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Be sure the trailer will accommodate the weight of your house. Cut any extra vertical parts off the trailer, but leave the wheel wells intact. Remove all the decking you can. These gaps should be cov- ered with aluminum flashing to guard against rodent and water infiltration. Do not put any beneath the porch. Then connect the two sections by framing between the wells. Use screws instead of nails for this and all your fram- ing. Once again, the porch area should be left open to let wa- ter drain through it.

Connect the walls by driving screws through the bottom plates into the floor framing below. Then install the collar beams ceil- ing joists. The framing over the wheel wells is supported by horizontal headers which are, in turn, supported by the wheel wells. Go ahead and cut holes in the wrap if you anticipate dry weather or if your windows and door s are available for installation.

Be sure to fasten the rafters to the walls with metal hurricane clips so that the entire roof does not blow off onto the highway. Place each over a stud. The chan- nels between the strips will serve as air spaces to vent be- neath the siding. This would also be a good time to trim the corners and openings and to put facia boards up around the eaves and rakes. Asphalt shingles and most other materials are far more prone to blowing off. When the roof is done, you can put up your siding. Drive screws through it into the lath, and studs below. Caulk the seams where boards meet the wheel wells. Then, run the wires and pipes for your plumb- ing and electrical systems.

I like to hire professionals to do most of the utilities, as these require a whole new skill set. If your in- sulation is water-permeable, this would be the time to hang some sort of vapor barrier to protect it from potential condensation problems. I do tend to put the screws aside and use nails and glue for this part. Finish work is, by far, the most time-consuming part of the entire building process, but, when it is done, your house is done, too.

Make yourself at home. Such refinement is achieved through subtractive design — the systematic elimination of all that does not contribute to the intended func- tion of a composition. In the case of residential architecture, everything not enhancing the quality of life within a dwelling must go. Anything not working to this end works against it. Extra bathrooms, bedrooms, gables and extra space require extra money, time and energy from the occupant s. Super- fluous luxury items are a burden. A simple home, unfettered by extraneous gadgets, is the most effective labor-saving device there is.

Subtractive design is used in disciplines ranging from industrial design to civil engineering. In machine design, its primary purpose is demonstrated with particular clarity. The more parts there are in a piece of machinery, the more inefficient it will be. This is no less true of a home than it is of an engine. Remembering Common Sense Most of our new houses are really not designed at all, but assembled without much thought for their ultimate composition. Architects seldom have anything to do with the process. Instead, a team of marketing engineers comes up with a product that will bring in more money at less cost to the developer.

Low-grade, vinyl siding, ornamental gables and asphalt shingles have become their preferred medium. The final product is almost always a bulky conglomeration 78 of parts without cohesion — a success, by industry standards, where over- sized invariably equals big profits. Even when left to certified architects, the design of our homes can some- times be less than sensible. Common sense is abandoned for frivolous displays of talent. Where a straight gable would make the most sense, a less savvy architect will throw in a few cantilevers and an extra dormer, just for show. Subtractive design is abandoned for hopes of personal recognition and for what is likely to be a very leaky house.

Common sense is an inherent part of all great architecture. Sadly, this crucial resource has become anything but common in the creation of residential America. Certainly the most famous example of those whose aspirations for a good name took precedence over good design was Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was fond of innovative methods and extravagant forms. Those novel houses that once earned him recognition as a peerless innovator have since earned him another kind of reputation.

Leaks are a part of many Wright houses. Wright has become infamous not only for his abundant drips but for his im- pudent dismissal of their significance. This is also what is known as common sense. Merriam Co. If a particular type of roof works better than any other, then that is what is used. In short, vernacular architecture is not the product of invention, but of evolution — its parts plucked from the great global stew pot of common knowledge and com- mon forms.

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Anything is fair game so long as it has been empirically proven to work well and withstand the test of time. The vernacular home does not preclude modern conveniences. There are, after all, better ways to insulate these days than with buffalo skins. The ver- nacular designer appropriates the best means currently available to meet human needs, but, technology is, of course, employed only where it will en- hance the quality of life within a dwelling and not cause undue burden.

