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building a small house-suggestions needed

Posted by nathanormaxie (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 10, 11 at 9:50

My husband and I are currently living in a camper with the plans to build something very small on our farm. We have a budget of $10,000 to get started then the rest will be cash as we go. We are thinking 32' x 40' - 1 story w/9 ft ceilings. I've searched for good house plans but can't find anything this small so I'm working up my own. I would like to make the bath area spa like & nice. We need 1 larger bedroom w/one small enough for an occasional guest. The master bedroom would have a Queen size bed. I love to cook so would like good counter space & storage. Would like a small dining area (thought maybe a built in with storage under the seat). If anyone out there has any other suggestions or experience I would be most grateful. I've given the grown children all of the furniture except one glass cherry wood china cabinet so I would be starting fresh with the furniture.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

How exciting! Have you looked at the plans on the Southern Living site? They have some small ones. Perhaps one could be adjusted?

Here is a link that might be useful: plans


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

I agree. How exciting! I've got some plan books that belonged to my fil. I'll look through the small plans and see if anything might work too.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

thank you very much for your replies. My husband comes from the type of family where bigger HAS to be better and over the years I have shown him PAID FOR is better. We have had the big house and a really tiny one at the beach. We never had company at the big one only the little one at the beach. Just goes to show-location, location, location. We sold the big one and have kept the tiny one now in looking ahead to our retirement we want a little one in AL for our hunting and fishing lifestyle. And I guess I should mention, I garden. My husband went through an illness that took most of the equity we had from the sale of the big one so with lots of praying we are plowing on with our dreams in this tough economy.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

here's a possible plan ... just for you :-)

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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

I normally don't participate on house plan or layout threads, but there's something about your posts that spoke to me...your interests, I guess.

My house is about 1000 sf. 1 floor. It's just me and 5yr old daughter living here.

My thoughts might be kind of random and based on personal preference and realizations, but here goes:

1. Have plenty of windows. It makes all the difference in my opinion to not feeling cramped...and that overall sense of well-being. I lived in a 2800 sf-2 story house when I was married. It had 14 windows and plenty of room to run. It was a dark cave despite the square footage. My current 1000sf house has 14 windows and it's wonderful. I feel like I have room to breathe in half the space.

The problem with having lots of windows is that if you like furniture and decor, and messing around with that...windows everywhere can limit furniture placement and options if you're not careful about it. Something to keep in mind.

2. If it's typical to have a basement in your area...get one. If not, put in accessible attic space. I don't have or need a lot of "stuff", but if I didn't have a basement to store things (tools, holiday items, paint cans, cat litter box, hobby things, etc), I would be an unhappy camper! Take a realistic inventory of the "stored stuff" and make sure you incorporate appropriate storage for what you have with room to grow. THEN make sure you put in appropriate storage (closets, etc) for your daily functions. It's no fun to fill your living space storage with holiday stuff and figure out later you can't use the coat closet because the xmas tree is in there.

3. I am a gardener too! In my little house, I am sooo thankful my house is not a straight-lined rectangle. The original enclosed porch on the side has been finished into a room, so there's a decent sized bump-out to the east. I have a 12x20 screened porch on the south.

An irregular footprint will give you little outdoor nooks to create special little gardening spaces verus expansive straight lines and 4 corners.

My former big house had a straight rectangle footprint and it was hard to be creative or make anything special around the house. LOVE my little house with odd nooks when it comes to gardening.

4. I don't know about your climate, but we've got cold & snow in my parts. When it comes to entertaining in a small house, outdoor spaces are your best friend! Screened porch, deck, well-placed driveway with attractive surroundings, you get the idea...think about those things and incorporate them into the plan.

In 1000 sf, I can have about 4 people over in the house and it's fine. More than that in the house is crowded. I mostly have family & friends over during nicer seasons and the extra spaces to sit and congregate are fabulous.

I need to go to work. I have more. Will post back later when I have time.
Gayle.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

oh, you are soooo terrific to help me figure this stuff out. I love the plan posted! Such good ideas! I guess I should share as much info as possible.....

We have explored many options and right now are leaning toward a pole barn construction (due to cost of construction) for the outer walls - 40 across x 36 deep w/ 10ft ceilings with the inside being a "box". The door will be from the left & right not front or back. On the left side will be 20 ft x 36 deep open pole barn. Right side will be my parking and a small kitchen veg garden. I might be dreaming but I want: master: queen size bed, no window, nice walk in closet, bathroom: a large tiled shower w/seat & multiple spray heads, regular sized tub tiled same as shower-no shower w/tub (might can find a claw foot tub and build a step up w/drawers under), his/hers sinks with a row of drawers in between and a tall pantry type cabinet in that room somewhere, kitchen: tall panty for stock pile & canned foods in the kitchen, open bar with lower cabinets able to have least 2 black metal bar seats, ref flush w/cabinets, regular type electric stove with bottom oven, deep sink, Extra bedroom: no ideas except can be smallish w/1 queen bed. Den area: flat screen tv w/ at least 1 oversized recliner (huband�s want), no fireplace. Glass & cherry wood display cabinet to fit somewhere (maybe a smallish entryway) & also still have a cherry wood bench.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Great plan! I love the dressing area and the kitchen. It looks like lots of workspace PLUS a pantry.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Gayle- SUCH WISDOM in your post. I'm glad you broke with your tradition and opted to share. Your ideas are wonderful, and I can relate to so many of them.


