The Time Colonist based out of British Columbia, Canada recently posted an inspiring story about a young couple who built a 350 square foot tiny house.
I love how the mother, Jocelyn Lukow (32), is holding her baby in the picture. It is a beautiful tiny house on wheels. I love the weathered wood they used for the outside siding. The couple said their goal in building the tiny house was to, “simplify our lives.” What an awesome goal!
The interior image shows that the tiny house isn’t fully finished yet, but they don’t have far to go. I especially like the skylight that you can just catch the edge of near Jocelyn’s head. Lots of windows is one of the major keys to making a tiny house that is livable in the long term. The home has thirteen foot tall ceilings. This is another important strategy to make the space feel bigger than it would otherwise/
Jocelyn’s husband, Jarvis, is a 35 year old web developer who works in the interior of the city. Despite having a good technology job, Victoria is still one of the least affordable cities in North America. It is awesome to see how tiny homes are allowing people in regions where home ownership would otherwise be out of reach to pursue their dreams.
I wish the author had asked the family what they plan to do when their child grows older. I wonder if their daughter will have her own tiny house when she reaches an age where she needs privacy. If you think about it, one tiny house for the parents and one for the children could certainly afford the parents more privacy than the standard layouts of many traditional homes.
Dana Hummel was also interviewed for this article. I applaud Dana because they are lobbying to have Canadian laws updated to allow for tiny home lifestyles. Dana sells tiny house plans at TinyMountainHomes.com.
I admit it! I’m a sucker for a great quote. Making the leap to a tiny house lifestyle is a journey in overcoming our need to conform to the construct of others. Some people genuinely enjoy life more when they have a 2,000+ square foot house filled with all the trappings the modern world allows. Others feel burdened by the need to keep up with the Joneses. They hate their jobs and feel like their life is being subjugated to the will of others. Their time is consumed by the never ending race to earn and buy more. In the end, they lose site of who they are and their friends and family simply become the people they send cards to at Christmas.
Who are you and what do you want out of YOUR life?
I sometimes find myself fantasizing about what life would be like if America was still occupied by Native Americans, and I was part of their tribe. Our modern consumer driven lives of having more than we need would be a sin. Are we sure consuming more than we need still isn’t a sin?
I am fascinated by how most of us become our own worst enemy. We are paralyzed by fear. We lose touch with nature and let advertisements form the construct of what a fulfilled life is. Are we all really sheep following the leader to the edge of the cliff?
The first thing most of us do when we move to a bigger house or apartment is to go shopping to fill the space. We find ourselves with 2 or 3 living areas and 7 TV’s. Then you need to turn your bedroom into a suite walled off from the rest of the house and all the crap you don’t need. Why not just make your house the same size as the suite? Nature provides the best settings anyway.
My ultimate tiny house location is next to a mountain. I am most at peace and in tune while hiking in dead silence. I was meant to observe and explore. The experience enriches my soul. Isn’t enriching our soul what this time should be about anyway?
It is easy to be miserable without even realizing it. We convince ourselves that we are trapped because we have to make payments on crap we didn’t need in the first place or we can’t disappoint our partner. Yes, life requires us to do activities we wouldn’t otherwise do. Some of these activities are healthy as they allow us to expand our boundaries and skills. Many are not.
Even if you never transition to a tiny lifestyle, take the time learn who you are and what brings you pleasure. You might only have one chance.
Living a true life is hard. From the moment we are little, society bombards us with images of what being a successful adult is. Realize most of these images were brought to us by marketers who were trying to sell something. Don’t be a sucker.
Watching a beautiful sunset fills me with a joy that can never be fully translated into words. A tiny lifestyle can allow you to live off the grid where nature presents her most pristine sights.
Our insatiable thirst for energy is killing our planet. Will you take a stand?
Few people find themselves filled with regret that they didn’t work more on their deathbeds. They regret not spending more time with those they love and not pursuing their dreams. Be part of a sustainable change.
Kanga Room Systems is offering an ultra sleek Modern Cabin design. The company specialized in pre-fab wood based kits. They are based in Austin, Texas. Amusingly, there old sales center is being turned into mixed use condos. If you are familiar with Austin, you would know developers are turning about half the city into mixed use condos, but I digress.