Knowledge of universal human needs and the archetypal forms that satisfy them is a prerequisite for the practice of good design. This knowledge is available to anyone willing to pay attention. A vernacular architect who has come across a photo of a Kirghizian yurt and encountered a Japanese unitized bathroom and a termite mound while traveling does not set out to build a yurt with a unitized bathroom and termite inspired air conditioning just to show what he has learned. He retains the forms for a time when necessity demands their use. Necessity must be allowed to dictate form.

It might seem that such a process would produce a monotonously limited variety of structures, but, in fact, there is infinite varia- tion within the discipline. Vernacular architecture is as diverse as the climates and cultures that produce it. The buildings in a particular region may all look similar as they have all resulted from the same set of socionatural conditions, but within these boundaries, there is also plenty of room for variance. With the big problems of design already resolved by the common sense of their predecessors, vernacular architects are left free to focus on the specifics of the project at hand.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, they are left to fine-tune the spokes. Human beings have an innate understanding of certain forms. We are born liking some shapes more than others, and our favorites turn up frequently in the art of young children and in every culture. Among these is the icon representing our collective idea of home. Everyone will un- doubtedly recognize the depiction of a structure with a pitched roof, a chim- ney accompanied by a curlicue of smoke and a door flanked by mullioned windows.

Children draw this as repeatedly and as spontaneously as they do faces and animals. It represents our shared idea of home, and, not supris- ingly, it includes some of the most essential parts of an effective house. With little exception, a pitched roof to deflect the elements, with a well-marked entrance leading into a warm interior, with a view to the world outside are ex- actly what are necessary to a freestanding home.

For a vernacular designer, any deviation from this ideal is dictated by the particular needs posed by local climate. The symbolic meaning of common architectural shapes is as universal as the use of the shapes themselves. Just as surely as we look for meaning in our everyday world, the most common things in our world do become meaning- ful.

That the symbolism behind these objects is virtually the same from culture to culture may say something about the nature of our less corporal desires. It seems necessary that we see ourselves as part of an undivided universe. Through science, religion, and art, we strive to make this connection. On an intuitive level, home reminds us that the self and its environment are inextri- cable.

Archetypes like the pierced gable are not contrived, but rather turn up naturally wherever necessity is allowed to dictate form and its content. Those forms best-suited to our physical needs have come to hold special meaning for us. The standard gabled roof not only represents our most primal idea of shelter, but also embodies the most universal of all abstract concepts, that of All-as-One.

This theme has been the foundation for virtually every religion and government in history, and there may very well be an illustration of it in your purse or wallet at this very moment. The image of the pyramid on the back of the U. The duality of its two sides converging at their singular peak represents divinity, and is again underscored by a single central win- dow.

All of this rests on four walls, which are universally symbolic of the cosmos. Those that turn up in nature most often, like circles, squares, 1, 1. One is a single point without dimension, typically represented by the circle created when a line is drawn around the point with a compass. One symbolizes the divine through its singularity.

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Two adds dimension through the addition of a second point. It is commonly depicted by the Vesica Piscis shape that occurs when two circles overlap. It represents duality and creativity. Three brings balance back to two. It is represented by the triangle and symbol- izes variations on the Trinity. Four, as embodied by the square, typi- cally represents the world we live in, with its four cardinal directions. This is as true of a piece of music as it is of a painting or the design of a small house.

The last chapter described subtractive design as the means to distilling a house to its essential components. This chapter will focus primarily on how the remaining parts are to be organized into a comprehensive whole. Seven principles: simplicity, honesty, proportion, scale, alignment, hierarchy and procession will be presented as essential considerations to meeting this end. Simplicity It is ironic that simplicity is by far the most difficult of the seven principles to achieve. Simplification is a complicated process. It demands that every pro- portion and axis be painstakingly honed and that every remaining detail be absolutely essential.

The more simplified a design becomes; the more any imperfection is going to stand out. Everything in a plain design must make sense, because every little thing means so much. The result of this arduous effort will look like something a child could come up with. The most refined art always looks as if it had been easy to achieve.

This sort of streamlining demands a firm understanding of what is neces- sary to a home. As stated before, there is no room in an honest dwelling for anything apart from what truly makes its occupant s happy. Each one of us must ultimately decide what this is and is not for ourselves. But, as with all good vernacular processes, we should first consider the findings of those 88 who have gone before us. While our domestic needs will differ as much as our location and circumstances, a look at what others consider to be impor- tant can get us going in the right direction.

