Buildings under 200 sf

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

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Nice design. The table could be a two part unit that slides out (and in) to give more open floor space. With the composter and a rainwater collection system this could be a stand alone remote unit.


Love the wrap around porch and the watchtower loft. An option might be to run the counter on down along side the wall to the double door giving a bit more open floor area (w/ maybe a window over the dining counter).


Your Mono Cottage has a real bedroom with more privacy than most of the other designs.

Nice work everyone!


This is turning into an interesting contest and it is going to be difficult to pick a single winner. What do you think would be most fair? I've thought of setting up an on-line voting system, perhaps someone knows a tool to do this?

I've decided to add two books as additional prizes (2nd prize - "Home Work" by Lloyd Kahn
and 3rd prize - "The Septic System Owner's Manual", by Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen and Julie Jones). These are both great books.

Also, anyone who posts an independently derived design that meets the general guidelines of the contest will get a three month subscription to the open source plans and downloadable design tools at


Good point John,
 I have replaced the drawing above with a new extended counter version. The counter has also been made a bit wider, 600mm (2') that should give a better area for eating. The idea with the deck was to give a bit of extra storage space, maybe an outside washing machine and hanging space for wet weather gear and such.
The overhang could also be a carport for the pushbike, because lets face it, anyone living in a cottage this small is bound to be frugal, and won't own an automobile.   :D
The coffee table could be built as a storage box for those odds and ends, and the futon (drawn full size) as a guest bed. The trapdoor to the loft would need to be hinged on the room side. The door would have some sort of overcenter lock that formed a safety barrier, this to stop those sleepwalkers from flattening the occupants below. The loft bed I would build to just under the windowsill. Now you can spend those lazy Sunday mornings in bed, watching the neighbor mow the lawn.  ;D
There is also a small hanging space at the bed head.

BTW, Maybe you could just commandeer a neighbor as judge for the comp.


QuoteThis is turning into an interesting contest and it is going to be difficult to pick a single winner. What do you think would be most fair? I've thought of setting up an on-line voting system, perhaps someone knows a tool to do this?

Try setting up a poll within this board.  supposedly is one way to do it and I have seen it set up on other boards.  I think there is some code to go into YABB that will allow users to set up their own polls within YABB.


Well ok here is my first shot at this. Maybe I'll see if I can try some more designs. I tried to keep the design simple so that the ordinary non-construction worker could build this easily, therefore I didn't include any bump outs and I tried to keep the roofs pitched as low as possible. The shed roofs are pitched at 10/12 and 4/12. The filing cabinet placed in the loft stands 6'6". The ladder is actually a bookcase modifed. I have three copies of 3d architect, versions 1.0, 4.0 and 6.0. Version 6.0 is junk, version 1.0 is limited and version 4.0 is ok. This was done with version 4.0.

I hope you like it.


Sweet proportions Jonsey.  I'm a sucker for a hip roof. ;D


Thanks Shelley,
I really can't take all the credit on this one; it was inspired by David's first cottage. I was impressed by the watchtower look and just developed it from there. I must say I am having a lot of fun with this project and there are some nifty ideas and designs popping up. Trying to cram any sort of living space into 200 sq. ft has been a real challenge.
 I can see a lot of potential in these designs and if not used as full-time liveins they certainly would make great getaway or camping cabins. Not constrained by the permit criteria the designs have a real potential to develop into great little homes. Take rwalters design as a for instance. This is a little pearl, stretched a bit it would make a great little home. In that landscape, his roof design really works well. I could see something coming out of that design. The same with all the others who have contributed. Keep at it you guys, there is some real potential in your designs and I don't envy John the job of picking a winner out of this lot. :)


Well I am working on a second design and I am wondering what constitutes "living space" when they calculate the square footage in a loft area? Here is a very ruff design that I am working on it uses 10' side walls and a 12/12 pitched roof. I am concerned about the loft being counted.



Here's the definition from NM.  Just printed it off the other day.  Other states may word it differently.

"A building permit shall not be required for a one story detached accessory building used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet."

