How did I decide on the size and design of my (very) tiny house?

How did I decide on the size and design of my (very) tiny house?
I’ll walk you through my process, it may help you, it may not.  When beginning, don’t worry too much about the size.  The beauty of a tiny house is that you customize it to your life and the size will present itself in the design process.   A lot of people make the mistake of starting with a size in mind but that really limits the level of creativity that can go into the design process.
Here were my steps, I am sure I forgot something but this is for sure a good starting point:
  1.  Document your day from morning to night.  This will help you to identify the must haves.  Don’t limit anything from this list.  It also helped me to walk through my house and look at every nook, cranny and item.  Things that popped out for me here that I may not have thought about previously were things like a place for coats and shoes as I come in the door and little things such as garbage/recycling storing linens, storing books/DVD’s etc.
    On this step go into all of the tiny (no pun intended but still funny) details.  For example…
    Wake up, pee (need a toilet), have a shower (need a shower), get dressed (need somewhere to store clothing), brush teeth (need a bathroom sink), do hair and makeup (need somewhere to store beauty products, list them all), make a coffee (need space for coffee maker, cups, spoons etc), make breakfast (need all the items needed to make and serve breakfast), do yoga (need a spot for yoga and somewhere to store yoga mat), sit down and work (need workspace and storage for all related items)
    1. What things do you do in your home?
    2. What items do you use in your home?
    3. What items are important to store in your home that you may not use all the time but you would like to keep?
  2. How often would you be traveling with your home?
    1. All the time
    2. A couple of times a year (over a short distance)
    3. A couple of times a year (long distances)
    4. Whenever you move it from location to location, which wouldn’t be often.
  3. Are there any considerations to make for animals?  i.e dog beds/food storage, cat litter boxes etc
  4. Would the home be on grid (plugged into water and power) or off grid (running solar for power and trucking in water) or some combination of the two?
  5. Would you want empty floor space available for activities? i.e. yoga space, dance space etc
  6. What would you like for kitchen setup?
    1. fully functional kitchen (full size electric appliances)
    2. fully functional kitchen (full size propane appliances)
    3. partial kitchen (smaller fridge, portable cooktops, toaster oven, small appliances)
    4. basic kitchen (sink, basic storage, bar fridge etc)
  7. How many people will be in the home?
    1. How many beds?
    2. Future growth of family?
    3. A space for guests?
  8. Any personal mobility issues that would need to be designed around?
  9. Loft or main floor bed?
  10. How much clothing would need to be stored?
    1. do you get dressed in the bedroom area or in the bathroom? (I put all my clothing in the bathroom and it opened up a lot more room for clothes.)
  11. Would you like any type of working space?  i.e. office area, craft area etc
  12. When you close your eyes and see your space what sorts of things are there for you that we didn’t catch in this list?

Additional tips…

I personally took this list and made every “required” item out of grid paper.  From there I move things around (a lot) to get the best layout.

Try your best to ensure that as many items as possible has at least 2 uses, for example a table that is also a desk or additional counter space for the kitchen.  This makes your home extremely efficient.

When designing each of my storage spaces, I literally measured everything I wanted to bring with me into my tiny house.  Dig deep into all the depths of your current cupboards and drawers.  Purge, purge and purge again.  There are many things you can eliminate and you’ll feel great doing it.

The process of designing your own home is one that will take you on a journey of self discovery.  In the end, having a home that is completely unique to your wants, needs and personality is the most beautiful thing to come from this process and the final product.

I personally had heard from many existing tiny home owners that if they were to do it again, they would go smaller. So I challenged myself to go as small as possible, for the reason just mentioned but also so I could travel with it easily.  The creative side of me had a blast with this challenge!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it helps you on your journey!!!  As always, feel free to reach out to me.  I love talking tiny houses and if I can help you work through in any way I would love to.  You can also subscribe to stay up to date, it’s off to the right!

