets between the kitchen and bunk room. On the right is the living room that can also be used as a bedroom or dining room.

Pocket doors separate the bunk room from the hallway and bathroom, and the bathroom and hallway from the kitchen. The kitchen and living room stay open to each other. There is no loft in order to keep the ground clearance of the trailer high and the roofline under 13-feet so the house could be taken on an Alaskan or Canadian ferry adventure.

This is a tiny house designed to travel with a family of four. It’s off-grid setup could be configured to be large enough to keep it cool in Arizona or warm in Alaska. A backup propane powered generator could be mounted in the nose to provide extra power on dark says. There’s plenty of space for large RV water and grey & black tanks so that you can stay for a week or two at a time in off-grid boondocking campsites.

I think the best mirrored material for the exterior would be mirrored polycarbonate, but it is very expensive and I’m not sure about its durability. Polished stainless steel would be much more durable, but if it is not perfectly flat a funhouse mirror effect seems to occur. Glass probably provides the best mirror surface, but would likely be the most expensive and would be more susceptible to breakage than polycarbonate. One thing is for sure, the owner of a mirrored tiny house would be washing it all the time to keep it shiny and clean.

Mirroring aside… I really like this floor plan. I think it would be ideal for a traveling family. The parents would use the living room as their bedroom at night and the kids (even teenagers) could be comfortable in the bunk room at night.

What do you think about this design? What do you think of a mirrored tiny house?

Road Trip Jeep Hauling Tiny House Concept

Drive your Jeep right up onto the 11′ 9″ deep porch when ready to hit the road.

This is a design idea I’ve been playing with a lot lately. Most tiny houses don’t travel well because they are heavy, brick-shaped, and built to maximize the building envelope defined by the size limitations of 8.5-feet wide and 13.5′-tall. So most tiny houses ride low, drag their butts on steep driveways, and are not usually very aerodynamic. This design is different.

A dramatic entrance welcomes you home. The porch surface would be a steel grate strong enough for a 4,000-pound Jeep, would scrape the mud off your boots, and would never collect water.
Your boondocking home is quickly setup and you’re now ready to explore the remote backwoods in your Jeep. Your giant RAM 3500 is 4-wheel-drive too, but build for highway towing. (Note to Jeep lovers… I couldn’t find a good JK or JL SketchUp drawing to add to my tiny house drawing so had to settle for this YJ. Nothing against YJs. except for the square headlights. LOL)

I wanted to imagine a tiny house that was built to travel and explore, so I started with the trailer design. This trailer would have a 40-foot trailer bed, an 8-foot gooseneck, dual tandem wheels, 12,000-pound axles, trailer breaks, and hydraulic self-leveling jacks like a commercial fifth wheel trailer.

The trailer would have very good ground clearance and would be much nicer to tow on a regular basis than the typical tiny house. The sacrifice is limited ceiling height due to a floor so high in the air. The ceiling is 8 to 9-feet tall, just not tall enough for a true loft. The overall height of this design is just under 13-feet so you could take it on a Ferry to Alaska if that was in your budget (most ferries I researched have limits of 13-feet tall for trailers and RVs).

Custom trailer with high ground clearance and dual tandem 12,000 pound axles.

Due to it’s length, a tiny house like this would likely weigh a lot, like 16,000 to 20,000 pounds with the 4,000-pound Jeep loaded on the back. One drawback of this design would be that it would be tricky to balance the trailer for towing if you were missing the Jeep counterweight.

You just pulled into camp and ready to offload the Jeep. Lower the side stairs for easier access to the Jeep.
The Jeep is loaded, strapped down, and your home is ready to hit the road. The stairs on both sides of the porch would be steel or aluminum and hinge-up and secured when you’re ready to travel.

For sure it would take a heavy duty truck to tow this tiny house, like a RAM 3500, Ford F350/F450, Chevy or GMC 3500. Big trucks like that are built for highway towing, so it might be fun to travel with a Jeep for backwoods exploring, which is why I added a large porch out back that’s deep enough for a Jeep.

It would be driven up and down on ramps just like a flatbed car-hauler trailer. When you’ve setup camps, and the Jeep is parked nearby, the porch would be a nice place out of the mud for hanging out and cooking.

Side view shows the front room on the left, the kitchen window in the center, and the back room on the right.

The shape of the home’s nose is meant to be aerodynamic, or at least more aerodynamic than the typical brick-shaped tiny house.