Ideas about what is indispensable to a home can be concise so long as they are kept abstract. Small house ad- vocate, Ron Konzak, is helpful. Shelter from the elements. Personal security. Space for the preparation and consumption of food. Provision for personal hygiene. Sanitary facilities for relieving oneself. In their now-famous book, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues provide a detailed list of no fewer than items for possible inclusion in a home. I have made a similar, albeit far less detailed, list here.

More asterisks indicate a more universal need for the item they accompany. A small parking area out back. A front door that is easily identified from the street. A small awning over the door to keep occupants dry as they dig for keys and guests dry as they wait for occupants.

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A window in the front door. A steeply-pitched roof to better deflect the elements. Adequate insulation in all doors, windows, walls, the floor and the roof. Windows on at least two sides of every room for cross ventilation and dif- fuse, natural light.

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Windows on the front of the house. A structure for bulk storage out back. A light over the front door. No less than 10 square feet of window glass for every cubic feet of interior space. A light switch right inside the front door. A closet or hooks near the door for coats, hats and gloves. A chair or floor pillow for each member of the household. Some extra chairs or pillows for guests.

In bulk storage? A table for eating, with a light overhead. A table for working, with a light overhead. Nearby shelves or cabinets for books, eating utensils or anything else pertinent to the activity area. A private place for each member of the household.

A phone. A bed. A light at or above the head of the bed. A surface near the head of the bed on which to set a clock, tissue, books, etc. Electricity and a place for the accompanying fuse box. A source of water and sufficient room for water pipes. A water heater. A source of heat. A place for an air conditioner. Ventilation and room for any accompanying ductwork windows can sometimes work to this end. An indoor toilet. A tub or shower.

A towel rack near the tub or shower. A mirror. A home entertainment center. An appropriately-sized refrigerator. A stove top. An oven. A sink. A work surface for food preparation with a light over it. Shelves or cabinets near the work surface for food and cooking sup- plies. A laundry bin. No less than cubic feet of storage per occupant for clothes, books and personal items.

Where one can serve two or more purposes, so much the better.


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The dining table, for example, may double as a desk. This is especially true in a one-person household, where a single piece of furniture will rarely be used for more than one purpose at a time. Also, keep in mind that many of these things can be tucked away while not in use. This list is meant to be a starting place from which anyone can begin to de- cide what is necessary to their own home.

Certainly, what I propose to be universal requirements will not be universally agreed upon. The only needs that really matter in the design of a home are those of its occupant s. Because wooden collar beams are understood as necessary, they are also seen as beautiful. Whenever possible, features like these are left unpainted and exposed to view. Then there are those hous- es for which attempts are made to mimic the solid structure and materials of more substantial homes. These are easily recognized by their wood-grain textured, aluminum siding, hollow vinyl columns and false gables.

Aluminum is a fine material so long as it is used as needed and allowed to look like aluminum. Artifice is artless. If wood is required for a job, wood should be used and allowed to speak for itself. If aluminum is required, aluminum should be used and its beauty left ungilded whenever possible. Ornamental gables are to a house what the comb-over is to a head of hair. The vast disparity between the intention and result of these two contrivances is more than a little ironic.

Both are intended to convince us that the home- owner or hair owner, as the case may be feels secure in his position, but as artifice, each only serves to reveal insecurity and dishonesty. False gables are tacked onto the front side of a property in a vain attempt to prove to us that the house is spectacular. While this effort is not fooling anybody, it is effectively serving to weaken the structural integrity of the roof.

The more parts there are in a design, the more things can go wrong. Leaks almost never spring on a straight-gabled roof, but in the valleys between gables, they are relatively common. Unnecessary gables compromise sim- plicity for what is bound to be a very expensive spectacle. It is in our nature to seek out the sort of order that they prescribe. Sound proportions strike a chord, too.

We are nature, after all, and so our works are bound to contain these natural proportions. Proportioning is one of the primary means by which a building can be made readable. Repeated architectural forms and the spaces between them are like music, the pattern or rhythm of which we understand because it is al- ways with us. We intuitively understand good proportions because they are a part of our most primal language.

On the most conscious level, good proportion is achieved by first choosing an increment of measure. Making such a seemingly arbitrary decision can be made easier if meaning is imposed on it. Ancient civilizations created sys- tems of measure based on human and geodetic significance. We have inherited a measuring system imbued with meaning that relates us to our environment. Our buildings are 94 literally designed to embody the characteristics of the Self.

