Tiny Houses are a minimalist home style that is rising in popularity for people who are looking to simplify their life as well as reduce their debt or escape a mortgage. Tiny houses can be built on trailers for a portable home or on a stationary foundation, and construction costs only a fraction of that of a “regular” house. Some people have even built their houses out of salvaged or recycled materials, reducing the cost to only a few thousand dollars per house. If you are looking to build a tiny house, online articles can help a lot and so can books. There are a lot of tiny house books on the market right now, but many of them focus more on inspiring than giving practical instructions and advice.
The five books below take things one step further by providing actual floor plans for real small homes and walking you through the whole process from conceptualization, to designing and planning, to construction and finishing. You might still be in the planning stage, or you could be ready to build right away. Whether you are looking to take a DIY approach, or if the plan is to hire professional builders, these books can give great inspiration and ideas for different types and styles of tiny homes.
1. ‘Tiny House Floor Plans: Over 200 Interior Designs for Tiny Houses’ by Michael Janzen
In the words of the author, this book was created to help out “regular folks solving their own housing challenges.” That is what the Tiny House movement is really about, regular people taking their housing needs into their own hands and finding a way to transform their lives to fit inside a smaller space. This book contains 14 detailed floor plans, arranged from the smallest in size (8×12) up to the largest (12×24 + Loft). The plans are all on the same scale, making them easy for someone with limited construction experience to understand. It also contains pages dedicated to specific architectural features such as doors and their location, ladders and stairs, window size and alignment, and utility closets and plumbing. This book provides simple and practical inspiration for anyone looking to build a tiny house from scratch.
- Well thought-out and easy to understand floor plans
- Has a full illustration legend
- Covers many different size structures
- Does not cover construction how-tos
- No photos
- Very little text
2. ‘In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House Into Two Homes’ by Michael Litchfield
In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats covers a large spectrum of tiny house possibilities. From add-ons, to basement units, to standalone structures, it focuses on all of the different ways that you can add a tiny home to your existing home as a guest room, retreat, office or permanent living space. The book has eight chapters that go through the deciding and planning process as well as feature multiple case studies for each particular type of structure. This book is an excellent resource if you have an existing home and are thinking about adding an addition, but the chapters on plans and permits, designing, choosing fixtures and appliances, and building stand-alone units are also helpful for someone who is starting from scratch with just a plot of land and a dream. The case studies in this book do include floor plans, but it is more focused overall on the designing process rather than being a strictly construction-focused book. Go to this book for great inspiration and practical advice, not for a complete how-to.
- Great inspirational stories and case studies
- Wide variety of options for tiny home designs
- Filled with beautiful photos
- Limited instructions
- Limited floor plans
- Focus is mainly on additions to existing homes
3. ‘The Big Book of Small House Designs: 75 Award-Winning Plans for Your Dream House, All 1,250 Square Feet or Less’ by Don Metz
The Big Book of Small House Designs has it all. This book includes detailed floor plans and design illustrations for 75 homes of various styles, from Midwest Modular to Cozy Vermont Cabin or Victorian Barn. The designs are innovative and inspiring, and the illustrations are all easy enough to understand that you do not have to be a professional architect to enjoy and benefit from this book. Each design includes a text introduction that describes the objective of the design and the central design concepts. You could easily use any of these drawings as a starting place for building your own house, or just as a way to gather inspiration and new ideas. Other than floor plans and illustrations, the book also covers energy-saving features such as solar heating and plumbing, airlock entries, wood-burning stoves, ceiling fans and skylights.
Price: Paperback $12.99, Hardcover $5.13, Kindle $12.99
- Illustrations include complete outside views as well as floor plans
- Covers construction details such as plumbing
- Innovative and inspirational designs
- No photos
- No houses on trailers are included
- Each design is very complex
4. ‘Home Sweet Hole, Bonus edition: A Folio of Feasible Fantasy Floor Plans’ by Lynn Dean
Hobbit Houses are a common fantasy among Tiny House enthusiasts. Small, rounded homes in the side of a hill seem to encompass all of our daydreams about living in a small space. They are comfy, cozy, and retain temperature better than free-standing houses so there is less need for heating and cooling. Lynn Dean offers a peak into the private life of a hobbit with this short book, but does not include much technical specifications or instructions to go along with the drawings. Each drawing is to scale and some come with drawings of individual rooms as well as the floor plans, but this book is meant mainly for inspiration rather than actual plans to build off of. You could easily use these plans as a starting point for your own project, but it would take some experience with construction and plan drawing.
- Comes with a bonus plan drawing
- A different take on tiny homes than any other book
- Drawings are detailed and well designed
- Not a lot of technical details
- No photos
- Some readers found the font irritating
5. ‘Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Well-Designed Small Homes’ by Gerald Rowan
Compact Houses is a well-rounded book with 50 floor plans for homes under 1,400 square feet. It includes construction ideas as well as design ideas to maximize your small space home, plans for building new houses as well as retrofitting older homes, and options for those who want to focus on energy efficiency or off the grid living. This book is considered a full resource guide and has plenty of explanatory text and keys for each drawing, so that even a novice can understand everything inside. It takes you through the whole design process and introduces the kind of thinking that is necessary for small space living, such as: How can you maximize your space while retaining great design qualities? How can you get all the necessities of life without wasting time, energy and money on unnecessary appliances and features? How can you bring outdoor space into your home as a design feature? And more.
- Detailed illustrations and plans
- Explanatory legends and keys for all illustrations
- Great inspiration for energy efficient spaces
- No photos
- None of the houses are easy to DIY
- Some plans are not to scale