Tiny House Options Worksheet

Tiny Houses seem simple, right?  Until you really get into it, then it can be DAUNTING!  The good news is that even the most complicated tiny house is pretty darn basic in form and function, you don’t have to be a total expert plumber, electrician or framer, just take it one little piece at a time.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed break it down further and remember, the more research you can do up front the less re-dos you do later.  But at a point, jump!

I have put together a worksheet that goes through the basic decisions you’ll have to make along the way.  The idea being that you can keep track of the options you want and figure out the areas that you need to do a little more research in.  There are a LOT of right ways to build a tiny house.  If you want to download this file and print it out for your use click HERE.

All of these decisions are talked about in the PlanningTiny eCourses along with the pros and cons of each and special considerations!

Tiny House Courses – Now Live!

‘Tiny House Design, a Comprehensive 101’  course images final

(A Four Part Series)

I put together these presentations as a way to help the tiny house community to the best of my ability.  I presented these locally and have had several requests to put them online, here they are!  These are four sessions I have made to cover some of the main tiny house topics.  I know people aren’t interested in all parts so I split them into four different sessions focusing on Codes and Foundation Selection‘, ‘Construction‘ options, ‘Systems and Utilities‘ and finally ‘Design!‘  I hope they can be beneficial for you!

Part I – Tiny House Codes and Foundation Selection

course images part 1

This is going to be a conversation around local and national code issues surrounding Tiny Houses. I will talk about the options you have both locally (to you) and nationally, focusing on the permitting process and alternative paths to legalized tiny house living.

As a part of this conversation I will explain the difference between a foundation tiny house and a tiny house on wheels (legally) and the process that each must go through. The MAIN focus of this course will be tiny houses on wheels so I will get into the considerations that will go into picking your foundation (trailer) including both new and used options.

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to history, zoning, codes and foundations – as they apply to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

 Part II – Tiny House Construction

course images part 2

This is going to be a conversation about the various types of construction you may use when building your tiny house. I will talk about standard framing practices, advanced framing techniques, steel stud construction and SIPs. The great thing about tiny homes is that even the most complex house is pretty basic. Even though this will be a bit more ‘technical’ information I hope it stays simple enough for those not in the construction industry.

In addition to framing options I will get into insulation types, pros/cons and tiny house specific considerations and suggestions when it comes to moisture protection, fasteners, attaching to your foundation and more. This will MOSTLY focus on tiny houses on wheels. I also hope to give you a basic understanding of tools needed for the task and important safety info!

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to construction, insulation, glazing selection and special considerations – as it applies to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Part III – Tiny House Systems

course images part 3

This is going to be a conversation about the utilities and hookups available for tiny houses including pros and cons of each. I will talk about on-grid, off-grid and self contained options when it comes to water, sewer and electric as well as a basic intro to wiring and plumbing.

I will go through all the fixtures and options as far as plumbing, heating and cooling your tiny house. This will be the one where we talk at length about toilets and all the options there ;-).

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to utilities, fixtures and systems as they apply to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Part IV – Designing Your Own Tiny House

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This is going to be a conversation about how to design your own tiny house. Fact is tiny houses HAVE to be suited for their occupants, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ but there are things to consider and think about in your daily life. I will share some of the important questions to ask yourself, some things to consider and give you some general rules and background of design to help make the appropriate decisions. Design is daunting but it’s also systematic and with tiny houses, form really does follow function, there are reasons that one strategy makes sense over others. In addition to talking about the design of the actual house I will touch on designing your lifestyle!

There are approximately 2 hours of information relating to design, materials, and processes – as it applies to tiny homes. This course is formatted to provide the information relevant to you and enable you to make the best decision for yourself. 

Some reviews of the live sessions:

“It was outstanding !!! – Macy is so full of wonderful information – Thank you for all the time you take to help others.” -Kym

“Comprehensive, informative and fun! Thank you!” – Dani

“Macy — Once again you wowed us with your tiny house series! You answered a lot of essential questions and asked us to consider some questions I had no idea I needed to think about. You are a master at instruction and even if you feel nervous talking to groups, you are a true master of communication and I thank you for giving of your time to teach us all something new.” – Libby

“Macy, thank you for a great final meeting and a fantastic series! I’m not sure how, if I would like it built for me or a more DIY effort, but I am more convinced than ever that a tiny house is for me! You did a fabulous job presenting the information in a logical and systematic way.” – Michelle

“enjoyed the class while learning much I did not know.” -Joe

“Very informative!!” -Fawn

SketchUp Tiny House Components

In the same vein as the last post, I have put together some basic tiny house SketchUp components you can download and use to 3D model your own tiny house design.  This file has all the appliances, to scale, that I have in my MiniMotives tiny house.  There are a fair amount of components available in the SketchUp Component Library for your use but I had a hard time finding tiny house specific sized appliances and what not so I thought I would put together a file for your use, if that is something that would save you time in planning your own custom tiny house.