Great ef- ficiency can be achieved by keeping this in mind during the design process. A large share of bragging rights deservedly go to a designer whose structure has left little construction waste and has required relatively few saw cuts. Simplified construction is nearly as much the aim of subtractive design as simplified form and function are. The unit of measure we use to compose a harmonious design can be more than just linear. It is an area of three by six feet the Japanese foot, or shaku, is actually This area is meant to correlate with human dimensions. This process should be fairly intuitive.

Each one of us will compose somewhat differently, but our underlying prin- ciples are the same. These principles are not arbitrary, but the same that govern the composition of all natural things. Few of us would go into a restaurant and seek out a table in the large, open space at the center of the dining room.

Most of us pre- fer the comfort and security of the corner booth. Ideally, every room in our homes will offer the same sense of enclosure without confinement. To be sure that a minimized space does not feel confining, its designer has to consider ergonomics and any pertinent anthropometric data. Understand- ing exactly how much space we occupy when we sit, stand or lie down is absolutely essential to the subtractive process.

To know how much can be excised from our homes, we must first understand how much is needed. An extensive list of recommended dimensions is provided on pages - Every measurement within a house, from the size of its doorways to the height of its kitchen counter, should ideally be determined by what feels good to the occupant. The overall scale of our homes does not need to accommodate every pos- sible activity under the sun. With little exception, home is the place we go to sit and to lie around at the end of each day. There will also most likely be some cooking, eating, hygiene, working and playing going on, but none of these activities needs to occupy a palace.

Con- tinuity allows us to read a composition as a whole. This states that simple patterns are easier for us to comprehend than complex ones. This will come as no surprise to vernacular architects, who have been putting the concept to work for quite some time now. Alignment entails arranging the elements of a design along a single axis or arc whenever possible. When a group of columns is required, a savvy de- signer will not just put one over here and arbitrarily plop the next two down wherever chance or ego dictates.

The designer will line them up in a row. The geometry of alignment may contain some real lines, like the kind produced by a solid wall, and it may have some implied ones, like the axis that runs through a row of well-ordered columns. Hierarchy Good home design entails a lot of categorizing. The categories we use are determined by function. But these ideas cannot be allowed to dictate the ultimate form of a dwelling; that is for necessity alone to decide.

These lines are stretched between significant elements, like from the peak of the roof to the cornerstones, or from a keystone to the baseplates. When geom- etry has been allowed to dictate the rest of the design, the lines will almost invariably intersect or align with other crucial parts of the build- ing. The intersections are often unexpected, their appearance the unintended bIproduct of the cre- ative process described on these pages. The needs of a particular household may determine that each be kept separate so that more than one can be used at a time.

What is more, if the kitchen sink is just outside the door to the toilet, then a separate basin may not be necessary at all. Vernacular designers do not thoughtlessly mimic the form of other buildings. They pay close attention to them, use what works in their area, and improve upon what does not. Along with all the categorizing that goes on during the design process, there is a lot of prioritizing that has to be done as well.

The relative importance of a room and the things in it can be underscored by size and placement. The most important room in a small house, in both the practical and the symbolic sense, is almost always the great room or its farmhouse kitchen equivalent. To make its importance all the more clear, this area should occupy the largest share of the home and should be prominently located. Arranging the rooms and objects in a house according to their relative impor- tance is essential to making any space readable. As always, necessity will determine these things inasmuch as it is allowed to.

The best houses speak to us in a visual language with which we are all familiar. This serves to put us at ease, as it ensures that we will never be left to wonder if we have overstepped our boundaries as guests. Familiar symbols of domes- ticity, like the gable, can further comfort us by presenting the subconscious with the familiar language of home. A covered doorway that is clearly visible from the street not only lets us know where to enter a house, but indicates that we are welcome there. Generally, more private areas, like bedrooms and bathrooms, will be positioned towards the rear of a house and encountered only after more public realms, like the living room, have been passed.

Once inside a good dwelling, visual cues should leave us with no doubt that this is a home in the truest sense of the word. Some of the greatest residen- tial designs employ the same formal geometry as that of sacred architecture. When we approach and enter a well-designed church or mosque, we imme- diately find ourselves straddling its vertical symmetry.

