Buildings under 200 sf

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

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Just draw one up on paper and scan it. Once you get that far we can help you get it up on the site.
I've got nothing on today. This is not to say I'm naked. I'm just sans........ Plans.


Bart, I think it was I who started the (at least the most current) idea of a planned small house community.  My wife, my 3 kids, and I have not lived in anything larger than 900 sq feet, and I am sure that with proper planning (Japanese style minimizing, think beds that are cupboards) we could live fairly comfortably in something smaller.  200ft would be out for anything longer than a few months for us, but still possible.  Main problem with such a thing, is planning departments, and financing.  Financers don't want to touch too much under 1000 square feet, and neither do planning departments anymore.  Contractors usually won't either.  The reason is that it doesn't take a whole lot more capital to build a plain 2000 house, than it does for a nice, comfortable, 1000 sq.  All banks and appraisers want to see is square footage, sad, unfortunate, but true in most cases.  

Jaded beyond my years (25),

just spent a few days building a website, and didn't know that it could be so physically taxing to sit and do nothing all day!

glenn kangiser

Welcome, Mark.  I hope you don't mind, but when I saw your work I re-hosted it at Tiny -pic so it would display here.  It was much too nice to not have it showing.  It seems it should have showed the way you did it, but didn't- I couldn't get it to work that way either.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.


Mark   Very cool , 8) you to Glenn for getting it online . 8)   Add some windows down the rake side like the front view  very sweet  8) 8)HTBH  ;)PEG
When in doubt , build it stout with something you know about .

Jimmy C.


[size=16]Feel free to send suggestions and ask questions if my drawings arent clear.  They were done on Paint and converted to gif[/size].

[size=18] Hello, Mark!
This is the most impressive use of the paint program I have ever seen!
The hardest part is getting past the mental blocks about what you are capable of doing.
Cason 2-Story Project MY PROGRESS PHOTOS


Glenn thanks for fixing the pic so they would display.
Im glad everyone likes the designs. :D

Jimmy:  Ive been meaning to learn a new drawing system but never seem to get around to it.  Paint is okay except for diagonal lines and Id really like to be able to do 3-d and perspective.  Doing drawings in paint is a bit like doing petit-point or embroidery.  I just work on the grid and fill in the dots.  LOL.

Ive been doing a lot of small structure designs for people I know on  Many of them want something they can put up cheaply and quickly with little skill involved.  Pole structures are perfect for this.  Anyone can build them, they are very tolerant of small mistakes in laying out and can easily be added to or adapted.  At my place in Missouri , we started with an 8x12 garden shed and just kept adding on .  The garden shed has now disappeared inside a nearly 1800sqft house with 5 bedrooms and  4 fireplaces on two levels and plans for just a few more rooms in the future.
mark chenail


PEG, I do all my designing on graph paper. I'll have to learn CAD for the final steps but for now paper works fine. If I've got something worthwhile I want to save or send to someone, I just snap a digital photo. As long as you can do that and email it, one of us can put it online for you.

Jens, sorry for the mixup. You must have some ideas then... will we get to see them??


Mark, I really like that second house, especially the gable-end view. The bath in the second house is quite a bit bigger than the one in the first. If you shrunk it down, you'd probably get under the 200 sqft limit.



I've been trying for a couple of hours to lay out your design in 3DHA and, alas, I've come to the conclusion that it can't be built :( If you use real fixture sizes etc. it just won't go. I'm bummed - I really liked the layout.

Interestingly, my best attempt also came out at about 250 sq. ft, just like the one I did on page 4. That includes bump outs. Even so, I don't think it's livable - too crowded and too many narrow points in the traffic flow.


Hi there David,

I assume you're talking about the bathroom. The key to making it work will be to keep the shower as small as possible. I suspect that 3DHA might not give you a very large selection to choose from. Here is one that is 31"x31"...

The bathroom as designed has inside dimensions of 64" long by 56" wide. Note that the plan I put up is not accurate as it shows 2x6 walls (what Chapin used) instead of the 2x4 that I'd recommend. The 64" length less the 31" shower leaves 33" for the vanity/sink... plenty of space.

The 56" width less the 31" shower leaves 25" for the toilet. That's a bit tight, 28" would be better. However, I think it's adequate. If you wanted a bit more space, there is still 1 sq ft available. I wanted to keep the exterior dimensions on 1' increments, but the 1 sq ft would allow you to expand the width by 2" if you wanted. Another option would be to bump a couple inches further into the living room.


