Help me plan a small home

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by crwilson, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. crwilson

    crwilson Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Hey people im going to be building my own home this summer, away from a small road about half a mile, and im not having any inspectors check it or anything so i can build it how i like. I originally though of building a log home but im almost absolutely sure im going with a cordwood home now with a stone and cement basment foundation about five or six feet deep. i plan on making the walls around 16 inches thick or more cuz it gets pretty cold here and i might as well build something that will last.

    I want to be economical and its only me and my dog going to live here so i think about 24 feet to 26 feet long facing south should be good with about 16 feet to 20 feet wide with a small loft over one half for storing stuff or maybe sleeping in the winter

    im going to have an old fashioned cook stove and maybe a furnace in the basement if the stove cant provide enough heat, would it? or are they only for cooking

    and im either going to have a fridge or a freezer what do you sugest
    and probably a laptop and small tv.. and besides that just a few efficient lights.

    CAn someone draw me a floor plan please.. thanks
  2. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 14, 2002
    Fl Zones 11
    also search the topic, there have been small places discussed and links posted many times.

  3. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    DH and I lived in an apartment that size, once, and we were very comfortable.

    When you came in through the door, you walked into the living room. There was a picture window on your right, which gave the room a light and airy appearance.

    As you went further in, a counter separated the living room from the kitchionette. Because there was no solid wall dividing them the kitchionette did not feel confined either. Also, the counter between the kitchionette and the LR gave needed work space for the kitchion.

    As you walked in the door, to the left was the bedroom and bathroom. I don't know where you would put a washing machine, though. We didn't have one back then.
  4. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2004
    We wanted to build a cordwood house, but weren't sure if we could do it or not. So before we started building the house, we decided to build a well house/storage building to see how it would work out. Actually, we built one wall from cordwood & one from rock with slip forms. It was a very educational experience, & we found out that we could do it, but decided not to build the house from cordwood because the wood shrunk in dry weather & left 1/4 to 3/8 inch gaps with daylight showing through. Some of the wood would get loose enough that it could actually be pulled out of the wall. We used well cured wood & built the wall in July during dry weather, thinking that the wood would not shrink much if any, but it did. We thought about putting silicone in the gaps, but it is just an outbuilding, so we didn't.
    It did make a beautiful wall, though. It was built in 1998 & is still as strong as when we built it.
  5. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2004

    Don't know if this would adapt to cordwood or not. But it would make a good passive solar design-especially if you added more windows to the living room on the right side.
    Here's the link to the website:

  6. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

    May 10, 2002
    I have always really liked that plan. First of all I appreciate it's simplicity of two shed roofed structures stuck together. Second I agree that it could be a very nice passive solar home, especially with the addition of skylights to the lower floor, a nice southern exposure, and deciduous shade trees for summer cooling.

    Little Bit Farm
  7. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2004
    If you build that house, don't put the kitchen range right next to the frig -- it makes the frig work overtime. Also there's no counter space right next to the frig. I would suggest putting the stove on the opposite leg of the U, and instead of the eating area in the kitchen, have a dining table in one end of the living area. If I was building that house, I would also put more windows in the living room and face it south. I would also replace the ships ladder with stairs, but that's just me, as my daughter can't come down a ladder without a lot of help (she goes up just fine, but can't understand that she has to turn around in order to come down). I'd put a small masonry wood stove in there, too. And a root cellar underneath, with access by trap door in the floor. There's no where near enough storage in that house -- seems like most tiny house designs have a great big living space at the expense of work and storage space. I'd rather have a large work space, lots of storage, and a small 'living' space. I spend more time working than sitting anyway.

    My favorite tiny house design is about 16' X 24', with the short ends facing east and west. Along the back wall are the sleeping areas (nooks, as there's no room for real bedrooms) and the bathroom/laundry. Toilet is a composting toilet in a small separate building though I usually leave room for a sawdust-toilet-in-a-bucket in the bathroom. The front half of the house (or a little over a half) has the kitchen at the east end, living at the west end, dining in the middle. More or less in the center of the house would be a masonry stove with a cooktop. I put a large porch on the west end of the house for outdoor living and to help shade the house from the hot afternoon sun. On the north side of both house and that west-facing porch is a woodshed/storage shed. On the south side could be a green house. I'd put a big porch on the east side, too, if there was room for another door on the east end of the house. That could be a nice place to eat breakfast or do summer cooking. The simplest roof design is a shed roof, followed by a simple gable roof. If the highest side of the shed roof faced south, you could have a nice loft up there. (If you're an artist, face the shed roof north!)

    You can draw your own plans -- go to the library and get a couple of books on housebuilding out. There should be some charts and stuff that will help you determine sizes of framing members such as rafters, and sizes of headers over windows and doors.

    One thing to keep in mind if you build a house with really thick walls is that you are losing a lot of floor space to the thickness of the walls.

