The Tiny House: Steps and Tips on How you can build a tiny house quickly and save money (2016)

Chapter Four: Tiny House Plans

Building a tiny house is not a matter of merely putting four walls together, adding a roof on top of it and moving in. It is not as much as a house built for a lifestyle change. Make sure you are a 100% ready for it before making the investment. Here are a few more important considerations before committing to live in a tiny house.

Know where you are going to situate it before building it. We cannot stress this enough – location, location, location. Check with your zoning commission first where you are allowed to build before even talking to a contractor or purchasing those DIY tiny house materials.

Decide on a mobile or stationary tiny house. There are different building rules and costs between building a stand-alone stationary tiny house and purchasing a mobile recreational trailer. Deciding on the type of tiny house you want to build is and should be a pre-build decision.

Family size and lifestyle do matters. If you are a family of 6, it may not be practical to cram everyone inside a one bedroom, 200 square feet tiny house. But they are perfect for couples who like the privacy, practicality, and intimacy of a small space.

Test before purchase. As mentioned earlier, investing in your own tiny house is a long term commitment. Try it out first for a few months by renting a tiny cabin in a tiny house village or a trailer at an RV park. You will have to be convinced living in a tiny space is for you before moving forward with building it. This is absolutely essential.

Think outdoor space. To compensate for their crammed interior lodgings, many tiny house owners compensate by building in the middle of the great outdoors. It can be very uplifting to sleep in a 25 square feet bedroom every night and enjoy your morning coffee on a tiny house porch that looks out into the vast outdoor wilderness.

Identify your real goals for building. Tiny house living is first and foremost a lifestyle. There are some people whose only reason for living in a tiny house is to save money have been turned off by it after a few months of residing in their tiny space. Money should never be the prime motivation for taking on a life as a tiny house owner.

It is so much more than that. If you do not understand what it means as a lifestyle and a way of living then it may not be for you. If you want to save money, consider renting a regular house instead. You will find that there will always be inexpensive options.

How you begin on the path of tiny house living is the most important step of the process. Preparation is the key to living a successful tiny house lifestyle. Make sure to take the time to prepare for the transition. It is essential to know what you are getting yourself into before taking the leap of becoming a tiny house owner.

Once you have decided, ticked off all of the above initial requirements though, and you are positive the tiny house lifestyle is just what you need for your life. If you are willing to make the commitment to live that life in the long term then these are the next steps towards making the dream a reality:

Create rough floor plan. Knowing the layout of the interior of your tiny house is an important step in building the house. There are a variety of ways to create a floor plan. First, would be to hire a professional to draw it up for you. Architects are more than capable to do this for you.

Second, is to purchase a pre-drawn up floor plan or blue print of a tiny house. You will be surprise how they are readily available on the internet and downloadable for a fraction of the cost that you may pay for hiring an architect to sketch one up for you. The downside is you won’t be able to make changes. However, there are hundreds of options to choose from. You are sure to find one that suits your needs.

Third, if you are opting to work with a tiny house contractor to do the construction for you then they should have floor plans and blueprints available for you to choose from.

Determine major features: During the drawing up of the floor plan make sure to determine major house features such as kitchen, bath and toilet, bedroom, and living room. You also need to determine the systems that run these features of the house such as ventilation, plumbing, roofing, electricity, etc.

Doing so will make building your tiny house a much easier task to take on and living in it as much more comfortable. These are tiny house details that should be given full attention to at the onset and should not be ignored.

Draw up or purchase plans: Although a tiny house is small, do not be fooled by its size. It still has the same features and material requirements as a regular house. You will be surprised how numerous they are. It is very important to first list down all the elements and components of the house. Drawing up the purchase plan will allow you to be more informed while going through the next steps.

Create budget

: Once you have the purchase plan in place and have listed down all the things that you have to buy to build the house, the costs of the zoning permit, the fees for the contractors and architect or purchase of the blueprint and plan, then you can finally build your budget.

Once you have the budget set and you are sure that you will be able to make the investment that your tiny house project will require then it’s time to give the project the green light and start the building process.

The systems of a tiny house are those unseen essentials that will allow you to manage the house well, live in it comfortably and make it function like any regular house would. You would be surprised at how much detail works are involved in making sure that a tiny house system is running at 100 percent capacity. Here we will discuss the requirements you will have to tick off in your check list for the basic systems that will make your tiny house function smoothly.