Kanga Room System Contact Information
– Phone: (512) 777-1383
– Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Fax: (254) 227-6059
– Hours: Available from 8AM to 7PM CST
Now to the inspirational pictures! This is for a setup they did in the Texas Hill Country just west of Austin.
The substantial breezeway encapsulates the mindset behind tiny houses. Use nature as part of your living area instead of spending your life cooped up in a house that is 3 or 4 times larger than you need.
I love the floor to ceiling wood work. The living room / kitchen area works out to be 280 square feet (14×20). It looks amazingly spacious, and it is by tiny house standards.
Here is the shot of the 14×16 bedroom. It works out to be 224 square feet. The two indoor living areas together are a total of 504 square feet. The space feels more like a 700 or 800 square foot hours because the breezeway is used as living space.
I love this night time shot. They contrast the inside lights, beautiful woodwork, and clear night sky perfectly.
While this pre-fab model from Kanga Room System is larger than what I would typically consider a tiny house, it is still a great demonstration of how to live in less space without sacrificing comfort. The company even has a utility closet for this model with space for a full sized washer and dryer. By providing less space, the emphasis is allowed to switch to quality craftsmanship instead of size without quality. This examples also provides a great example of how to use outdoor space as part of your living area.
I recently wrote an article on the best tiny house heaters. I noticed that many visitors landed on that page while searching for tiny house HVAC. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Mini splits and window units are two main ways people usually heat and cool a tiny house.
Mini splits are my favorite way to heat and cool a tiny house. They are less obtrusive than window units, while being more energy efficient to operate. Since they are ductless, installation is easier and efficiency is increased. Ducting can account for up to 30% energy loss with a central unit. This is a point of contention since some people say proper ducting would not have loss. That same guy also claims a central a/c unit would cost 1/3 the cost of a mini split to operate for a 2000 square foot house. Fortunately, we aren’t interested in such a large space.
The zone nature of mini splits makes it easy to only heat or cool the area of the house being used. The biggest downsides of mini splits are a high initial cost and the fact you are supposed to have a certified HVAC technician do the installation. With a mini split system, you are likely to spend at least $600. Window units with heat can be found on sale for less than $200. If your budget is tight, that might be the main deciding factor for you.
– Energy efficient (SEER 13 to low 20s)
– Less obnoxious looking than window units. The outdoor unit can be located up to fifty feet away from the indoor evaporator, increasing the ability to locate in an inconspicuous location. You typically only need a 3 inch hole in the wall to connect the indoor and outdoor components.
– Up to 4 zones with unique thermostats. This factor isn’t critical to most tiny houses, but it is still need an adds to the overall efficiency of operation. Many tiny houses would benefit from at least a dual zone system.
– Installation requires an HVAC technician. Even if you have the electrical know how, you are supposed to have a refrigerant license if the unit does not come pre-charged. Having to hire other people can be one of the biggest costs in realizing your tiny house dreams. The best advice here is to shop around if you need someone to help. Some techs won’t want to install equipment you bought online, while others will be fine with it. They might give you grief about warranty issues, but that shouldn’t be a big factor as long as you bought a good unit in the first place.
– The initial cost is higher than a window unit.
Recommended Mini Split Systems
1. Pioneer 12,000 BTU – the cost is right at $700 shipped. The reviews are also outstanding. Amazon marks this unit as the number 1 best seller for single room mini splits. This unit boasts a 17.5 SEER rating. This is certainly better than a window unit, but more efficient mini splits exists. That said, this is one of the best reviewed mini splits on all of Amazon.
2. Klimaire 12,000 BTU – this unit costs about $150 more than the Pioneer. It is slightly less efficient at 16 SEER. Inverter technology allows for heating in temperatures down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. While that isn’t a big selling point to me in Texas, I know many of you live in much colder climates.
3. LG 12,000 BTU LS120HSV5 – this unit is expensive at right around $1,500. The plus side is a whopping 22.7 SEER along with the renowned quality of the LG brand. It is a lot of money no doubt, but you are likely to be happy with this purchase for years.
