Tiny Home Subdivion Discussion

I ran across an older post on the Tiny House Newsletter  http://tinyhousetalk.com/legally-living-in-tiny-houses/ about codes regarding building tiny houses on a foundation.  The question was simple, “can’t tiny houses be built on foundations? if so how would codes affect their construction, etc”.  The discussion that followed was fabulous!

I LOVE the Tiny House (TH) movement.  I LOVE most of the tiny homes (mostly on wheels/trailers) that are in the Tiny House newsletter, (you can sign up for your copy of the online newsletter by visiting the link above).

SO I’d like to start an interaction with all my Tiny House loving friends about the “WHAT-IFs” of a Tiny House Community, specifically located in a large city.  (Not necessarily out in the country off grid, etc.)

My thought is this.  If I’m going to live in a TH some day,  I know I’d have difficulty letting go of my car, but I’d LIKE to be able to live daily without using the car.  BUT to survive psychologically, I’d need shops, grocery stores, coffee, cafe’s, etc.  Let’s face it, if you live tiny alone or with one other person, you’d need a place to get away TO, not that you are angry, but just too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing and cabin fever is REAL.  So, to walk down the street to a coffee shop to visit with “people who know your name” is valuable.  In my city, that would be Mid-Town.  Live music, food trucks are often here and there, but lots of local joints.

So with that in mind, I want to know the answer to the following question(s):

IF a “subdivision” (for lack of a better term) could be developed in the center of  a large city, close to restaurants and shopping, but to keep it operating as a high quality subdivision (not trailer park trash), to keep home values NORMAL – relative to what it cost to build it plus a normal “builder profit”, but if it were operated somewhat like a Co-Op or Condo, meaning that the GROUND is owned by the WHOLE and each unit is owned by the individual.  An HOA fee is paid which would include the rental on the property, grass-cutting, parking maint. property taxes, and other maintenance issues which may occur, but otherwise, keep these as low a possible.  The goal being, let’s all get along like other “regular subdivision” dwellers do, but smaller with lots of outdoor living aminities, things like built-in charcoal grills, picnic tables, a Gazeebo or a Community Clubhouse for larger groups and parties.   What type of Subdivision RULES would you think are practical?  If you were developing the Subdivision Covenants, what would be your “MUST HAVE” rules.  What things that your NEIGHBORS might do would drive you batty?

In Normal subdivisions, the goal is to have your home increase in value build your equity, but if property taxes are going to disrupt the idea of living tiny, maybe there should be a limit as to their value, such as you build it for $25k yourself.  Add a 30% builder profit to achieve a fair market value.  While some rich person may be willing to pay $100k to buy you out, the value would still be assessed at the $32.5k ($25k+30%).  The TAX sould be assessed on this not the $100, but personally one of MY rules would be to not sell at $100k. Because this would mean that the TH in the area certainly ALL increased from the $32.5k to $100k, thus all our taxes will be out of sight.

I’m also not naieve enough to know that those who are original owners in the TH subdivision will live there for ever.  Life happens.  Plans change. People have kids. Stairs no longer work for you. Jobs move.  You’d need to be able to sell your unit, but in my opion, to let someone new in to your place, would need to be  community interview event.  They would need to sign a comunity agreement… Thus this post.

On the website above, someone mentioned the “Pleasantville” idea.  A place where everyone is nice, we all get along, it’s all beautiful, etc.  I know this doesn’t exist in most places, it is a dream, but not everyone is nice all the time.  BUT with a bit of self control we can all get along.  This would be the ultimate goal.  I could see large cities allowing a small community such as this as a trial run and if it works, allowing more and more.  It just takes ONE to get started.  If it doesn’t work, if the cops are called for domestic disturbances among the residents often enough, they won’t let it happen in the future. But I doubt this would happen, especially if these are not rental units at $300 a month (such as is often found in innercities – crap (crack) houses.

Would you want to park your car right beside your unit? Or would you be acceptable to a parking lot so that your unit could be all green grass/trees/flowers with parking blocked out of sight by a fence or shrubs.

Would you want a “committee” to interview each new resident, such as in a Co-Op situation to make sure there are no giant dogs to bark all night?  Should the units be SOLD, or rented? What to do IF a resident turns out to be “trailer trash” or an annoyance to everyone else in the complex.  What about that overly Nosie Rosie, who rats on everyone?

I REALLY want your feedback!