Heating System

This is going to be a very important feature in your tiny house if you are located in the northern part of the States with long winters and will experience more cold days than if you were located in the southern side of the country. Choosing and installing the right heating system will allow you to go through cold and biting winters in comfort. There are several options to choose from like electric, wood, propane, or kerosene.

1.      Electric Heater: The most accessible and least expensive heating system is an electric heater. It costs nothing to install and is very efficient in heating a small space such as a tiny house. Winters will be very comfortable with the use of electric heaters as the heating system. However, they can be such an eye sore design wise. If the aesthetics of your tiny house is important to you then electric heaters may not be the best option.

2.      Wood Stove: There is something romantic and homey about using a wood stove to heat a tiny house. It leaves no carbon footprint and is very sustainable. Wood fire emits not just a generous amount of heat but also has a natural warming effect because of the natural scent of burning wood. It is also a great heating option for days when electricity may run out in the winter time.

With a wood stove, it is a matter of chucking wood inside the stove and you’ve got heat back. The downside of wood stoves though is it can get a bit messy cause you have to contend with burnt ash, wood chips, and bark falling everywhere in the place. Plus acquiring a wood stove can get a bit pricey as one unit can set you back $300 to $800 depending on the model and make that you choose.

3.      Propane Heating: Possibly the most expensive heating system option is propane as installation and fuel can cost around $1000. But it is the cleanest and most efficient heating system of the three options. Plus propane is available in almost every store around the country with tons of design and functional options to choose from.

There are other heating system options out there. You can certainly consider them for your tiny house as well. But the three discussed above are considered the most popular among tiny house owners.

Plumbing System

Plumbing essentially means how to get water in and out of your tiny house. It sounds simple enough but in reality, it is not. Plumbing is one of those systems that will determine the level of comfort in your tiny house lifestyle. Much like heating, the use and dispensing methods of water relative to your tiny house is crucial. Let’s discuss the options for getting water inside your tiny house first.

1.      The No Plumbing Option: Yes, not installing a plumbing system is an option. This basically means you bring water to your house every day. They could be stored in buckets, jugs, or bottles depending on the purpose of use. If you want the no plumbing route it will be necessary to choose a location for the tiny house that is very near a water supply.

Right beside the tiny house is the best location for your water source since you will be collecting water from it every day. Also, identifying a water storage space in the tiny house will be essential. Choosing not to install a plumbing system will certainly be less expensive on the initial build, and is a good option if you are going to be mobile like in a trailer, but think about the repercussions on you in the long run.

2.      Tank and Pump: Installing a water tank inside the tiny house and attaching it to an electric pump is a basic form of automated plumbing. This means you will have running water at the turn of the sink tap and the shower. The tank and pump plumbing system makes your tiny house versatile because you can use it even when you are mobile.

The downside though is you will still be hauling water from outside to fill your tank or at least connect it via a hose to a water source. Design wise, a water tank can be quite an eye sore unless you are able to conceal it early on during the build.

3.      On Grid Plumbing: If you are building a stationary tiny house and not planning on going mobile ever in the future, then by all means connect your tiny house to the city water supply and get all round water supply just like any regular house. This will involve installing a standard house plumbing system though.

4.      On and Off Grid Plumbing: If you want a tiny house that is able to provide water on and off grid, whether you are staying put or traveling off the beaten path, then install a plumbing system that can easily tap into any city water supply and a water and pump plumbing system that you can fill up while on the road.

Although a little bit more expensive since technically you will have 2 working plumbing systems installed. However, if the lifestyle dictates it necessary then you are the best judge whether to make the extra investment or not.

So those are the plumbing systems that will allow you to bring in and circulate the water in your tiny house. The choice will largely be determined by your budget, lifestyle, functionality, and design requirements.

Now let’s discuss the ways a plumbing system can get water out of your tiny house. You will be interested to know that ridding your house of waste water is not just a matter of draining it out of the house. It requires a little more sense of responsibility than that.

1.      On grid: If you are in a stationary house that has access to the city water system then that means you also have access to on grid city drainage or sewer system. Then managing tiny house waste water is a matter of connecting to the septic system if you are located in a rural area or the public sewer system if you are in the city.

Make sure your tiny house has the standard drainage system. If you are planning on building a tiny house that is going to be mobile, water waste management can be a little bit trickier.