The products used in my tiny home

The products used in my tiny home

This page may contain affiliate links.  If you click on a link, I get paid a small amount.  Thank you for your support 🙂

Winch bed system – designed by FRC Tiny Homes

  • Champion Power Equipment 12003 Power Winch Kit – 2000 lb. Capacity (Amazon)
  • 0 HP, 12V DC
  • 153:1 gear ratio
  • With remote control

81L+wLmdIqL._AC_SL1500_

Heating – propane direct vent heater and electric in floor heat

  • Martin Propane Direct Vent Heater 8,000 to 11,000 (Costco)
  • QuietWarmth electric heat film with conductive ink technology

quietwarmth

Flooring – Luxury Vinyl Plank (New Era Flooring)

  • Twelve Oaks flooring – Greek Villa (colour name)
  • 7” wide plank
  • 3/16” thick
  • Beveled edge

VRG948-Greek-Villa

Water Pump

  • SHURflo RV Water Pump (CanadaRV.com)
  • 12v
  • 3GPM (gallons per minute)
  • 5 amps
  • Selling point – quiet to run

sureflo

Generator

  • Honda EU2200iTC
  • 2200 watts with 120 VAC power inverter
  • 57dB(A)
  • Ability to run in series

honda 2200

Lights – Interior

  • LED RV Boat Recessed Ceiling Light by Leisure LED (Amazon)
  • 3/4” thick
  • 720 lumen (natural white)
  • 9 watts

LED recessed light

Lights – Exterior

  • LED Flood light (Amazon)
  • 12v
  • 10 watt
  • 900 lumens, 6500k (daylight white)
  • Waterproof

exterior light

Tank Monitoring

  • Seelevel II 709 (Garnett Industries)
  • Reads batteries, fresh water, grey water, black water and propane
  • Exterior senders for tanks (easy to replace and no damage from water)

sealevel

Electronic Door Handle

  • Gatehouse (Lowes)
  • Lighted keypad

door handle

Exterior Door

  • Masonite steel entry door (Rona)

Exterior Door

Fold down porch – designed by FRC Tiny Homes

  • Multinautic QP-400 Ultra-light Aluminium Dock (Costco)

Dock

Fridge

  • Danby fridge (Costco)
  • 24”
  • 10 cu ft

fridge

Backsplash

  • Ecoceramic Bronx turquesa (TileTown)

backsplash

Sink

  • Blanco Corrence Single Bowl (Lowes)
  • Silgranit material

Sink

Faucet

  • Pfister Cagney 1-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen (CanadianTire)

Kitchen Faucet

Toaster Oven

  • Oster French Door Convection Oven
  • 1500 watt

Toaster oven

Cooktop

  • Tillreda Induction cooktop (Ikea)
  • 1800 watt

Cooktop

Bathroom Sink

  • LILLÅNGEN bathroom sink (Ikea)

Bathroom sink

Why I am building a tiny house

Why I am building a tiny house

My journey into the tiny house world actually started over 10 years ago.  I was in my late 20’s and I was riddled with anxiety. So much anxiety I couldn’t eat without getting sick. What was wrong with me?  I followed the path.  I had a decent job, I was climbing the corporate ladder.  I had a husband and owned a house and a car.  Why wasn’t I happy?  Why was I unfulfilled?  That began a long path of undoing the social norm programming that consumed the default wiring in my brain.  Was this actually the life I wanted?  I put in a lot of extra hours for work.  I would come home and keep working because that would get me recognition of being a hard worker and somehow made me feel like I was keeping up with the task list.  But it really just got me a lot of unpaid hours of work and more of a workload.  It was destroying my relationships and it was burning me out.  But it was the way to success and success means money and money means no stress, right?  We were also living beyond our means at the time.  We had cars financed, the mortgage, credit card debt from buying stuff we really didn’t need.  Shortly after my anxiety began, my marriage ended. In hindsight, I can see that everything that was making me unhappy was because I had expectations.  Expectations of all the wonderful stuff that society and media had filled my mind with.  Such as how my husband was supposed to be, in our fairy tale love.  How I would skyrocket up the corporate ladder and be super successful before 30.  How my possessions would make me look as though I had it all.

Fast forward a couple of years after my divorce. I uprooted my life and moved across the country to continue to chase my career goals.  I still believed that my job title defined me as a person and my level of success.  I gave everything I had to the company for 15 years.  Only to end up fired because one of my employees made a safety mistake and it was company policy to fire the employee and manager too.  This event broke me.  I no longer had a purpose or an identity.  How could I commit this much of my life to a company only to mean nothing to them at the end of the day.  This though, this was the best thing that could ever happen to me!!!

