I love looking at tiny house plans. Just seeing how other designers solve the space-related challenges of a tiny house is inspiring. That’s why I was super excited when I discovered PinUpHouses, the international design studio run by my guest Joshua Woodsman. PinupHouses sells digital plans for over 150 small and tiny houses, cottages, and sheds, and they’ve been doing for many years. Today, I’ll ask Joshua what got him into tiny houses in the first place and what he’s learned from designing so many of them.
In This Episode:
- Housing trends in Germany and how they affect the Czech Republic
- Simplify everything: Joshua's dream for a streamlined building process
- Joshua's fully off-grid container house
- What philosophy and the architecture of slums have in common
- The purpose of the Magenta and France houses
- What's coming up for Pinup Houses next?
Links and Resources:
- Neufert Architects' Data by Ernst Neufert and Peter Neufert
- How to Build A Tiny House by Joshua Woodsman
Pinup Houses is an international studio working both within and outside the traditional boundaries of architecture. We work as an architecture studio with our expertise extending also to research, experimental, and publication areas. However, the main point of our concentration are proposals of small wooden house designs with an emphasis on social housing and affordable living. We love all kinds of DIY projects and aim to combine the know-how of professional tiny house architects and constructors with the potential and abilities of economical amateur self-help building.
This Week's Sponsor:
Tiny House Decisions
Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. And it comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. If you're struggling to figure out the systems for your tiny house, how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, what you're going to build it out, then tiny house decisions will take you through the process systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for podcast listeners. Head over to https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thd and use the coupon code tiny at checkout!
The France Tiny House Project
Joshua gains architectural inspiration from many places
Look at those stairs!
Large windows let in a lot of natural light
This tiny bedroom even has a place for a tricycle
Beautiful custom cabinetry
Check out the way the Eco-Friendly House, Lola, curves around
Different colors and textures of wood make for a beautiful room
Joshua is always looking for ways to streamline his building process
Many Pinup Houses feature a fireplace and wood storage
The DIY tiny A-frame, Alexis
Joshua Woodsman's How To Build A Tiny House
Joshua learned to weld for the Gaia house's fold-down terrace
The Magenta house was built for advertising, but could probably be used short-term
Joshua Woodsman 0:00
Do you need to fight with your own skills? I think it's not for, but if you are not skilled enough to build this small Playhouse, so you shouldn't be thinking about building a normal house.
Ethan Waldman 0:13
I love looking at tiny house plans. Just seeing how other designers solve the space related challenges of a tiny house is inspiring to me. That's why I was super excited when I discovered PInup houses. The International design studio run by my guest, Joshua Woodsman. Pinup houses sells digital plans for over 150 small and tiny houses, cottages and sheds. And they've been doing it for many years. Today, I'll ask Joshua, what got him into tiny houses and what he's learned from designing so many of them. I want to tell you about something that I think will be super helpful as you plan to design and build your tiny house. Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. And if you're struggling to just figure out the systems for your tiny house, you know, like how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, you know, what construction technique are you going to use: like SIPs, or stick framing, or steel framing, Tiny House Decisions will take you through all these processes systematically, and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for listeners of the show, you can head over to the thetinyhouse.net/THD to learn more, and use the coupon code tiny at checkout for 20% off any package. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off.
All right, I am here with Joshua Woodsman. Pinup Houses is an international studio working both within and outside the traditional boundaries of architecture. Joshua works as an architecture studio with their expertise extending also to research, experimental, and publication. Their main focus is small wooden house designs with an emphasis on social housing and affordable living. Joshua loves all kinds of DIY projects, and aims to combine the know-how of professional tiny house architects and builders with the potential for economical amateur self-building. Joshua Woodsman, welcome to the show.
Joshua Woodsman 2:36
Ethan Waldman 2:37
Good to have you here. And, you know, I, I've been following your work for four years now in the tiny house space. When When did you start designing tiny houses? And how did you? How did how did Pinup Houses become reality?
Joshua Woodsman 2:55
Okay, so first, I studied architecture, University in Prague Technical University. And on my studies, I was focusing on ordinary family houses in our country. But in the final year, I was starting to focus on small living spaces. One volume of space, just simple.
Ethan Waldman 3:35
Joshua Woodsman 3:36
And started to launch a new project. I had also I had also, I have also component for which is focused just on a check market. But I was interested a lot in a global measurement of my projects. So I started finding kind of what connected all the people to get it done, but it's the main problem. I was searching for my problem for average, everyday people without a bar borders. And it took me to find a tiny house community in the United States. And I was focused on it. So it was, I think, nine years ago, or eight years ago, and I've met my brand side find Pinup Houses this and Mark brand and start to design houses- small houses.