If you have developed a TH subdivision/community and IF you already have covenants in place, would you mind sharing?  I’d love to post them here, or at least pieces of them here depending on if they apply to my area.

So, with all that said, on your mark, get set, GO!!!!!

Extra Space – HUGE CLOSET!

There are areas in your home, most likely that have some wasted space.  many times you aren’t even given the opportunity to use those spaces.  The most widely wasted space inside a home is under a set of stairs.  The builder/designer may add a closet, it may have a bit of sloped ceiling, but they usually block off all  that other space under the stairs.  That space is incredibly useful.  My kids and I spent many a night under the stairs in our old home after returning from Salt Lake City to a Tornado Zone in Memphis.  The sirens would go off and we’d climb under the stairs.  Part of it was opened, yet unfinished, so the kids would crawl into the “short” area with their sleeping bags, blankies, and stuffed animals.  The dogs and I would sit on the carpeted area of what was our pantry. This was a fabulous use of our “under” stairs wasted footage.

Another great space is ABOVE the stairs in a 2-story home. (See the picture below.) The Investment Home I’m currently building had a bunch of very useful area above the staircase which was at the back of a small closet.  SO, I simply had the builder omit the back wall of the closet and build several shelves over the stairs to flatten out the usable area.  NOW what was going to be about a 4′ wide x 3′ deep closet is still 4′ wide, but about 6′-6″ or more deep!  This is a KID’s room!!!  Just think of all the things the family living here could do with this closet!  A little girl might make it a doll house.  (There is a window up high on the left wall).  Mom could do double rods in this closet and put those “don’t fit yet” clothes up high, and shelving down low for all those toys.

One of the Kid's closets above the stairs.
One of the Kid’s closets above the stairs.

I maintain, I’d rather have a huge closet and a tiny bedroom so that all my “stuff” has a home out of the sight of guests.

In a kid’s room, I’d love to have a small walk-in closet if at all possible.  Let’s pretend for a moment we have a 6′ wide by 4′ deep closet.  The door would be on the 6′ wall.  On one side, I would do double rods (or triple rods depending on the age/size of the child) so that all their clothes could hang nicely.  Clothes that fit, lowest, especially if the child is old enough to pick out their own clothes.  In the upper would be the “still too big” clothes to be used next summer and the “too small” clothes, saving up for a good garage sale.  On the opposite wall I’d have shelves floor to ceiling. The shoes would have a home and the toys would too.  On the upper shelves would be the things I need in the child’s room, but I don’t necessarily want the child getting into.  Keepsakes, breakables, toys that have been confiscated because the child refuses to take turns, etc.

If there is a PLACE to put everything, the room CAN be cleaned.  If there isn’t a closet big enough to hold all the toys, the floor of the bedroom will be forever cluttered, or the under-side of the bed will be nonexistent!

 

We’re just beyond the half-way point!

I say we’re just beyond the 1/2 way point because I’ve spent a little more than 1/2 my money, so we’d BETTER be past the 1/2 way point!

We are getting Sheetrock and Brick this week and probably a bit of next week too.  Both are going well!

Brick on Left Side
Brick on Left Side

Here we have the left side of the house.  They are almost finished with it.  I didn’t bother to look at the back side.  The front and Right sides are only about 48″ high, but in a day or two they’ll all be finished.

The front porch, which I believe I’ve talked about previously, can’t have a window at the bottom of the stairs (unless we bought a really expensive one), so we cut that window, but to keep it from looking so bad/plain, we are adding a pair of closed shutters to give the front a little “pretty”.  Those haven’t been put up yet, but it will give a punch of “non” color to the front. (They are black, which really isn’t a color… go ask your art teacher.)

Here’s a bit of the front.

Front porch partial brick
Front porch partial brick

There really isn’t much to see as far as the sheetrock is concerned, so I’ll save photos of that for a later post.

 

Funky Remodels – to do or not to do?

I’m about to get controversial here, but since I own this blog, I can say what I want.  I reserve the right to be wrong, but I believe I am voicing my own OPINION as well as a few facts.

Consider the next few before and after photos of a house that was recently shown on the Houzz website, to which I made the following comment:

Before Living/Dining Areas
Before Living/Dining Areas
Before - Kitchen Closed off from Dining Room
Before – Kitchen Closed off from Dining Room
After kitchen without wall, with new cabinets.
After kitchen without wall, with new cabinets.

