Lesson learned – do not get too attached to your first tiny house floor plan design.
To say that creating tiny house floor plans has taken many more hours than anticipated would be an understatement. Thankfully Dylan and I have been able to combine forces – I came up with the tiny house design, then he transformed it into a 3D model. We were obsessed with the resulting rectangle tiny house floor plan and, in our minds, there was no other design that could compare.
At least, that was our mindset until we had a conversation with my parents a few days after completing the model. I had excitedly texted my parents to tell them that there was an email with a floor plan in their inbox. We wanted to discuss it over the phone ASAP as we could barely contain our excitement as we waited for them to review it. We were convinced that my Stepdad (a.k.a master carpenter) would be SO impressed with our tiny house floor plan design.
There was, however, also an underlying worry that Shane wouldn’t be able to translate our 3D version into a realistic 2D tiny house floor plan. As you can see in the photos below, there are more than a few place-holders in the tiny house design (e.g. floating marble staircases, random cabinets in the kitchen, that sort of thing). As such, we knew we were asking for a lot of imagination from someone who doesn’t even like to use his cellphone.
Regardless, we were confident that we could explain our tiny house concept to Shane, and with his building brilliance, he would be able to capture it on paper.
Oh, how things change.
Too eager to wait, we called my parent’s house and my Mom picked up the phone. Shane wasn’t home from running errands and neither of them had looked at our plans yet, but they had been discussing our tiny house amongst themselves. They apparently had a lot to say. In fact, my Mom was chattier and more enthusiastic than I had ever expected! It was encouraging to hear her excitement.
Without pausing, she launched into a mini-rant about our power situation. She was adamant that if we chose to put in hydro polls it would cost us over 50 000$. That sounds extreme, but as she explained, every additional pole aside from what they (Mom and Shane) had already put in, would be another 10 000$ minimum. Not to mention we would have to cut straight through the front lawn if we wanted to put a single pole in to minimize cost. Of course, neither of those situations was an option, so I asked her what she would suggest instead.
To our surprise (and delight) my Mom told us that we should think about getting solar panels. I had anticipated arguing over this ‘millennial’ topic and that my relatively old-school parents would be totally against this ‘extravagant’ expense. This was not the case. Both Mom and Shane were enthusiastic about the idea of us being off-grid. She strongly suggested that we use a generator and solar panels with batteries rather than investing in hydro. There was no hesitation on our part – both Dylan and I were committed to going as green as possible with this build.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a conversation with my Mom if we didn’t talk about eggs. She was very excited about her new chicks that would be delivered to the farm soon. Just last year she had purchased chickens for the first time and to say she was obsessed was putting it mildly. We weren’t complaining, however, since every time we visited we were sent home with a dozen of farm-fresh eggs.
Overall, I left the conversation feeling incredibly positive about it all – with a single exception.
Before my Mom let us go, she mentioned that Shane would be home soon and that he was super excited to discuss the square tiny house floor plans he had created. I struggled to control my panic. Our floorplan was a rectangle, not a square, and we didn’t feel like a compromise could be achieved over the tiny house floor plan design we had taken so much time to create.
I hung up the phone feeling anxious. Not twenty minutes later, my phone was ringing with Shane on the other line.
The conversation with Shane was brief and we left it with some important takeaways. First, the slope of the tiny house roof has to be steep enough that the snow falls off. Second, the tiny house design must accommodate 6 ft high stilts. Third, we need to consider the branches that may crash into our windows (there is a high potential for storms and wind in the Okanagan Valley). Finally, we need to think about the floodplain itself and the troughs that might prevent us from having anything but a square plot.
Unfortunately, Shane said that he had ‘no idea’ what he was looking at with the 3D model. This was more than a little disappointing, made even more so when he mentioned that he had a square design in mind that he thought would work well with the landscape. We agreed to consider his tiny house design but in the back of our minds, we were both very committed to our initial tiny house floor plans with loft.
Two hours later, my phone pinged and I saw Shane’s name flash across the screen. He had sent a text with photos of a house design he had come up with on the fly.
You can imagine how… uninspired this design appeared to us. The simple square was nothing like our elaborate 3D rectangle model. But, like a soldier, I was determined to at least give it a shot. Shane and Mom were enthusiastic about the tiny house floor plan design and we really should not compare our 3D model to a master carpenter’s design.
So I put pen to paper and started to get creative.
To my shock, an hour of sketching later, I was ecstatic about this new tiny house floor plan design.
What started as hesitation ended with more enthusiasm for this design than our initial rectangle tiny house floor plans! An hour of sketching later, I showed Dylan the new plans for a square design of the house. His eyes lit up when he saw it and contemplated what it would look like in real life. He immediately brought out his computer and started to build the model in Floorplanner.
Here is what we came up with:
Already you can see how much more spacious this tiny house concept is than our original rectangle floor plans. There are several key things I love about this design.
- you do not have to walk through the kitchen to the bathroom
- the entire living room area has vaulted ceilings to give a feeling of spaciousness
- the kitchen has a window looking out over the river
- the spiral staircase is both beautiful and practical. It brings you right up into the center of our loft.
Side Note: Again, this 3D model uses a ton of placeholders and some of the dimensions (like the height of the roof) are not exact. The point of creating these 3D models is to get an idea of how much space we have in each section of the house. For example, a 3D model gives us an idea of how much area we have for the kitchen counters and where we would like windows. Until we have chosen a final design, these ‘draft’ models will remain incomplete. There is no sense in wasting time in building the perfect 3D model until we know the final tiny house floor plan design and dimensions.
This is the loft view of the tiny house floor plan design. The spiral staircase to the loft was the most practical decision (but also happened to be the most aesthetically pleasing to us). By placing this staircase in the center of the house, we enter into the loft at a position where the ceiling is at its maximum height (the peak). Since a gable roof is essentially a triangle, the height at the left and right sides of our loft will be very low. Therefore, the area where the ceiling height is 5 feet or less will be used for closed closet space/storage. (not shown in the photo). Likely the window above our bed will also need to be shaped like a triangle, but for now, the square is used as a placeholder.
The bathroom design is similar to the rectangle house, with the doorless stone-walled shower and freestanding bathtub. The main difference between the rectangle and square bathroom design is that, instead of placing the washer/dryer under the staircase (rectangle tiny house design), we will incorporate it into a hidden cabinet in the bathroom.
This final photo is of our square tiny house floor plan design from the outside. The dimensions are incorrect as the ceilings are too high and the walls are incomplete, but this photo gives a general idea of how the house appears from the outside.
To our surprise, this is now our favorite tiny house design. It feels more spacious than the original rectangle design. I know it will make my parents happy to see that we not only considered the square design, but that we prefer it.
However, we are not going to send this model to Shane. The main takeaway from that earlier conversation with my parents was that we need to get together to discuss the plans regardless of what we chose. Naturally, that lit a fire under our butts and we decided to plan a trip up to the Okanagan before our official move date.
So now all we do is wait!
In the meantime, you can check out our Youtube VLOG for more details!
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