Designing your own home should not HAVE to entail learning all there is to know about a piece of software on top of all the things you’re already learning in order to accomplish your tiny home.  If having these components would be useful for you please feel free to download them and use them at will HERE!

If you have any other helpful SketchUp tools, resources, tutorials, classes, plug-ins that you have found for helping you navigate your way through the design process we would love to have you share in the comments below!  

For other helpful tiny house resources put together for PlanningTiny.com please visit our resource page.  If you find the information helpful please consider chipping in, even a dollar to help PlanningTiny continue to provide assistance and resources for those on their path to a tiny house, check back for more often!


Tiny House Cut-Outs

A great place to start when considering it a tiny house could be a good solution for you and your situation is to wrap your head around what it is you need/want and see if realistically it can all fit together in a way that seems workable.   One of the easiest and fastest ways to do this is, once you have your list of ‘must haves’ is to take some graph paper and make some paper cut-outs that are to a scale.  You can cut out all the components you want/need and quickly rearrange and reorganize them until you find an arrangement that makes sense for you.

I have taken a little time and put together some of the more common tiny house fixtures and necessities on some graph paper which you can use if it makes things easier for you. If you’d like to, feel free to download them HERE.  There are some blank sheets for you to draw your own custom objects as well.

After you have a good idea of a layout, it’s always a good idea to either build a physical model (legos can be fun! or foam core, bass wood or even cardboard) and/or a digital model (SketchUp.com is free and simple to learn).  The cutouts are great for helping you work things out in plan but you need to consider window locations, ceiling heights and roof styles in elevation too!



Some things to consider when designing:

  • Think of ways that space can be used more than once, i.e.
    • A pull out bed beneath a kitchen/bathroom/living space bed-rochester-retreat
    • A loft space above a kitchen/bathroom/living space                51bd1e2adbd0cb1e9300181a._w.540_s.fit_
  • An office/living/craft room in one                               06-tinyhouse-greatrm
  • Lesser used furniture that folds/hides away when not in use mirror-table-designrulz-cover-copy
  •  Raised or alternative beds                                                        ceiling-hammock-sleeping-loft-for-tiny-houses
  • Hidden storage space                                            beautiful-tiny-house-3
  • Storage up high (this can make a space feel smaller if not done well) fy_nyth_grande

For more design help see Design Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Top Ten Items Overlooked in a Tiny House Design

Over the years and through my conversations with other tiny house dwellers I have heard some consistent conversations about things they wish would be different.  I have made my own little list just to pass some of that information onto you so hopefully you can learn from others (including me!).  These are the ten most overlooked items needed in a tiny house off the top of my head, if you have any creative solutions for some I would love to see you post them in the comments!


1 – Room for family photos – This is one of those little things that makes your house feel like a home.  It is easy to overlook but subtly impacts your day to day life, especially when missing.  Wall space can be hard to come by in a tiny house so make sure you account for any family pictures, or wall art for that matter, that makes the ‘must keep’ list!


2 – Cleaning supplies – Smaller homes mean you have to clean less, not never.  In fact I have noticed in a small house the tasks I used to be ok to put off in my big house become more of a necessity in a small one, sweeping and dusting for instance.  There is less space to clean but the same amount of people dirtying it so it shows faster if you don’t make it a routine!  You will still need items like a broom, sometimes a mop can be replaced with a towel but be honest, do you want to be on your hands and knees wiping the floor?  If not allot some space for a mop!  Think about what you need and want when it comes to cleaning your house before building and make your life easier than if you change your mind and have to do acrobatics to jump over the broom handle any time you need to use the potty. 🙂

download3 – Laundry hamper/storage – People seem to get a good idea of the clothes they need but forget that those close spend time both clean and dirty, where you store your dirty clothes has been a complaint of many who never considered it until it was too late.  This is one of those things that can take up a couple cubic feet so it matters!  If you are a type of person who waits for all of your clothes to be dirty before washing them you will need a little more space than someone who can keep up with smaller loads and may be able to just dedicate a drawer in a dresser as ‘dirty laundry’.  What works for you will vary but this is one complaint I see come up often so think about your solution first!