A well-designed little house will remind us just as effectively as any cathedral that we are not merely witnessing divine beauty, but that we are that beauty. Moreover, all seven of the principles that have been presented here for residential design are none other than the same used to design a good cathedral. Attention to simplicity, honesty, proportion, scale, alignment, hierarchy and procession can help to produce a composition in which we participate as an indispensable component. So long as the prescriptions for good design are followed, even the tiniest hut will never seem twee or out of place.

A well-composed, little house reflects the entire universe as no ordinary mansion can. This next section explains the actual pro- cess of subtractive design and relevant considerations. Compared to what is involved in producing large houses, planning a little home is relatively challenging.

As stated earlier, a smart, little dwelling is just like an oversized house with the unnecessary parts removed. Editing a structure down to its essence takes patience, but so long as one has this and abides by these instructions as well as necessity, the effort will not go unrewarded.

Get the right tools. There are as many techniques for putting architec- tural ideas down on paper or screen as there are people putting them down there. The best way I have found is with a. I know there are a lot of people out there who will swear by computer programs like CAD. My own experi- ence with such programs is that they are great for tidying up finished designs but are no match for pencil and paper when it comes to the creative part of the process.

Fluidity is essential, in any case. Keep the process fluid. It can happen to any artist who forgets to keep an eye on the big picture. Because a successful composition is only possible when every one of its parts is integral to the whole, it makes sense that the whole must be more or less established before any part can be fully developed. The whole informs the shape and function of its parts. Work from the most general elements of the composition toward the more specific details within.

Expect to go through more eraser than graphite. Every mistake is a step forward, as it further illuminates what is not necessary and, thus, points the way to what is. Ninety percent of the process will be messy and temporal. Clean lines will only be introduced once the real work has been done. Know what is needed.

The process begins with general considerations and broad forms. Determine the shape of the house. Spherical forms have the least amount of surface area, so a dome is bound to need a bit less heating and cooling than something with square corners. On the other hand, domes are prone to leaks and are far more difficult to compose than rectilinear shapes. Right-angled forms invariably mesh with other right-angled forms, so books fit easily onto shelves, shelves into corners, corners into rooms, rooms into houses, houses into lots and lots into communities.

Buildings with flat roofs have become quite popular over the past century or so. The trend began in Europe, where elaborate roofs with lots of orna- ments had become symbolic of the ruling class. Modernism stepped in to provide homeowners with the exact opposite of the ornate option. Flat roofs represented the more respectable, utilitarian lifestyle of the proletariat.

Once Modernism hit America, it became the perfect excuse for putting up a lot of cheap buildings. Aside from adding unnecessary square footage, about the easiest way for builders to make more money for less is by sticking a flat roof on their structures. Flat roofs may be all well and good when used in the most arid deserts of the U. In such cases, the complexities of simplification become all too clear.

By all means, that which is unnecessary to a design should be eliminated, but only after what is necessary has been determined. Just as bees build with hexagons and cubitermes termites go for domes, we, as a species, tend to produce a lot of degree angle walls and pitched roofs. It just seems to make sense for us. Rain and snow are a part of most of the climates we live in, and a slanted roof sheds these elements like noth- ing else can.

Of course, flat roofs and domes are exactly what are needed in some situations, and, as always, necessity should be heeded. Determine the approximate size. I know other folks for whom living in anything less than ten times that might be difficult. Houses are not a one-size-fits-all product. Lists detailing the amount of space needed for appliances and elbow room, as well as wall, floor and ceiling thickness are provided at the end of this chapter. Reference these as you proceed to determine and organize special needs. If this is to be a place for yourself, you will have to figure out how much physi- cal space is required for all of your things, for yourself, for other occupants and their stuff, and for guests.

Remember that, with all of the money that will be saved by building a smaller dwelling, outsourcing hotel ball rooms for big parties will now be a viable way to extend your home beyond the limitations of the house itself. Your little abode should not be thought of as an autono- mous structure, but more as the most private realm within a much broader system. Calculating how much space is needed for your stuff is a pretty straight- forward task. First, get rid of anything you do not need.