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Summerfield scores again

Summerfield, what I would give to be 40 years younger and let you throw such lovely plans my way! I can look at your houses and feel the flow right away. Also the selection of materials is apparent with the textures shown in your software program. You sure know how to use it.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

You might try www.countryplans.com Lots of ways to build economical small homes. Some are used as cabins and some are used as homes. Neat ideas there.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

ML, with all the building you have going on, and all the ideas you have, 40 years either way wouldn't matter for you. You're young at heart.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Marti, I really appreciate your comment. It comes at the right time, when I'm "girding my loins" to get up the energy to tackle refurbishing the garden for the big growing season. We are cutting it close this year, because the stucco work on the garage is holding us up.

Do you suppose that every old person feels as I do, that the head and the spirit are still young, yet the flesh betrays me? I read a book years ago, YOUR INNER CHILD OF THE PAST, which contends that at no time do we stop being the person we were the day before, so the child within is still there. The more I see the young adults I knew as children, I see that they ARE the same as they were then, so I know that the same is true of myself. As a child, I lulled myself to sleep drawing houses in my mind, and walking through the rooms. It is something I do to this day.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

At what point is one old? I'm almost 58, and planning to build my own house. Not hire somebody to do it, but actually do it myself! Well, some stuff will be hired, since I don't have the equipment or expertise.....

I suppose I should let Summerfield tweak my plan,too, but believe or not, I think I've reached the end on (major) re-design. After reams of graph paper, and a thousand and one electronic drawings, I'm suddenly OK with my design, I've either tired of the process, or God is telling me 'This is the one'.

I do hope my body is up to it, otherwise I will kill myself trying.

You can grow older, but never grow old.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

ML, I'm probably not the one to ask, as I am sitting here now with an ice pack on my shoulder & neck. lol

Jay I think your plan is good, and power to you to build it yourself. When dh & I built our little house (prior to this one), his dad helped us, and he was in his late 50's or early 60's at the time.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Summerfield Designs: I love your plan! You are really good at this: Can you help me visilize the following: I might be writing this backwards as I am new to all of this. My husband is going to build 60' long x 36' deep pole barn. He plans to utilize 40' x 36' deep. The right end will be our door and the left end will be the open pole barn section 20' x 36'. The right end will over look a pond so would like some nice windows.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Nathanomaxine. We just helped our daughter with putting living quarters in her covered roping arena. The arena is huge with a side shed running down one entire side, and they basically built a box inside the arena for temorary living quarters. Sounds somewhat like what you are planning. The area right next to the house is used for covered parking/patio. It has worked out well for them as well as friends who've done the same thing in their barn.

Summerfield: Love your plan. It uses the space very efficiently with little wasted space. Love that you were able to incorporate the spa bath, pantry, & office space all into the design.

Gayle: I agree about the windows. We live on a wooded lot & the house is just dark no matter what. If I had it to do over, would have incorporated a few more windows downstairs - or maybe I just need to cut some trees!! I do love irregular shaped homes - so much more interesting. Unfortunately, I understand they are also more expensive to build. We've got one bump out in our house that I love & have been able to add other garden spaces by the shape & positioning of our deck. I love working outside in the yard!

ML: I'm also more young at heart than young in years. My head is full of projects I want to be working on, but my body's not holding up as well as it used to!!! DH & I are both mid 50's, but still working on lots of projects & have no plans to stop - just may take us a little longer than it used to!!!!


