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Tiny homes have been trendy for over a decade now, and this popularity has culminated in a diverse market of tiny home plans. These building plans are available to pretty much anyone, regardless of building experience, and allow the average person to build their own tiny house from scratch.
This is great for the ambitious builders out there who have the skills and tools necessary to build one of these homes. But for some laymen, building a home, even if it is tiny, is a much bigger project than they can handle. Plus, some of the tiny home plans available online are poorly designed by amateurs with no actual architectural experience. So how do you know if you’re equipped to build your own tiny home? And how do you find the best tiny home plans out there?
An Intro to Tiny Homes
Tiny homes have been popular for several years now, and their immense popularity is evident throughout popular culture. HGTV and other home-focused television stations have lush lineups of tiny home-centric shows. And home decor bloggers and Instagram accounts frequently feature these tiny abodes on their websites or feeds.
Tiny homes are fully-functional homes, just shrunken down. Sometimes this means sacrificing luxuries like a washer and dryer, full kitchen, or private bedroom. But in reality, many would be surprised by how much you can fit inside these homes. While there’s some debate over the actual limits of tiny home classification, the general rule is that anything under 400 square feet is a tiny home. Past that, these homes can be as small as 50 square feet.
Should You Build or Buy Your Tiny Home?
Whether you build or buy your tiny home mostly relies on personal choice. But there are some factors to consider when making this decision.
There are many tiny home plans available to prospective home builders, a much greater variety than prefabricated homes for sale. While you could hire a contractor to design and build a custom tiny home, this is much more expensive than building one yourself. Looking at the available tiny home plans, it might seem like building is the most versatile option. While this is true, it is not without its negatives.
Building a tiny home is excellent for those who like to work with their hands. However, just because you enjoy handiwork doesn’t mean you have the time or skill required. Home improvement shows might make framing, insulating, and wiring look simple. Unfortunately, these are skills that many people lack. If you plan to live full-time in your new tiny home, even if only for a couple of years, you’ll want everything in perfect working order.
If you have more money to spare than time, buying a tiny home is a great option. While the price tag of purchasing a tiny home can be high, you also get the reassurance that your home is safe and stable. And if you choose to purchase a trailer-mounted tiny home, you can lessen the financial blow by opting for RV financing.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny Home?
When building your own tiny home, the first cost you must account for is the price of your tiny home plans. Unless you are an experienced home designer yourself, these building plans are essential to a successful project. While some tiny home plans are available for free, most come at a price. This price will ultimately depend on your chosen tiny home plans and their designer. In general, these plans cost around $300 to $1,000.
Depending on where and how you plan to build your tiny home, you’ll also need to pay for land and building permits. Land prices vary significantly with location, with the price range per acre ranging from around $1,500 to over $195,000. The permits you need for your tiny home plans will depend on the type of foundation, your future home’s size, and your geographical location. Generally, though, residential building permits cost around $500 to $2,000.
Finally, your tiny home plans will require materials and, most likely, outside labor. If you’re ambitious and exceedingly skilled at home building, you might choose to perform all of the construction yourself. Typically, at the very least, you’ll need to hire plumbers, electricians, and other specialty tradesmen or women to complete your home. On average, private home builders spend around $12,000 to $35,000 constructing their first tiny home. But your chosen tiny home plans and building materials will affect this final price. After all, you can’t install luxury granite countertops in your new tiny home and expect to maintain a budget price.
Our Favorite Tiny Home Plans
The Internet is a fantastic resource for the tiny home lover. It’s very evident that the Internet has played an enormous role in the growing popularity of tiny homes and their trendy aesthetics. The web is also one of the best places to search for and purchase tiny home plans.
Of course, if you’re looking for a set of tiny home plans to actually invest in and build, it’s important to keep an eye on quality. As with anything on the Internet, it’s possible for just about anyone to design and upload these blueprints.
Even if a house looks pretty on the outside if the designer doesn’t know what they are doing the structural integrity could be questionable. Or you might get halfway through your new home’s construction and find that your building plans just don’t add up. To help combat this, we’ve sourced each of the tiny home plans on our list below from reputable websites.
San Rafael by The Homestead Partners
The San Rafael tiny home plans feature 400 square feet. While this house only features one bedroom, unlike most tiny homes it’s situated in a separate, private room. For many people, this is a much-needed escape from the more common lofted bedroom. The rest of this one-floor building plan features a living room, full kitchen, and bathroom.
The charm of this tiny home comes from its outdoor spaces. A covered patio as large as this home’s indoor living space adds room for entertaining, dining, and, if weather permits, sleeping. Around the corner, a small swimming pool and overlooking patio add even more usable space right outside the front door.
