What Is The Planning Stage - Tiny House Blog
January 27, 2016

What Is The Planning Stage

We hear it so often I think we are becoming numb to it. I am in the planning stage(s) of my tiny house. It’s almost becoming arbitrary. It is the tiny house version of asking someone if they want to go out and get a cup of coffee. It is a statement used to fill the air with some sort of….well, something. I mean, what is the planning stage? Does that mean one is drawing blueprints? Is one living in a 200 sq.ft. area to get a feel for it? Maybe it means you are smack in the middle of collecting materials and sourcing supplies. I think the best thing one can do is define even the planning stage so that everything stays in order and the end result is a reflection of the initial hope.

The Inspiration Notebook. I have long been an advocate of what the Tiny r(E)volution dubbed ‘The Inspiration Notebook.’ It really is a very personal and free collection book comprised of a 3-ring binder, plastic sheet protectors, and a number of other goodies. In ours I started out with just one page: our personal budget. I used this spreadsheet (may have to request permission to access) to really outline where our money was currently going. By doing this I was able to better grasp where we were financially and how we might get to where we want to be.

As time went on I began adding other things such as visual inspiration, blueprints, drafts, napkin sketches, paint samples, material samples, materials inventory spreadsheets, our modified budget(s), receipts, etc. To me that was planning. Taken at daily rate I was planning each step of our process from the micro vantage point.

The following video is nearly two years old now but outlines our Inspiration Notebook and may help you get started. There are even more videos from our tiny house build and even life on the road at our YouTube page.

Once you’ve got a handle on how you are going to take on your tiny house dream the first step is probably about being honest and mostly about being honest with yourself. Don’t get caught up in the tiniest space vortex where you try to see if you can build smaller or more self-sufficient than the next guy. Really think about what you want and need out of a house. You don’t have 1,000 extra square feet to play with.

Get in the know. Do you prefer a shed roof or do you want something more traditional with a rise and run? Does gable style do it for you and, if so, does it offer enough head room in the sleeping loft? Do you need room for your art collection inside? Do you know how to cook and, if so, is it is a passion that calls for more than the bare minimum of pots, pans, and utensils? It is important to think about these things so that your home can be as comfortable and fitting to your lifestyle as possible. When we were planning our tiny house we were unwilling to compromise on kitchen space. We wanted as close to a full size kitchen with full size storage as possible. Because of that we appointed an entire 1/3 of the house to a ‘U-shaped’ kitchen complete with pantry and commercial grade countertop appliances!

Take it to the lab. I may never forget the photo of Alek Lisefski sitting in a taped off space so he could get a feel of what his tiny house would be. Don’t be afraid to experiment. On their way to living tiny Tammy Strobel and Logan Smith moved into a small apartment. My wife and I lived in a converted woodshop we called ‘The Bungalow.’ All of this allowed us to see what we could do without, what we absolutely needed, what was essential to thriving, and what was just mere frivolity. If you need to pack some things up and store them away while you live without them, do it. Stay true to what your space needs to be!


Consider your guests. Will you be living tiny by yourself? If so, you don’t need to confer with anyone. But if you anticipate sharing the space with anyone – pet included – you need to consider them and their needs. Nothing will kill a relationship faster than cabin fever. You also don’t want to bring a pet into the space without considering their needs. Not only do emotions matter but stuff does too. Each person means more possessions; more “stuff.” A pet means the same. With a dog comes a collar, a leash, a food dish, a water bowl, and probably a bed. All of those things involve the use of precious space.

Take Step 1. And now comes perhaps the most important step: figuring out what is the most important step. Where do you start? Is it drawing a floorplan? Is it collecting materials? You have to figure this out for yourself and only you can figure it out. I suggest starting with a blank space that is so many square feet. Then add the things you know you’ll need: toilet, fridge, seat, and bed. Move on from there, keeping in mind all of the steps you have taken to get this far.

So where are you in the process? What is your process? 

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]


Join Our eMail List and download the Tiny House Directory

Simply enter your name and email below to learn more about tiny houses and stay up to date with the movement.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

alice h - January 27, 2016 Reply

I’m at the “just about have it all worked out on paper” stage. Tons of little paper models and drawings later I’ve worked through a wide variety of options and am ready to do my material list. Build will hopefully occur this summer. The hardest part (besides saving the necessary funds) has been trying to decide what might drive me nuts later and when good enough is better than some nebulous notion of perfection.

Leave a Reply:

Get the Tiny House Directory... join our weekly newsletter