Total length of trailer and truck would be just under 65-feet – which is about as long as you can go and stay legal. I believe the weight could be kept just under what a commercial driver’s license requires.

In the center of the house is the heaviest stuff: kitchen, bathroom, pantry, clothes storage, water tanks below the floor, etc. The utility items like batteries, solar power gear, generator, and water heater would be in the nose over the gooseneck.

This is a tiny kitchen. The 10 cubic foot 12VDC refrigerator just out of sight on the left. Three pocket doors separate the front room from the kitchen, the kitchen from the hallway (from where you access the bathroom), and the hallway from the back room. Closing these doors could provide more privacy for those using these close but separate spaces.
Looking down at the tiny kitchen counter. It’s only 5′ 6″ wide. A microwave could be added above the induction stove and an oven could fit below – but valuable cabinet space would be sacrificed.

The frame of the house should be steel for it’s light weight and strength. For sheathing I’d choose Huber ZIP R-Sheathing even though its a bit on the heavy side. It provides the shear strength, plus a thermal break, vapor and water barrier all-in-one. The siding and roofing should be lightweight aluminum or steel panels with furring strips behind the panels for the air gap.

Behind the furring strips, siding and roofing should be a continuous inch or two of foam insulation for maximum insulation performance. The wall cavities should also be insulated with lightweight foam.

I like the modern look of plywood for interior walls, so I think I’d sheath the interior with furniture grade plywood. I wouldn’t hide the seams with trim, I think that looks tacky. Instead I’d bevel the edges with a router to accentuate the joints and use nice looking fasteners. If you’re going to use plywood, be proud of it and show it off.

12 huge 425 watt solar panels can fit on the roof for a maximum of 5,100 watts.

Since I’m just having fun imagining the perfect traveling tiny house (and apparently on a limitless budget), it should also have a huge solar system too. The roof is big enough for 12 425 watt solar panels for a whopping 5,100 watts of power. There should also be a lithium battery bank properly sized to store all that sunlight. I’m guessing we’re talking like $15,000 to $20,000 of solar power here.

Why so much solar? Well in that hallway between the kitchen and back room would be a full size stacked washer and dryer hidden behind cabinet doors. There should also be a two head mini-split to keep both ends of the house cool. All of that would require a huge solar system – especially if you wanted to stay cool while boondocking in the desert in your completely off-grid tiny house.

View from the back room looking toward the kitchen, front room, and porch. Notice the mini split head unit on the wall to the right. I hate how those look, but it would be nice in a house with so many windows on a hot day. Also notice the roll-up RV blinds.
View into the back room. The map on the wall shows where this imaginary family has traveled so far. It’s an art piece with interchangeable states stained in two different colors.

The 7-foot sofas in the front and back room are on castors and can be pushed together to form a bed big enough for two. The sofas have three large drawers each (total of 12) for clothing storage for the whole family. The hallway has full length closets for hanging dresses and other clothes. In the back room is a small 2-foot deep loft just big enough for a young child (or hanging out and chilling). The house could sleep a maximum 4 adults and 1 child comfortably.

Looking into the house from the front door. You can just barely see the refrigerator and cabinets on the left in the kitchen in this shot.
Looking back toward the front door and porch beyond. A barbecue, four folding chairs, and two small folding tables are also on the porch.

The bathroom is small, but typical for a tiny house. The shower shown is 36-inches square. The bifold glass door would allow easy access to the shower even when standing inside this small space.

The toilet shown is mounted on the wall and has a tank located inside the wall. These toilets are a bit more expensive but can be as low flush as a typical RV toilet. The space is a bit tight for hanging towels up to dry, but adequate. There’s a window just out of view above the mirror.

This design is actually #35 in a series of tiny houses I’ve been drawing quietly and privately. I’ve decided to take my hobby public again and will begin to share more designs here in the near future. It was drawn with SketchUp Pro 2021 and rendered with SU Podium V2.6.

Stay tuned for more and feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.

Floor Plan

9 Things The Tiny House Movement Has Taught Me

This post was originally published on michaeljanzen.com. You are welcome to reblog this post as long as you credit the author, Michael Janzen, and link back to this original post.

I first realized the tiny house movement was a thing back in 2007. The exact moment was when I saw Jay Shafer on Oprah. I’ve worked from home for years and my wife was out in the living room watching Oprah. She called to me that I had to see Oprah’s next segment on tiny houses.

