While there are no official specifications as to what describes a “tiny house,” this term has come to mean any structure designed to function as a home, that is too small to fit the standard definition of a dwelling when it comes to zoning, occupancy permits, homeowner’s insurance, etc. To get around these regulations which mandate a certain number of square feet to qualify a structure as a house, many tiny home builders have opted to build their home on a trailer, typically a heavy-duty tandem-axle utility trailer, in lengths often between 14′ and 20′. While it really is not a recreational vehicle, a tiny house may sometimes be classified as such for purposes of licensing and insurance. For discussion here, I will focus on this design since highway regulations are uniform across the United States, whereas fixed-foundation homes are regulated differently from state to state. The regulation for road travel without special permits in the U.S. limits overall width to 8′-6″ and overall height to 13′-6″. Working within these restraints, tiny house builders have found some clever ways to pack a lot of house into a rather small box.
Here are some pics that I think look particularly cozy and inviting.
Founded in 2001 by Jay Shafer, the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is widely regarded as the originator of the tiny house movement. Jay lived full-time in his first Tumbleweed, proving that small portable housing could be comfortable yet practical. As the interest in this new idea grew over the years, so did the company, eventually leading to his most recent offshoot, Four Lights Tiny House Company.
Another well-respected name in the tiny house design/build scene is the Oregon Cottage Company, founded by Todd Miller in 2008. With a commitment to using mostly locally harvested and milled woods, OCC places an emphasis on eliminating glues, resins, and paints which contain toxins, thereby promoting a healthier indoor living environment.
Although most of their designs are not built on a trailer, Tiny Texas Houses has been a major influence for people who are keen on recycling and reusing materials salvaged from older structures. Their slogan, “Building the future from the past,” defines the focus of owner, Brad Kittel, who builds his tiny homes with 99% “re-harvested” materials. This year, TTH announced plans to transition out of the custom-house market and become a full-time retail outlet for salvage building materials.
The TinyHouse Blog is on my daily reading list. A never-ending barrage of fresh ideas and new designs from the tiny house scene are posted here daily.
I first found Michael Janzen on YouTube, presenting a series of videos showing how Google’s free 3D design software, SketchUp, can be utilized for Tiny House Design. I soon discovered his blog by the same name is an excellent resource for design tools, tricks, and ideas.
While the wealth of information available online is growing steadily day-by-day, I will continue to post updates here to highlight new companies, books, training courses, some of my own designs, and other resources as they emerge.