So you want to be a builder, ay? Tips for tiny house builder wannabes.

So you want to be a builder, ay? Tips for tiny house builder wannabes.

Ah, the beginning. It’s an exciting place. You’re loving the idea of whatever you’re revving your engine to build, and the reality of the fact you have no idea what your doing hasn’t sunk in yet. Psh, who needs practicality anyways? Not this girl.

You remember those awful, sweaty palm inducing standardized tests you were forced to cram for back in high school? Well, when it came to the reading and writing sections, I rocked. I easily received Big Ten school quality scores. The math part? I got back needs-to-gets-me-sum-edumucation results. It’s safe to say numbers have never been my forte.

So when I finally decided OK! I’m doing this, I suddenly was flashing back to starring at all those measurements of angles and calculations I never understood. Completely out of my element. I realized I had a lot of learning to do before I even touched a pencil to start my own plans.

I wanted to share some starting places to get your mojo going. Sit back and get comfy, it’s tool time (..insert Tim Allen grunt…oh, Home Improvement I miss you…).

Online Books and Sources:

The following are a few of the sources I’ve collected & purchased over the last year to get acquainted with tiny house-dom.  None are too pricey, and each have their own tips and tricks worth noting. Scrolling through these truly helped me understand how to design my own plan, and the step by step basics of building a tiny house.

-Dan Louche’s Tiny House Construction Guide

-Louis Burn’s “How To Build a Tiny House” from Austin Tiny House

-Dee William’s “Go House Go” ebook.

-A bundle of free plans at Tiny House Design.  Even if the design you want differs, the various plans will get you familiar with what framing looks like. And free… how lucky are we?


Real Books:

Start with some basic builder’s books and guides. I really enjoyed Habitat for Humanity’s book (there are actually more than one-both are great) I checked out from the library, they got me warmed up to basic carpentry and all that building jazz.

Here’s a few more I’ve skimmed through and seem to have good reviews:


An obvious choice for anyone considering building a tiny house.


Learn the lingo:

Orient strand board, miter saws, headers… mean anything to you? I’ll give you some hints, the term “O.C.” does not involve any flaky California kids and braces aren’t what you shamefully rocked in the 7th grade. Maybe you’ve heard them, but do you know them? Stick with basics. It’s a whole new vocabulary and I’d say I’m only fluent in about 35%. Those episodes of This Old House my dad use to make me watch were totally deceiving in how simple they made things look.

You’ll find a lot of this “shop talk” vocab while browsing through the above mentioned construction books. 


Explore every tiny space, both physically and virtually, you can get your lil’ lumber thirsty paws on.


A surprise RV show popped up in my town, how could i resist?

-explore RV models at a local dealer for layout ideas

-check out how other tiny housers are doing their floorplans

-the library is an overlooked gem. Check out house plan books for small homes. Even when they are larger (okay…super bigger…that phrase works, right?) than what you are planning, how things are set up can visually be a big help.

-Hit up the web. The most obvious tip, yet the most often forgotten. Simply do an image search of tiny & small houses, or search on the beloved Pintrest.

-Tiny house books:

Start stalking:

She said what? No no no, not in a restraining order/SVU sort of way…just start playing along. Find others who are building too, I’ve listed a few of the many people who can show you their way of building. Tiny House Blog & Tiny House Design are always throwing up design inspiration on their Facebook pages (plug: occasionally I try to, too. wink.) The one thing I’ve witnessed is there is always about ten different ways to do things the “right” way, and chances are your way is number eleven.


The bottom line…get cozy with it. If you’re a newbie, or branching out, feel out the waters before you dive in. Take the time to dip your toes. Whatever project you someday hope to tackle is, it will feel that much less daunting if you take the time to get familiar with the build process  first.

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