There were TONS of comments regarding this kitchen.  MOST of them were, “WOW, this is SO gorgeous!” or, “I wish I had the guts to do this it  MY kitchen”, or “This is an incredible Mondrian inspired kitchen.”

I have to agree, this IS an incredible Mondrian Inspired Kitchen.  That’s not what my original comment was about, however. My original thought was, I’m an adult and I wouldn’t want my kitchen to look like a preschool classroom.  BUT, you’ll notice I didn’t say that out loud on my post.

My original post: 

Nope. Why? I don’t get it. This is not a nursery where you need to entertain your newborn with bright colors. This is a kitchen, a home. In my opinion, this is not a ‘style’, this is weird. Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) ala Picasso. You WILL get tired of this color scheme and to resell your home, you will only appeal to a very small percentage of buyers. I know you should live in the home YOU like and not worry with future potential buyers, but I doubt that even YOU will like this for many years before you think it is tired and needs updating. I love the open concept you’ve created, but I am not a fan of the patchwork random colors.

For all you ART buffs out there.  Yes, I do know the difference between Frank Lloyd Wright, Picasso AND Mondrian.  They all had value in their own right. I know many people who collect art pieces which remind them of their favorite artists, but I have never seen it taken to this extent before.  Yes, I’ve seen FLW knock-off houses, I call them FLW-esque homes.  It is one thing to build something that is LIKE what FLW would have designed, however, times have changed and what HE designed into a home back in the day would need to be different now…. think pre-1959 bathrooms & kitchens.  Exactly, build a modern home to LOOK like FLW, but function as a modern home.  We have to imagine what our sunken jet-tub would look like in his mind, don’t we?

After making my original post, I received many “likes”, which was nice, but then. WOW, the claws came out!  Some people said that “the Professional Designers” on this site probably just don’t know anything about Art History. (What has THAT got to do with anything.)  For this reason I didn’t major in MUSIC in college.  I never cared who wrote what, nor when!  I just wanted to play music.  With Art, I never memorized who drew/painted what, nor when, I just know what I like and what I don’t like.  And, I am NOT a modern painter lover!  I like clever and original, but not just paint thrown on a canvas.  (I know, gasp!)  To be truthful,  I don’t know a LOT about Mondrian but I am familiar with his designs/art pieces AND, at one time I was really fond of them, just like FLW’s designs.  Every art class in the country does a piece in his style just for the Art History knowledge.  I remember drawing random straight lines on a page and painting them in bold primary colors.  I personally thought it was an “ok” piece of art, but I wasn’t really proud of it.  Consequently, you won’t find it stored in my attic.   Just because I appreciate a piece of art, does not mean I’d redo my entire kitchen to honor that art.

I thought about posting a rebuttal, but thought better of it.  If I was going to drag my name through the mud and let 10,000 of Houzz readers attack, me, why not be on MY ground where I can DENY comments if I like.  SO, here goes my rebuttal.

To further explain my earlier comments:

I never said that this was not artistic, and I never said the designer of this space was a lunatic.  I never said that this was not Mondrian-esque. I like Mondrian, but I would never make my kitchen a gigantic Mondrian piece of art.  I never said this was ugly and I never said that the owner should not have done this.  The “NOPE” comment meant it was NOT for me.

I simply asked why?

Even if I were simply in love with Mondrian’s inspiration, I would not make my cabinets the piece of art, I’d decorate or paint a wall, find some wallpaper, use tile on a table to convey my love of Mondrian, or make those HUGE new windows the work of art.  I just know me!  I know I would tire of it at some point. If it were wallpaper or a painted wall, or a stained glass window I could simply undo those things, change wallpaper or repaint, when I tired of the design, but this kitchen won’t be as easily undone at a later date.

As a professional Home Designer, I am asked to design many things that I don’t appreciate and often totally dislike, but I draw them anyway because that is what my client wants.  After all, I don’t have to live there, so what do I care if I think it is ugly or illogical?  