Window and through the wall units are cheap, reliable, and easy to install. Any slightly handy person can install a window unit without too much grief. All you need is a buddy to help since they tend to weigh too much for one person to handle well. You always want to make sure you find a unit with the right amount of BTU’s for your space. This is not a purchase where more is always better. More is frequently just far less efficient. Always check whether you are looking at a 115 or 230 volt unit. You do not want to have to pay to ship back a 90 pound plus window unit and be stuck in the heat or cold for another week or two.
– Cheap. Good units can be purchased for just a couple hundred dollars.
– Easy to install
– Not energy efficient. Window units are a damn site better than a portable a/c or heater, but they are not good when compared to mini splits or central air.
– They look trashy. I fully realize this is a subjective claim. I mean several million dollar apartments in Manhattan frequently have window / through the wall units. I still think they look like ass (not the pretty ones).
– Loud. Window units are getting better and some are downright quiet compared to other units. You are still likely to clearly hear when these units operate. It is kind of like living next to a train. You are likely to not hear it after a little while or be driven completely mad.
– Security Vulnerability. You can secure a window unit well enough that no one is going to kick it out without some extreme effort, but most are not installed that well. It is not uncommon to see stories where robbers gained access to the domicile by pushing out the window unit.
Recommended Window Units
1. FRIGIDAIRE FFRA1222U1 12,000 BTU cool with 11,000 BTU heat – This is at a mid level price point at around $330 shipped. It will get the job down though. When it comes to window units, I personally would only buy Frigidaire, LG, or Frigidaire. The FFRA1222U1 is made for areas up to 550 square feet.
2. Friedrich Chill Premiere with 8,000 BTU’s cool and 3,500 heat. You can purchase this model for less than $400. Friedrich is a highly respected name in window air, so you shouldn’t worry about the quality.
Avoid Portable A/C Units
My final note is to avoid portable a/c heater units like the plague. They are incredibly inefficient. They can be a tempting option because of how easy they are to operate and cost, but don’t do it. You deserve better.
Learning how to transition to a tiny house lifestyle can be a daunting task. We recently published an article where we suggested several of the best tiny house books. For this article, I want to delve into the Youtube medium. Demonstrations are one of the best ways to learn, and the fact that the service is free means the price is right.
Top 10 Tiny House Youtube Channels
1, Tiny House Talk – If you have done much research on tiny houses, I am sure you have run across the Tiny House Talk website. It is a tremendous resource by itself. Alex Pino, out of Florida, operates the site. Alex also makes fun and helpful Youtube videos that have millions of views.
2. Living Big In A Tiny House – This channel has a wealth of what I lovingly refer to as tiny house porn. Those videos are essentially tours of impressive looking tiny houses. They also cover education DIY topics, such as constructing a tiny house trailer. The people who run this channel our based in New Zealand. The beautiful landscapes add to the value of these videos.
3. Tiny House Listings – This is one of my favorite websites. On the main site, they highlight tiny houses that are for sale. The Youtube channel is almost exclusively devoted to DIY projects, like installing flooring, counter tops, siding, etc. Most of their videos still have relatively few views, but I expect big things from this channel.
4. Kirsten Dirksen – her videos aren’t exclusively about tiny houses, but the ones she has are great. Many of her videos involve the stories of people who chose a minimalist lifestyle along with a tour of their tiny domicile. It is a really neat channel and several of her videos have well over 100,000 views.
5. The Do It Yourself World – building a tiny house is a great way to build new skills and discover interests you never knew you had. This channel is all about how to complete projects, like air conditioning and electric, that might otherwise seem terrifying. The videos on this channel are helpful and have been viewed by millions of people. If you are serious about your tiny house journey, I highly recommend checking it out.
6. relaxshacks – They have several 500,000+ view videos of beautiful tiny houses. Tips on space saving or salvaging are offered, but for the most part, this channel is about looking at some awesome tiny houses. Since the company offers workshops, you can get a pretty good feel for whether or not it would be worthwhile to buy a ticket. The video quality could be better and the hosts voice oddly gets on my nerves. I won’t dock him for this latter aspect since it is highly subjective.
