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u/[deleted] · 1 pointr/TinyHouses

I am in process of buying land and working on a house design. I speak only for my local area (which is, funny enough, the same county the guy plopped his tiny house in from the "Tiny" documentary). IANAL ETC ETC YMMV.

> So are some areas tougher on building code than others or is it the same across the board in the same country or at least same state/province?

In general cities are much, much less forgiving. They also tend to have much more in terms of regulations and rules, as well as fees. Rural counties tend to err on the side of "leave me alone" and are more forgiving. However, the least populated county in Colorado (San Juan) is near Telluride which is full of rich people, and some of the most restrictive county wide regulations that I have seen. The population of San Juan is 690 which makes 2 people per square mile.

> The goal here is to minimize total expenditure.

Then you should read The Earthbag Building because this is literally clay, sand, bags and muscle. Now my county has specific regulations about thickness and such but is one of the few counties I researched which did not have a minimum size for any building and did allow such designs. To get a certificate of occupancy is pretty simple, you need to have sanitation, water, electric, insulation done. That's not very hard to get to cheaply, especially if your goal is to just get that COS.

> Are there legal requirements regarding what sort of professional background or professional designation that you must have to be able to design a building? For example, do you need to be a licensed architect or a professional civil engineer with a stamp to do this work? Would architectural plans need to be approved by a professional or can you approve your own design? Hiring an architect or a civil consulting firm costs money. Easily couple grand each or more.

In my experience you will probably need any unusual design stamped by a PE. However, if you present plans to a PE it will be relatively cheap to have them stamp it.

In some cases your county building department will be pretty good and help you a lot because you're doing something really interesting, and quite frankly their job is boring as shit otherwise. I am lucky that my county is more on this side, and I expect to have very few problems once I finish getting land and get serious about permits and building design.

> What about various aspects of the construction work? Are there certain aspects of the physical home construction process that must be done by a licensed professional as a matter of law? For example, electrical work etc? Again, hiring an electrician costs money. If you can buy parts and do it yourself it costs less.

It is extremely difficult (I can't say impossible, but it's damn close) for a county to force you to hire a licensed contractor. In fact it would be the exception. Generally if you do the work yourself you've probably tried to adhere to the code more than most contractors anyway, and often inspections will be easier on the owner-builder than on the contractor. Obviously there are always exceptions.

If you follow the code, and you follow permit procedures, they will have a hard time saying no. If you run in to this situation it is often cheaper to take your plans to a PE and get them stamped.

Also, don't be afraid of doing electrical or plumbing yourself. It isn't that hard, and with electrical you just need to make sure the power is off. Otherwise it's all easy.

> Suppose the area doesn't have water and sewage and a septic tank and water well needs to be build and drilled respectively. I suppose a septic system will have health and safety implications and so perhaps there are local authorities that oversee this and are extra stringent on approved methods of septic tank construction?

Counties will typically have to follow state law at the minimum. In my county it is possible to do a number of crazy sanitation things but they all come with restrictions. For instance if I wanted an outhouse I could not get a well permit. Well permitting is done at the state level, but the county will not allow a well to be drilled with an outhouse. My county will allow compost toilets, they will allow other interesting situations, but quite frankly a septic system is a lot easier to deal with than a lot of the other restrictions.

You do run in to offsets and concerns with neighbors when you put in a leech field and drill a well. This just is what it is and you can't do much to skirt it.

> What other info regarding doing-it-by-the-book can you add on the subject of design & construction?

Read all of the land use regulations and county building codes you can before buying land.

Read lots of different books about design, including design books that may make you uncomfortable.

Try to design solar heating and the power of the sun in to your house as much as you can. This will save you a ton in heating costs.

u/LordoftheChickens · 3 pointsr/TinyHouses

I stepped out of the solar industry a few years ago, but at the time the best beginner's book was Photovoltaics: Design and Installation Manual. Be aware that if you go grid-tied, the National Electrical Code is constantly being updated, and you should stay up-to-date so your system is safe and code-compliant. Off-grid, you should also follow best practices, but the NEC has less to say about such systems. You might want to go grid-tied anyway (if your utility allows), because batteries are less efficient, expensive, and can be finicky beasts at times.