4 – Summer/winter clothes – On this same topic, many of us design our homes in one season but live in an area with multiple seasons.  Winter clothes are bulky, if you’re designing in summer you may forget to allot a good amount of space for bulky winter clothes.  ‘Where do I keep my winter coat’ is something that comes up a lot.  You can always find a place to stuff it but in those few months it’s nice to have something close to the door and out of the way.  Same with winter boots to keep from tracking water through the house!


5 – Heater/air-conditioner – This is another thing that is often thought of from one season.  Generally I hear more people accommodating heaters but it is actually not that difficult to heat a tiny house, the cooling can be a much bigger effort, think about how you will accommodate both of these things and if that matters to you.  Swamp coolers take up space, air conditioners take up space and usually require a window to take air in, fans can fit on a shelf.  It is easy to let these things be an afterthought but that can lead to tripping over an appliance in your day to day activities.  Split systems are great because they can heat and cool while being wall mounted and not taking up valuable floor space, they require considerations when installing though, make sure to accommodate whatever heating and cooling needs you think are necessary for you!

6 – Expanding families/flexibility – It is pretty easy to pay off a tiny house within five years, or let the monthly savings pay it off.  For this reason I suggest you think of a five year plan.  I have seen many a families enter this world and then find out they will be adding to their family (seriously, tiny houses are fertility treatments sometimes) and they have no way to accommodate their expanding family.  They are forced to jump ship and take a loss on investment both in money and time spent building.  It is heart breaking.  If kids are a part, or POTENTIALLY a part of your five year plan think about how they would fit if needed.  I could go into depth about how easy it is to have a baby in a tiny house and how it may actually be better for everyone involved but I won’t, here.  Just take my word for it, it may seem challenging (I remember I thought it would be), it’s not.  It SO convenient in most ways!  They do take a little bit though.  Could you add a loft if needed?  Could you build onto a space?  If this isn’t an issue for you pass over it BUT I would hate to see someone forced away from all their hard work simply because their space wasn’t flexible!


7 – Food storage – I have seen some people go WAY overboard on this (and admit it!) but more often I hear complaints about not having enough room to store basic needs in the food department.  Often times we opt to have open shelving in the kitchen to keep the open feel but taking away those cabinets is taking away a lot of storage.  Think about how much room you need to store your food and be realistic.  If you enjoy canning you will need a lot more than someone who prefers not to cook and sees tiny living as a way to save money and eat out more (which it is!).


8 – Shoes – I am not a shoe person.  I never have been, the most I have ever owned is 3 pairs of shoes, winter boots, shoes and flip flops.  Well, I moved into my tiny house and found a liking for boots.  You can’t have just one, you need black, and brown and short heels and longer heels… you see, some things just grow.  It turns out I am not the only one either!  People have issues fitting their shoes in their tiny house.  Design a space or space saving solution to fit your habit if you have a habit of collecting shoes!


9 – Toiletries – I got rid of every single non essential toiletry item I owned when I moved into my tiny house.  Somehow the bred when I wasn’t looking because random toiletries are constantly taking over my bathroom window sills.  I see this pretty often in tiny house pictures, there are ‘things’ stashed in random nooks that they will fit.  It is easier if you just give yourself a little leniency and space for toiletries… You may eventually break down and change your hair style requiring some other sort of things to maintain, you might find a great sale on Q-Tips and have a box to store somewhere… you never know, a little ‘expansion room’ in that area is a good idea.


10 – Pet sleeping areas – You may have a pet already, you may get one down the road, no matter when that happens that pet will, at a minimum, need their own place to sleep.  It is fairly easy to accommodate this with a little forethought but don’t just assume they will share you bed (though they may!).  They may decide one day that doesn’t work for them and take it out on your shoe collection from above.  Pet’s are their own beings and need their own place to curl up and chill out.


11 – Hobbies/Books/Sporting gear – Just for good measure here is a bonus.  This one gets covered pretty well generally, people go through their book collections, either digitizing or pairing down, people think about the main hobbies that sustain them, quilting, painting etc.  What I have heard missed fairly often are those seasonal hobbies and the gear that they take.  I think this is once again because we tend to design and take inventory of our lives when thinking about going tiny at a certain time of year, forgetting about the other part but do you have seasonal hobbies to store gear for?  Camping/backpacking, rock climing, skiing/snowboarding, Kayaking??  Where will you keep your gear?  The good part is this stuff can often be stored in those less readily accessible areas, the thing is you actually have to dedicate that space to them!  Make your inventory of these lesser used items if they are important for you to keep!