Buildings under 200 sf

Started by jraabe, July 10, 2005, 10:07:46 AM

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Small buildings that often don't need a permit - What is the best design and the easiest construction? What are your ideas? What would you build?

See the contest and winners in this Owner Builder Gallery link -

What follows below is the history of the discussion as the contest evolved.


They have squeezed the non-permit buildings down to 10'x12' here with no plumbing or electrical.


Ah yes, California does "lead the nation" doesn't it?  ;)

Still, many places will let you build these tiny houses and the design exercise is a good one...




Mounted on trailer for easy relocation. The home can be removed from the trailer and set onto a permanent foundation. Trailer can be licensed for over the road transport. Trailer has two-3500 pound axles, brakes on one axle. 2-5/8" trailer ball, mechanical tongue jack. Trailer can be towed with half ton pickup with a Class III weight distributing hitch, or with a heavy duty pickup truck with Class III hitch.


Wow, I think your "tow-able" is a great first contribution!   What does the frame underneith look like?  Being on wheels I bet it could qualify as an "RV" and that might keep the  inspectors at arms length on a few topics (like my need for cheap but non-violating human waste disposal).   Way to go, I like the floorplan too, and love the little bump out for the sink!


A contest?  How fun!!

Question:  If we include a sleeping loft, as in the the picture link you provided, does that count as part of the 200 sq feet?  Or do just the first floor dimensions have to be less that 200 sq feet?



This one is my favorite. Who says a tiny house can't be architecturally interesting!?!


Where are you diggin these up Dave?  I love em!  I made up a floor plan for a 10 by 12 to fit my wife, 3 kids and I.  Living room and Dining would happen outside on a (theoretical) urbanite patio.  I will see If I can dig them up and scan them.


For our purposes lofts won't count as long as the sidewall is no higher than 10' (I'm not speaking for anyone's building department here).

These are great little designs David. For the purpose of the contest and posting to the gallery page we need to give credit to the designers of these mobile mini homes. Do you have a link?

A derivative design based on one of these is always a possibility too (with credit to the initial design).


Oops... sorry.

The designs are from

I posted a link to their book in the books thread too.


Here is a project contribution from Peter Sloan who sent an email with this photo and the following description:

"I got the plans from .  It's 12x16 (192sf) not including the deck or the loft."


Here ya go,
Slightly over 200 sq. ft but its hot down here and my tape stretched. I will post elevations when they are done, but for now, it's a flat roof. The floor area is 224 sq. ft not counting the window seat and kitchen popout. You will need to be "in love" cause the bed is only a double (not king size)
The drawing is done in autosketch but I can supply dxf or dwg files that should pop straight into your drawing software.  ;D


Nice one Jonesy... Very simple structure. In some locations the pop-outs could be supported off a simple rectangular foundation. The deck integrates nicely and becomes a big outdoor room.


I was told by the county my 200 sq ft max was measured by "the footprint".  I wonder if I can get away with "cantilevered space" not being counted.  I would think it'd be easier to argue if there was a true 200 sq ft laid foundation rather than an elevated structure.  ...but I don't want to put it permanently in place.


I like Jonesey's--although I'd hate to have the bathroom plumbing as a pop-out in a hard freeze.

I've lived here for four years now--didn't build it.

At roughly 8 x 24, it's just sub-200 feet, maybe a bit over if you used 2x6 walls (it uses 2x2)

And there's a very similar one with a second bedroom of a sort--same size.

There's a curtain between the main bedroom (short queen bed--length of a full or twin) and the rest.

and an awning, which the designers think you are going to use as a living room most of the time.


Doing a pop-out that satisfies local inspectors gets into interpretations.

However, most building departments do not count small projections that are cantilevered out over the foundation. These, "architectural features" can include bays, pop-outs and window seats. Usually the depth limit is around 24"-36".

Such projections can be supported by extending floor joists, a bracket that carries the weight back into the wall, or some combination of the two.


I have decided to disqualify myself from the comp, as this plan does not strictly meet the 200sq ft criteria. I am working on version 2; it should make the grade. However, as I think this is a cute little cottage with some potential I have posted a couple of jpeg's on my webspace. (Links below) If anyone is interested in working on this design, feel free to copy them. If you would like the drawing files, email me, address is on the webpage.
For ease of construction, the roof is near enough flat, about 6" of fall. The sun angle I have used is for my latitude. You will need to use your own to get the right amount of verandah overhang for shading. The living area is near enough, 10' x 20'.
jonesy ;)


Some viewers may find the garden sheds' overhangs a little too much, however with 2' of snow the foundation and door still remain clear providing great access and storage for all those "outside" garden items and on a sunny day a great place to seek refuge from the hot sun.

Size: 12' 1 ½ " x 10' 1 ½"
Overhangs: 42"
Wall ht: 7'
Roof Pitch: 4/12
Foundation: 4x6 p.t. on ¾- gravel leveled and compacted, ½" rebar 24" long driven through p.t. into ground - 2 pins per side. 4x6 sits "in" gravel with its 3 1/2" face down.
Wall construction: Studs are 2x6 salvaged cedar deck, 24" oc, single top plate, 2 stud corners, no sub-sheeting, salvaged 8" cedar beveled exterior siding.
Roof construction: Rafters are 4x6 salvaged deck beams, 24" oc with 42" overhangs, gable end lookouts are 2x6 – 36" oc.

(image edited J. Raabe 1-24-06)


Nice view of what would get by in our county without a permit, Ryan, and good use of salvage materials.

I just got two 28' dump truck loads of 3x6 hiway  bridge timbers free and will put them to use one of these days -- nailed solid on edge-- literally tons of them.


Would Peter Sloan happen to have any interior photos or a floor plan of how his 12x16 is laid out?


Version two.
This is a small version of my first plan. The living area has been reduced and an extra popout added. These changes bring it in at just on 200 sq. ft. The kitchen and both seating popouts I have not counted as floor area.  The eating popout has a built in seat that could double as a small sleeper and would have storage space within. At a pinch, the table could be stored on the deck at night and the extra floor space used as a sleeping area (mattress on the floor). I have kept the roof more or less flat, for ease of construction; however, there is no reason it could not have a pitched roof with a sleeping loft. The drawings include a stump layout, but a crawl space foundation could be used that would enclose the bathroom plumbing. This area is included in the cottage footprint. Again the roof overhang is for my latitude and would need to be adjusted to suit other areas. The deck could be designed as large as needed and in fact would be more use stretched to 12'. You can print out for your own use a large drawing at the link below.
Now, I wait with bated breath for the underground version of the 200 sq, ft permit free cottage. ;D

PS. Sorry folks, I have used metrics because that is what I am familiar with. The easiest way to handle that, if building, would be to buy a metric tape and use it without converting. The direct conversion to imperial will give odd measurements that if rounded out would put it outside the design criteria. :D


Jonesy, how are we ever gonna catch any fish if you keep eating the bait ???

I thought I would just set back and watch on this one as I can never seem to contain myself in 200 square feet.   ;D


 Jonesy, we've already seen what Glenn would design when limited by county regulations to 10'x12' max size, no plumbing or electrical!!