Then, round up all your possessions and a measuring tape. Consider how many of the things will require closet space, how many will go on book shelves, in the kitchen, near the kitchen sink, and so on. Then proceed to determine how much open space you need for your own comfort. You will probably want one relatively- large, main room. To determine its size, find a smallish enclosure that is fairly uncluttered. Does it feel like a comfortable amount of space? How tall does it need to be? Consider what kind of activities you will be doing in your main room. If you anticipate some yoga, determine how large an area that requires.

Office cubicles, bathroom stalls and walk-in closets are some places you might consider evaluating. Never mind the puzzled looks you will undoubtedly receive from others Sketch your rooms. Be sure to add some square footage around the edges for furnishings and storage. To keep its center unobstructed, most of the furniture will need to be kept on the periphery, along with some empty space for accessing windows and doors. Detailed calculations should be saved for later. For now, just continue to cat- categorize your things into areas and make to-scale drawings of any other rooms you plan to include.

Keep the center of these spaces open too. Cut the drawing of each room out and place all of them together as you ima- gine them fitting together in a house. If they do not add up to a simple, Euclid- ian shape, like a square, circle, rectangle or triangle, you may want to adjust their proportions until they do. Generally, the more corners there are on the outside of a house, the more surface area there will be to lose heat and A.

Four or five exterior corners are usually plenty. Anything with more than ten or so may become problematic. Alignment is particularly important for the outside of the house. Four, unbroken walls are generally better than a bunch of divided ones. Consider portals. Decide how the rooms will be connected by doors and how the house will be connected to the outside world by windows and door s.

Unless your plan is intended for a very warm climate, try to locate most of the windows on the south side and few, if any, on the north. South-facing windows allow for solar gain. North-facing windows allow for winter heat loss. Along these same lines, be sure to provide seasonal shade for south-facing and west-facing windows. Deciduous trees work to this end, as their leaves provide summer shade and drop to reveal the winter sun. Awnings and porch roofs achieve the same effect by protecting windows from the relatively verti- cal rays of the summer sun while allowing the more horizontal rays inside.

Minimize throughways. Hallways and oversized stairwells unnecessar- ily consume valuable space. If a stairway is required, consider making it a ladder. Paddle steps can also save space. Make use of verticai space. Shelves can usually go all the way to the ceiling; drawers can be put beneath the bed, cabinets can often be posi- tioned over the table, and a sleeping loft may fit below a high ceiling. Consider using buiit-in furniture and storage in your design. Freestanding furniture tends to leave awkward and unusable margins on both sides of where it is positioned.

Built-ins generally stretch from wall-to- wall, and often floor-to-ceiling, to make use of every inch. Built-ins are not only integral to a house in terms of function and structure, but in visual terms as well. Freestanding armoires, chests, and bookcases will fill up a small room quickly and tend to make any space feel more crow- ded. A wall of built-in cabinets can contain more possessions than all of these combined and comes off as far less visually intrusive. Built-in seating, cabin- ets, bookcases, work surfaces, and dining nooks can all be used to save and order space in this way.

Consider including some shallow shelves. Putting all of your glasses, vita- mins and herbs on one deep shelf is going to demand that you dig for stuff that sits at the back. Less depth will put everything where you can get to it. Keep it simple. It is particularly important that a place for one be kept sim- ple. For a single resident, all of the little extras can quickly add up to one big headache. The housing market currently offers very few properties designed specifically for one person.

More often than not, those of us who choose to live alone end up saddled with the responsibilities of a house or apartment that was built for two or more residents. One room is often enough to contain every- thing that is necessary. That said, it should be remembered that arbitrarily eliminating as many interior walls as possible will not necessarily result in a better space. While floor area and elbow room are inevitably gained, wall space is lost. This may affect the possibilities for furniture placement and storage options.

Open-concept layouts are great so long as they truly correspond with the necessities at hand. Provide privacy and community. Our need for a balance of both privacy and community is inherent, and if it is ignored in the design of a dwelling, strife will inevitably result.

The private areas can be rooms, entire apartments within the structure, or even physically separate cottages. To increase the effectiveness of the private rooms within a house, closets should be located between them as sound buffers whenever it is possible. These little private realms should be arranged around a shared larger area. One form that has been proven to work quite well as a shared space is the farmhouse kitchen mentioned earlier.

