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.