Whatever the motivation— financial, environmental, a rejection of consumer-driven culture, or a really strong obsession with Henry David Thoreau— smaller houses are the minimalist sensation that's sweeping the nation.
While there's no standard definition of what constitutes a tiny house, most range from 100 to 500 square feet. Some sit upon a permanent foundation like any other residential home, while others are built on a wheeled trailer, allowing owners to transport their homes across the country.
Based on a 2018 National Association of Home Builders poll, 53% of adults surveyed indicated they would live in a 600 square foot or fewer home. Millennials and Gen-Xers were more willing to embrace the small house lifestyle than baby boomers and seniors.
A smaller living space translates to lower building, maintenance, repair, and energy costs. To quote great comedian George Carlin, “a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” By their very nature, tiny houses discourage amassing “stuff,” and often make ingenious use of available space to store the “stuff” that really matters.
Tiny houses can be purchased already built, as an unfinished shell, or via blueprints for those looking to build themselves. This article will feature a variety of plans available to purchase online.
Before you print the plans and start scouring building sites for upcycled materials, it's critical to know the zoning regulations in your community to determine if it's legal to build a tiny house in the first place. An experienced real estate agent will be familiar with state and local building codes and any relevant minimum square footage requirements.
For Tall Folks
The vertically-blessed home buyers may foresee a future of bumps and bruises, stumbling around their tiny house like Gandalf in Bilbo Baggins' hobbit hole. Sol Haus Design's Light Haus option was initially designed with the 6'4” half of a couple in mind.
The 24 foot long, under-200 square foot trailer house plan has a 6'8” clearance on the main level and 4'6” clearance in the bedroom loft. It sleeps two to four people and features a dining area, home office, and kitchen with room for full-size appliances.
The little pig with the straw house should have taken a cue from the 19th century Nebraska settlers, who, lacking lumber, turned to the abundant plains grasses for building material. When stacked on top of each other and covered in plaster, straw bales naturally keep the interior of a home climatized, and can withstand the elements, high winds included.
This pioneer ingenuity is making a comeback as an eco-friendly alternative to concrete and other building materials. The 643-square foot Applegate Cottage plan is designed for straw bale construction and features high-vaulted ceilings and a wood-burning stove.
For Car Owners
Even those living “off-grid” need to drive sometimes. At 528 square feet, this Historic Shed plan is on the larger side, but 240 of it is dedicated to an attached garage, above which is a studio apartment. The two-story structure is designed in 1920's fashion, with wide eaves and a carriage-style garage door.
For Rooftop Lovers
The Model One tiny house plan follows the growing trend of repurposing rectangular metal shipping containers into readily available and extremely durable building materials for “container homes.” This modern, 192 square foot plan can be placed on a concrete foundation or loaded onto a trailer. Best of all, it features a rooftop terrace and deck, complete with stairs, for entertaining or just relaxing.
For Green Thumbs
For many people, downsizing to a tiny house is part of an overall lifestyle change that embraces self-sufficiency. This means revisiting the knowledge and skills that started dying out after the Second World War, including mending, repairing, and growing and preserving one's own food.
Olive Nest Tiny Home's Elsa model includes a separate pergola trailer with a porch swing and greenhouse for growing vegetables throughout the year. Fourteen glass windows on the 323-square foot house allow plenty of natural light. Storage abounds via cupboards on the loft staircase and in the pull out sleeper sofa in the living room.
You may be a DIYer on your small house, but your realtor will help you locate the best building location, recommend contractors, and guide you through the unique legal challenges that often stymie the tiny house building process. Plus, they'll help you locate popular loan and other financial options that ease you into your minimalist lifestyle.
Contact Clever for a free, no-obligation consultation to get in touch with a top-rated buyer's agent in your area.