7. Tiny House Design – This channel is by Michael Janzen. He mostly focuses on the tools and strategies needed to design your own tiny house. The information found here is useful for anyone who wants to add more of a unique touch to their tiny house than buying a set of off the shelf plans affords. I’ve highlighted a video where Michael discusses using SketchUp to design the house.
8. Tumbleweed – They provide fewer videos than I would expect, but since they are one of my favorite tiny house companies I couldn’t not plug their YouTube channel. They have one video from when Jay was still at the company that has received more than 2 million views! I suspect their content is purposefully scant since they would rather have you attend a workshop and learn how to do it the right way.
9. Kevin Coy – He looks like the type of guy who could survive in the woods for years after the zombies attack or nuclear fallout kills most in the big cities. His range of topics are incredibly useful, like framing, building a portable power plant, and using a wood stove. If you want your tiny house to be off the grid, this is the channel for you.
10. tiny House Build – They don’t have a wealth of videos, but they do have one of the most watched tiny house videos on Youtube with over 4 million views! It is an amazingly comprehensive tour of a well constructed tiny house. You can watch it below.
You can’t spend much time involved with the tiny house industry without hearing two names – Tumbleweed Tiny Homes and Four Lights. What do these two seemingly different companies have in common, and which one is the better choice for homeowners looking to go small with their home? The story behind both companies is interesting, and provides insight into two of the leading firms in the industry.
Tumbleweed Tiny Homes Background
We’ll start with Tumbleweed, as it’s the older of the two companies. It was founded by Jay Shafer (who now owns Four Lights, after leaving Tumbleweed to his business partner in order to pursue other options). The company was founded back in 1999, and has since grown to include two national locations. The company’s original home (and primary location today) is in Sonoma, California, but they’ve also extended their operations to Colorado.
Tumbleweed offers nine different home plans, including four mobile tiny homes and numerous cottages designed to be installed on a permanent foundation (not a trailer). While the company sells plans for all of its homes for customer construction, it only builds the four mobile tiny houses – the Elm, Cypress, Linden and Mica. All four were designed by employees and are available in a number of lengths and widths, with a wide range of potential customization options (dormers, door positons, skylights, appliances included, etc.).
The company’s motto is, “Dream Big. Live Tiny,” and their creations certainly help owners do exactly that. You’ll find Tumbleweed homes all around the country, many of which have been profiled online, as well as through several cable networks, helping bring awareness to the tiny house movement.
Steve Weissmann is currently president of Tumbleweed. I have interacted with him over the Web a couple times and found him to be friendly and genuine. Here is an interesting video from when Jay Shafer still represented Tumbleweed:
Four Lights is Jay Shafer’s new company and you’ll find a lot of similarities between it and Tumbleweed. However, where Tumbleweed offers four mobile tiny homes, Four Lights offers only two that are really designed for ongoing mobility. The remaining four models are designed for installation on a permanent foundation. There are some remarkable similarities between Four Lights’ homes and those offered by Tumbleweed.
While that’s partially due to Shafer’s design work, it’s also due to the choice of materials, and adherence to classic architectural designs (for instance, the Gifford is built with an American Craftsman style). One difference here is the fact that some of Four Lights’ homes offer bigger tiny living options than Tumbleweed. For example, the Marie Colvin comes with 288 square feet standard, and can be configured to have much more. The Marmara can be designed with over 880 square feet, making these two options good choices for families with children, more than other models on the market.
Four Lights has grown to employ four people, although Jay still does all the design work and furnishes those homes customers order with appliances and other furnishings.
Understanding Jay Shafer
If you’re living in a tiny house or considering a move, then you can most likely thank one man – Jay Shafer. While he’s not the only pioneer in the industry, he does get credit for a significant amount of the movement’s traction, with at least one interviewer crediting him with, “practically inventing what is now known as the tiny house.”
So, who is this guy, this father of the modern tiny home?
Actually, Jay’s relationship with smaller living goes back to the 1990s when he built his own tiny house. Until that point, he’d been living in an Airstream trailer, but finding that it wasn’t really that great for year-round occupancy, he set out to create something that was. Thus, he built his first tiny house and moved himself in. The home won the “Most Innovative Design” award from Natural Home Magazine for 1999, and that spurred him to decide to make a career shift – to designing tiny homes.
