One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is, “where can I buy tiny house plans?” If you want to use pre-made plans, you need to know where to buy tiny house plans, what to look for, and what to do with them once you've got them.
And while I ended up working with an architect to design a completely custom tiny house, you may not know that, before that, I bought plans for the Tumbleweed Fencl (now called the Cypress). I've also collaborated with lots of brilliant tiny house builders, many of whom have put their tiny house plans up for purchase.
I've therefore got a bit of experience with both custom and pre-made plans, so I decided to put together a guide to help you choose the perfect tiny house plans for you. This guide will explain where to buy tiny house plans, what to look for, and what to do with them once you've got them.
As I said, I initially bought plans for the Fencl. I've written before about my first impressions of these plans, but, to sum them up, I was pretty happy with what I got. As a construction newbie, I felt confident that I'd be able to follow them, and I was mostly satisfied with the level of detail they provided.
However, I wanted to add dormers to the loft, so I spoke to a family friend – the president of an architectural design firm – about making some changes. I was blown away when he offered to help me out pro bono. Even better, I figured we'd just make a few adjustments, but we actually ended up designing a completely new house from scratch. I got very lucky!
If you're not sure whether to use pre-made plans or to have some custom designed, I outline the pros and cons of each option in Tiny House Decisions. In this article, I'll assume that you want to buy pre-made plans and I'll give you some guidance on choosing the best ones for you.
Where to Buy Tiny House Plans
If you run a Google search for “tiny house plans” or “where to buy tiny house plans,” you'll see that there are lots of blueprints available to buy at the click of the button. Here are some of the places I'd recommend starting your search.
The Tiny House
If you can bear to wait a little while, I'm currently working with Milford Cushman and Kelley Osgood at the Cushman Design Group to make the plans for my tiny house available for purchase. So, if you like the look of my tiny house, sign up here to be notified when they become available.
Macy Miller from MiniMotives is a design professional and the proud owner of a 196 square foot tiny house, built on a 24′ by 8′ trailer. Her tiny house plans are available to buy in three packages. You can get the basic plans (which don't include the systems), the full plans, or the full plans plus her SketchUp model.
The Tiny Tack House
Malissa and Chris Tack live in a 140 square foot tiny house that's built on a 20′ by 7′ trailer. Their tiny house had a big influence on my own design, largely because of its dormers and all the natural light in there. Malissa is a 3D artist by profession too, so you can be confident that these are high-quality plans.
The Tiny Project
Alek Lisefski's tiny house is 160 square foot and it's both modern and rustic. It's actually one of my recent favorites, again because of the natural light in there. Alek's plans are also available in a number of different packages. You can buy his full construction plans, a PDF version of the plans, and/or the SketchUp model.
Tiny House Build
If you're all about achieving a modern look and maximizing efficiency, hOME might be the tiny house for you. This 207 square foot tiny house is open and spacious, but also meets legal road restrictions for most US states. The plans were put together with the novice builder in mind and there are several options available.
Vina's Tiny House
Vina's tiny house – the Sol Haus – is a gorgeous solar house that's designed to be off-grid, with solar panels and passive heating and cooling. This tiny house is 140 square foot and was built on a 20′ by 8'6″ trailer. Vina is the founder and owner of Sol Haus Design – a design firm specializing in sustainable building -, so, again, these plans are some of the best you'll find.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
If you're interested in tiny house living and you haven't come across a Tumbleweed tiny house yet, I'm not sure what you've been doing! Founded by the father of the tiny house movement, Jay Shafer, Tumbleweed designs, builds, and runs workshops on tiny houses. The company has a range of models and plans available, so the best thing to do is browse their selection to find the house that meets your needs.
Tiny House Design
Michael Janzen has put together the plans for all his tiny houses on wheels, to enable would-be tiny house owners to edit his designs and come up with their own. Drawing on the American Tiny House Association's Construction Guidelines, these plans follow industry standards and consist of a PDF copy, the SketchUp file, and a materials list. If you want to play around with several designs, it might be worth buying several of these (they're quite cheap compared to other plans) to compare and combine them.
Note: Michael offers some free plans available here, as well as lots of floor plans in his book called Tiny House Floor Plans.
Four Lights Tiny House Company
It's Jay Shafer again! Through Four Lights Tiny House Company, he aims to provide homeowners with everything they want and need, and nothing that they don’t. This means workshops, room components, a DIY book, and lots of tiny house plans! Again, top quality plans here and plenty of options to choose from.
Heard of Dee Williams? She co-founded PAD to help people realize their tiny house dreams. As well as workshops and consulting, PAD offers several books and plans for you to look through. Some of their plans were designed by a company called Shelter Wise, and all of them are of the highest quality.
Tiny Home Builders
Yet another company selling tiny house plans! These tiny houses are designed to have a warm and open feel. They range in size from about 96 to 160 square feet. There are different packages available and everything they produce is very professional.
