Iterating. Over, and over, and over…

In an earlier post, we shared the details of our frontrunner floor plan. But since optimizing the layout is so critical in tiny house design, we continued to tweak and make improvements. Some parts of the old design stayed – primarily the offices and bedroom layouts – and other parts were improved upon. The previous design had a lot of wasted space in the kitchen area, and when space is at a premium, no square inch can afford to be wasted.

With every change, the tape measure came out. I obsessively measured pretty much every space and piece of furniture in our home to get a sense of scale and proportion. We would lay out parts of the floor plan to scale in our living room using pieces of plywood, the vacuum cleaner power cord, chairs, tables – anything we could prop up against something or lay on the floor to mark off boundaries. Once things were laid out, we would get in the space both alone and together, and go through the typical things we would need or want to do in that space. This was particularly helpful for figuring out the size and layout for our offices, kitchen, and living room area.

After many iterations, we have optimized the space to maximize both storage and general comfort while living in a small space (422 square feet plus loft). We focused in particular on kitchen and food storage. (Designing during a pandemic really makes you focus on food storage…) We also wanted to find places for the utilities that were insulated and heated (no frozen pipes, pumps, or tanks here!), and easily accessible from inside the house (meaning, not in a box on the outside of the house), without needing to take up floor space for a designated utility closet like the previous design.

Current floor plan. Gooseneck area is to the right (bathroom).
3D rendering of the exterior.

With our updated design, the bathroom (the right end of the floor plan shown above) is now located on the gooseneck, and extends back out over the main trailer bed to provide a (waterproofed) space for battery/electrical storage and the circuit box below (under the washer/dryer space). This utility space will be accessible from the office and also outside under the gooseneck. The other utility (and general storage) space will be located under the kitchen and living room area. The floor of which is flush with the top of the wheel wells. The space underneath those will be accessible through the floor and from outside.

Hand drawn cross section of the house.

Now that we have ordered our trailer, it’s time to start gathering materials and refining the plan. Once the trailer arrives (mid-June), we will insulate and lay out the subfloor/decking and then lay out the entire design with masking tape so we can actually walk “through” the space to get a feel for it a bit better than we can rigging together vacuum cords, rulers, chairs, foam rollers, pillows, and pieces of plywood in our living room. At that point, we will make any final tweaks and then start building!

May 16, 2020 Update: We slightly modified the plan to incorporate the pop up roof from the earlier design. We dropped it along the way with all the iterating in the floor plan because at one point it just didn’t make sense or work with the layout we had at the time, but it works beautifully with the one we eventually settled on. So here’s the updated cross section view:

Updated cross section view

The addition of the pop up roof solves all the little “low ceiling” areas that were bugging us about the final floor plan. We are now able to make the ceiling in our offices a bit higher, which makes the transition step down from the kitchen/living room raised floor more comfortable. It also makes what was the maximum ceiling height in the bathroom the new minimum ceiling height, which is much more comfortable. And now you can also stand up in the sleeping loft area. Hooray! It will be a bit more complicated to build, but at the same time, the actual framing out of the roof planes is simpler because now they are just flat rectangles, rather than a gable roof. The pop up area will lay flat with a max height of 13’6″ (the road legal limit) for transport, and then be raised up and insert panels installed once the house is parked.

Our inspiration roof is from this tiny house in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Details of the build are documented on their Instagram.

3 thoughts on “Iterating. Over, and over, and over…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s