Jay didn’t let his lack of an architectural degree hold him back, either. Part of that was his natural bent toward design, and another was his inner artist (he holds an art degree, actually). Another element was his outlook on what a home can and should be – he says that when he analyzed the normal house and removed all the unnecessary elements, the result was a very small home indeed.
Tumbleweed Tiny Homes was born shortly after Jay’s realization that he could make such a dramatic career change. However, his tenure with Tumbleweed wouldn’t last more than a few years. He decided to leave the company to his business partner in 2012 to found a different tiny house company – Four Lights.
Perhaps the most telling thing about both Four Lights and Tumbleweed is Jay’s personal philosophy. In his book The Small House Book, he say, “When everything in our immediate environment is essential to our contented survival, home and the life within will take on a truly essential quality.” It’s about efficiency, but also about essentials and eliminating needless, unnecessary things that do little more than tie you down with responsibilities (building on the theory that everything you own, owns you in return).
Which Is Right for You?
Between Four Lights and Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, you have an incredible range of options whether you want to build your own tiny home based on professional designs or buy one pre-constructed. So, which company is right for your needs? Really, you can’t go wrong with either one. Both companies take considerable pride in creating designs that are at once aesthetically pleasing and efficient. Both companies have deep roots in the tiny house community thanks to Jay Shafer. Both companies have reputations for quality, innovation and customization. You’ll even find that both of them can offer furnishings and appliances that fit (and work) perfectly within a tiny house.
Warming Your Tiny Home – What Are the Best Tiny House Heaters?
Living in a tiny house doesn’t automatically exempt you from the same concerns that face any other homeowner. You still have dishes to wash. Laundry still piles up. The floor still needs to be swept and mopped. You still need to heat your home, as well. If you’re struggling with the question of how to keep your tiny home comfortable during the cold months of the year, there are plenty of choices out there. They range from mini split systems to combo window units and standalone units, but which are the best tiny house heaters on the market? It can be confusing to find the right solution to your needs, but the following guide will help you make sense of the options.
This might sound like a strange HVAC system at first glance, but the basic concepts should be familiar to anyone who has ever owned a home with central heating and air. It’s essentially shrunk down version made to fit a smaller home rather than a larger, conventional home.
A mini split system relies on the same basic components as a central HVAC system, minus the ductwork. You’ll have an evaporator and an air handler unit. The evaporator is mounted outside the home. The tongue is the most common place for installation, but some homes are designed to have them mounted at the rear (they cannot be installed on the sides if the home will be mobile). The evaporator is connected through the wall to the interior air handler, which is where you’ll find your temperature controls, on/off switch and other functions.
There are a few caveats to using a mini split system. While these are certainly the most efficient option, they must be installed by a licensed HVAC technician. That automatically ups your cost if you’re doing this on your own (rather than buying a pre-built tiny home from one of the many companies out there). You also need to ensure that you choose the right model. Most mini split systems run on 240 volts, which requires special wiring. However, there are a few 120-volt systems on the market. You’ll just have to do some digging to find them. You’ll also need to ensure that you get the right BTU rating (9,000 BTUs is about the minimum, and should be sufficient for a tiny house up to about 500 square feet, but always check the manufacturer’s ratings and recommendations).
Finally, most mini split systems draw too much power to be truly feasible in an off-grid setting. A single speed unit will draw somewhere around 1,200 watts. A multi-speed unit can draw up to 400 watts on low, which is more feasible, but might not heat your home enough if you live in a very cold climate and/or the home is not correctly insulated.
Chances are good that unless you live in a northern climate, you’ll need both heating and air conditioning. You can solve both problems with a combo window unit. These come in a range of heating and cooling capacities, and install just like a standard window unit. When the weather turns cold, you simply switch to the heating feature of the unit. It’s really that simple. Everything’s contained in the same box, and there’s very little maintenance to worry about. You also don’t have to worry about having the unit installed by an HVAC professional.
As with mini split systems, there are a few considerations here. First, window units are not as efficient as other options (particularly a mini split). Second, most combo units require 240 volts of power, which means you’ll have to accommodate those needs during the build with specific wiring (and a separate breaker in the fuse box for the unit). There are 120-volt units on the market, but they tend to be smaller, and less widely available, so plan on a lengthy search if this is your choice.