Ethan Waldman 5:12
Nice. Nice. So are there is there a market for small houses in the Czech Republic? Like, like are there tiny houses on wheels there? Or is it mostly stationary?
Joshua Woodsman 5:26
I think it's just a few tiny houses on wheels in Czech Republic. Our country is very, it's I wanted to say special. But it's just it's different than United States, America or other countries is like, comparing to a different country. So yeah, we are very attached to Germany. German market. So for example, in Germany there are there were factories, for kind of mobile homes. You know, like big, plastic...
Ethan Waldman 6:20
Recreational vehicles as we might call them here.
Joshua Woodsman 6:22
Yeah. And people are people from Czech Republic are buying them. These old houses which Germans don't want to use anymore? For a cheap for a few money. It's a much more popular in our country. Okay, but and also our outs are not so not so long. The we can start in in three hours you you will go from one one side of Czech Republic to another in three hours. You know, it's a small country. Yeah. And in this in this time in COVID time, you cannot cross border. Right. So right. Yeah. Like in small small...
Ethan Waldman 7:25
Yeah. Getting cabin fever. It's like living in a small house but you're stuck in a small country.
Joshua Woodsman 7:32
Ethan Waldman 7:34
So, Pinup Houses has such a range of of designs. How many? How many houses on average? Do you design a year for Pinup Houses?
Joshua Woodsman 7:49
Last year we designed around 50 designs.
Ethan Waldman 7:56
Joshua Woodsman 7:56
Ethan Waldman 7:57
Joshua Woodsman 8:05
But about I need to say that these designs are very similar. It's almost just about form no like shape of the shape of Yeah, but the basic technologies are the same
Ethan Waldman 8:26
Right and so they're all stick framed wooden small houses?
Joshua Woodsman 8:31
It's a normal two by four by six system framing and then you can choose very, very a lot of types of accents, or sheathing, inside an interior materials can be different and it's especially in this time you have way bigger buildings market, you can choose a lot of you are I'm learning still a new things on the market. And every time somebody is asking me What's my opinion on this and on this but I never heard it before. It's a It's kind of crazy. And I want to My dream is to go against this stream and simplify.
Ethan Waldman 9:37
Simplify the design or the building process?
Joshua Woodsman 9:41
Simplify materials, building process everything. You can start with simplify building activities or loss, you can start to simplify human needs it's about needs and you can you can simplify plans. I think there's too much technologies around us and also in building market you have a lot of solutions on everything you know. And it's kind of jungle with a big jungle and you need to find a way for you.
Ethan Waldman 10:41
Yeah, that's that is definitely true. I think everywhere just the there are so many technologies and the standards change so that it kind of forces you to use them and it makes building very complicated and more expensive.
Joshua Woodsman 11:02
Yes, yes. And it's about the needs because no advertisement value that you need this and this and then you want it in your house and you are going to architect them ask him what is you know, yeah.
Ethan Waldman 11:22
So, which which is the most popular design that that you sell on Pinup Houses.
Joshua Woodsman 11:33
You have open hours there is you can choose there is a filter by popularity, okay, and see who can see. Okay, so that is that I think it's just small Playhouse. I design it I kind of find it I find it on Pinterest and similan and I make my own similar Playhouse Yeah. Just for joke and but people are going to buy these plans a lot. And they are sending me a lot of real pictures of their structure and it's very it's it's fun and just my house.
Ethan Waldman 12:24
Yeah, and it's got it's got the walls that are kind of cantilevered out so it's got a very almost fairytale like quality to it. It's not the easiest build for for amateur I mean it's not terrible but having to angle all of your studs to you know, make that taper that's not the easiest.
Joshua Woodsman 12:52
So you need to fight with your own skills. Yes. And don't don't ask too much. Yeah, yeah. You can narrow it and so yeah, I think it's not perfect if you are not skilled to to build this small Play House. So you shouldn't be thinking about building a normal house.
Ethan Waldman 13:26
Yes. When before I built my tiny house I helped my dad build a chicken coop that was my that was my test case. That went that went well so I figured that I could do it on a on a bigger scale.
