Dec 28, 2012

New 8' x 20' Shipping Container Home Design

When I set out to design my first shipping container home, my goal was to keep it simple and affordable.  The resulting design is not fancy, but it has pretty much everything one person needs.  In my view, this is too small for two people for an extended period of time, but one person could be comfortable here.  It could be a great vacation home, guest house, or place for an adult child who has returned home after college, as many are doing these days. 

Front view of the 8' x 20', 160 square foot container home design with an 8' x 20' deck.

I was surprised that I was able to shoe-horn this much into 160 square feet.  There's a three fixture bathroom, a tiny kitchen, a stacked washer/dryer combination, a "great room" that combines living, dining, sleeping, and study/work space, plus two closets.  The dining table doubles as a desk, and the futon couch folds-out to become a full-sized mattress at night.

Floor plan for an 8' x 20', 160 square foot shipping container home with an 8' x 20' deck.

Dec 12, 2012

Floor Plans for Garage to Apartment Conversion

Want to downsize but can't sell your current homeHere's an idea to consider.  Convert your garage into an apartment for yourself, then rent the rest of the house to someone else.  You might not be mortgage free, but someone else could be paying it for you in the form of rent.  Plus, it's already half done!  The walls and roof are in place, it has electricity, and the other hook-ups are already on the premises.

Incidentally, if you have a 24'x24' freestanding garage you want to convert to a two bedroom home, see my post on that by clicking here.

Years ago I considered converting a two car garage in my old house into an in-law apartment.  This is what the garage looked like from the outside.

The garage of my old Garrison Colonial house.

Dec 11, 2012

Furniture for Small Living Spaces

There are a couple of videos on YouTube about furniture sold by that is great for small spaces.  Here are some stills from the video so you can see a few examples.  The videos themselves are posted further down below.  The first example is a wall shelf unit that turns around and folds down to become a twin bed.

Dec 10, 2012

Off-Grid Living Part 1: Lighting

I'm going to assume that you don't have upwards of $25k available to begin investing in photovoltaic solar panels and wind turbines, along with a massive battery bank to store all your free energy in.  Instead, I'll take a simple, low cost, back to basics approach to off-the-grid lighting in this post.  I'm only going to deal with non-electric, simple solar, and battery operated alternatives.  I'm also going to cover day-lighting otherwise dark interior spaces, and lighting at night.

Dec 9, 2012

Drawing A Tiny Home With Google SketchUp: A Complete Video Tutorial Series

Prolific tiny house designer, Michael Janzen, has made a seven part video tutorial series for YouTube that is all about how to use Google's free 3D drafting software, SketchUp, to draw tiny house plans.    He's actually using SketchUp Pro, but I didn't notice too much difference between that and the free software.

SketchUp drawing by Michael Janzen

He draws as though he was actually building the tiny house, making sure that it is properly framed, sheathed, sided, and so on.  The thickness of the various materials, air spaces, gaps, flooring, etc., are all drawn very precisely so that there won't be many surprises when the real building occurs.  

I did a post quite a while ago that featured Michael narrating a tour and describing his clever 12'x24' house plan in a YouTube video that you can see by Clicking here.  

At the bottom of the post, after all the videos, I've included a link to download Google SketchUp for free.  His seven part SketchUp video tutorial series begins immediately below.

Dec 1, 2012

Sears Kit Homes

Sears, formerly known as Sears, Roebuck and Company,  used to sell kit homes from 1908 through 1940.  One kit sold for $191, but most were sold in the $500 through $2,000 range.  You may live in or near a Sears kit home.  They sold more than 70,000 of them.  The house I grew up in in Connecticut had two Sears kit homes very nearby.  One was diagonally across the street, and the model in the picture below was less than a block away.  Many more were in the area.  

I grew up just down the street from this exact Sears kit home model.  It's called The Lewiston and it is just a hair less than 1,400 conditioned square feet. It has four bedrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, and one 1st level bathroom.  This and all other images in this post courtesy of