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6 Tips for Designing and Building a Tiny House

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<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/420623/portable-house-aph80-abaton-arquitectura'>Portable House ÁPH80 / Ábaton Arquitectura</a>. Image © Juan Baraja <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/420623/portable-house-aph80-abaton-arquitectura'>Portable House ÁPH80 / Ábaton Arquitectura</a>. Image © Juan Baraja

Tiny houses have become popular in recent years as housing prices continue to soar. Whether as an off-the-grid retreat or a way to live more simply and economically, tiny homes offer a more flexible way to live. They are even being used by charity organizations such as the Tiny Homes Foundation in Australia as a way to tackle the issue of homelessness in cities and the need for social housing. As the popularity and need for tiny homes become ever more prevalent, knowing the necessary skills to design a tiny house for yourself or a client is a useful skill to have.

Below are 6 tips to keep in mind when designing and building a tiny house:

1. Check Local Laws Before You Start Designing

Often, tiny houses are built on trailers to eliminate the need for building permits. In the US and Australia, most tiny houses have wheels so they can be legally classified as a campervan and not an illegally small house. However, local laws can vary so it is important to check them before you start designing. This will also be helpful in determining the size of your tiny house, as well as whether there are any regulations regarding certain materials or where you can place it.

<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/484584/quebrada-house-unarquitectura'>Quebrada House / UNarquitectura</a>. Image © Natalia Vial <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/484584/quebrada-house-unarquitectura'>Quebrada House / UNarquitectura</a>. Image © Natalia Vial

2. A Good Plan is a Good Building

The plan of any building is important, but this is especially true in regards to tiny houses, where every square centimeter of space matters. With careful and clever planning, a 20-square-meter tiny house can feel much larger and more comfortable to live in. One key way to achieve this is through the use of sliding doors, eliminating the space that is taken up by the swing of a traditional door; in fact, it is important to get rid of all unnecessary doors in the first place, to open up the limited space. Another way to create a more spacious environment is to maximize window space (although be careful of insulation issues). By bringing in natural light and views to the outdoors, it allows the inhabitant to feel as if the outside is an extension to the tiny home.

<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/379927/micro-house-studio-liu-lubin'>Micro-house / Studio Liu Lubin</a>. Image Courtesy of Studio Liu Lubin <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/379927/micro-house-studio-liu-lubin'>Micro-house / Studio Liu Lubin</a>. Image Courtesy of Studio Liu Lubin
<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/785103/colorado-outward-bound-micro-cabins-university-of-colorado-denver'>Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins / University of Colorado Denver</a>. Image Courtesy of University of Colorado Denver <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/785103/colorado-outward-bound-micro-cabins-university-of-colorado-denver'>Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins / University of Colorado Denver</a>. Image Courtesy of University of Colorado Denver

3. Don’t Simply Shrink Everything

An easy mistake to make is to correlate “tiny house” with “tiny everything,” which couldn’t be more wrong. By shrinking bathroom space or bed sizes too extensively, it hugely affects the quality of the living space. A better way to go about things would be to explore multifunctionality, asking whether each piece of furniture could have multiple uses, such as storage beds, or a bookshelf that transforms into a desk. The adaptability of the spaces could also extend to the architecture itself, with adaptable walls pulling out to become seating, and slotted back when not in use. The possibilities are endless, and the potentials for tiny houses can be extended through innovative architecture.

<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/785103/colorado-outward-bound-micro-cabins-university-of-colorado-denver'>Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins / University of Colorado Denver</a>. Image © Jesse Kuroiwa <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/785103/colorado-outward-bound-micro-cabins-university-of-colorado-denver'>Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins / University of Colorado Denver</a>. Image © Jesse Kuroiwa
<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/420623/portable-house-aph80-abaton-arquitectura'>Portable House ÁPH80 / Ábaton Arquitectura</a>. Image © Juan Baraja <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/420623/portable-house-aph80-abaton-arquitectura'>Portable House ÁPH80 / Ábaton Arquitectura</a>. Image © Juan Baraja

4. Don’t Forget the Foundation (And the Roof)

It is important to consider the foundations when designing a tiny house. The first question is whether you want the house to be easily transportable. The appeal of this, in addition to the legal issues surrounding tiny houses discussed above, are the main reason why most tiny houses are built on trailers. However, there are also other ways tiny houses can be built, such as on skids, stilts, or post and beam or concrete slab foundations. It is important to research the best foundation to use in order to suit the needs of your tiny house. The roof is another important part of the design that can’t be ignored. For example, a flat roof may cause problems where debris and water can accumulate. The roof design becomes even more important if you live in a part of the world with snowfall and have to consider snow weights—and if your tiny house is transportable, you may wish to consider the entire range of environments it's likely to encounter.