Joshua Woodsman 13:40
I'm nowadays I'm also designing chicken chicken coops. Yeah, chicken coop. But it's kind of longitudinal shed. On one side is the chicken coop, another side is water. If you are collecting the water and in the middle you have other space for garden tools and bicycles.
Ethan Waldman 14:14
I like it
Joshua Woodsman 14:15
And it will be a main structure and you can put in a book says I want to I want to make it on spring when they do 21 and enter January will be I release public I will publish my new new house which is already built and it's is container container house which is completely off grid. I have solar panels, a wind turbine, 20x24 and also walls, inside. batteries that you can you can heat the water from the batteries. It's fully equipped. Wow, it's so bright. It collects rainwater and through filters the water is going going in the kitchen and in a bathroom.
Ethan Waldman 15:32
Wow. That's exciting. And so that'll be a Pinup House plan.
Joshua Woodsman 15:37
Yeah, yes. It's a it's very similar to Julia. Okay, you type in a random house's search, Julia, it looks like this. It has a foldable, foldable device, which. Okay, there it is. The window.
Ethan Waldman 16:02
And so one challenge I know that people have with container homes sometimes is the issues with moisture, like and needing a really good vapor barrier, because you know, you have your warm air from inside and travel through the wall and then condense on that cold steel shipping container. How did you account for that, in your design?
Joshua Woodsman 16:26
The inner wall, in a container are insulated with I don't know how to say.
Ethan Waldman 16:39
For those listening, Joshua has a second computer with a translator open.
Joshua Woodsman 16:48
It's like kind of
Ethan Waldman 16:51
Is it a? Is it a foam that you spray in?
Joshua Woodsman 16:55
Ethan Waldman 16:57
Joshua Woodsman 16:59
Yes, yes, spray foam. So it will fail all gaps in the walls. So there is, I think, you know, I have no experience with living in a container house. Right. But I was consulted in this technical issue with some architects and everybody say, "Hey, you know, spray insulation is a very good solution, because you will fill all all gaps in a corrugated membrane. And there are no no space for for water to get through." And on that on that spray installation. We make through the space. Because it was was it wasn't it wasn't like, narrow. And then we apply the plywood. Nice. Before before, before spraying, we made small, simple, simple framing, then we attach the plywood on the framing.
Ethan Waldman 18:20
Right. Well, that's exciting. I'm excited to see the photographs of the completed house. Do you have like a property where you have all these buildings? Because I know there are some there's some other houses that you've built.
Joshua Woodsman 18:36
There are some other but the last one, it was magenta. I sold it. It's now in a kind of camp. And what is this using it for travelists. And this one is on my property on the property of my parents. And probably I will solid salad. But it's nice. It's fine. I maybe I can okay. I can show you some pictures, but I don't know.
Ethan Waldman 19:14
Well, if you if you send them to me after this interview, I can put them on the show notes page so that you know listeners can go and see the the photos of the of the building we're talking about. Okay. Yeah, I'd be happy to do that.
I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Tiny House Decisions, my signature guide and the resource that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It starts with the big decisions which is you know, should you build a tiny house yourself or with help? Is a prebuilt shell a good idea? Is a house on wheels better than on the ground and what works better for you? Deciding on the overall size, deciding on whether you should use custom plans or pre made plans, different types of trailers and more. Then in the in part two, we get into the system. So heat and water showers, hot water, toilets, electrical, refrigeration, ventilation. And we're only two thirds of the way through the book at this point. From systems we go into construction decisions talking about nails versus screws, sips versus stick-framed versus advanced framing versus metal framing. We talk about how to construct a sub floor sheathing, roofing materials, insulation, windows flooring kitchen, I know I'm just reading off the table of contents. But I just want to give you a sense of how comprehensive tiny house decisions is. It's a total of 170 pages, it contains tons of full color drawings, diagrams and resources. And it really is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions, using the coupon code tiny, when you head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD. That's THD for Tiny House Decisions. Again, that's coupon code tiny when you check out at thetinyhouse.net/THD.
So do you have? Do you have a pinup house model? That is your that's your favorite?
Joshua Woodsman 21:22
I'm not so attached to those designs. Because I am kind of if is mushroom or assembly best I I am searching for the human - not need - maybe wishes. And I'm thinking I'm from time to time I'm going on Pinterest or I buy some books, and I'm looking for what is good. What interests people? And then I'm thinking about what should be next design? But for example, I wouldn't. It's not my isn't my dream to build some something like this, for example. Right? But I'm designing it.
