The design

This SketchUp model gives an idea of the design of the tiny house, although many details are yet to be decided:

Although we’ve taken a lot of inspiration from other tiny houses, we decided to start from scratch, without buying a plan. Time will tell whether or not this was a terrible decision, because neither of us knows much about construction. We are engineers… just not the right kind…

Dimensions: 8.5′ wide, 20′ long (plus trailer hitch ~4′), 13.5′ tall. The livable space fits within the wheel wells, at 82″ wide. The main floor ceiling will be 6.5′, and the loft ceiling will be about 3’9″ at the peak. The utility cabinet, which houses our propane, extra water, and batteries for solar will sit on the hitch end. We’re using a 20′ trailer from Tiny Home Builders.

Framing: We plan to do light gauge steel framing instead of wood. Not only is it lighter and stronger, steel is recyclable and true.

Insulation: With steel framing, thermal bridging is an issue, and some of the insulation needs to sit outside the framing — in our case, all of it will! We plan to use 3″ of rigid foam insulation outside the framing, leaving the space between the studs free. This will allow for much easier wiring and plumbing. Plus, we can put tiny shelves between the studs for extra storage!

Kitchen: We will have a full range and oven, a sizable sink, and a mid-size fridge (which sits in the island). We love to cook, so we’ll have lots of counter space as well! We’ll have a dish draining cabinet over the sink.

Heating and Cooling: Being in Florida, AC is really a necessity. We will have a mini-split system with the inverter option; very energy efficient. We’re considering adding this really beautiful propane fireplace, but we’re not sure it’s worth it — if we do, it’ll go between the two big windows on the ‘front door’ side of the house.

Loft & Stairs: We have been unsuccessful in teaching our dog to climb a ladder — so we’re building in stairs. Although they’re big, we’re using all the extra space inside, with several drawers and even a combo washer/dryer hidden beneath. Our loft is big enough for a queen size bed, and we’ll have storage for our clothes just at the top of the stairs.

Bathroom: We’re using a composting toilet (bucket style, not one of those huge commercial ones). The shower is decently large at 3×2′, and will be tiled in beautiful, sparkly mosaic. We plan to have propane powered on-demand hot water heater.

Living Room: We’ll have a large, deep couch at the front of the house, which doubles as a guest bed. The white table folds down from the wall, creating a desk or a dinner table.

Power: Eventually, we’d like to run on solar power. Our shed roof gives plenty of room for panels, which will be facing south. Most of the windows of the house are on the opposite side, facing north — in Florida, this makes a lot of sense.

Siding and Roofing: We haven’t decided on siding yet, but we love the look of reclaimed barnwood and metal, like this, this, or this!

Doors & Windows: Although those little porches on the ends of tiny houses are just so cute, we really wanted a full length sofa/bed… so our main entry will be on the side. We’ll have a removable porch that spans almost the length of the house, which can be stored while traveling. We will have a second egress in the loft area — a roof window (not a skylight!). Roof windows open up a full 45 degrees, and are totally awesome. Our apartment in France had one, and we fell in love with it — in our opinion, attic rooms are totally underutilized here in the US.

What do you think?



  1. Wow! This will be fun to follow.
    An inventor on Shark Tank had a small, bladeless ceiling fan. The ‘sharks ‘ were impressed with the demo. Not sure if it’s hit the market yet.
    What kind of vehicle is required for towing this weight?

    • Cool, I will have to check that out! As for a vehicle, something fairly heavy-duty… the tiny house will probably weigh around 7500 lbs (based on what others weigh). We’re planning on just renting something that can pull it for short moves, then maybe buying a truck at some point if we do a long trip.

  2. Pingback: Updated design | Erin & Rob build a Tiny House

  3. Love your innovative design, which I found on google images months ago. So excited to have found your blog with your actual build and to learn about your progress. Fantastic work! We are still in the planning stages and I think are about 1 year behind you. πŸ™‚ Thank you for posting all of your efforts!

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