It is designed to contain the dining table and cooking facilities, and enough space to serve a variety of functions. Keep it light Light colors tend to make a space feel more open, while dark ones will make the same space feel crowded. Make it flexible. If your desk can double as a dining table, so much the better. Mobile bookcases and cabinets can be used as room dividers, then moved out of the way for activities that require more space.

A Murphy bed can transform an office into a guest room in seconds. Folding tables and chairs allow for further flexibility. Extend sight lines to make small rooms feel more generous. Views from one part of the house into another or to the outdoors will make that part feel more expansive.

Keep clutter out of sight and, thus, out of mind. This goes a long way to improve how we experience a space. Be sure to include areas where clutter, or even everyday items, can be stored away and hidden from view. An uncluttered house will result in an uncluttered mind and unfettered creativity. Take advantage of the outdoors whenever possible.

Outdoor rooms add functional space without the added cost of water-tight, insulated construction. Our per- ceptions of spaciousness often have more to do with perception itself than actual volume. Occasionally, it will become necessary to sacrifice actual space to achieve a design that feels more open.

By lowering the ceiling in one area, for example, the volume in a neighboring area will generally ap- pear to increase. Remember the invisible parts. With the basic shapes and sizes more or less established and in place, more attention can now be paid to arranging any furnishings or integral elements. Do not forget to include room for pipes and heating ducts if any are needed. Keep the plumbing as localized as pos- sible. If the water heater is at one end of the house and the shower is at the other, you will have to wait a long while for hot water when you go to bathe.

Keep refining. As the floor plan becomes clearer, feel free to add some details and to eliminate any unused or unusable parts. To read as a strong composition, every square inch of your house should be contributing to the whole structure and its function. Feet, inches and quarter-inches can be shaved off as the design begins to reveal its own needs. Before things get too finite on the inside, make scale drawings of the front, back and sides of the structure to determine what changes may need to be made there.

Align everything that can be aligned. Consider the hierarchy of the place. Lower ceilings and enlarge some doorways, if necessary. So long as necessity is allowed to make the decisions, all of this should come pretty naturally. Remove yourself from the process and let nature take over.

The resulting home will be beautifully simple. Dimensions for the integral parts of a house are listed here. The wall, floor and roof thicknesses listed are for the most standard type of construction — that which uses 2x lumber and half-inch plywood as the primary building materials. The greater the distance a rafter or joist needs to span, the thicker it and the roof or floor it comprises will need to be. A list of the most standard sizes for appliances and some considerably smaller options is also provided. If you or frequent visitors to your home are particularly tall or short, you may want to adjust accordingly.

If guerilla housing, variances, or pushing to have your local codes changed hold no attraction, going with the flow may be your best bet. Most of the U. In spite of its name, the IBC is only really used in the U. While the code is often tailored at the local level, it usually reads pretty much as listed here. All houses shall have: - At least one room of no less than sq. Red reflectors are required in the rear. It does have a stainless steel boat fireplace, sink and stovetop, a refrigerator, wet bath, a full-sized bed, and a clos- et. The large glass wall is intend- ed to face south during winter for excellent solar gain.

The house is shown at right with hot rolled cor- rosion resistant steel siding and at left with the same siding and the wheels removed. Kitchen 2. Bedroom 3. Bath 4. Great Room XS-HOUSE With a couch, a stainless steel desk, sink and fireplace, a wet bath, two closets and lots of shelv- ing, plus a sleeping loft above, this portable structure was designed to house one full-time resident comfortably. A small refrigerator below the counter and a hot-plate are also included.

If you were to count the loft, this house would actually be about square feet. Great Room 2. Kitchen 3. Wet Bath 4. It features a stain- less steel desk, a tiny fireplace, a refrigerator, sink, stovetop, wet bath, a full-sized bed, plenty of storage and integral wheels. The 89 square feet listed do not in- clude the porch or sleeping loft. It is shown here with an optional Gothic window. The square feet listed only refer to the downstairs and not the porch or loft.

Plus, most of the photos are Photoshopped. It makes the book really painful to look at once you notice that. Name required. Email will not be published required. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. The Tiny Life. Search for:. Tiny House Book List. Your Turn! What books inspire you to explore, build and live the tiny life? What is on your recommended reading list for tiny life enthusiasts? Share: Email Facebook Twitter.

Shelter by Lloyd Kahn Reply.

How to live in small spaces, by Terence Conran.