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Hi, I hope that you are still looking at the replys for your post. First, I want to tell you that I am doing basically the same thing, building a home for under $10,000. I am not including the cost of the lot, but it was only $3800 for a 75 X 110 foot lot. There is an existing septic tank system, or it would not be possible to build at the $10,000 target price. First, we hired an engineer by placing an ad on craigslist. We received bids ranging from $5000 to $750. After talking with the low bidder, we retained him to prepare a plan that will be accepted by the building authority. What good is a plan that will not be issued a building permit? The minimum size allowable turns out to be around 350 square foot. That works out to about $28.50 per square foot, or about 1/4th the cost of building a standard wood frame house with electrical, plumbing, and roof. You originally stated that you wanted to build a house 32 X 40 foot with 9 foot ceilings. That is about 1280 sq ft. With a budget of $10,000, you would be spending a little less than 8 dollars per square foot. I think that houses could be built for that price around a hundred years ago, but not today. However, having been through this myself, I would like to share what we are doing. We decided that as an older couple, we could get by with a house of around 640 square foot. A mobile home this size would cost around $40,000 dollars new and up. Finding a newer used one isn't easy, but they are out there. The problem is moving them. Also another problem is that here in Florida, we are only able to use newer models designed for high winds and less than 10 years old in the county our lot is located in. We were unable to find one that could be moved and set up to meet our $10,000 dollar goal. So, we have decided to use two 40 foot shipping containers. I can get two delivered to my lot for under $5000. We will cut out the adjoining walls to make a 16 X 40 steel shell. We are only enclosing a bedroom and bathroom. The rest will be open. The engineer will draw the required electrical, plumbing, and all other details that will be needed to meet the code standards. We are using what are called High Cube shipping containers that are 9 foot 6 inches tall as opposed to the regular 8 foot 6 inch standard shipping container size. I expect that we will hang a suspended ceiling and are considering pouring a concrete floor inside the containers after they are joined. That is the plan so far except that we are including a stairway to the roof where I will be covering with a liner and then putting in some good growing soil for roof top gardening. I plan to eventually add some nice siding on the containers, but hot until we are already living in it. The inner walls will be sheet rocked over some insulation. Can we do this for $10,000? I'm not sure yet, but I will have the basic home with bedroom and bathroom (ie occupancy permit) for right at that price. I have already found some good used double paned windows and am looking for other used things like a sliding glass and regular solid wood door for the 2nd entrance. If you think that this may be an option for you, let me know. Maybe an engineer in your area can do the same thing for you. I know that this is not for most people, but it is at leat somewhat realistic. Containers are designed for heavy roof loads, so they should be fine in snow ares. Good luck, chuck


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

I think it can be a great place - like making a barn or carriage house into an apt! you might have to do some of the finer details later down the road tho.

did I read you want no windows in the bdrm? why? please have a window for fresh air and sunshine!

you might be able to get most of what you'll need inside from a restore or on CL. check them out.

ML - as a kid I used to fall asleep a lot of nights designing house layouts, mentally furnishing them. About all I had to go on furniture wise was from the Sears catalog - or what I saw on tv.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

No windows in the bedroom out of desperation! My husband has sleep issues where light (even the tiniest amount) wakes him or will keep him awake.

We have settled on doing a pole barn. We like the roof line look that has trusses (peak). The $10,000 would be for the building, concrete, plumbing. The rest would would complete paycheck to paycheck (walls & such). We plan to leave our camper intact for the kitchen until we get that complete. We are going to start with the master bedroom & master bath walls. We have been given bathroom sink, and all the lights we could use (someone went out of business and did not want to put in a warehouse). We are now trying to decided if we are going to build 2 smaller and join (turning each opposite leaving a space for a front porch this way or 1 large.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

If you are building to code, you have to have a window or other secondary means of egress in the bedroom- in fact, it has to be above a certain size so a person could crawl out of it. Even if there are no inspections to deal with, I would be paranoid about sleeping in a room with only one way out.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

I feel your pain. Even though I'm nowhere close to being ready to acquire land and build, I still look through small house plans in hopes of finding something more defined and tangible to shoot for. But I have been through design site after design site, log cabin sites, manufactured sites, you name it and I have yet to come across something that jumps off the page. Too many walls, insufficient porch space, bad bathroom layouts, no exterior appeal, etc. I just can't nail down what I'm looking for. If the circumstances ever do come together and I am ready to build, I will have to seek out a good architect/designer who will listen and create around my vision, not theirs. Hard to find.

Good for you for not falling into the Too Tiny Trap while striving to build mortgage free. Your proportions sound reasonable and liveable. If you want to live in something portable, buy an Airstream or a sailboat. Claiming to be able to "live" in 80sf is a joke.

Scott


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

If you are already starting with a pole barn frame, take a look at the post on Post and Beam homes I pulled forward from a while back.

Scott


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

you can buy special (not expensive) darkening blinds for windows. you could cover the window with black paper, darkening blinds and heavy curtains. that should keep it out while allowing an escape if needed and - the ability to open it during non sleeping times.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

They also have something called BLACKOUT FABRIC which Hancock and Joann Fabrics sells. A set of drapes lined with that, and some Roman shades with a good light filtering lining also, should help a lot. Go floor to ceiling with the drapes, and maybe wall to wall if need be.


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

Hi, sorry to come late to this thread but I thought I'd share some resources you might find useful:

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php is a good resource to share ideas with fellow small house owner-builders

http://www.backwoodshome.com/author_index.html for inspirational stories by Dorothy Ainsworth and Jackie Clay who build their homes in stages with very low budgets

One comment on your 32x40 is that one story is often more expensive than building a 2nd floor. If you're open to that, one thought is a kit like this:

http://www.firstdaycottage.com/Main.html is a build-it-yourself home originally designed for teachers to build over summer break.

Good luck!


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RE: building a small house-suggestions needed

If you really want a no-window bedroom, but have a code problem, can you call it a media room? Those seldom have windows - at least around here.


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