<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/396082/diogene-renzo-piano'>Diogene / Renzo Piano</a>. Image © Renzo Piano <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/396082/diogene-renzo-piano'>Diogene / Renzo Piano</a>. Image © Renzo Piano

5. Focus on the Weight

Leading on from the last point, weight is a huge issue to be considered when designing and building a tiny house. If the house is designed to be transportable, lightweight materials must be used to minimize the weight of the house. If built on a trailer, you must also consider “tongue weight,” meaning how much weight is on the front, toward the tongue of the trailer, and how much weight is on the back. If there isn’t enough weight on the trailer tongue, it can end up swaying from side to side when transporting the house, and if there is too much weight, it can overload the tires and push the vehicle around. Both situations can be extremely dangerous, so calculating the weight of the house is essential.

<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/476916/minimod-mapa'>Minimod / MAPA</a>. Image © Leonardo Finotti <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/476916/minimod-mapa'>Minimod / MAPA</a>. Image © Leonardo Finotti
<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/790996/koda-kodasema'>KODA / Kodasema</a>. Image © Paul Kuimet <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/790996/koda-kodasema'>KODA / Kodasema</a>. Image © Paul Kuimet

6. Think Outside the Box for Materials

Tiny houses are often made with salvaged or recycled materials to reduce cost and to be more environmentally sustainable. Architects are becoming more and more innovative in their use of recycled materials, so think outside the box when designing your tiny house. Every choice of material is significant, as the house is so small that every surface must count. Windows were mentioned previously as important elements to expand the space, so the choice of glass is crucial. Depending on the climate in which you want to build the tiny house, it is important to investigate the thermal qualities of different glass products. With around 40% of household energy used for heating and cooling, the use of materials and passive design can lower energy costs substantially.

<a href='https://www.archdaily.com/785103/colorado-outward-bound-micro-cabins-university-of-colorado-denver'>Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins / University of Colorado Denver</a>. Image © Jesse Kuroiwa <a href='https://www.archdaily.com/785103/colorado-outward-bound-micro-cabins-university-of-colorado-denver'>Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins / University of Colorado Denver</a>. Image © Jesse Kuroiwa
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1 public comment
davebelt
34 days ago
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everyone who visits my apartment in nyc immediately asks if i'm "a fan of those tiny house shows"
earth dimension c-138

Henniker Working Man's Porter reviewed!

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The Food Size Cycle

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There's data suggesting that this model may apply to deep-dish/thin-crust pizza. I've designed a thorough multi-year study to investigate this personally, but funding organizations keep denying my grant requests.
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davebelt
129 days ago
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Never actually seen tacos get bigger
earth dimension c-138
lepperk
127 days ago
https://www.amazon.com/Old-El-Paso-Stuffer-Shells/dp/B01CO6GZJC

deDear_ Yeonnam / Cho and Partners

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© Yousub Song © Yousub Song
  • Architects: Cho and Partners
  • Location: Yeonnam-dong, South Korea
  • Lead Architects: Hyeonjin Cho
  • Design Team: Haewook Jeong, Kyuhwan Kim
  • Area: 277.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2017
  • Photographs: Yousub Song
  • Construction: Cho and Partners Construction
  • Structural Engineer: BASE Structures
  • Lot Area: 129.56 m2
  • Lot Coverage: 72.21 m2
© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

Text description provided by the architects. The married building owner couple who are fashion designers felt attracted to peculiar sensitivity that Yeonnam-dong has.  They thought they could enjoy pleasurable lifestyle as there are restaurants where you can taste the dishes from around the world, and as cute small prop shops and workshops of designers are gathered around there. Above all, the fact that there is a park where they can enjoyably take a walk with their dog made them decide to have their new nest in “Yeonnam-dong” where they have never visited before.

© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

They were pleasant customers who visited us as they felt the charm of the city rather than focusing on the value of real estate or the school district issue.

As we encountered this not so big or small land of just over 130m2, we tried not to discuss too much about architecture. We believed that it was our job to make the furniture and the paintings that the building owner had stand out and to faithfully materialize the space they wanted. It is not easy to build the required area and program satisfactorily in most of the construction work in the city.   Nevertheless, when the desire takes over for an architect, sometimes houses with features of daily inconveniences that you need to endure are built.

© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

We have decided to build this house with careful care and sincere consideration of what would be the best we could do for this married couple who have given this opportunity to young architects although they could have gone to a more proven architect with more prominence.

Section 01 Section 01

The elevation consists of an exposed concrete wall and carbonized ash wood. The shadows of the cherry trees standing face to face are as if they are painted with shadows on the canvas made of carbonized wood. On the other hand, in the indoor, a cherry tree looks like a picture through a large window through the living room.

© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

The architecture outside and the cherry three inside become scenery to each other.