On the other hand, I do have a conscience. I would hate for my clients to one day say to me, “I wish you had told me that this wasn’t a good idea.”  I wish you would have mentioned that it would be really expensive to build a house like that, or whatever. I’d hate my clients to think less of me because I didn’t warn them of a potential pitfall with the design of their home because THAT is part of my job as a Professional Designer. I understand clients have in their heads what they want, but seldom know how to count the cost of that decision.  IF these homeowners knew that it would be difficult to sell their home in 3 years they might think otherwise about building it they way they have decided.  Many never plan to sell the place (let the kids handle that after we’re gone).  Ok,  fine.  I get it, they’ve wanted something bold for a long time now and they finally had the money and the guts to do it.  Good for them!  GOOD LUCK if “life” happens and you are forced to sell it for whatever reason.  Good luck getting your money back out of it if, heaven forbid, someone dies and you have to sell at a huge loss and end up bringing money to closing with you because you made a huge bold statement.  

More about the kitchen pictures above:  I love the fact that they opened up the wall between the living area and the kitchen, This is the wave of the future, just watch a bit of HGTV on any given day, but some folks are still old-school and prefer the kitchen to remain closed off.  I’m not offended at the old-school lights and cabinet knobs, this is quite the retro look.  (Some of the other comments really knocked the cabinet hardware and lighting fixtures).  I actually thought the overall design was brilliant, though I didn’t say that.  I really only dislike the color scheme with the primary colors because it reminded me of a preschool and not a kitchen belonging to adults.

Just like clothing, houses have a style and that style often goes OUT of style.  Then to sell the house, the owner must pay a lot of money to change to yet a new style (or reduce the sales price so that the new owner can fix what they feel is wrong).  If the owner has that kind of money, I say go for it. Enjoy it for as long as you can.  Do what you love and pay the consequences later.   However, it’s not as simple as painting the cabinet doors back to white again.  The cabinets appear to have been professionally painted (spray painted, no brush marks) and appear to have an epoxy finish.  So to repaint would be more difficult than jumping into some old clothes, your husband’s shirt and slapping on a new layer of paint over a long weekend.

Someone said this kitchen reminded them of legos, yes it does. It also reminds me of a preschool classroom with brightly colored bins for toys and equipment. There is nothing wrong with this kitchen, I just asked why and warned that it would be hard to resell later, which is a fact not an opinion.   Since it’s a vacation-beach home on Martha’s Vineyard, no less, they won’t be looking at this all day every day, so to say they will tire quickly of the design may take longer than if it were your full-time kitchen.  All houses have to be sold at some point.  People get transferred, people DIE!  Maybe by that time it will be in need of new cabinets yet again. OR, maybe a huge Mondrian fan will buy it, who knows.  I just know that this will appeal to only a select segment of the house buying population. I did not mean to offend anyone’s design, (from an overall design standpoint, this is brilliant in theory), nor did I intend to belittle Mondrian’s artistic styling.  I think it was a bold choice to do this. But,  I think the owners will eventually tire of this and want to do something else later. That’s all.

All things are possible, but not all things are profitable.  If you have the luxury of doing things that are not profitable, go for it!  If you have the money to do this just because you’ve always wanted it, go for it!  I’ve always found my money too hard to come by to be frivolous with it.

A real life example of what I was trying to say earlier:

I was recently hired to design a new contemporary home to be built in rural Mississippi.  The Tri-State area (TN, MS, & AR) are not really states accustomed to “Contemporary” houses.  We went through a contemporary phase back in the 80’s, but it passed, and EVERY real estate agent for miles will admit that those are HARD to sell.  It is simply hard to get people to go inside the ugly.  IF you do get them inside, the volume of these homes is beyond belief, but they, too, wonder if they’ll ever be able to sell it later when the time comes, so therefore, they are hard to sell.  

This couple had been looking online for contemporary designs and had printed out thousands of pictures from Pinterest, Houzz and other websites;  pictures of all those things they wanted in their home.  They had decided they wanted all three children’s bedrooms to be a 10′ x 10′ box, all encompassing, all equal size.  Inside that square the outside wall would have a built-in twin bed with a big window above and the closet (a 36″ x 36″ square at the foot of the bed). The opposite wall would be filled with other built-in desks and shelves.  The floor area (for playing with Legos and GI Joes and all would be about 5′-9″ x 10′-0″.   The kids, who were still in preschool and early grade school would be asked to live in those rooms until they were at least college age if not beyond.  

This contemporary (odd to North MS) home would be located on family property, not parcelled up so it could be sold individually. This couple was planning on “Life” not happening (circumstances beyond their control) so they were relying on their work situation being constant until they died.  You and I both know that can happen, but often doesn’t work out.  People die before expected.  Companies outsource, and you lose your job. No job is 100% guaranteed.  Husbands sometimes run away.   Even if tragedy doesn’t strike, other things come up.