Actually, the first moment I knew I was in trouble was in trying to lay out the kitchen appliances along the wall. They ran waaay over.

Shortly to post my take on your design. It's different ;)


I think I like that first house a bit better, Mark.

By the way, my kitchen is a couple of inches less than 8' long.  With a dual-power refrigerator with separate freezer door, three-burner stove with a small oven, a double sink, one of which stays covered up with a cutting board--travel trailers and RV's typically have 6" of counter space in the kitchen.  Hot water heater is tucked behind the fridge--access from the outside. There's got a fan type vent over the stove with a light, a microwave over that.  And a nice kitchen window over the sink.

Cabinets over and under the sink.  Fuse and inverter are under the stove.

The bathroom door opens against the refrigerator.  I can sit on the dinette and rest my feet on the refrigerator door.  

(just sign me "living in 200 sf")  

glenn kangiser

Will your layout allow you to reach the beer from the bathroom, Amanda ???  To me this would be an important feature. ;D
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

John Raabe

We have been getting some very interesting designs here boys and girls!

If I get some time tomorrow I will copy some of them over to the Gallery pages.

One of the things that has been eating up my time today is a very interesting sketching program that would be great (and fairly easy to use) for this design problem. It's called Sketch UP

I got an email early today from Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Catalog) who is designing a small house for himself using this program and is very excited about its potential. It is sure easier and more fluid than any CAD program I have used.

While expensive they have great video tutorials and a free trail period that would allow you to design a couple of 200 sf houses before the trial runs out. It's 9:20 pm here and I've been viewing the tutorials for about an hour. Very powerful, easy to use (everyone says that - this one looks like it might be true) and runs on both PCs and Macs.

Try out the thing called sandbox where you can dynamically shape the terrain of the site and then extrude the house into it. This is a very difficult thing to do in CAD.
None of us are as smart as all of us.


In your bathroom layouts, don't forget that a sink does not have to be standard sized.  I have a sink waiting for a project, that is about 8 by 10 by 6, and would work well just tucked up close to the wall.  What about a bathroom sink located just behind the kitchen sink, so that you open a small rectangular door in the bath (under the mirror), and swivel the kitchen sink around to use it in the bathroom?  Could be interesting, fun, and save 30 bucks.  Really all a bathroom dink is used for is shaving and brushing teeth.  Also consider omitting the sink altogether, and just using the kitchen sink instead.  A small fold down table under a mirror in the lav would keep the wife happy with her hair dryer.  

Bart, I don't have too many ideas written down, and can't find any of them right now.  I am in the process of finishing my whole house remodel, and selling, and getting rid of 99.9% of our stuff so that we can buy and move to a fine wine vinyard in South America.  I should have free time in a couple of weeks (maybe sooner) to get something scanned.  One of my designs is for a 10 by 12, with a loft, and two other beds.  Living (living room and dining) would be outside, as there would be no room for it once there is a tiny kitchen and bath inside.
just spent a few days building a website, and didn't know that it could be so physically taxing to sit and do nothing all day!


John; I was wondering:
1. How expensive is "expensive"?

2. Is it as easy to get started with as 3DHA? (Hopefully, not nearly as buggy and with more features too!)

I have another house, inspired by Bart's, that I'm going to put up - just as soon as I get a few more bugs out of the design. I figure if I tell 3DHA enough #@%@#!!!! times that I want something 12' long, it won't magically and silently change it to 11'6" or 12'4" - or 177'2"!!!


Glen, you could hang the door so it opened against the dinette instead of the door.  Still be a bit iffy about reaching a beer, though, because the refrigerator door opens against the bathroom door instead of against the stove.  And unless you cooked less than I do, changing that would be even more annoying.

Nothing I'd call great design there, decidedly not, what's the phrase, universal design, but fine for one fairly able-bodied person.

Interestingly, the bathroom has a exahust fan and in order to get air flow throughout the trailer  that door does not extend to either the floor or ceiling.  I put in a cat door when I moved the cats here, but found that they mostly preferred to slide under the door.

Ty from one of those TV decorating programs has a book about how he made his house liveable (it's on the remainder tables).  He used what looks like a pretty inexpensive stainless steel bowl for a bathroom sink.  That might work fine in a bathroom, but strikes me as iffy for a kitchen sink, with banging pots and pans. On the other hand it has a rim and was pretty easy to put in.

$500 bucks to purchase Sketchup.  Both Windows and Mac support, either the Mac version comes with a few more features, or it's the poor relation.  No Linux that I can see.