The couple, whose children have all moved out, wanted to have a studio style where the living room and the bedroom are in unity rather than making a separate bedroom. Because of this unique idea, we make a space that is one but is two by making a mezzanine where you can create a big patio in the living room to maximize the sense of space and place a bed.  

It’s moving line through the powder room to the dress room and the bathroom is an interesting element, and the bathroom space where you can look at the sky through the small roof light window above the bathtub on a sunny day and take a lower body bath while listening to the sound of rain on a cloudy day is also attractive.

© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

To the couple who said they wanted to have a terrace where they can hold a simply party by inviting some friends, I have suggested that it would be great if that space has a terrace and kitchen together even if that means you have to move thing up and down. Although it is not a large space, I wanted to have a place with outdoor café like feeling where inside and outside are mixed together when you open a window.

More than anything, first, I started out by consulted with them on contemplating where and how to place the fabulous furniture and painting that the couple had and proceeded with the project. In addition to the couch or table, we have consulted together even on speakers and pendants in advance and made decision in details and proceeded forward. The designer who was in charge of the project went out on-site every day even after the construction has started and checked all the elements one by one and made decisions. The collaboration work related to furniture production was also an impressive project. We designed the closet that fills a large mid-level wall over five meters and we needed to have many communications with the team that was building it.  

© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

The keyword 'communication' that we always emphasize does not work when only one side screams hard. The owners and architects, architects and builders, and builders and builders, when all these ensembles ‘communicate’ with one goal, I believe that project can always create a space with authenticity.

The young architects had done all they could and had given their best as they appreciated this opportunity that was given to them and the builders appreciated their passion and helped. Above all, the consideration of the owners who acknowledged and understood the various possibilities and values that architecture can provide has been the main driving force that lead this project to a good direction.

© Yousub Song © Yousub Song

I hope this small architecture that was created in collaboration with young architects can be a momentum in making the city the couple love even more attractive.

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Fresh Juniper Saison with El Dorado

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Eastern Red Cedar tea.I really enjoy beers brewed with local ingredients, but local grains and hops have never been at the top of that list. In both cases local usually doesn't mean fresher, higher quality, or more variety. Often the opposite is true, and for double the price. Conversely, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs are naturally advantaged over their nonlocal competition. They are at their best immediately after harvest and include varieties not suitable for shipping. Buying fresh in these cases is often less than the shelf-stable versions (although that means more processing for the brewer).

For this batch of rye saison I opted for a blend of hops and grains from around the world, paired with freshly harvested juniper (Eastern Red Cedar) from my backyard. This was my second batch using trimmings from that tree, after the more traditional Summer Kveik earlier in the year. The other half of this batch went on to be a rye pale ale, dry-hopped with Galaxy and I didn't want juniper in that beer. To avoid splitting the boil I added the juniper as a tea, rather than directly to the mash or wort.

I wanted a more complex and substantial malt backbone to counter the aromatic hops and juniper, so pale malt and rye made sense. Big quality-of-life upgrade from my old Barley Crusher to my new Monster Mill 2Pro-SL. Not far from this saison brewed a few years ago, but with spelt flour replacing the wheat malt. Fermentation was carried out by my house saison culture.

It was also my first batch using the Genesis Fementer that Brewcraft USA sent for me to try out. It features a pre-santized bag to ferment the wort in. It made clean up easy, but I found the bag annoying to work with otherwise. It took some effort to get it fluffed up enough to get the tubing down into it for run-off. I also found it difficult to see where my auto-siphon was for racking. In the past all of my fermentors had either by clean (glass and plastic carboys) or had a wide opening to allow me to see down into the fermentor to know when to tilt or stop to avoid sucking up trub.

This batch also has my second video, a bit abbreviated compared to the first and with slightly better audio thanks to a new microphone!



Fresh Juniper Saison

Dry-Hopped Brett Saison with Fresh Juniper.Smell – Nice mixture of generic American-hop-fruitiness and saison yeast pepper. Mild Brett-pineapple, but still fresh. Juniper comes across more naturally piney, no big apricot as I’ve tasted in a few beers brewed with boil-addition Eastern Red Cedar. Maybe has to do with an interaction with the malt? Seasonal flavor-change?

Appearance – Nearly flawless saison; glowing gold with a luscious white head. Leaves rings of sticky lacing with each sip.

Taste – The hops and juniper meld beautifully, reinforcing each other. Slight maltiness in the finish, thanks to the rye malt. Juniper comes out most in the finish, especially towards the bottom of the glass. Woody, green, not like toasted oak (no vanilla or toasted nuts).

Mouthfeel – The extra proteins and beta glucans from the rye and spelt combine to provide some substance to the body. Carbonation is a little low, would have been fun bottled. At first it had sort of a resiny harshness to the finish, thankfully that has dropped out.