I asked the couple, “What if your kids grow up, get married and come home for the holidays to spend the night?”   Would the newlywed couple be asked to sleep in separate rooms in these built-in twin beds? This wouldn’t work for me at all!  I’d want to sleep in an adult bed and in the same room as my new husband, but because the parents designed this house with their kids’ current ages in mind, and not thinking of the future (kids do actually grow up and require a little more room) I thought it would be a mistake to limit the rooms to only a twin bed.  To undo all of that later would be expensive and a bigger bed simply wouldn’t fit.  Luckily these parents responded to my advice, they allowed me to make the bedrooms a little larger and move the closets outside of the footprint of the bedroom.  Now the rooms are a minimum of 10′ x 12′ and the closets are outside that limit so that they have room for at least a queen size bed with night stands for their future adult/married children.

They didn’t take ALL my advise.  They live in the country.  They are surrounded by traditional country homes with big wide porches.  Their home will overlook a gorgeous lake, but does their Master Bedroom face the lake?  No.  Did they make a big Salon Bath with a big tub or shower that overlooks the lake?  Nope.  Do I think they made a mistake?  Yep.  Do I care?  Well obviously I do!  It bugs me to this day that their house will be, in MY opinion, ugly and that they didn’t take advantage of the beautiful lake set before them where they could have had EVERY room face the lake!  The kids’ bedrooms have a big 6′ wide window facing the lake.  The Great Room/Kitchen all have giant windows that face the lake.  Guest room and Master bedroom have a window to the lake, but the beds will be sideways, so you couldn’t wake up in the morning and see the geese landing on the beautiful lake.  There is not ONE window (that can be looked out of, on the “front” of their house.  There are French doors (all glass) for the front door and there are some high windows up above the 9′ level to let light in (and to bake you in the summer if you don’t get the good ones) but otherwise, no windows on the front of the house.  Oh, and VERTICAL siding, yes, you heard me right vertical!  WOW, they should have gone all the way and put diagonal siding, right?

Yes, I think they made a mistake by building a contemporary house in the country.  NO it will not be cheaper to build than a traditional country house.  YES, it will be weird for all their guests who live there, because contemporary “Ain’t Normal in these ‘hure parts!”  YES it will be impossible to sell should LIFE happen because it is on a family parcell and a lot of subdividing will have to be done to sell it as an independent home should that come up.  PLUS, it AIN’T NORMAL, so the country folks who live around them will probably not be very interested.  It will probably require an out-of-towner to buy it, or someone from So. Cal. who wants it for a hunting lodge… but I digress.  It will be a lovely home on the inside.  It will look like something out of DWELL magazine, or Architectural Digest, but it will be very difficult to sell.  SO, I hope and pray that LIFE doesn’t happen to these folks an that they never have to move away.  I hope that they both stay perfectly content with life forever and that their kids want to stay there, and their kids, and their kids….. kids….. etc.

A few other things I didn’t’ like:

  1. No porch to view the lake.
  2. No Garage – only a carport.
  3. No window in the playroom/media room which is in the basement with the kids’ bedrooms.
  4. The parking area is on the lower level too, so all the groceries must be brought up the stairs and across the 40′ great room to the kitchen.  (WHAT A PAIN!)
  5. Master Bath is just “ok”.  Nothing Master-ish about it.
  6. Laundry is on the lower level, so it’s convenient to the kids, but not the parents.  Kids grow up and move away!  Remember this!

Could this family remodel later? Sure, if they have the money.  Could they  move out walls to make the kids’ rooms bigger later? Possibly.  But, why not plan for the future today? Why not plan for the future now? Can I turn a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 800 sq. ft. New York City condo into a 4-bedroom, 2 bath condo?  Possibly, but those rooms and bathrooms are going to be really small and there will be no room for a dining room or kitchen much less a living room.  There may be some random posts (structural supports for the hi-rise condos) in the center of your bed, but you can sleep on either side of those… theoretically, they won’t get in the way… much.

So, Yes, the design was bold and well done.  BUT, I couldn’t possibly commit to that much “style”.  I suppose I’m just not gutsy enough!

TEST TIME: 

Bunk Beds for Kids
Bunk Beds for Kids

Imagine this room is 10′ wide (the bed/closet area).  The stairs aren’t there, neither is the bunk.  There is a window where the bunk bed is. The wall of book shelves/desk is directly across from the bed.