    Here is a place you could go for help with a small house:

    The list owner, Laren, is an architect/builder who specializes in tiny houses and likes to help people! He's very nice, and would be glad to talk to you about what you plan to do. (He's also very opinionated, but aren't we all!)

  8. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    What do you NEED, and what do you HATE? For many people, an open plan works well. This is where the kitchen, living, dining, and everything is in one room. Many weekend homes are built this way. The kitchen table is also the dining room table, but you could use counters in the same way. If you like to have a little peace and quiet away from everyone, this may not work. If you don't like to look at the mess you just created in the kitchen while you eat, then you need to put a wall between the dining area and the cooking area.

    The fewer walls you have, the bigger the area will feel. Half walls can be incorporated if you need a wall. We have a half wall where the stairs are so the line of sight in our living room goes another 4 1/2 feet beyond the floor plan.

    A pair of French doors leading onto a patio or deck gives you another room and a great view. In fact, you can use the deck as your dining room.

    An eight foot high ceiling will feel less entrapping than a seven foot ceiling. You can go up to nine feet for the ceiling (ours are nine feet), but higher than that and you will feel uncomfortable, especially in a small house.

    You can have window seats that double as beds with drawers underneath. This would do away with bedrooms, or at least with a guest room.

    The bathroom must be accessible by NOT going through the kitchen. If you have to go through the kitchen to get to the bathroom it is a health code violation. If you get caught, you will have a tough time replumbing the house to meet code.

    Put the square footage where you need it, and have as few doors as possible. A little kitchen with one door into it is much more usable than a kitchen with three or four doors opening into it. Putting square footage into the floor plan of the bathroom makes sense because if it is wheelchair accessible you will get more use out of the house (wheelchair, walker, crutches, mom with toddler, laundry hamper, stackable washer and dryer)

    We have infloor radient heat which means we have a water heater, but no furnace.
  9. tallpaul

    tallpaul Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2004
    There is a lady down where our hunting land is that built a modified version of that house. She was really nice and even showed me the iinside. She added a stairway to the back to access the bedroom upstairs. It would be very livable especially with a basement. I would find storage to bethe biggest problem but outbuildings could help. A man tends to aquire junk doesn't he?
  10. Nevada

    Nevada Voice of Reason Supporter

    Sep 9, 2004
    Las Vegas, NV
    There is a design that you might consider that is said to only cost about $5000 in materials and can be constructed by one person. The $5000 includes foundation, roofing, interior, insulation, as well as plumbing & electrical.

    It is called the Pyramodule and the plans are $195. Here is a link:
  11. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Two sites that are helpful are and There's also for a more modern take on little houses.

    There are a lot of old hippie books that are helpful, like Shelter and Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter both by Lloyd Kahn and available from

    I've been busy planning my tiny house for about a year now. But in my situation, I think it will be easier and much cheaper for me to buy a home and take advantage of first-home buyers mortgages. Then in a few years, I'll be able to put some money down on some land and start building one then.

    Good luck and let us know what you decide!

  12. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    -I would build the little house into a hill so that you could have the advantage of pulling in that cooler air and pushing out the hot air on the top floor thru an attic fan in the winter.

    -Situate the house facing south and put most of your windows there.

    --Build in storage and use shelves above doorways and windows.

    --Use shelves 2 ft from the ceiling around rooms--esp bathrooms to give more storage space.

    --Build a pantry into the kitchen and hang pots, pans and ladles etc. from a pot rack in the kitchen.

    --Hang extra wooden straightback chairs up high on the stairwells like the shakers did for extra seating without sacrificing floor space.

    --Build bookshelves between the studs on some walls so you take advantage of every available inch.

    --Build in the breakfast nook boooth with benches.

    --Hang as much as you can on the back of every door for storage.
  13. stonefly71

    stonefly71 Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2003
    I'd buy a grage kit from a lumber store and build it and change a few things to make it into a house. When we move to Arkanasa thats what we plan to do Buy a pole barn kit and build it and transform it into our house. ! it's a hellova lot cheaper to go that route to me . 2. the choices are endless as what you can turn it into. 3 you can add on to it much cheaper then adding onto a house. 4 you can get the metal that comes for the side and also buy ply wood or what ever you want the sides to be and use the metal for another building. Just my 2 cents and what my future plans are to do. just thought I'd share them with you. You can go to lumber stores and get a magazine they have some are free that have different house plans in them and change them to the way you want yours to look like. I use to work for Carter Lumber and know they use to have these this is where I got my idea to make my house out of a pole barn kit. Later Matt
  14. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    Here's a detailed set of Archtectural Plans for our cabin, you can build yours the same and be happy, like we are. We used poplar logs.

    First Floor. We switched Ashely and Pellet Stove location, and Ashely recently became Blaze King.

    Second Floor

    View From South

    That's all we needed.