If you want to take a course, online or elsewise, check out Solar Energy International.

A super resource, and one that I can't recommend enough, for all renewable energy DIY things has always been Home Power Magazine.

All in all, it's not too difficult to design and install your own PV system! Good luck!

u/Behemoth_haftaa · 6 pointsr/TinyHouses

>What's are some good frugal tips for building a tiny home?

Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials: Inspiration for Constructing Tiny Homes Using Salvaged and Reclaimed Supplies
Ryan Mitchell

>salvaging old campers for their propane fridge/stove combo.

Personally I am forgoing RV appliances completely. If you choose to use solar power you will have to wire your home for DC and AC electric, and to use less watts choose new appliances after 1993. Once household appliance manufacturers had to disclose how much energy an appliance consumed all of a sudden the appliance use of electric was cut in half.

While I am building I plan to use a friend's yurt to live in and have an outdoor kitchen/bathroom. So possibly you could use the combo for a while after the Tiny house is built until you have the interior finished!

Keep in mind RV appliances were designed and built for a couple weeks of use a year and regular household appliances were designed to be used 52 days a year.

My two favorite youtube channels are these : he's very informative but doesn't overwhelm you.

This guy is far more detailed, he even made his own windows: peanut is the cutest urbane cultured dog ever, Dan would be much more enjoyable if he didn't drink booze so much. A slimmer waist line on him he'd be buff.

In regards to buying salvaged products you don't have to salvage the material yourself: habitat for humanity resell store in your state, find it.

Tiny House Design & Construction Guide Paperback – Unabridged, May 1, 2016
by Dan S Louche thats the best book as a primer. get it.

Tiny House Floor Plans: Over 200 Interior Designs for Tiny Houses Paperback – February 22, 2012
by Michael Janzen I found the page which the floor plan outlines and the cut outs for furniture, printed them on transparencies and have it taped to my desk. If you are planning to use salvage materials have 4 prototypes planned to the hilt and have those plans in sketchup have two alternative plans that are very vague and not built to use as parts of the building you can swap out with the other 4 plans.

Most states require you to have a primary dwelling started (think septic tank and foundation for a house) then your Tiny house can be your accessory dwelling.

For wiring which might complicated if you choose to use solar: that will help.

Then another of Ryan Mitchell's books:

I hope this helps. setting aside 2 years to plan and research before starting would be an excellent idea.

u/WorstAmerican · 3 pointsr/TinyHouses

Hello, and welcome!

There are a ton of floorplans and pictures of tiny houses, the tiny house blog (linked on the sidebar) is a great resource.

Unlike the house you posted, most tiny houses are on trailers. I don't think the documentary went into this, but the reason for it is due to legality; most places have zoning laws that prohibit permanent dwellings under a certain size. By being on a trailer, a tiny house is technically an RV and can bypass these restrictions (and property taxes!) Plus, they're mobile, if traveling is your thing.

By far, the most common style for tiny houses is the craftsman look, as popularized by Jay Shafer of Four Lights Tiny Houses. My personal favorite designs are the Minim House and hOMe.

If you're interested in a great memoir on downsizing, check out the recently released The Big Tiny by the amazing Dee Williams.

u/BuckRafferty · 14 pointsr/TinyHouses

Timber framing is not the same as 2x4 construction, but a timber frame may use 2x4's to fill in the gaps. The main difference between a timber frame and "stick-built" (2x4) structure is that the timbers are the main source of structure or "skeleton" of the building. Once the frame is built, you just have to fill in the empty spaces. You can do this with dimensional lumber like 2x4's, or you can do cordwood, which is cement and logs (looks amazing). There are a number of other option for filling in a timber frame that your book probably covers. Timber-framing is a bit more involved and physically demanding than 2x4/stick built framing, but it is also much more beautiful and will last much longer. I've timber-framed a few small cabins and I can tell you first hand that it is an incredibly fun and satisfying way to build.


