What Should You Expect in a Set of Tiny House Plans?

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What do you expect to be included in a set of tiny house plans offered for purchase? Some, or all, of these things may be part of a plan set:

  1. Cover sheet: an artist’s rendering of the exterior of the house that shows how the house will look when built.
  2. Floor Plan (layout): Dimensioned plans indicating the layout of the rooms in the house, dimensions, door and window locations, ceiling heights and plumbing fixture locations. These plans are an overhead view of the house.
  3. Structural Plan: Overall layout and necessary details for the ceiling, loft framing (if applicable), roof construction, and, for a tiny house on wheels, securing of the frame to the trailer.

    house plans

    house plans

  4. Foundation plan (only for tiny houses not on wheels): The foundation plan shows dimensions, concrete walls, footings, pads, posts, beams, bearing walls, and any stepped foundation and retaining wall information.
  5. Roof Plan: describes the elements that make up the roof. The roof plan typically illustrates ridges, valleys, and hips. It also may indicate the roofing material and slopes of roof surfaces, as well as chimneys and decorative elements.
  6. Exterior Elevation: a 2d representation of the front, rear, left and right sides of the house. Materials, details and measurements are also given.
  7. Cross Section (also called building section or wall section): cut-away views through the house that show adjacencies of spaces. Important changes in floor, ceiling and roof heights or the relationship of one level to another are called out. Also shown, when applicable, are exterior details such as railing and banding. These sections specify the home’s construction, insulation, flooring and roofing details.
  8. Electrical Plan: a drawing that indicates the location of lighting fixtures, switches and outlets.
  9. Bill of Materials: lumber, doors, windows, hardware, insulation, etc. needed to build the house.
  10. Complete set of step-by-step building instructions.

Tiny house plans vary in quality and completeness. A bill of materials is usually only partial and instructions are rarely part of the package. Be sure you understand what’s included.

Additional questions to consider:

  • Qualifications: What are the designer’s qualifications? How many houses have been completed with this design? Has the plan been reviewed by an architect or structural engineer?
  • Support: Do you expect be able to ask questions of the designer during your build? Will there be an extra charge for this support? What kind of turn around time does he or she offer to respond to questions? What if the designer is on vacation – will anyone else be available or will you have to wait? Will you want the designer’s consulting services during your build, help with customizing features?

Learning the answers before you make your purchase can save you a lot of headaches and frustration during your build.

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Elaine Walker

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