Another consideration here is that a window unit (whether a single AC system or a combo heat and AC) is not the most efficient solution available in terms of insulation. While they can be modified with a little creativity, most of these units still rely on the accordion plastic partition to separate the indoors from the outdoors. That will allow cold air into the home, causing the unit to run more often than would be necessary with a different type of heating system.
The above picture is a through the wall installation kit. “Through the wall” systems are not much different from window units, and you’ll find heaters, combo heat and air, and air conditioning systems available in this category. They share all the same considerations as combo window units discussed above, but they have one additional factor that you should know. Because they’re installed in the wall itself, they’re best installed during the build. They can be installed afterward, but this will require cutting through the interior wall, as well as the insulation and the exterior siding. Ideal placement may be compromised due to the installation of structural supports for the home as well.
Space heaters might not sound like the ideal solution for heating an entire home, but when you live in a tiny house, they suddenly become very promising. Of course, there are many different types of space heaters out there, including propane, kerosene, and electric. Of the many options, electric is the better choice (less risk of fire, and they can be operated on a solar system if need be). Infrared heaters like the Dr. Infrared Heater™ can provide all the heat you need for your entire home, and offer advanced functionality, like a wider range of temperature control (50 to 85 degrees with the Dr. Heater model, plus it features a thermostat so it cycles on and off as needed). The biggest problem with a space heater is that it isn’t likely to be cost effective if you use it much. We do not recommend going with the space heater option if you live in a cold climate.
Wood burning stoves can be a great option if your tiny house is going to be off the grid. The heat can also be extremely cost effective if you are going to live on land where trees tend to fall anyway. I personally love the rustic, throwback nature of having a wood burning stove in a tiny house. One of the biggest downsides can be space. Make sure you pay close attention to the dimensions before buying any wood burning stove. They can be monsters in a small floor plan.
These are some of the best tiny house heaters on the market, but there are many others. Quite a few owners choose to go with a wood-fired stove to ensure they can be completely off the grid. With a little careful consideration, you’ll find the perfect option to keep you warm and toasty.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, one of the most renowned names in the business, is running a spectacular 30% off sale until midnight on Christmas day. Plans that are normally priced at $759 are marked down to $499. Alternatively, you can pay 3 payments of $167. This sale includes the most popular models, including the Cypress, Elm, Linden, and Mica.
In addition to the deals on plans, the Tumblweed Construction DVD is priced at $39.95 with free shipping. This video is typically priced at $59.95. It covers a wide assortment of the most frequently asked questions by people looking to build their own tiny house.
Workshops that are normally priced at $399 are marked down to $279. These workshops are highly recommended for anyone looking to learn the maximum amount from the tiny house experts in a compact time frame.
Vancouver – January 17-18
Boston January 24-25
Orlando – January 31 – February 1
Colorado Springs – February 7-8
Sacramento – February 21-22
Washington DC – February 28 – March 1
Las Vegas – March 7-8
Raleigh March 14-15
Madison March 28-29
Toronto April 11-12
Austin April 18-19
Long Island April 25-26
I highly recommend taking advantage of these discounts if you are interested in building your own tiny house. These are the lowest prices ever, and Tumbleweed is the most respected name in the industry.
The tiny house movement is building steam across the country as more and more people wake up to the benefits offered by living with a smaller footprint. That said, transitioning to a tiny house is not a change that can be taken lightly. It is not like you can go to your average general contractor or architect and ask for plans for a tiny house. There’s good news though. If you’re intent on minimizing your footprint and getting into a small home, there are plenty of places to buy plans. In fact, it can be downright daunting to know which of the dozens of companies selling tiny house plans is best. We will run down a list of your top options.
Tumbleweed is perhaps the most famous tiny house designer and builder in the country. The company has grown to have two locations (Colorado Springs, CO and Sonoma, CA), and they build homes as well as providing the best tiny house plans for DIY-ers. Tumbleweed is also associated with Jay Shafer, the founder of the tiny house movement, although he’s moved on to another company now (Jay works with Four Lights, which we’ll cover shortly).