After rolling my eyes and thinking, WTF is a tiny house? – I stepped into the living room and sat down to watch. I was instantly hooked. At the time I had also been watching my California home’s value evaporate and was waking up to the debt prison that is a traditional mortgage. I started blogging about tiny houses in 2008 – mostly as I explored alternatives to my own situation.

Eleven years later, a few key things stand out to me. They are lessons anyone can benefit from and don’t require living tiny – but can help you begin to apply tiny living to your existing lifestyle.

1. We don’t need much to be comfortable

After 11 years of blogging on the Tiny House Movement, I’ve seen and heard a lot of tiny houses success stories. Thousands of people have given tiny house living a try and through the telling of their stories have shown us it doesn’t take much in space & stuff to be comfortable. The hardest part isn’t adapting the amount of space, it’s our stuff.

At this point, I think the less stuff one has the happier they can potentially be. Stuff is a burden. It’s costly because it demands so much attention. In some cases people even put stuff in paid storage units – yeah I’m guilty of that too – and those monthly payments add even more actual cost to the mental toll of knowing that at some point that useless stuff needs to be confronted.

As far as I’m concerned, less stuff and less work to do around the house means more freedom and more comfort.

2. We can learn new things and create new opportunities

Back in 2008 tiny houses lit my mind on fire. The possibilities seemed endless. I drew design concepts like concrete pipe houses, houses with moving walls, bike houses, and nine square foot tiny houses. To get all those ideas on paper I had to learn to draw differently.

SketchUp was new back then… a 3D drawing program invented by Google for adding buildings to Google Maps. Today SketchUp is a favorite tool of Architects and Illustrators for creating 3D models and photorealistic renderings to help visualize ideas.

I taught myself to draw with SketchUp and it’s empowered me to draw all the tiny house plans and concepts I’ve published over the years. It’s now one of the skills I rely on for my own enjoyment and income.

I’ve seen many tiny homeowners learn new skills while building their tiny homes, like carpentry, metalwork, and even videography and web publishing.

Through the sharing of success stories on YouTube, we’ve all seen this transformation happen before our eyes. The projects folks choose to take on lead to new skills which in turn become new opportunities and take us to new places.

3. Choosing freedom takes conscious daily effort

The hardest part of downsizing is making tough choices with tempting distractions all around us. It’s like choosing to go on a diet in a donut shop. It’s like choosing to get off drugs while continuing to hang out with your old stoner pals.

When the natural thing to do is to get a job to pay a mortgage and consume like there’s no tomorrow… and everyone around us is doing it… it’s almost impossible not to join in. Tax breaks, low payments, and the prospect of living in lavish digs also make it easy to jump on the debt carousel. For the paranoid, it almost seems intentional plot to enslave the free… but I digress.

If we truly want to be free, choosing freedom over debt-powered opulence is a tough daily battle in our own minds. Don’t give up the fight.

4. We all can learn something from stories of extreme downsizing.

One of the biggest lessons we’ve all learned from the Tiny House Movement is that there is an alternative to the debt carousel.

Every time we watch another success story about tiny house living, the idea that these tough choices might not be so tough after all. Once we implant those goals in our minds the conscious decision to be free gets easier to achieve.

5. We can design and build our own homes

If you were to try to build your own home in a highly-populated city that must conform to building codes, ordinances, and covenants – you’d be hard-pressed. The bar has been set so high, it usually takes a professional to build a large normal home.

But tiny homes are different. They can be built safely in a few months by average folks with skills learned along the way. It’s still a big project, but it’s achievable. We’ve seen it done time and time again.

Designing a tiny home isn’t rocket science either. You’ll likely need to learn some new skills, and spend a lot of attention on each square foot – but in the end designing and building your tiny home is doable.

6. Tiny Houses are too small for most people

Not everyone can fit their lives inside a 120 square foot home. Tiny homes work for singles and couples best – but only when they truly embrace a frugal lifestyle. The more people and functions you add to the living space the more space you need.

A family with parents that work from home and children that home school is a perfect example of a use case that stretches tiny living to the limit. We’ve seen it done, there are many families that have successfully made this situation work inside bus conversions and tiny houses, but it’s not easy, takes careful planning, constant organization, and a lot of patience.