Q.   Is this really, really cute and would you like to do this in your home?

A.  ABSOLUTELY!!!!  I LOVE IT!

Q: Do you like this decor?

A. Sure, it’s happy, fun, great, my kid helped me pick out the colors and wallpaper.

Q. How old is your child?

A. 9

Q.  How long to you expect him/her to love these color choices?

A.  Ummmmmm, hopefully forever, that was hard to do and expensive…. etc.

 

Q.  How  many times have you made up a bed that is attached to 3 walls?

A.  Haven’t done that much…. (Will eventually grow to HATE this!)

FACTS:

Your child will outgrow those colors and wallpaper choices.

Making up this bed is a nightmare at  best.

To undo built-ins messes up a LOT of stuff.  You’ll probably need new flooring if it was done around the built-ins. You’ll need sheetrock repair, mud, paint, wallpaper removal, etc.

This is when your adult self says YES to the funky wallpaper on one wall and the funky color on the others and YES to the very cool and age appropriate bedspread and curtains, but NO to the built-ins.  Walls can easily be painted and de-papered, but to undo thousands of dollars worth of built-ins is disheartening at best.

Take my advice, enjoy from afar, pin on pinterest or Houzz, but admire, don’t do.

 

Brick
Brick

image

Getting brick on the new house!

Because of the rain, the brick has been waiting for about a week. More rain tonight. The ground is so muddy they can’t set up the scaffolding. Ahhhhh! Rain!!!!!

Note to self, start next house during the summer!!

 

COLOR!

2015-04-14 11.26.15

I like color.  I especially love seeing a house come together, the entire process impresses and thrills me.  A friend asked me the other day how things were going with this, my first investment home build… I told her I was equally thrilled and freaked out by the entire process.  I was worried about interest payments, etc., then I calm myself down when I realize I only have to pay 3, or maybe 4 months worth of interest.  It’s all good!

Anyway, We were supposed to be getting brick laid starting yesterday, however, it’s been raining off and on for the past few days so the  sand for the morter is too wet, so the brick-layers have not yet begun their work, but the painters came  today said that the wood was dry enough to put a layer of primer on the wood-work, so here we have some primer.

The siding will be about this color, but the trim/cornice will be much lighter as well as the trim around the windows and the garage door and column at the front porch.  The shutters will be solid black and will be inset on the porch to the left of the front door to give the illusion of a window (but a window can no t be placed here because of the staircase directly beyond.  Well, it COULD be a window, but it would have been very expensive tempered glass, and I didn’t want the liability of someone falling down the stairs, through the glass and out onto the front porch, so we simply omitted that window.  There will be shutters at the tiny window above the front porch as well as the window above the garage door.  This house should be really cute when finished.

10 suggestions for designing a Tiny House

Recently the Tiny House Blog did a contest for designing an 8×12 tiny house.  They had tons of submissions.  I, too started to design to see just what would fit into an 8×12 box.  The answer, by the way is ‘Not Much’.  That really is tiny and as far as actually living in that small of a place permanently, I couldn’t do it.  For a hunting/fishing cabin where you stay for days or weeks each year, it would be doable. But I tried to make it a real full-Time living area.  I will show it to you soon, but for now I just want to give some advise to those new designers out there. These are some practical, hopefully cost savings ideas for those on a real budget (the $12k – $40k kind, not the $80k – $400K kind).

1.). 2 x 6 walls really are not needed even if your real house has them.  You can get up to a out R15 or more insulation value in 2 x 4 walls, so why lose those precious square inches all around your house.

2.). Interior room dividers can be as small as 1/2 to 3/4″ thick,  sure at the floor and ceiling there will be some additional bracing, but there is no reason to use 2x4s for partition walls unless there is a specific need, (like plumbing or electrical).  But the wall between a closet and the bathroom where water is not in the wall, just use a sheet of plywood to save those valuable inches.

3.). Toilet & Shower Space:  If you weigh more than 150 lbs, 24″ is NOT enough space (width-wise) for a toilet (or a shower for that matter)!  30″ is really tight for a toilet and 36″ is much easier on larger people.  I’ve also seen some 24″ wide showers in some tiny homes.  Do yourself a favor, never use less than 30″ in width for the shower or the toilet spaces.  For Showers, use 36″ in one direction and no less than 30″ in the other.  Do a test.  Put your hands on your head, like you are washing your hair – or have been pulled over by the cops.  Have a friend measure the distance between your out-spread elbows and add at least 6″. This should be your absolute narrowest shower dimension while facing the shower head.  Also, always carry a measuring tape with you as you go about your life.  The next time you are in a public restroom that has tight quarters, you know, the ones that are hard to get into the space to turn around and shut the door… Now measure this space.  Don’t make yours this small, you’ll thank me later for this one!