So, that would indicate the loft is a no-no.


Time for a day bed or futon....


Don't know about the non-permitted stuff, but for some purposes in some areas the floor area that counts starts at 4 feet or so of headroom.

Speaking of teensy places....  In particular, look at the all-in-one bathroom of this small Airstream.  I just noticed, it really has more than 6" of counter space.  Of course they got that by putting in a little round sink.  I got that by putting a cutting board over the second sink.  You might look at the price too, it's here:

Decidedly not universal design (is that the right word?) but then I've never seen a travel trailer that was, bad enough for someone with a leg in a walking cast for six weeks.  In other words, we are all S.O.L if we decide to have something as minor sounding as bunion surgery.

John Raabe

Because it turns out that I will be on vacation when this contest is scheduled to end (8-15), please feel free to tweak or post any additional ideas or designs.

Prizes will be awarded after the 22nd of August!

PS - rwalter - nice design. Putting the stairway outside is a clever idea for a small loft.
None of us are as smart as all of us.


Only 1 more week to submit designs... :)


Ok, my official entries, drawn up with dimensions and everything. All three versions are 199 sq ft excluding the window seat and patios.

First off, the "classic" shack... not much different except that I used 2x4 exterior walls and 2x3 for the few interior walls...

Next is a variation on the original. By rearranging the entry I was able to free up enough space to squeeze in an alternating tread stair. That should make the loft area a lot more convenient to use...

This last one was an attempt to cut down on the number of corners, though I don't really believe in the "fewer corners = easier to build" theory. More important in my view is that it simplifies the roof to a single gable covering the whole thing including patios. This one also has a reasonably sized closet by the front door...

For that last version, the roof ridge could run either front to back or side to side. I would probably have it go side to side, giving a bit more headroom, and so the loft access would move to just in front of the window seat. The ladder would have to fold or roll out of the way when not in use. The roof of the window seat could be used as a small balcony.

Here's what it looks like on the back. This shows 10-foot sidewalls and a steep 13.5 in 12 pitch roof...

And finally, a section view. It shows that for most people there would be adequate head room (HA!!) below the stairs.

The section also shows my solution for where to put the laundry... stick it in the "basement". As long as there's three feet of clearance below the floor joists, there's room for an under-counter front-load washer and dryer. Another option would be to have a large capacity television lift to raise the washer/dryer (or dresser or tv) out of the crawlspace when needed.

Hope you like it!



As the baby boomer population ages and a large portion of us have not planned well for retirement, perhaps several of these could be used as "granny flats" out behind our generous kid's houses....  We've joked about building mom a yard barn out back for years - it's looking more and more like a good idea.  Help for mom when she gets older and needs it, supervision for the grandson when he needs it.

Close to family, yet privacy and our own place...


Just curious what design won? I think all the designs were great and I had a lot of fun playing with the designs. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.


This may not be the best place to recommend books dealing with small homes, but i just read 2 books from my local library that may be of some interest to you.
1) Azby brown's Small spaces : stylish ideas for making more of less in the home
2) Tara McLellan's Small spaces, beautiful kitchens
        Brown's book mainly uses examples from Japanese homes both modern and traditional. Good flip even if you don't have plans to build right away.


I was wondering who won too...? :)


While we're waiting.....

I thought I'd post a picture of a--looks like really very old--Serbian tiny building.

The filling here, I think, is clay and chaff (and probably sand in with the clay).  Don't know anything about the photographer here, but another list got a report from someone in Serbia looking for cob buildings.  He didn't count this kind of thing.


Tomorrow I'm going to Snag the entries from the contest and post the comments of our judges.

Things are a bit behind schedule as one of the judges (a very talented designer/builder) was rushed into surgery.



Anyone we know?  Not you, we hope....


No, Bob Arndt, a local architectural dropout who has built some wonderful houses.


[size=18]Winners are Announced![/size]

Click here for the one page overview:

And here for the full article:

Congratulations to everyone who worked on this. It was a great exercise for all of us!