So while tiny houses may be too small for most people we can all see the benefits of living tiny and apply it to our big homes. Reducing waste, energy consumption, and the amount of stuff we surround ourselves with brings us more freedom and lowers living expenses. We can all begin to live tiny in the space we’re in today… and once we make a step toward downsizing it becomes even easier.

7. Bus conversions might be a better option for those that want to travel

Tiny houses are heavy and not very aerodynamic. They are also usually made mostly of wood, so not as strong as a steel school bus, which is made to carry heavy loads safely for many years.

Bus conversions have been around a lot longer than tiny houses too, and it makes a lot of sense – especially if you want to travel. They are simple mechanically, so can be repaired relatively easily. They provide a decent amount of headroom, making them livable. They have open interiors that can be easily outfitted with the comforts of home.

The main drawback is aesthetics. A tiny house is super cute and feels like a home inside and out. A bus is a bus and it feels like one inside – even when comfy cozy. While the bus is more functional as a traveling home, the tiny house wins the beauty contest – or is it a matter of taste? You decide.

8. VanLife might be best for those that want to travel

VanLife has captured a lot of peoples’ imaginations. The idea of being young and free again and hitting the road for an endless adventure is a captivating idea.

I suspect it’s a lot tougher than it looks but you have to admit, if you have travel and exploring on your mind it’s the only way to go. Anything larger than a van would limit where and when you can stop, but a van – especially a stealthy one – can camp almost anywhere.

The obvious draw back to VanLife is space. A van’s interior makes tiny homes looks cavernous and luxurious – so fully embracing extreme downsizing is required.

9. Most people don’t really want to live simply

One trend I’ve noticed is that tiny houses have gotten a lot more luxurious and expensive over the years. Back, in the beginning, it was common to see people build their own homes for less than $10K and fully optioned homes for $20K-$25K.

Today it seems like $40K-$50K is the norm and professionally built tiny homes are often in the $75K-$100K ballpark. Why is this?

I think it’s simple… people want their cake, (and pie, and cookies, and pudding), and to eat it too. People are addicted to stuff and living large… the temptations are all around us and it’s hard to not get sucked into wanting more More MORE.

It’s like an addiction and it’s crept into the tiny house movement too. For these folks, the benefit of the tiny house is that the scale makes all the goodies more attainable.

Am I judging?

Nope. Just pointing out that the Tiny House Movement has become a much more diverse place with a wide range of people and values. No really, I like my cake and dontus too.

Summary

Tiny houses are not a one-size-fits-all dream. In the beginning the pendulum had swung all the way to the frugal side. Today it’s swung to the other side with more opulent options. But between those two extremes there are options for even more people, needs, etc.

But as diverse as the Tiny House Movement has become, this is just the tip of the ice berg of all the alternative housing options available to us that embrace many of the core values of living tiny – and more.

These learnings are a big part of why I’m shutting down my tiny house websites and focusing on this blog. It’s the core values that I’ll move forward with… and I won’t be focusing just on size.

Be sure to subscribe to my new email newsletter at michaeljanzen.com.

What have you learned from the Tiny House Movement? Leave your comments below.

A New Beginning

I’m restarting my personal blog, and in the spirit of downsizing I think I might shut down some of my other websites and focus my attention here.

Back in 2008 I started blogging about the Tiny House Movement – mostly as therapy as I watched the real estate market tank. Until then I never thought a home’s value could plummet so far, so fast. The whole experience really changed the way I thought about housing.

I’m a designer, so it was natural for me to start dreaming up tiny house plans. Soon I had a lot of people following my blog who were also interested in tiny house design. My tiny house blogs became a business and I began to rely on it – but like most businesses you either adapt to the changing marketplace or you fail.

At about the time tiny houses began showing up on television shows I noticed a major change in the Tiny House Movement. Everyone was writing about it, shooting video, and more and more professionals started their own tiny house businesses.

Today tiny houses are big business and those of who chose to remain small have not been able to keep up.

So today is a new day when I’m going to sell off my tiny house websites and go back to blogging from my heart and not as a business. So far this decision feels incredibly freeing and I hope it reignites my creativity. I figure sometimes you have to burn something down to begin a new.

I will keep this one blog, michaeljanzen.com to record and share my current thinking, designs, and thoughts. If you’re curious to see what I have in mind, I hope you’ll stick around and subscribe to my new email newsletter – see subscription form at the bottom of the page.