4.). Now think about your walls.  Many people use tongue and groove boards.  Some use drywall.  Drywall cracks easily ifs you drive your house around a lot.  But most wood is pretty thick.  Consider using a 1/4″ thick material, could be wood and stainable or paintable, but it is thin.  This saves you 1/2″ of space inside your house.  If you build with SIPS (structured insulated panels) these assemble quickly, already have insulation as well as channels for electrical to be run through the walls, as well they have plywood on both sides, so the inside could easily just be painted and ready to go without another layer of material.

5.). Kitchen Sinks:  Tiny round sinks in the kitchen are horrible! Use a real kitchen sink, not a bar sink.  You need to do more than rinse a coffee cup if you are LIVING in the TH!  Think about it, there are potlucks at your church or with your family on holidays.  You still need to cook real size food, so when it comes to cleaning up, you need a bigger sink.  I’m going to suggest 24″ in width as a minimum for a sink.  You can always put a cutting board OVER the sink for more counter space.

6.). Cooking.  Do you really use more than 2 burners at a time?  If not, just get a 2 burner. If you ever need more than 2, go get a single induction burner for those times, it can be stowed when not in use.  These are super cool inventions!

7.). For Pete’s sake, plan for storage of clothes and other stuff.  If everything you wear can be wadded up under your couch, fine, but for the 99% of us who need to be ironed and relatively wrinkle free most days, plan for a hanging closet! You may need to stow out of season things under the sofa, but the truly in-season clothes need to be readily accessible or else you won’t keep your place tidy.  Your tiny house will have clothes consistently lying about in desperate need of ironing. (BTW: I’ve never seen an ironing board in any tiny house,  hmmmm.)

8.). Water storage space.  This is in theory only, so feel free to let me know the down sides to this topic.  I see lots of tiny houses with space under couches or cabinets for water storage tanks (gray, black and fresh water).  If you aren’t moving often, couldn’t these tanks go UNDER your tiny house on wheels, even if you do move often, these can be emptied and stowed inside the house while traveling, then reset them up once you reach your new destination.  Sure you may need to fill up your fresh water storage tank, but why put these things inside your tiny house where every square inch needs to be accounted for? You could even put these water storage containers on a rolling cart (such as the roley things mechanics use to get under your car to do repairs).  You can roll them under your tiny house for use and roll them back out again when it’s time to empty or fill them. Roll them up on a trailer for easy transport to dump or re-fill.

8.)  DRAWING SCALE MATTERS.  When drawing a tiny house, make sure you use the same scale on everything and also check to make sure you KNOW how big things are.  You can google practically anything these days to get their dimensions.  Round up to the nearest inch in every case.  Just because a bed is 60″x75″, have you considered the headboard, the legs or the frame around the bed? A fridge may be 24″ wide, but is often deeper than the cabinets.  Did you allow for the door to open? I looked up the dimensions of an Apartment sized fridge (11.7 cubic feet) and discovered that it was 24″ wide and 28.2″ deep including the handle.  It was 59.8″ high and when open it was just over 50″ deep.  These are important numbers to know. Make sure the door will open fully or else the drawers may not open at all.

9.)  WALKWAYS  24″ May work, and if that’s all you got, you gotta go with it, but this is not easy to pass another person in the same space.  Make sure to consider how many people will be living in the house before deciding on a 2′ hallway. Try for 36″ as a minimum.

10.)  My OCD self would not let me stop with only 9 items in this list, so here’s #10.  POP-OUTS.  Leave the pop outs for RV’s.  They are drafty, they often leak with rain, these are only intended for temporary use, not full-time living.  Besides that, they are pricy.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can use them all day, every day in a full time tiny living situation.  They are extremely costly and need to be light weight.  This means non-conventional construction.  Not for new builders or DIY projects.  In theory they are great.  In reality, a nightmare! Just say no to the thought of cheating Physics.

Well those are my tiny house thoughts for the day.  I’d love to consider your thoughts on these.