Is the "free trial version" full-featured?  Sometimes they're not.


I noticed that in the Sketchup case studies, many refered to additional expensive software to achieve all the effects shown. Also, the trial is only 8 hours long! Yikes!

3DHA has many (many!) flaws, but for what it costs, that makes up for a lot!

I've looked into a program called DesignWorkshop that ranges from free to $9.95 on CD with extras, to $19.95 on CD with more extras and textures. Also available are a $100 "classic" package and a $480 "Pro' package. Results, when used with an online rendering service are impressive:

This is a graphic, not real life! You can get unlimited rendering for $19.95/mo.

There is a learning curve with the software that I have not really had the time or motivation to spend going through, but there is what seemed to be a comprehensive beginner's tutorial.


... Bet it's easier to first build the building and then take a photo!

John Raabe

I am hoping we can find some sort of easy to use software that will allow us to exchange and develop plans for simple houses. So far 3DHA ver 3 is hard to beat.

SketchUP is $500 but the free download gives you 8 hours of cumulative time and the video tutorials are not counted in that time.

I wonder if a plan in SketchUp where someone just wanted to move some windows around and extend the wall length 4' could be modified in a few hours by a newbie.

I think I'll need to play a bit more with it. So much to learn!
None of us are as smart as all of us.

mark brown

a few years ago i used a program called "small blueprint"  it had walls, doors and windows and was free on the net.  I have googled but can not find ity again.  it was easy to down load and use and was on a small 16 x 24 grid.



Mono - A Cottage for 1

Either it's because I'm unfamiliar with some of the nuances of construction/home design or some idiosyncracies of 3DHA, but the building outline was drawn at first as 10' x 20', but as you can see it slipped a bit to 20'4" x 10'2". Nothing that can't be put right when proper plans are drawn up, and without changing the design. This yields (excluding bumpouts) exactly 200 sq. ft. The bumpouts account for another ~20 sq. ft. and the  other 5 is due to the main diminsion slippage.

The chair illustrated is almost a love seat, or at least a "chair and a half". The shower is only 30"x36" and might require that the bumpout for the sink shrink a little to fit a standard 36"x36" shower stall.

Front Elevation
The roof is intended to be all one surface, but 3DHA has trouble with that - or at least I have trouble getting 3DHA to do what I want. If one sizes the walls over the open area to exactly the height of the loft area, one edge of the roof will dive under the other and it's a total disaster.

I've figured out one more tweak since this was done, but it means loosing the small round window to the left of the sliding doors. What you gain in return is a stacked full sized washer/dryer! That's worth it to me. The ladder also gets moved to almost exactly under the ridge line, opposite the sink (one would step off the ladder to the right to gain the loft).

Loft floor plan
The loft features 30" sidewalls and that's a "long twin" sized bed. Good for a guest, a meditation room or a child. The loft has a grand total of 110 sq. ft. of space (10' x 11'), but I don't know how much of that is 5' or higher headroom.

All in all, a cozy, perhaps too cozy, little place. A guest for a weekend could be easily accomodated, but this is not a place for most couples in my opinion.

I think you could develop this easily from John's Enchilada plans.


My first post here...

I've been enjoying the great plans and ideas in this topic, and thought I'd throw something in:

Ten foot sidewalls with a loft under a 12/12 roof. Composting toilet, and perhaps solar panels and solar water heater on roof and over front porch. Gas wall heater, maybe. It has a few problems, such as lack of open floor space, but I wouldn't mind living there. I think. :)

Out of curiosity, I contacted the Thurston County building department (here in Olympia, WA) and asked if a *habitable* structure no larger than 200 square feet required a permit, but have not yet received a response. Their FAQ is a bit vague, implying that only storage sheds and the like can be permit exempt, regardless of size.



Great plans, David and jg jones...  


The watchtower is another 200sq ft cottage, inspired by David's first cottage drawing. It is designed as accommodation for a single agile person. I have drawn it with full size appliances so a bit more space could be gained using smaller stuff. The loft has access via a ladder on the wall and has a built in bed that would have storage under. There is possibly room for a small desk up there as well. Headspace is about 6' at the eaves with the pitched ceiling providing plenty in the center of the room. The deck is only a meter  (39") wide but extends almost all the way round. The front could be extended to whatever size desired to provide an extension to the living area. Large bifold or slider doors would open the house up to this decked area. Shower of choice would be a floor level or stepless to make the best use of the bathroom floor space.
Although this plan meets the criteria, I think it would have a problem getting past the permit because of the large roof area.