2.      Grey Water Catchment: A tiny house will have two types of waste water to manage. They are grey and black water. Black water is toilet water. The best way to manage black water in tiny houses is to install a composting toilet which converts black water into compost. Both grey and black water needs to be drained in allocated public sewage systems and is a legal requirement imposed by cities to all tiny house owners. It should not be dumped just anywhere.

Grey water is waste water from the kitchen sink, washing machine, and showers. It is illegal to release grey water into any body of water since they can cause pollution. Unlike black water though, grey water can be release into the soil. They are great for feeding plants and enriching soil. When traveling, make sure to get information about proper grey water disposal in the area before disposing your tiny house’s grey water.

3.      Collect and Dump: Every city has a designated dumping station for waste water generated by tiny houses. It you choose this kind of plumbing system for your tiny house, then it will entail collecting both grey and black water in holding tanks so you can dump them later on.

This is not the most popular form of tiny house plumbing since storing waste water for long periods of time is not very hygienic. Not to mention that it adds to the weight of the tiny house while on the road.

Whether you decide to install a standard plumbing system that connects you to the grid or a plumbing system that addresses a more mobile tiny house lifestyle, make sure to choose one that suits your daily and future needs.

The plumbing system you choose should work to make sure living in your tiny house is a comfortable and healthy experience for years. Plumbing is one of those systems that need to be deliberated on with care because it will determine the level of comfort and health safety of your tiny house.

Hot Water System

Installing your tiny house with a hot water system is especially important if you are located in the northern area of the states where cold winters are long. Nothing is more inconvenient than starting your winter days with cold winter showers. For heated showers inside your tiny house, it is a must to install a hot water heater system.

The most popular option these days is the propane or kerosene powered tank less hot water heater. Unlike the older and more traditional hot water heaters that store water first before heating them, this current model of a tiny house hot water heater heats the water as it goes through the tank. It is the most convenient way to deliver hot water to your tiny house.

Electric System

You will want to make sure that your tiny house is well powered and that electricity is accessible for all your house appliances and systems to work. Setting up the electricity system of your tiny house is a must and you can easily do so by hiring a master electrician to wire your house for you.

Another option is to purchase some DIY manuals for wiring a tiny house and do the job on your own. Some of the important information to consider when installing an electric system in a tiny house are:

1.      Understand basic electrical concepts

2.      Plan and determine the size of the system of your tiny house

3.      Wire panels, switches, lights, etc.

4.      Assign electrical codes and safety measures

5.      Consider wiring on grid and off grid lighting

6.      Create customized diagrams for every step of the process

7.      Choose breakers, wires and electrical boxes

8.      Install solar panels, if preferred

Another great way of powering up your tiny house is through solar power. It is gaining some popularity these days because it is efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Unlike the electric option though where you get to wire the house so that it can connect to the city power supply grid, solar power is very much off grid and requires pre-planning and inclusion into the design of the house.

Tiny house owners who have decided to take the solar power system route to provide power to their house are warned against installing the solar panels on the roof. More often than not, the number of solar panels a tiny house requires is a tad numerous and the house roofing is not likely to be able to accommodate and uphold them all.

A solar power system for a tiny house starts with determining the best location to situate your solar panels. You want them in a place where there is little or no shade at all throughout the year to maximize the panels’ exposure to the sun.

This will require a tool called the Solar Path Finder. Essentially it is a dome shaped contraption that takes a photo of the location. The photo is then fed into some software, which you will need to add information such as location and the date and time the photograph was taken.

It will calculate the expected solar energy feed at that location that you can expect for the next 30 years. One you have identified the best location for your solar panels then you can begin setting up your very own tiny house solar panel farm.

Connecting the solar panels to batteries that will then be connected to the circuit breakers that will provide solar power to your tiny house can be a daunting task. You can choose to do it yourself since there is a wealth of DIY manuals available that can guide you. But if you have the extra budget there isn’t anything like letting the professionals do the work to ensure that your solar power system is 100% functional.

Speaking of budget, going the solar power route will be an expensive feature of your tiny house. It adds another $10,000 to $15,000 to your construction budget. Since it is still a new technology, expect to encounter a few maintenance issues which will not happen if you are tapped into the electricity grid. But it is all a matter of priority. If your tiny house carbon footprint is more important to you than budget and convenience then solar power is the best option.