Drinkability & Notes – Weird, but not too weird. Surprisingly drinkable with a good balance of hops, herbs, and funk.

Changes for Next Time – Would like to try it with juniper in the mash/boil to see how it changes the expression.


Monster Mill 2Pro-SL on the left, Barley Crusher on the right.Recipe

Batch Size: 5.75 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 36.3
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.008
ABV: 5.9%
Final pH: 4.12
Brewhouse Efficiency: 79%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
68.2% - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
22.7% - 2.5 lbs Weyermann Rye Malt
9.1% - 1 lbs Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 154F

Hops
-------
1.50 oz Amarillo (Pellets, 6.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
1.50 oz Citra (Pellets, 9.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
1.50 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 10.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
0.50 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 11.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 15.00% AA) Dry Hop

Water
-------
7.00 g Calcium Chloride
5.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
1.50 tsp 88% Lactic Acid

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
130
100
170
15
10
90

Other
-------
1 Pint Juniper Tea:
    1 gallon of Water
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 60 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 30 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 10 mins
    40 g Eastern Red Cedar @ 0 mins

Yeast
-------
Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
All DC Filtered water for mash and sparge. Mash pH 5.29 at mash temp. Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.050 runnings. 1 gallon of distilled water added pre-boil reduced gravity to 1.045.

For the juniper infusion, brought a gallon of water to a boil with 40 g of Eastern Red Cedar. Boiled for 60 minutes with 40 additional grams at 30, 10, and flame-out. Allowed to chill naturally with the juniper still in there. Added 2 cups to the saison half (~25% of the resulting amber liquid).

Amarillo/Citra/Simcoe in the boil was all 2014. Galaxy was 2016.

Saison with my house culture, directly from fridge (honey saison).

Left both at 68F to ferment.

11/26/17 Dry hopped the saison with El Dorado. Still in primary. Warmed to mid-70s ambient.

12/7/17 Kegged the Saison and started force carbonation in kegerator.

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!
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Remember House / Edmonds + Lee Architects

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© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography
  • Construction: GC - Devlin McNally
  • Landscape: Thuilot Associates
© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

Text description provided by the architects. On a down-sloping hillside parcel of land in San Francisco’s Noe Valley sits the Remember House, a four-story project that embraces vertical stacking and crisp materiality and was designed by Edmonds + Lee Architects for a tightly-knit family unit of three.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

Four-story massing usually leads to a space that feels tight or repetitive, so the architects worked to make the vertical circulation both evocative and valuable, forgoing the pancake-style San Francisco house where everything is maximized in terms of square footage, and instead opening the house in section, maximizing a feeling of spaciousness and a sense of architectural adventure. That meant a small sacrifice in terms of physically usable space, but a huge gain in terms of enjoyable architecture. Double-height spaces and a staircase centered within the central spine of the house encourage the clients and their visitors to engage with each level.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

On the interior, the architects started with the materiality first, working within the inherited geometry of the project, and from an all-white palette that began with the very first design choice, white Douglas fir floors from Dinesen, something the architects knew they were going to build the house around.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

They started with white-on-white because of the clients’ general aesthetic focus—on white, spare, minimalism—and their enthusiasm for treating interiors the same way Edmonds + Lee do: like galleries or museums where the main visual interest pops from the decor, the art, and the furniture. “We were designing a neutral canvas onto which they project their own artifacts,” says architect Robert Edmonds. That neutral canvas became seamless, with spaces that flow from end to end, and with a continuity of materials that favor fluid transitions over the sharp disconnects so often found in modernist projects.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

The sharpest moment is in the choice of exterior palette. Because the project was a renovation that required working within existing bones and an existing ground parcel, the street-side massing needed to remain consistent; there wasn’t much the architects could do with it. Offering a counterpoint to the interior’s spreading whiteness, and to the two neighboring houses, both of which are white, the architects chose to wrap the front in a dark cladding, differentiating the house from its neighbors and also from what it contains.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

Edmonds + Lee also designed the interior furnishings, working with an ongoing notion of seamlessness all the way though the project. Working on a schematic level, the architects thought about materiality and space, (the big ideas of capital-A Architecture), but also furniture and interior design. Their aesthetic focus explored everything from the greatest mass to the smallest detail - which allowed for a precise and vibrant spatial, material, and architectural choreography, like the sliding doors, for which the architects introduced a large window frame to bring a sense of solidity, history, and heft, or those Douglas fir floorboards, two-inch thick pieces of wood that create what Edmonds sees as an incredibly haptic experience.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography

The Remember house was named by the clients to help them remember where they’d come from, and what they’d done to get here. To never forget that architecture, space, and design create the ultimate foundation from which to build a compelling and memorable life.

© Joe Fletcher Photography © Joe Fletcher Photography
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