Are you thinking of building a tiny house?
The first thing to do is to check with your local municipality to see what regulations they have in place. The size can vary but as an example, a tiny house in one municipality may be anything 400 square feet or less and it may be 500 or 600 square feet in another jurisdiction.
Some DIY tiny homes are set up on wheels or trailers of some sort but if they are not mobile, tiny homes must comply with local health and safety requirements, municipal zoning and other local by-laws. Tiny homes must also have necessary services such as water and sewage.
Once you know the regulations for your area, you can decide on the size and style of the tiny house you want to build. Structures such as campers, recreational vehicles, cottages and other structures used on a seasonal basis are not considered to be tiny homes.
Some people even build their tiny houses from shipping containers. Depending on the climate where you live, a shipping container can be comparable or cheaper than a wood frame tiny home. It can also depend on whether or not you want to build an earth-sheltered home.
Here's a list of what you need to consider in your tiny home plans.
If you are building a mobile tiny house, you also need to consider the weight of the finished house and what you will be using to tow it around.
There is also a maximum height the highest point of your tiny home can be off the ground if it is going to be mobile.
Complete plans and instructions for building DIY tiny houses.
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Learn all the important details like checking local regulations and fees, etc.
You want detailed drawings, not just conceptual layouts of where things will be placed. You want exact measurements for installing things like wires and pipes.
Schematics should show exactly how to frame the walls. Some plans include details that will show dimensions on all the wall studs for building the frame.
Drawings should include clear diagrams with measurements and also 3/4 views of important details. You should also get a tool and material list so you just have to go and buy the material for your style of plan.
If your tiny home will be stationary, what type of foundation should you build? If it's on a trailer, you need to anchor it!
Building a tiny house with a loft greatly increase your available space and since living in a tiny house usually leads to a simpler lifestyle, you have to decide whether or not your tiny home will be off the grid.
Even if you want to live off grid, whether your home is mobile or not, you may want to have the ability to connect to regular electricity service if desired. That may also depend on land location and the services available where your land is located.
Maybe you want the ability to hookup to a RV site too for services if you are going to be mobile.
What about sewage - do you want a composting toilet?
Solar power is a popular choice when building a tiny house and if you do only solar, make sure to plan for the amount of electricity you will need to operate your tiny home. You don't want to run into problems such as having to turn one appliance off to run another or a system that's too small and takes too long to recharge.
You may want to use propane for cooking if you will be experiencing cool weather since electric stoves take a lot of juice to run. It's also great to have propane just as an emergency backup. A solar outdoor cooker is great if you have lots of sunshine.
Of course, cooking over a fire is also cheap and effective but takes some practice to get and maintain the right level of heat for whatever you are cooking and solar or fire cooking may not be an all-year option where you will be living.
Good solar cookers aren't cheap but once you have one, it costs nothing to operate and they can work very well for cooking.
Building a tiny house also requires careful interior planning. Since your space is much smaller, you should plan for efficiency. That's another advantage to purchasing plans before you build.
Plans come from experience and using someone else's experience to help you build faster and more efficiently without costly mistakes means purchasing plans can end up saving you a lot of money and hassle.
Other things to plan for are things like your food supply. If you are mobile, a great way to keep lots of food in a small space is by drying your food.
This can be done for free by the sun. You just have to spend a little time and money setting up some insect-proof drying racks. I have dried foods with two methods - electric dryers and the sun. Believe it or not, drying with sunshine is almost as fast as drying with an electric food dehydrator.
Dried vegetables take up a fraction of the space of fresh vegetables and when you rehydrate them, they taste just as good! Drying also retains more nutrition than any other food storage method.
As you can see, you should do some planning before you build. Most people do not concern themselves with much planning when building a regular size house because most of that is taken care of for you. You choose a floor plan and the trades people take care of the rest.
Building a tiny house is not hard as long as you have a good building plan in place and make notes before you start to decide what features you want. That's why you should purchase good plans before you build. You will save a lot of money and hassle and have a much more efficient home when you are done.
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