Ethan Waldman 22:23
Joshua Woodsman 22:28
It's like when you have clients No, right. Sometimes I have real close, like clients in a Czech Republic, which has special property and they want something from me to design. So I need to focus on them. Not on myself at my opinion frame. Maybe I can.
Ethan Waldman 23:00
Okay, that makes sense. Do you know you you pinup houses are kind of something even though you don't have a specific client in mind, you're designing them so that they will be appealing to tiny house people who are interested in tiny houses.
Joshua Woodsman 23:17
Of course, I sometimes I'm there basically two ways of designing those structures. When I see something and I'm influenced from it i think i mean like I'm I find some for example, I'm going on a trip to the roots and I see some strange and interesting house maybe old or built already. And I make a photo and design a similar one. Kind of copying structures, and but but then I believe that in architecture is not like an art you know, for example, in music music it's never the same. Other other type of designing from me it's just just something trying to find some new director of house.
Ethan Waldman 24:29
What are some things that you're excited about right now or what are some trends that you've seen recently that you're that you're working into your designs?
Joshua Woodsman 24:38
In my design firm I'm trying next year I want to focus on made the appliance better and better. I want to add some other pages about technologies and so on. about the different types of walls. I'm trying to make plans better but in our world, there's so many interesting topic about which is it is connected to a small house. Maybe I cannot mention. Yes, I can maybe I am very interested in slums, for example, you know, slums but it's absolutely different topic for one of our one all interview.
Ethan Waldman 25:51
What is it about slums that fascinate you from an architecture standpoint?
Joshua Woodsman 25:58
It's, it's like a salt lake. It's a building without kinds of rules. But there are but there there are rules. Do you know Carl Gustav Jung. Carl Gustav Jung is most famous. Psycho psycho analytic in the 20th century young.
Ethan Waldman 26:28
Jung, sure. Okay.
Yes. Jung. Okay. Sorry.
Joshua Woodsman 26:37
And there are kinds of consciousness of your own your own conscious and and your subconsciousness Now, under those rules in the slums are hidden, I think it's kind of subconsciousness rules.
Ethan Waldman 26:58
Interesting. I like that.
Joshua Woodsman 27:00
So, for example, there are there are many, the biggest slums are Karachi in Pakistan. In a, in India, there are a lot of slums. One of the biggest slum is in an area in Nigeria the main downfall and again, no Lagos, logos, it's a main town off of Nigeria. And in the South America there are slums. In Czech, Czech are also small, but not in Czech, but in Slovakia. So on the on the east, from our country is Slovakia country. The kind of gypsy slums. A lot of that I was there, it's there. It's it's a kind of safe lumps. But I was inspired, inspired by them.
Ethan Waldman 28:15
Nice. There's a tiny house model that you introduced maybe a year or two ago called the France and it's it's a modular, prefabricated design. What what inspired that and have you seen, have you have you seen anybody use it and do anything with it?
Joshua Woodsman 28:40
I didn't, I didn't see someone who would pay me.
No, it's like kind of prototype. But do you know what the mem is? mem?
Ethan Waldman 29:00
M-E-M? Mem. No.
Joshua Woodsman 29:03
Mem. It's kind of internet website, mem.
Ethan Waldman 29:10
Joshua Woodsman 29:12
Memes. Okay. This, this is kind of tiny house memes, for media, you know, yeah. Or magenta. The pink ones is all kinds of memes.
Ethan Waldman 29:29
Joshua Woodsman 29:31
One of important important thing on it was to get into media. And have tons of advertise for Pinup Houses. It's not generally it's not the forensics, not a house where you can elaborate. No, maybe overnight. or two or three nights. Right? But you can leave that. But it seems interesting in some point. The best thing, best product for media is when it's interested only in one thing you know, you you cannot confuse someone because people are not used to think about about it for a long time. So basically all they see, yes, it's, you can, you can join it in a very short time and it's a good idea, I like it. And then the man is going to another another topic, no media or that or visit the PinupHouses.com and find the other information. Right. Right. So France is interesting. In that you can it's a modular so you can join it were assembled and reassemble it times what I did, by the way, because some artists in a in the Czech Republic was inviting me on a exhibition, okay. exhibition. So I read assembled and assembled in another town. A few times.
Ethan Waldman 31:41
I like the concept a lot. I mean, I, I agree, I don't know that it would be useful for living in. But I think that it is. It has the spirit of the tiny house movement, just this idea of mobility.
Joshua Woodsman 31:57
It's about idea and like, Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 32:03
Do you do any work? Like custom work in the tiny house space?
