Thursday, January 6, 2011

Design details

Details are still a bit slim honestly but here's some stuff we were thinking

I just started learning how to use Google Sketchup so this is terrible but it gives an idea

In the interest of simplicity, we've chosen a shed roof...but may end up making it complex anyway by making it a vegetated roof (aka green roof). A vegetated roof would greatly increase the life of the roof waterproofing (possibly indefinitely) but its, as said, more complex and its more expensive. On top of that, I the builder/architect/engineer need to be mindful of the additional roof load (especially when wet) and build suitable support for it.
Another possibly stupid complex idea I had was to use a staggered stud arrangement. Picture explains below:
This method is a compromise between traditional 2x4 stud construction and 2x6 "advanced framing" construction with the added benefit of reducing thermal bridging; you'll notice that none of the studs extend from the outside to the inside, there is always a gap that can then be filled with insulation greatly increasing the performance. The cost is of course using more 2x4s than traditionally and some added general complexity, especially for openings like doors and windows. Id space the studs every 12" on center on the stagger which would be every 24" on the interior/exterior. Another plus is all this lumber would surely support even the heaviest roof loads.

Our little Sketchup drawing shows a rough layout of what we'd like, small kitchen area, micro bathroom with composting toilet, sleeping loft and a small seating area.
We'd like to maximize solar heat in the winter so we're putting a big glass double door and a big window on the south side.

All of this is incredibly rough, nothing set in stone yet, but at least some direction to march forward in.


  1. I am so impressed!!
    Regarding south side exposure - think about overhangs so that your glass doors are shaded in summer but exposed in winter.

  2. Sorry if I'm being too nosy, but I'm very interested in this sort of thing. So, another unsolicited idea - I wonder if you could do without the toilet and shower entirely? That would free up valuable space, save on plumbing, and keep bathroom smells, sights, and steam out of your living space. This might work if you can go into the main house to use the bathroom. Use a chamber pot at night if needed.

  3. Definite possibility. I lived in a house that had a tiny 80 sq ft cabin in the yard without bathroom or kitchen.
    We'd like the convenience of the kitchen and bathroom though. We'll still use the main house for laundry and entertaining but we'd like all our other needs to be taken care of in the separate space. Plumbing would be a deal breaker if it meant bringing in a sewer line but with a compost toilet and greywater, it's really not bad

  4. staggered stud is often used for sound reasons. If you are concerned about thermal bridging I would use and ridged foam insulation between your plywood and siding.

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  6. Thanks Joseph

    I've been contemplating that very design and I'm fairly certain that's how I'm going to go now. I've changed quite a few details lately and that was one of them. I'm now planning a simple 2x4 design with 1" foam sheathing over plywood

  7. Cool, I would say that in the Bay Area you normal don't see much thought put into thermal bridging but in you small house it could really reduce the need for a heating source most of the year. Are you planning on pulling a permit for your tiny house? Also since you have a lot of glass on the south side make sure the overhang will block out the sun during the summer months.