Refrigeration System

When deciding on the refrigeration system for a tiny house the major considerations are the following:

1.      On grid power source: If you are powering your tiny house with electric power sourced from the city power supply grid, then the options for a refrigerator are almost limitless. The considerations will only be size, color, design, and price. It will be just like purchasing a refrigerator for a regular house. With on grid refrigerators it is a matter of plugging it in to your tiny house electrical sockets.

2.      Off grid power source: If you have a solar powered house then you have an off grid power source. Since you are powering your tiny house with solar power you will need a refrigerator that can work without tapping into your solar power supply.

The refrigerator is one of the tiny house appliances that will eat up a lot of power. However, there are new generation refrigerators that use less energy than normal refrigerators do and won’t make too much of a dent on your solar power supply. There are 2 options for refrigerator models that do great for solar power or off grid tiny houses:

The Propane Refrigerator: This model is propane fuel powered which means it can work separately from your solar power circuitry. You just have to make sure it has continues supply of propane gas to work. The added requirement for installing a propane refrigerator though is you have to open up a big hole to accommodate its vent outside the house.

Plus they can be a bit heavy which will add to the weight of the house when you are on the road. They can also be a bit costly at $1,200 - $2,500 per unit excluding the propane gas budget.

The Sun Frost Electric Refrigerator: A super energy efficient fridge that consumes only half the energy of regular refrigerators. You can easily connect the Sun Frost Electric fridge to your solar power circuitry and won’t feel it making a dent in your daily energy consumption.

It is a big investment though as units can cost a whopping $3,200, with bigger models costing more. It does make up for reduced energy consumption though. In the long run, the initial investment of purchasing the unit can pay off in the years to come.

3.      Size of the refrigerator: When deciding on a refrigerator for your tiny house, size is a major consideration. If you are living with a family of 3 to 5 people, a big refrigerator makes a lot of sense. But not so much if you are living solo and do not do a lot of cooking in your tiny house. These days there are several refrigerator sizes to choose from. The standard sizes available out there are:

The 4 cubic feet: This is the smallest tiny house refrigerator option out there. It is perfect for anyone living on their own in a tiny house. It is a guarantee that there will be no food spoilage because you can see all of the food that is inside the fridge. It is a perfect motivation for consuming them all. Plus one person will not require more than 4 cubic feet to store food for days. It is inexpensive at $140 to $200.

The 7 cubic feet: If 4 cubic feet refrigerator is too small for you, even if you are living solo in a tiny house, then the next best option is the 7 cubic feet. It is the preferred fridge for solo fliers who do a bit of cooking and entertaining in their tiny house. It has a fridge to store frozen food in. It is quite practical at $250 to $350.

The 9 cubic feet: If you are a couple living in a tiny house you will want a 9 cubic feet refrigerator. The size is proportional to the food consumption and storage of 2 people. It is the popular size for tiny house owners who are couples. Much like the 4 and 7 cubic feet models, this fridge is very food efficient. You can store food inside for two to three days before visiting the grocery again and replenishing. Expect it to cost more in terms of electricity consumption though.

The 15 and 18 cubic feet: For tiny home owners with a large family of 3 or more people, better choose the 15 or 18 cubic feet refrigerator. It just has all the food storage space that a big family will require. They are not much different from the refrigerators found in small apartments or small homes. Price wise, they are quite practical at $600 to $800 per unit. In terms of energy consumption they consume as much as the 9 cubic feet fridge.

4.      Budget for the refrigerator: The cost of a refrigerator is as important a consideration as storage space and energy consumption. Off grid refrigerators are going to cost more than on grid refrigerators because of the special functions they have. The size of the refrigerator for an on grid house will make a difference in the price. So you will have to determine priorities when it comes to choosing between an expensive yet energy efficient fridge or an inexpensive yet energy draining one.

5.      Aesthetics and personal preferences: For a lot of people, design and aesthetics are as important as function when it comes to choosing a refrigerator for their tiny house. This is somewhat right because the fridge is not just a sort of appliance that you can tuck away in the house. It is a major appliance and is meant to be seen and displayed. Choosing one that matches the design of the interior of the tiny house is a major consideration when making a purchase.

Ventilation System: Moisture control inside a tiny house is a very important system to consider at the onset of the construction. If a ventilation system is not properly set up it can prove costly in terms of maintaining a level of comfort, structural integrity, and safety in the house.