Edit: this is also a great resource

u/Dlofc · 8 pointsr/TinyHouses

Oh Fellow Tennessean! HOWDY! If you are outside Davidson AND outside city limits, there are no building codes, but a good idea to adhere to them. AC is actually recommended to help control humidity. Here is a link to some amazon ideas.

There are kits like these if you want to get fancy. Personally, a window unit works very well in the upper floors and then just let cold air do what it does best, sink. I use 10000 BTU in mine, which is REALLY big for what I need, but it uses a whole 6.5 AH when it is running. My county does encourage a pay-as-you-go electric that allows you to monitor your usage. Yesterday's usage cost me a whole.97, it really hurts the pocketbook. Winter, if you have the option, go with electric heat. It is dry heat and helps to control the moisture too. Moisture is that much problem in little places. Vents in the bathroom, kitchen and use them religiously. I have heard of people having to use dehumidifiers too but I have not had problems since switching on the AC and going to a dry heat.

I would take pictures but I am lazy when it comes to the digital world"=P I don't even own a cell phone.

u/stinkypeech · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

I am also a solar panel noob but i just managed to set up a system in my bus. I went with 4 renogy panels, they're cheap, good, and seem to have a good customer service.

We have 3 of them for 2 people. You will need a charge controller to regulate the energy going to the battery. If you opt for a nicer MPPT controller, you will have 30% more nergy coming to the battery. That's what we did.

For more of an idea on what to do for the electrical system, i used a video by a guy named campervan cory.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

u/WhiskyTangoSailor · 1 pointr/TinyHouses

I'm buying my 40 acres in the San Luis valley (Colorado Rocky Mountains). Super dry, super cold in winter but my plan would work in your region too. We're working in the oil fields from February until June to be able to afford supplies, well and PV system.

June we move onto the land for summer to live in a yurt while we begin excavation on our earth home. It'll be a bit earth ship, some straw, some cobb and a bunch of windows. Read as much as you can, $500 in books will save you thousands later. The design I've settled on is a hybrid design but mostly based on passive annual heat storage.

This book is a must but Google cord wood building, straw bale building, cobb building, earth homes, underground greenhouses, rainwater harvesting, permaculture and anything else you can get your hands on to read. I've been buying a book every pay day for the last year and am quite proud of my natural building library I've collected and as a result I have a very specific plan custom tailored to my property and lifestyle.

u/phtcmp · 5 pointsr/TinyHouses

Dont know the background/skill level/target audience you are looking for, but I found this pretty invaluable over the years:
Complete Do It Yourself Manual
It’s a pretty good walk through on all home systems in general. May be more basic than what you are looking for. I’ve got some pretty ancient books on carpentry and framing as well, the general concepts have changed little.

u/B_Brownies · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

This book can walk you through the process of installing small PV systems start to finish. It is very easy to read and was a great help while I was studying to get my NABCEP cert.

u/learethak · 9 pointsr/TinyHouses

If you are doing it by yourself, let me recommend this book since a lot traditional carpentry assumes there will be someone else there to hold the other end of the tape, help you lift stuff, hold boards while nailing.

Both for safety and sanity, you have to approach things differently.

u/magenta_placenta · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

For an idea of land, check out

I browse that site quite often looking for land here in Oregon. There is a lot of "cheap" land in Southern/Central Oregon. Seems to always be many listings for Christmas Valley area and land in Klamath county.

For example, here is 1.5 acres for $2,500 in Klamath county, This is just a random cheap listing I pulled up. This is raw land, however, in which case there is usually not power, water, septic/sewer, so those would be other costs, which may not really be feasible. You really need to do your homework when buying land for living on.

One thing I would really recommend is buying this book, Finding & Buying Your Place in the Country

It seems to pretty much be the bible, even though the latest edition is 13 years old. I bought one over a month ago but tracking info has it in Alaska ??? I don't expect it to show up and I'm waiting for the seller to either refund my $ or send me another copy.