The Sonoma Shanty by Stephen Marshall and Kent Griswold is a tiny structure designed to be used in many ways: as a shed, a shop, a gallery, a studio or a tiny house. It's 120 square foot and 15′ by 8′. These plans are very detailed and include a shopping list you could take to your local DIY store to get everything you need. I'd recommend these plans for anyone on a budget.
The Tiny Life
The Tiny Life is another great online resource and I often recommend their book called Cracking the Code. As well as fantastic books, they offer a cheat sheet and a floor plan kit. Their bundle of floor plans is essentially a cut and paste kit to design your own tiny house.
Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses
As well as building tiny houses and offering some handy services such as consulting, Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses has some great plans available to buy. You can also order custom plans if none of the pre-made plans suit your needs.
Humble Homes offers high quality and professional tiny house plans at affordable prices. Its plans are designed and checked by the company's in-house structural engineer and there are lots of options available.
What to Look for
Buying the plans for your tiny house is exciting, but it's important not to get caught up in the excitement and forget the seriousness of this decision. You're building a house. Choosing the wrong plans could be an expensive or even dangerous mistake, so make sure you know what good plans look like.
Make sure you buy your tiny house plans from a source you trust. Ideally this would be a tiny house manufacturer or someone who has experience building tiny houses. Anyone can whip up some designs and throw a PayPal button on a website. Do your due diligence and research the person or company you're buying from before you part with your cash.
Here are the things you should be looking for.
We've all fallen in love with beautiful tiny houses on Pinterest. This is why I'd suggest making a list of desired features before you start shopping around. Make sure you know exactly what you want and need your tiny house to have before you start looking at plans. That way, you won't be able to get distracted by a pretty picture and end up buying the plans to house that won't meet your needs.
I'd recommend researching the pros and cons of different features and options first, to really understand the consequences of each decision you make. Tiny House Decisions would be a great place to start
Framing plans will help you to build a house that is structurally sound and fit for travel, particularly if you're a construction novice. Note that framing plans are not typically included with architectural plans that would be passed to a builder. It is assumed that any professional builder would be able to interpret plans and frame properly.
Exact Specs and Precise Diagrams
Once you've decided what you'd like your tiny house to be like, you should know how big you want it to be. You should also know which other specs are important to you, particularly if you plan to tow your tiny house and have it meet road requirements.
Any plans you consider should provide exact measurements and specs. The diagrams and drawings provided should be detailed, precise, and labeled with exact measurements.
Although not a deal breaker if the plans you're looking at don't include a materials list, it would be very useful to know which materials you should buy to build your house with. The materials on the list will have been chosen carefully, so you'll probably want to stick with them.
Indication of Cost, Time and Skill Level Required
It's no good having the perfect set of plans if you're not able to use them to build your tiny house. Before you invest, find out approximately how much time, money, and skill will be required to build the house in the plans. Look for an FAQ or ask the designer directly.
A Completed Build
Has the tiny house in the plans been built before? There’s a certain level of confidence and comfort that comes from knowing that the plans you’re buying have actually been used to build a completed tiny house. Often plans can work well on paper, but not turn out so well in practice, so look for plans that have been vetted!
Photos of the Finish Product
To be certain that this is the house you want to build, you should ask to see photos of the finished product. Make sure you're happy with how it looks. If you're not, make sure you'll be able to make any changes you're considering making before you buy the plans. Don't just assume you'll be able to, because designing a small space like this is all about trade-offs. If you change one thing, it's likely to have an impact on something else.
Depending on the kind of tiny house you want, as well as the plans for the floor, framing, etc., you'll also need plans for the systems (plumbing, electrical, etc.). If you want to go low-tech and off-grid, you might not need this, but if you do plan to have electricity and water, you will need to plan for this before you start building. Remember, every decision affects another decision. It's important to have everything settled before you start.
Particularly if you're new to construction, you'll benefit from having some instructions to follow. How detailed these instructions need to be will depend on your level of experience.
If you want to make any changes to the plans you buy, make sure to get some with a SketchUp model. This way, you can plan out your changes properly to see what will and won't work.
What to Do with Them
Once you've got you've decided where to buy tiny house plans and you've bought the ones you like most, check you're happy with them.
First of all, ensure you're happy with the design on a big picture level. Are you certain you want two lofts? Are you sure you'll be able to manage with no access to running water? Make sure you're set on the features, dimensions, and so on.
Next, go over the plans with a fine-tooth comb. Check for anything you don't understand. Make sure you'll be able to get hold of all the items on the material list. Make any changes you need to make, and ensure you understand the implications of making them.
Once you're completely confident that your plans are right for you, you can finally get started! Find somewhere to build your tiny house and start buying your materials! Top tip: set up alerts using IFTTT to make sure you're the first to hear about any bargains in your area.
You're All Set!
Buying the plans for your future house is a big deal, but if you know where to buy tiny house plans and what you're looking for, and you buy from someone you trust, you should have no problems. The most important thing is understanding beforehand exactly what you want your tiny house to be like. Good luck!