A tiny house without a working ventilation system in the long run will find itself plagued with mold and mildew issues that can eat up the walls, nook and crannies. Proper ventilation allows air to circulate well inside the house keeping it dry and clean all year round. Some of the major ventilation features to consider during the build are:

1.      Bathroom Fans and Moisture Sensors: Taking hot showers creates an excessive amount of moisture and humidity in a tiny house bathroom. Bathroom fans are a great way to release moisture and control humidity in the shower and the entire house. It is a necessity and a mandatory investment in every tiny house.

Make sure your bathroom fan is installed with a moisture sensor that will automatically turn on and off based on the set moisture levels inside the bathroom. With this moisture sensor, you won’t have to turn on and off the bathroom fan yourself before and after every bath. That is quite an inconvenient when done every day.

2.      Kitchen Fans: As much as bathroom fans are a necessity so is a kitchen fan. The kitchen and the bathroom are the parts of the house where excessive heat and moisture is generated. A kitchen fan sucks out excess heat and moisture, even the gas that is generated by the stove while you are cooking. It allows you to maintain the balanced air flow in your kitchen.

When building a tiny house it is not a question of whether you will get a bathroom fan or kitchen fan. It is imperative that you get both. Installing a kitchen fan can be a tricky affair. It is best to get the services of a professional HVAC professional to do the work for you.

3.      Heat Recovery and Energy Recovery Ventilators: Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) are in essence the air conditioning systems of a tiny house. They are used to regulate the air quality of the interior of the house by conditioning the exterior air that enters in. It is possible to use just one of the two for your tiny house. Often the choice is influenced by the particular climate of the state where a tiny house is located.

ERVs are used for warm climates with high humidity while HRVs are used for tiny house situated in states with cooler outdoor climates. Both the ERV and the HRV operate around the clock, and to make the most of these devices, it is best to leave them alone to do the work and not turn then on and off at convenience.

When choosing between an HRV and ERV for your tiny house it is wise to consult with the experts first before making the purchase and installing one in your new tiny home.

4.      Make up air device: For safety purposes, to make sure gas vapors that are trapped inside the tiny house is managed and released immediately, installing a make-up air device is crucial. Also, if it’s not possible to keep the tiny house ventilated by opening up doors and windows most of the year then controlling the air flow inside the house is best managed by a make-up air device.

To keep the air flowing inside the house clean, crisp and fresh it is imperative to have an automated make-up air device installed. There isn’t anything more annoying than living in a tiny house with stale, sticky, and smelly air circulation. It is not a comfortable, healthy, and safe prospect at all.

Building a Tiny House: Construction Materials

As soon as you have identified the best location for your tiny house, acquired the blueprint and plans with important system features in place, and settled on a budget based on the checklist of construction materials, then it is time to move forward with the build. Below is the step by the step guide to build your very own tiny house.

A. Foundation

The foundation frame of the house is very important because it is where the entire house will be built on. It is important to make sure that the foundation frame is well built and strong in order for the entire house to be nestled in a sturdy frame. You want the foundation frame of the tiny house to hold its structural integrity.

Step by Step Guide to Building a Strong Tiny House Foundation:

Build Foundation Frame

Anchor Foundation to Trailer

Attach Metal Flashing

Add Insulation

Add Vapor Barrier

Install Sub Floor

B. Wall Framing and Sheathing

The standard frames for tiny houses are the conventional 2” x 4” stud frames. These have been used ever since the time people have started building tiny houses. They are just very dependable and practical tiny house frames. There are also other options available for the frames and these are:

Advanced framing: These tiny house frames are the improved versions of the conventional frames, taking them to a higher level. For example, with advanced frames insulation is improved 75% compared to their conventional counterparts. They are also so much stronger. They are lighter by 10 to 15%, are less expensive, and easy to install just like the conventional frames.

Structural Insulated Panels: These are the very latest in innovation in terms of tiny house frames. A complete departure from both the conventional and advanced frames. It is built on a layer of foam insulation which is placed in between plywood which serves as its structural skin for structural integrity. SIPs are 40% to 50% better insulated than the competition. Stronger also and you can actually request the manufacturers to make it as strong as you like.

Although it weighs almost the same as conventional and advanced frames, it is easier to use them during construction. Since it is new technology, expect SIPs to be a bit pricey than the counterpart. Wood, metal, fiber cement, and fiber reinforced plastic are the material choices in case you decide to use SIP frames for your tiny house.

