Sonoma Shanty Workshop

*** No Longer Offered ***

A couple of months ago I approached Stephen Marshall of Little House on the Trailer about designing a simple house plan that would be affordable for everyone that I could sell for a low price on the Tiny House Blog.

Stephen and I came up with the answer the “Sonoma Shanty.” This is a 120 square foot building that will pass most areas requirements to build without a permit. It is 8 x 15 feet in size. The basic shell of the Shanty can be built for around $1200 by buying the materials at your local Home Depot or hardware store. You than can finish the Sonoma Shanty however you want to.


The design can be used as a tiny house, an office, an art studio, a workshop or a storage unit. You get to decide what you want to do with it. The design has a 12/12 pitch roof and loft space above for sleeping or storage.

Stephen liked the design idea so much that he has decided to create a kit to make it easier for you to buy and assemble. He is also offering workshops twice a month so you can get the hands on experience of building a shanty of your own.

*** No Longer Offered ***

Stephen is asking me to promote his workshops here on the Tiny House Blog. The one day workshop will be held two Saturdays a month at the Little House on the Trailer location in Petaluma, California. The address is 1880 Petaluma Blvd. North Petaluma, CA 94952. For details you can talk to Stephen Marshall at (415) 233-0423. Click here to get directions.

The cost is $250 for the workshop and you can purchase a space below. Only six participants at each workshop, so you can have personal attention with Stephen and lots of hands on in constructing the kit.

The complete plans will be available soon here on the Tiny House Blog and will also be available at the workshop.

*** No Longer Offered ***

Prototype Floorplan
Sonoma Shanty Kit Prototype

16 thoughts on “Sonoma Shanty Workshop”

  1. More space if the door opens outwards.

    Please remind people not to cheap out. If FSC certified lumber and other better, local materials are available please use them. Support your local economy while building a small house – a win-win!

    • Good point EJ. I’ll make sure and include that information in the plans when they are ready. Any other pointers or observations are welcome also.

  2. What’s up with the roof? I’ve never seen a roof built that way before. I understand the desire to keep costs down, but is that even safe?

    • I asked Stephen the same thing and he says it is the typical construction of a shed or barn style roof and is very strong. Let me get him to pitch in and explain it as this is not my expertise.

  3. $1200 ? That is certainly better than these $25,000+ “houses on wheels” we have been seeing lately!

    Considering the economy these days, one needs to consider that affordability and basic needs certainly come first.

    All things considered, one can buy a piece of land AND build a “tiny” house for less than $10,000 with solar, wind and water….. The best part…. NO MORTGAGE = FREEDOM !!!

    Great Job Kent !!!

    • Hi Matt – You do have to remember that the $1200 is for the basic shell. Depending how you choose to finish the tiny house can change the completed price a great deal. Just want everyone to keep that in mind…Kent

  4. Thanks for the feedback from all of you. We are constantly developing our building systems to maximize strength, safety, affordability and sustainability. Your blog responses are very helpful.

    To respond to Tim R’s concern about safety:

    We have a doubled 2 x 4 rafter 6 feet long in the center of the roof. That’s quite sturdy at a 12 in 12 pitch. Then 2 x 4 purlins at 24″ o.c. span 7 1/2 feet, a span which works with a roof dead load of 2 pounds per square foot whose force normal is reduced by the 12 in 12 pitch. The 24 o.c. meets manufacturer’s specs for roof fastening. We’re using Ondura@ corrugated roofing.This is a small shed. The main structural concern is wind (as it is for all buildings) We fasten the roof to the top plates each 16″ o.c. with at rated framing clip.If you need to plan for snow load you’ll need something more.

    To respond to EJ about quality and sustainability:

    Absolutely. Those are exactly the issues central to our pursuit.The design challenge of any building is the balancing act and synergy between safety, affordability, sustainability and aesthetics. We are using FSC Certified 3/8″ AC plywood siding with formaldehyde free glue. Our panels show the certification stamps on the inside of the frame. We use kiln dries 2 x 4 Hem Fir studs. Our Sing@ Honeycomb panels are manufactured with the same plwood and filled with 60% post consumer foam insulation. Look for the FSC “Certified” stamp.

  5. For my area in the Chicago land area, I have an average snow density of 13:1. That is every 13 inches of snow is the equivilent of 1 inch of rain. This article has maps for the US and Canada

    Assuming a flat roof, 1 inch per square foot is equal to 144 cubic inches = 0.62 gallons of water. At 8.35 lbs per gallon, that comes to 5.2 pound per inch of water. Finally, we multiply that by the cosine of the angle of the roof (45 degrees for this) which is nicely .7.

    So, that is 3.6 pounds for 13″ of snow, or 0.28 pounds per inch. At a 2lb/sq foot rating, that gives me an upper limit of 7.14″ of snow. The biggest snowfall (per storm) here the last few years was 21″ back in 1999, with a record of 23″ back in ’67. I would want to build to a tolerance of about twice that, given these are single storm measurements and snow doesn’t melt that much mid season.

    In short, this roof design could use a little reinforcement for most of use. Well worth the extra $6 each (3 2×4 in a triangle pattern) for home made rafters.

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  7. After speaking with Peter Sing, Matt needs to realize that there is no electric or plumbing in this Sonoma Shanty. That’s why the cost is so low.
    I also like the panels, and Mr. Sing was helpful, but he recommended to me to put all the pipes and wires outside the walls and then cover them with molding. That’s to much of a “SHANTY” for me. I’ll stick build, pull my electrical thru the walls and pick my inside finish.


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