In terms of plans, you’ll find that Tumbleweed offers several basic options – nine in total. These include four “House-to-Go” models, which are what most people are coming to associate with tiny houses. They’re built on trailers and have very small footprints. The model names are Elm, Cypress, Linden and Mica. For those interested in tiny house living without the mobile aspect, Tumbleweed has several cottage plans, including the Bodega, Loring, New Vesica, Harbinger, Whidbey, Enesti, Sebastarosa, B-53 and Z-Glass. The largest cottage on offer only measures 884 square feet, so they definitely fit in with the tiny house ethos.
All plans are available for purchase on the company’s website, but they can also be customized (either on your own or with the company’s help). If you prefer, Tumbleweed will build and ship your tiny house right to your location as per your specifications.
Four Lights is the new tiny house company started by Jay Shafer. Shafer is responsible for all the design work with the new firm as well. With 18 years of experience designing and building tiny homes, Jay certainly has the chops to create the best tiny house plans on the market. Interestingly, of the company’s several offerings, only two are designed to be mobile. The remainder are designed to be set on a foundation, and offer more space than what you might think would be possible with such streamlined designs. For example, the Marmara actually features over 500 square feet depending on your configuration choices (284 square feet base).
Four Lights offers some of the best tiny house plans on the market, and they come complete – you’ll find downstairs schematics, loft layouts and even electrical designs all included. It’s a turnkey plan system. The models on offer range from the Zinn, which is the smallest to the Gifford, the Beavan, the Weller, the Marmara and the Marie Colvin.
Unlike Tumbleweed, Humble Homes does not build homes – they only offer a selection of the best tiny house plans on the market. While they’re more expensive than some companies out there, they’re actually cheaper than others, putting them squarely in the middle of the affordability equation. Those interested in going small will find a plethora of plans available through this company’s website, including the McG Loft V2, the Athru and the Turtle House, which are three of the best-selling plans on offer. Other models available include the McG Loft, Berneil+Porch, the BRV1, JS Bell+Porch, the Nook, the Humblebee+Porch and the Rooke+Porch.
In addition to offering a wide range of the best tiny house plans on the market, Humble Homes is also the place to go to get news about the tiny house movement, sustainability and living a greener, freer life, as well.
Other Affordable Places to Buy Tiny House Plans
The three companies listed above are certainly innovators and leaders in the industry, and their plans are among the best you’ll find. However, if you’re working on a limited budget and can’t afford the prices asked for Tumbleweed or Four Lights plans, there are other options out there that will give you the quality home you want, at a price you can afford. Some of the best affordable plan providers are listed below.
The small House Catalog: You’ll find a host of options here, many of them free (there’s an entire section of free plans). The company also offers drafting services (at a price). In terms of the best tiny house plans available here, the company provides cottage, bungalow and small house plans geared for easy readability even by those without architectural design or construction backgrounds.
PAD Tiny Houses: PAD (Portland Alternative Dwellings) doesn’t do free plans, but they do offer some of the best tiny house plans with a matching tiny price tag. For instance, the newest option (the company’s Sweet Pea home) is priced at just $99 for the plans. Other home options available follow in that vein. The amusingly named Salsa Box plans are priced at just $79. It is 93 square feet and meant to reside on a trailer. It is a good off the grid plan, but too small for many. Plans for the Miter Box are priced at $99. Shelter Wise says the original version was built for just $22,000. The plans are for a 122 square foot living area with a 28 square foot loft.PAD also offers workshops and classes for prospective owners and builders.
TinyHouseBuild.com: While this one doesn’t do free per se, you will find a free seven-day course on tiny house construction that helps you understand things like framing, wiring, codes, foundation building, roofing and more. There’s also a DVD on offer ($60) that includes a comprehensive guide to building your own tiny home, as well as home plans and a handy selection of resources.
There’s no denying that the tiny house movement has gotten big (pun intended). However, there’s still a lot of confusion about how to get into a tiny home. Whether you want a tiny house on wheels, a cottage on a foundation or something completely different, you’ll find that the companies listed above offer some of the best tiny house plans on the market. Many of them also offer classes, workshops and other aids to help train prospective homeowners and builders to ensure that your dream comes to life without a hitch.