Factory Built Insulated Panels: If budget is not an issue and you want to want to build a one of a kind designed tiny house or you are planning on building more than one, a village or row of tiny house cabins, then factory built insulated panels are just the option to look into. Manufacturers can certainly produce tiny house frames according to your specific requirements.

Step by Step Guide to Assembling a Tiny House Frame:

Frame Walls According to Plans

Ensure frames are squared off properly

Test for Fit Windows

Sheathe while Lying Down

Raise walls, square and brace

Secure framing to trailer anchors

D. Windows and Doors

Every tiny house will need windows and doors. Choosing one that fits the proportion and design of a tiny house is an important step in the build process. You will want to have windows and doors that are both functional and adheres to the design aesthetics of your tiny house. You will be happy to know that there are a wide range of options to choose from. Let’s start with the windows. Here are the three factors to consider when choosing a window for your tiny house:

Functionality: There are a variety of windows to choose from. Some windows are fixed meaning they cannot be opened and only allow light to stream inside the room during the day time. There are windows that are single hung and open upwards. Some are double hung with both panes are able to open. Then there are awning windows and casement windows that open and let in light air. How you want your tiny house windows to function will certainly determine your personal choice.

Moisture resistance: When it comes to moisture control, some windows work better than the others. For example, vinyl windows manage moisture very well but are not the prettiest in terms of design. Aluminum windows, on the other hand, are inexpensive but terrible at controlling interior moisture.

Fiberglass windows are super expensive but well worth the investment because they just keep your house interior dry, clean and fresh. Vinyl, aluminum, wood, aluminum clad, and fiberglass are the most popular materials for tiny house windows. All will be able to address cost, design, and moisture resistance requirements for your tiny house.

Insulation: The colder the region the thicker the window panes should be on your tiny house. Consider climate when choosing what window to install.

Altitude rating: If you are not planning on traveling with your tiny house to different parts of the country with varying altitudes then choosing a window pane compatible with the altitude of your location will be sufficient. If you are building a mobile tiny house, it is most practical to install high altitude windows that can withstand the pressure of high altitude locations.

If you do not invest in high altitude windows for your mobile tiny house then you risk the windows breaking when you travel to some high altitude locations.

When it comes to tiny house windows, there are some factors to consider other than just design, price, functionality, etc. Make sure to take the time to really think about the best windows to install in your tiny house.

Step by step guide to installing windows:

Double check window dimensions

Cut out window holes

Apply house wrap

Cut house wrap

Test fit window

Flash window sills

Install windows and shim

Tack with screws

Test window functionality

Secure per manufacturer’s recommendations

In terms of doors for your tiny house, there are two ways you can acquire one. Either you purchase a pre-made door or you build it yourself. If you decide to purchase a door there are a variety of style and designs to choose from but most of them will be proportioned to the size of the standard house and not to the tiny house. They could be a bit bigger to your liking.

More often than not though, since there are so many options in terms of front door, even interior door options, that you will be able to address the initial door to house proportion issue. Manufacturers and sellers often have small sized doors meant for smaller sized standard houses.

If you are unable to find a pre-made door that will fit and suit your tiny house then you may have no other choice but to build it yourself or hire a door maker to custom build it for you. Many tiny house owners have had to go for this option and are more satisfied with the result as opposed to getting a factory manufactured door. Proportion and design wise, you have complete control on how your tiny house doors will look if they are custom built.

E. Roof Framing and Roof Sheathing

The next step after the wall and loft frames of the tiny house are set in place is to add on the roof frames. Roof framing is a simple process that starts with setting the ridge beam, or the bridge, up in between the back and front gables.

Once the ridge beam is in place then it is a matter of fitting the rafter boards on both side of the roof to create the roof frame. Once the roof frame is properly constructed with all roof boards snugly in place on both front and back gables, then and only then can the roof sheathing be installed.

Step by step guide to installing roof framing:

Install collar tied and flooring

Construct trusses

Ensure height stays under 13 feet

Build headers for skylight

Plan layout and dimension of roof sheathing

Cut boards

Glue truss edges

Use H clips between sheets

Secure with ring shank and screws

When we speak of roof sheathing for tiny houses there are only two possible materials to use, they are plywood and OSB. They were made precisely for roof sheathing as their materials are able to withstand the demands on tiny house roofing more than any other material. Once you have decided between plywood and OSB for your roof sheathing, refer below for the installation guide.

