Bringing the house plans into focus.

I’m using Google Sketchup to create the plans for this house. I’ve watched hours of free tutorials on YouTube. I bought the 3-D mouse recommended in those videos, and I spent hours making basic 3-D models. The learning process was enjoyable because the results are real plans – there is a real reward for the effort. Plus, it was winter when I was learning this stuff, so I was hiding in my room and I needed something to keep me sane.

My plans are not finished. It seems a little crazy to start building the floor when you don’t know where the ceiling will go, but that’s part of the game. I’m a cowboy with a 5-pound box of screws.

My man, Karl, is not a cowboy: Karl is an experienced carpenter with a wealth of knowledge. Today, I got the opportunity to sit next to Karl on a couch and let him look at the plans I’ve made so far. I have a detailed 3-D model of the first floor of the house. Each of the rough openings for the windows and front door are present and accounted for. Each individual piece of lumber and plywood can be measured using the tape measure tool. This is a precise and easy to use program which renders intuitive plans and a way to visualize what it is that you’re making. It took plenty of effort to learn how to use Sketchup, and I would be totally lost without it.

I wanted Karl to look at my framing model to make sure the measurements were correct, and that I was using king studs and trimmers and headers correctly. I already confirmed all of this with my huge carpentry textbook from 1986, but it doesn’t hurt to have a second set of more experienced eyes on the model. It isn’t hard for me to imagine an overlooked detail.

Everything looked good. But the model was incomplete. The plan – or idea, I should say – calls for a loft for sleeping. I didn’t know where to put the joists. I had a few ideas from pictures and videos I’ve seen. I could work something out using my huge textbook. But I wanted to hear what Karl would say, since his experience would probably generate an immediate and workable option. I was surely correct about that. He pointed to where lumber should go, and I made that lumber appear on the screen and align itself properly.

The model that I left with was much more complex than I had imagined – but exciting. The joists for the loft will sit on top of the double top plate around the perimeter of the first-floor framing. A second-story knee wall will be built around the loft framing, and this will provide three feet of headroom that I never dreamed of. I had always thought of the loft area as having just enough space to sleep under the gable roof – about 3’6″ of headroom at the peak. This plan seemed much more interesting.

So the house is getting taller. It will look less like a “shed,” but it will have more space. The modified design allows for much more character, which my heart has been silently begging for. The footprint is still tiny at 8’x12′, but now there will be a full 8′ of headroom on the first floor, and I can stand up straight in the center of the loft, too. It’s tall.

Making the tiny house taller than 13’6″ is one benefit of not being constrained by the legal permit-less dimensions of a house on a trailer. I’m excited to start building the walls.

house sketch1

house sketch2

house sketch3



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3 responses to “Bringing the house plans into focus.

  1. Bill Hopp


    Thanks for the handy link from 7:21PM. Your building project has me enthused. Your relaxed approach to officialdom seems sensible. Anything that looks remotely like a “shed” is not likely to invite too much attention. Here in the Hoosier land, we have a neighbor who put up a large and nicely appointed shed behind his small house and caused not a ripple.

    Keep building and posting. Right now, a coffee sounds good!

    Bill Hopp

    • sandwichbear

      Hey Bill – Thanks for clicking over to my project here. On the uptight east coast, we spend a lot of energy worrying about what our neighbors will think. It keeps us constantly vigilant and quashes a lot of good ideas before they make it out of a brain and into the atmosphere. That said, I completely agree: nobody seems too interested when someone gets a new shed. I am hoping that my tall-small house is barely noticed, except on this blog. We’ll see once I get the walls up and count to ten…

      A coffee sounds good indeed.


  2. Chris

    I just clicked over and got caught up, nice work man!
    Not so anonymous anymore, Chris in VA

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