Building a Small House Starts With Planning

Zack Griffin Tiny House


We watched the premier of Tiny House Nation on the FYI channel the other night (FYI was formerly the Bio channel).

The show focused on helping a young married couple with a toddler build a tiny house.

When the crew arrived, which included tiny house builder Zack Griffin, the couple’s local builder in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee told them he didn’t have any experience with building such a small space.

With a budget of $30,000, the team got to work, designed the inside and by the end of the show, the couple had a comfortable, beautifully designed tiny house.

One has to wonder, though, what would have happened if the show did not bring a design team in since the couple and their builder seemed a bit puzzled over how to fit everything the couple needed – including where to split the rooms – in the space that was already framed in.

It didn’t seem like the design of the interior was thought out by the couple or builder at all.

I began thinking back to our own build and remembered how the small things in a tiny space can make the biggest of difference.

For instance, although we had a relative with construction and design experience lay our house out in a computer program and our builder had small house construction experience, the sheet rock people we hired nailed, rather than screwed the sheetrock in, which added just enough of padding that our appliances, cabinets and bathroom vanity were off.

Here are 5 recommendations I’ve given on the blog before and the show reinforced last night about planning your move to a small home:

  1. If possible, rent some small spaces to see different floor plans and find out if it is something you can truly do. Make a note of what you like and don’t like about the space. (Hint: windows and tall ceilings always make a place feel bigger and not so confined).
  2. When you decide on a size, mark it off with string in your yard and imagine yourself and family living in that space full time (I actually remembered doing this when I saw it on the show).
  3. Investigate codes in the area you plan to live. Some municipalities do not allow houses on trailers, others do not allow small homes to be built in yards and some require permanent sewer, water and electric hook up.
  4. Find a builder who is experienced in tiny or small house construction or if you plan to do it yourself, study small home construction, as fitting in appliances, plumbing and other things is tricky in a confined space. There is no room for error.
  5. Know what you can really part with and what you can’t. If there is a piece of furniture or something that’s been in your family for 5 generations and you simply cannot bear to part with it, try to incorporate it into your plan. For everything else, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

The show was good for those beginning their tiny or small house adventure, but I’m hoping as it goes forward, it will focus on decorating and other small house challenges.

I also read that HGTV will be airing a show called Tiny House Builders.

Did you watch the show? What did you think?