Also keep in mind Oregon has mountains to high desert so you should really figure out where you want to live first, then start researching land in that area. There is a huge difference between living in western and eastern Oregon. As an example, you could go from 10" of rain a year to 150".

u/SeveredKibbles · 4 pointsr/TinyHouses

>What's the climate like at the college you have planned?

UW Madison, so hella cold. I'm going to get a cargo van (no windows in the rear to let out heat) and insulate the tar out of it with rockwool. I'll also have a [indoors-safe propane heater] ( as well as a low power electric heater that will be powered by a battery banked charged by my alternator.

>You might want to consider a community college or somewhere where your living arrangements won't be under scrutiny.

I plan on getting a degree in biology and then go on to vet school, so I'm pretty set with going to Madison.

>some colleges don't 'allow' you to live anywhere but the dorms..... Or a C class RV.

That's why I plan on getting a small cargo van (an AWD Astro to be specific). I can rig it up to be comfy and warm with almost no sign of me being in it. Ill have a metal bulkhead that blocks the front seats from the back, which doesnt look out of place in a cargo van, and the only exterior mod I'd make is a sunroof, which most people couldn't see anyways since the van is over 6ft tall (I'd do this for ventilation and light).

>You'll probably only be there to sleep and relax

Thats the plan, I hope to be either at libraries or at the gym for a good chunk of the day.

u/ellisdroid · 18 pointsr/TinyHouses

I would sugest geting the 50 dollar and up underground house book by Mike Oehler. It goes into how to safely build a nice underground house. Paul Wheaton has some videos of a few houses built this way.

u/ductyl · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

Well, Amazon has these Japanese floor futons that seem to get really good reviews, although they're more "rollable" than "foldable", they also have this folding mattress.

u/jamilbk · 1 pointr/TinyHouses

Good catch ;-)

I'm using the Renogy 100w monocrystalline panels. They claim to be 21.3" wide by 47" long: My roof is 92" wide, so it will be a tight squeeze but they will fit.

u/Syllogism19 · 3 pointsr/TinyHouses

It is really good. More than just tips it also goes into his thinking and his way of thinking about a project and planning it.

u/BrokenGroup · 1 pointr/TinyHouses

I've got a Mr. Heater Buddy for my tiny camper:

It's approved for indoor use and you can get a propane tank to hook it to that will last you months. For my camper I basically use it to take the edge off.

u/torokunai · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

computers are my life so this is in my plans (nothing on paper yet, alas)

I read this:
at an impressionable age (he has a terminal in the back of his truck)

u/Yangel · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

Incinerating toilets often have an odor.

You should find this interesting. :)

u/bdag777 · 2 pointsr/TinyHouses

Sorry about that. Try or go to my disambiguation page for all markets.

u/greenhomesteader · 1 pointr/TinyHouses

I'm assuming your in the US.

AC = alternating current (120V or 240V), current moves forward and backward really fast in a sine wave pattern
DC = direct current (12V, 18V, or 24V) current only moves forward

P = power
V = Voltage
I = Current
R = Resistance

P=IV and V=IR
For ac there is a power factor of 0.7 for power calculation.

A light bulb example:

60W bulb @ 120VAC --> 60=I1200.7 --> I = 0.5A/0.7 = 0.72A
60W bulb @ 24VDC --> 60=I*24 --> I = 2.5A

Your breakers are rated in amps and voltage. A 600V, 15A breaker could handle (20) bulbs @ 120VAC, but only (6) at 24VDC.

It's a little more complicated than that, but you get the gist. Also, lower voltage means you have more losses for the same resistance. This can be minimized with small runs (easy for a tiny house) and over sized wires. High amps means more heat generated which means thicker wires to lower the resistance.

If you do decide to do the electric yourself, go to a book store or home depot or the like and ask for the electricians Ugly Book. It's a simplified easier to understand version of the National Electrical Code (NEC) code.