The San Rafael tiny home is designed by The Homestead Partners. This husband and wife architecture team share decades of experience between the two of them. This expertise allows them to create unique traditional and tiny home plans for the masses to build and enjoy. The San Rafael tiny home plans cost about $800 to $900 for a set of PDF plans.
497-61 by Green Living
This unnamed home’s incredibly modern exterior is striking against any landscape. Green Living’s tiny home plans feature 525 square feet in a large, unadorned cube. One corner features large windows, and the entirety of this home looks like a futuristic design from a science-fiction film.
Inside, these tiny home plans are extremely efficient with the available space. The floor plan is open, with an option for a lofted bedroom for extra floor space. This optional loft is large enough for a bed, side table, and small home office space. While the kitchen is small and minimalist, it is still fully functional.
Green Living, a branch of FreeGreen, designs its tiny home plans to greatly exceed residential energy standards. While your chosen materials will dictate the actual energy efficiency of this finished home, these tiny home plans prescribe certain measures that will improve your home’s energy performance 30- to 50-percent over current standards. The 497-61 tiny home plans cost about $600 to $700 for downloadable PDF plans. A CAD set of plans is also available for around $1,300. These plans are for home design professionals who wish to make extensive modifications.
Gifford by Jay Shafer
The Gifford is small, even for a tiny home. This house features just 112 square feet, containing one bedroom, one bathroom, and a kitchen. To increase available space, the bedroom is on a loft with two skylights over the head of the bed. You can construct this home on a permanent foundation or trailer bed.
The exterior and interior of these tiny home plans take inspiration from the American Frontier. Exposed knotty wood covers both the inside and outside. In addition to the skylights above the bedroom, large windows around the home’s entirety open up space and add natural lighting. A small, covered porch leads to the front door.
Jay Shafer, the owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, actually used these tiny home plans to design his own house. Tumbleweed mostly deals in pre-fabricated tiny homes. But the Gifford tiny home plans are a chance to build your own house from the designer’s plans. The Gifford tiny home plans are available for around $500.
Santa Barbara by The Homestead Partners
The Santa Barbara tiny home plans feature a home design style rarely seen in tiny houses. This Southwestern Adobe house is 398 square feet. Inside, one bedroom, a bathroom, and a full kitchen. Like The Homestead Partner’s San Rafael, these tiny home plans also feature a secluded, private bedroom rather than a loft. This tiny home even includes enough space for a compact washer and dryer.
Large French doors open from the combination living room, dining room, and kitchen to a large covered terrace in the tiny home plans. This outdoor space is open yet still clearly defined as part of the house itself. Depending on your climate, this terrace makes a versatile outdoor dining room, living room, office, or bedroom. A large porch is also located at the front door, offering even more outdoor seating space.
The Santa Barbara is designed by The Homestead Partners, who also created the San Rafael tiny home plans featured earlier on our list. This Southwest-inspired home features all of the architectural expertise showcased in The Homestead Partners’ other designs. These tiny home plans are available for around $700 to $800 for a full PDF set.
915-10 by The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
These tiny home plans are unnamed but feature a quaint bungalow-inspired design. With 356 square feet, this tiny home fits a private bedroom, one bathroom, and the option for a 100-square-foot loft. If you choose, this loft can serve as an office space or second bedroom. The kitchen fits plenty of appliances into its limited space. Inside you’ll find a dishwasher, a full-range stove, and a built-in microwave. A washer and dryer are also accommodated in these tiny home plans. These amenities are more than many apartments include.
The classic aesthetic of this bungalow-style home features a symmetrical exterior with a railed-in porch. Inside, the living room, lovingly called “The Great Room,” features a fireplace. And if you choose not to include the loft in your build of these tiny home plans, you can enjoy a high cathedral ceiling.
Jay Shafer’s startup company, The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, designed these plans. This company began in 1999, making them one of the first commercial designers and builders of these tiny abodes. Most of Tumbleweed’s homes are pre-built, but their trademark design elements are also in their blueprints. The 915-10 plans are available for about $700 to $800 for a PDF blueprint set. The CAD set is about $1,200 to $1,300.
How Do You Pick the Perfect Tiny Home Plans for You?
When browsing through tiny homes, it’s important not to get swept up by beautiful renderings or models. Just because a tiny home looks pretty, doesn’t mean its design is high-quality or will fit your personal needs. A critical mind is important when shopping around for potential tiny home plans. And if you can consult a friend or family member with extensive home design or contracting experience, even better.
Of your chosen tiny home plans, does the spacial flow make sense? Is there room for furniture you absolutely can’t part with? And is there enough ceiling clearance that you or your loved one won’t constantly hit their head as they walk through the house? These are just a few of the questions you have to consider when choosing a set of building plans. Of course, before all this, you should be 100-percent certain that living in a tiny house is right for you. After all, tiny home living definitely isn’t for everyone.