I had been renting a house because I still owned my house in my hometown.  I quickly got rid of the rental and moved in with some friends.  When I moved in, I put most of my stuff into their garage for storage.  As we moved it all in, I stepped back and looked at the pile of stuff and realized I had debt and a lot of stuff that wasn’t actually needed but I didn’t have joy.  This began my journey into exploring alternative ways of living.

I have a philosophy in my life of questioning why I do EVERYTHING now.  Why do I think I need X amount of square footage?  Why do I need X, Y or Z items?  Why am I choosing certain relationships?  Are these my thoughts and desires or are they programmed in me?  Why does the model taught to me not working for me?  Was I doing something wrong?  No…I figured out that the model no longer works.

When I saw the first picture of a tiny house back in 2013, I was sold!  It seemed to solve all of the financial problems that I was facing.  As I dug in though I found out that it isn’t as easy as it looks.  The tiny houses that people were building in warmer climates for under $10,000 wouldn’t work in Canada.  That in fact it was way more expensive to build a tiny house here.  There are other considerations as well, such as where would I park it?  Tiny houses are not legal, year-round RV parks are extremely expensive here, buying land and getting utilities is expensive.  I was quickly thinking darn it, maybe I didn’t find the solution.  However, there was something that really kept me drawn to tiny houses.  So I, along with 2 others, started up a tiny house enthusiast group called YEG Tiny Homes.  For a couple of years we hosted meet-ups for others interested in tiny living.  We started as a few people meeting in coffee shops and quickly grew to requiring boardrooms to host upwards of 100 people.  Our group faded out for various reasons that I will get into in another post.  But my love for tiny houses continued.

I began looking at my life.  What do I want from my life?  What would leave me with no regrets on my deathbed?  I knew traveling and seeing beautiful places and meeting beautiful people was number 1.  I began a journey into deciding what would be my best option for the life I wanted.  I looked into van conversions, skoolies, motor homes, travel trailers, really any option I could think of.  But my heart and my brain always came back to my tiny house dream.

Over the past 6 years I have designed and redesigned many tiny house layouts. Although I am a business analyst, looking at numbers all day, I have a very creative side to me.  I wanted a space that I could completely design for myself that would allow me certain comforts and could be built with quality materials.

Here are my personal pro’s and con’s for each option.

**Keep in mind this is strictly my opinion, you’re more than welcome to have your personal opinions.

Van conversion

  • Pro – small and easy to travel with
  • Pro – customizable
  • Con – once parked for the night, no vehicle to run errands with
  • Con – tough to get a bathroom and shower designed into
  • Con – not great for colder temperatures
  • Con – if I went with an older van, I am not mechanically inclined.  New van conversions are insanely expensive.
  • Con – nowhere to stay if I needed to get the van fixed

Skoolie

  • Pro – inexpensive to buy an older bus
  • Pro – customizable
  • Con – once parked for the night, no vehicle to run errands with
  • Con – not great for colder temperatures
  • Con – the company I worked for for 15 years and was unceremoniously fired from was a school bus company (ego decision hahaha)
  • Con – not mechanically inclined
  • Con – nowhere to stay if I need to get the bus fixed

Motor homes

  • Pro – lots of options on the market
  • Pro – accepted at RV parks and campgrounds
  • Con – my budget didn’t allow for a newer one, found a lot of “fixer uppers”
  • Con – construction and materials were not the greatest
  • Con – nowhere to stay if I need to get the motor home fixed
  • Con – not built for colder weather
  • Con – once parked for the night, no vehicle to run errands with

Travel trailers

  • Pro – lots of options on the market
  • Pro – accepted at RV parks and campgrounds
  • Pro – can set up camp and still have a vehicle to drive
  • Con – my budget didn’t allow for a newer one, found a lot of “fixer uppers”
  • Con – construction and materials were not the greatest.  Touring new ones gave me a headache from the toxic chemicals used during the build
  • Con – not built for colder weather

Tiny house

  • Pro – customizable
  • Pro – quality building and quality materials
  • Pro – can set up camp and still have a vehicle to drive
  • Pro – can handle cold weather
  • Pro – can become my forever home when I am done traveling
  • Pro – can become an airbnb when I am not using it
  • Con – not legally recognized (there are options to have it certified as an RV or as a modular home, I’ll do another post on that)
  • Con – will be heavier to tow than a travel trailer and less aerodynamic
  • Con – may have unknown legal issues along the way
  • Pro – Pro – Pro – it is 100% my creation, my desires and my dream.