Step by step guide to installing tiny house roof frames:

Check nailing surface to make sure they are leveled.

Check building codes for guideline on roof ventilation.

Fasten plywood or OSB panels properly and securely to the roof frame.

Space panels accurately on the roof frame.

Do not cut the plywood or OSB roof sheathing.

Install whole sheets of plywood or OSB on the roof to prevent leakage.

Add shingle underlay felt onto the roof sheathing.

Consult manufacturers guide to proper installation of individual roof shingles before laying them out on the roof sheathing.

Install roof shingles.

F. Sidings

For first time tiny house builders, sidings are the materials installed in the exterior walls of the house that give every tiny house its flare and personality. They are often the first thing people notice when looking at a tiny house. Choosing the right siding material and style therefore is a very important process in the build because aesthetically it is what will make the tiny house look impressive.

You will be happy to know that there are a variety of siding materials out there to choose from. You will be spoilt for choice once you do get to this part of completing your tiny house construction. Here are some of the most popular siding materials that you will find in the market:

Wood: The very first material to be used for siding is wood. It has kept its popularity among house builders ever since. Almost all siding styles have a wood option. There will always be an abundant supply of wood sidings since it is the traditional material of choice. This makes wood sidings the least expensive material to work with.

If you are concerned with your siding catching fire, then wood is the material to avoid. It is just not as fire resistant as its counter parts are – metal and vinyl. Plus in terms of maintenance it requires a bit more attention as in time wood tends to diminish in color and turns into a drab gray. But then again you can always choose to stain or paint it to liven it up again.

Metal: A siding material that is gaining popularity these days is metal, specifically aluminum and steel. They are just long lasting, do not burn, and are very much sustainable. They are not as easy to source out as wood and vinyl though, and when you do get to acquire them they tend to rust in time.

But if you are looking to give your tiny house a unique look, one that is modern and rustic, then a combination of metal and wood siding have been known to do the trick.

Vinyl: This is the preferred siding material for regular houses in the US. The reason is it requires very little maintenance, has a lot of design and color options, and is the most durable of all siding materials. For some reason though, vinyl is often snubbed by tiny house owners and builders as a siding material choice.

The reason is because it is plastic and not very environmentally friendly plus it does not give the house that rustic, hand-made, authentic look which tiny house owners are looking to achieve for their tiny home.

For the siding styles, there are a wide range of styles to choose from. Some of them are horizontal panels, Dutch lap, traditional lap, vertical panels, board and batten, beaded, shingles, scallops, etc. Below are three of the most popular styles that you can adapt for your tiny house:

Shingles or Shake: Although there is not a world of difference between shingle and shake because both are made of wood chips that are arranged in a straight line of staggered on the exterior walls as siding, shingles are just so much more uniform in shape and texture than shakes.

This is the reason why shakes give the house siding a more rustic look than shingles because of its uneven size and texture. Other than that, both functions the same way. You will get a siding finish that is very smooth and has a consistent look.

Clapboard: Also known as bevel or lap, these are wood planks that are installed horizontally, overlapping each other. If you do decide on clapboard siding, you will have a choice between the beaded, insulated, or regular styles. The difference of which will be on the design and function. Clapboards are the most common siding material you will find around. Just look around your community and you will see that most houses are finished with clapboard siding.

Board and batten: A traditional siding style that hails from England and is used mostly for cabins. This is a perfect siding for mobile tiny houses since board and batten have a way of expanding in humid weather and contracts when in cold or dry climates.

It is perfect when you are planning to travel with your tiny house. It is sure to adapt to the changing weather conditions of your life on the road. They are also the least expensive of the three popular styles because of market demand.

Step by step guide to installing sidings:

Tape house wrap seams for siding

Install furring strips

Paint both sides of siding

Hand siding

Apply water and ice shield on roof

Install reflection barrier

Install furring strips

G. Skylight

Adding a skylight to the loft is a major consideration for most tiny house builders. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of signing off every night while looking up at the stars, or waking up every day to the soft glow of natural sunlight streaming inside your loft bedroom?

Skylights can be a great addition to any tiny house but like any other important house feature it is something that needs a bit more pondering since it will determine the level of comfort and safety of life in your tiny house. Let’s start with the advantages of having a skylight added.

It illuminates a space. As a skylight lets light into your tiny house space it has a way of expanding that space making it bigger than it actually is. Plus you do not have to consume so much electricity in the day since natural sunlight will be illuminating the interior space of the house.