Joshua Woodsman 32:09
A lot. A lot. Yeah. People are. Every time the people want to change it. Yeah. adjustments and designs. So I'm working on it. I have studio and two employees. Nice. So I'm working on it. And then I have time I'm working on a new project have also been in our summer, or in spring and summer and in autumn sometimes I'm I want to leave my office. And so it's reason why I'm building those small tiny houses for me there. Which sometimes I'm, I work on it alone. Sometimes. Somebody helps me. Yeah. And I'm through I'm trying to when I speak, when I'm telling people to buy to build their own houses on their own like DIY. So I want to that experience.
Ethan Waldman 33:37
Definitely, I think I'm sure that helps your designs, you know, that that you're actually building some of these and you're testing them out?
Joshua Woodsman 33:45
It's it's very important. This year I I tried first time in my own welding. So it was necessary because I was working with container house steel, so I needed to cut it and weld a lot.
Ethan Waldman 34:13
To build the container house, do you? You know, if someone buys those plans from you, will they need to do some welding?
Joshua Woodsman 34:22
Yes, of course. It's necessary if you want to have a foldable terrace, so you need to make it but you can ask some professional. Yeah. I was looking for some professional because I didn't want to weld but everybody has no time. Because it's the people which are the ones to work with hands. Yeah, they have a lot of work.
Ethan Waldman 35:01
Yes. Yeah, that's happening here to they're, people are very busy.
Joshua Woodsman 35:04
They are choosing the work that they want to do.
Ethan Waldman 35:12
Joshua Woodsman 35:15
This is just a promise I promise you that they will. You are waiting still, I think.
Ethan Waldman 35:27
It's an international struggle, right? They're getting a contractor to show up. It seems like nowhere in the world can you get it to happen? Well, one thing that I like to ask all my guests is, do you have any favorite books? or other resources on design?
Joshua Woodsman 35:51
That you recommend? Yes, there are plenty of books. One is the interesting one, I can't remember the name but it's Neufert It's um, if you if you type Neufert like an N E U F E R T, Neufert like in German. Architecture. It's about designing spaces. Like economically and dimensions of every every possible structure and functional space. It's for architecture, architects, mainly.It's kind of expensive. I think it's gonna cost $100 USD,
Ethan Waldman 37:09
is it the Is it the let's say, I found I found it The Exceptional Pursuit of the Norm: Neufert.
Nice. Any any other books that you like?
Joshua Woodsman 37:28
My book. I have one book. It's How To Build A Tiny House. I recommend it. I was I was working on it for one year. And there are a lot of first idea idea was to write a book just on little pictures. No, no words. I don't want to pay for some translations. Yeah. So after that, I there is little bit added that that is a text. But not so much.
Ethan Waldman 38:12
The illustrations look look amazing. I'm just looking at the product page. You know, it's clear that you are an architect and designer just in the in the illustrations.
Joshua Woodsman 38:25
I'm working on another book about already two years, and I cannot finish it you know.
Ethan Waldman 38:40
What's this next one on?
Joshua Woodsman 38:43
It's just, it's, it's about brick house, masonry. And it's for Czech market. It's especially focused on the Czech of favorite houses.
Ethan Waldman 39:00
Is that very common there? Masonary houses?
Joshua Woodsman 39:05
Yeah. I think 90% of all houses are masonry.
Ethan Waldman 39:10
Joshua Woodsman 39:12
Like a very, very common people. We have kind of a rare in my house, my castle? No, right.
Ethan Waldman 39:25
He'd rather have it be made out of brick than out of wood.
Joshua Woodsman 39:30
Maybe because in our country's old castles, middle Middle Ages. Medieval, medieval, medieval. So it's long history. Just bring out some of that as well.
Ethan Waldman 39:47
Joshua Woodsman, I really appreciate you being on the show today. And thank you so much for all the wonderful designs that you've that you've put out into the world.
Joshua Woodsman 39:59
I thank you for the invitation.
Ethan Waldman 40:02
Thank you so much to Joshua Woodsman for being a guest on the show, you can find the show notes including links to Pinup Houses at thetinyhouse.net/147. Again, that's the thetinyhouse.net/147. I'll also include some of my favorite Pinup Houses on that page. So I'll put the images there and you can see some of my favorites. Also, don't forget to check out Tiny House Decisions, the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. I'm offering 20% off any package right now at thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD coupon code tiny for 20% off. Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House odcast.
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