It is a great design feature. Whichever way you look at it, having a skylight in a bedroom loft is just the coolest design feature to add to any house. It is a major plus in terms of aesthetics and design.

Brings in heat. At the same time a skylight can be a source of illumination, it can also be a source of extra heat for the house during the day allowing you to save on heating costs as much as electricity bill.

Adds to ventilation. Skylights than can be opened technically function the same way as windows do. It can increase ventilation by allowing fresh air in and give your tiny house a better air flow.

Not a bad list of pros to convince most tiny house builders to add a skylight feature into their tiny house design. These are the downsides of installing a skylight. It is better to consider them first before committing to this important feature of the house.

Room will have less privacy. If you are building or parking your tiny house with the skylight facing a taller building or structure then you won’t have as much privacy in the room as you would like since the people next door will be able to look in from your skylight window.

Leakage problems. Probably the best reason not to install a skylight is the leakage problem that you are bound to encounter years after installation. All designers and contractors will confirm and guarantee that a skylight will eventually leak. Unless you are willing to risk that for your tiny house it is best not to install one.

Skylights lose heat. A skylight is a window and like all windows it is sure to be a source of heat loss for the house. To prevent heat loss, it is necessary to install a skylight with thicker glass panes. This can be a bit costly. If price is a consideration for your tiny house construction, then the skylight option is sure to be the first one to be crossed out from the list.

Tiny house life will revolve around the sun. If you are not a morning person then waking up as soon as the sun rises every day, because you have a skylight in your bedroom, may not be an appealing option.

The pros and cons of installing a skylight are important considerations before making the decision to add this feature in a tiny house. Make sure you know what you are getting into when you build a skylight in your loft.

Step by step guide to installing a skylight:

Build frame of skylight

No need to frame with deck

Test the skylight

Install skylight

Flash based on directions

Tiny House Furniture and Appliances

Space is a very important consideration when choosing what pieces of furniture and appliances to furnish your tiny house with. Since there is very limited space it is necessary to choose compact furniture and appliances that will fit the tiny house.

In the past, finding furniture that will fit a tiny house was a big challenge for many house owners. But since the surge in popularity of the Tiny House Movement, furniture and home appliance manufacturers have found themselves producing compact products that are specifically measured and designed to fit the space limitations of tiny homes.

These days, most home and furnishing stores will have a tiny home section where builders and owners can purchase compact beds, sofa sets, dining tables, and other furniture that are sure to fit their tiny house. The same is true for home appliance stores. There are now compact refrigerators, washing machines, even combo kitchen sets, humidifiers, fans, air conditioning units, stoves, burners, etc.

Choosing furniture and home appliances for a tiny house these days provides a lot more variety compared to the past. This is one of the reasons the Tiny House Movement is gaining in momentum. Tiny house owners are able to design their tiny homes to look both good and functional to perfection.

Tiny House Kitchen Design Ideas

The kitchen is probably the busiest part of the tiny house or any house for that matter. You need to spend some time during the planning and design stage to think how you want your kitchen to function since space is a big factor to consider. Some of the things to consider when designing a tiny kitchen are:

a. The cooking power source. Tiny kitchen design will be influenced mostly by the cooking power source. If the tiny house is powered by on grid electric power, solar energy, propane, natural gas, or generator powered, then the kitchen design and function should first be taken into consideration.

b. Number of people living in the tiny house. The size and design of the kitchen especially the capacity of the kitchen appliances will be determined by the number of people living in the house that needs to be fed and the amount of food storage relative to the number of people who lives in the house. The smaller is the number of people, the smaller is the kitchen space you will require.

c. The level and frequency of cooking. If you are cooking for a big family more than once a day, it is best to build a kitchen that will provide a level of comfort and efficiency for the cook. Since it will be a very busy kitchen then providing more space and additional appliances for the cook would be ideal. It will not be the same if the tiny house has a solo occupant.

d. Kitchen size relative to appliances and tools. Before designing and building a tiny kitchen, list down all the appliances and kitchen tools that will be added to the kitchen. Then base the kitchen size and design on that list.

e. Tiny kitchen budget. Having a clear idea on the amount of money you are willing to invest to build a tiny kitchen is a good way to start the design process. It is a great way to streamline the kitchen design and keeps you grounded in terms of your allotted budget.