Tiny House Projects – How To Plan For Renovations – 5 Tips For The Master List

Hey everyone!

So, as you all know, I have been planning to make many alterations to my Tiny House.
A project like this, even with a small space, can appear very daunting at first. The key is, as with any large project, to break it down into smaller stages.
I have been writing myself a ‘Master List’ of tasks, and here are some techniques i’ve used that I thought you might find valuable…

1.Do It Room By Room

An easy way to start off splitting the mammoth task is to do it by room, possibly using a brainstorm/spider-diagram at first.

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There will be some tasks which are specific to each room – for example, plumbing for bathrooms, considering mattresses for the bedroom etc. – and there are some, like stripping wallpaper and general decluttering, which can easily be copy-pasted to every room, so once you have made a start the next ones become easier.

Also, by focussing on the rooms one by one, it will make you consider what you really want from each, where your priorities lie.

There will be things that fall outside the realm of individual rooms – if you want to insulate the roof or get new windows, for example; these can be put into a separate ‘Whole House’ or ‘Miscellaneous’ list.

2. Plan Tasks In Stages

I have broken down tasks in each of my rooms into ‘Pre-Work’, ‘1st Stage’, ‘2nd Stage’ and ‘Finishing’. There are some projects which have a through line, with tasks in each stage – for example, when wanting to plumb a new sink ‘Pre-Work’ would be going to stores, measuring up and comparing prices, 1st Stage covers getting ground work like tiling done around the area, 2nd Stage actually buying and installing the sink and Finishing would be making a splashback, tidying up etc.
Then you can complete all the tasks in each stage before moving on to the next one – by doing this you can always be sure you’re doing first things first and not rushing, or getting behind in a particular area. You could also make flow diagrams for specific big tasks to help you focus.

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3. Separate DIY From Outsourcing

For every task in you list, you will probably have a pretty good idea about what you can do for yourself and what you should leave to the professionals – but it’s always best to think through and clarify this on your list, with a note to yourself as to what either approach will require. I mentioned above about contacting a plumber and getting a quote – I know I wouldn’t feel confident installing plumbing myself, so this is an essential task for my list, but it may not be for yours. On the other hand, if you do want to take the plunge (as it were) into plumbing, then a task for you would be to do some research and buy the correct tools.

Similarly, you may be comfortable painting, but not tiling, happy to put up shelves but not make furniture from scratch and so on.

This will also give you an idea of how much time each task will need – making a desk (as I am planning on doing – read more about that here) is a nice idea, but buying one is a whole lot quicker – likewise any task left to a professional is likely to be done in far less time than if you try it yourself.

4. Keep Adding, Keep Breaking Down

As you go forward, don’t ever be afraid of adding to your list, and dividing tasks into sub-tasks. The idea is to make each stage manageable, not slavish follow the first draft.
And try not to get frustrated – it’s only natural that your master list will grow a lot before it starts shrinking!

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5. Start To Assign Budget and Costs

Once you have your master list in a reasonably comprehensive first draft, start looking at how much things will cost. There are two general approaches which you can mix and match – either find quotes and average prices first and drop them into the list, or decide what you would aim to spend on each thing, and add that, then go looking for something which meets your needs.

I think both are valid, but the second has the advantage that is shows instantly what you can and can’t afford, again forcing you to prioritise and not commit to anything too expensive.

Budgeting also applies to time costs; as I mentioned in point 3, you should consider how long something is likely to take. After all, time can be even more valuable than money.

Of course it’s often hard to guess at times, so try to put in the maximum estimate – or, in the case of tasks with deadlines, the maximum possible – amount of time for each task.

That will once again allow you to be realistic about what is achievable and what needs to go.

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I hope you all found that useful, guys, gals and everyone else 🙂 Any extra pointers you can give me in return will be greatly appreciated.

Happy Tiny House planning everyone!

Spekti out!

 

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Tiny House Projects – Standing Desk Design Process Pt. 1 – Ideas

Hello all!

So last week I posted about some inspirations I’d had from an ‘Ikea Safari’.

The foremost in my mind was the ‘Knotten’ standing desk, which I wanted to make my own version of. To refresh your memory, here is a picture:

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Image © IKEA 2018

 

As you can see, Ikea’s product is quite simple and efficient – I want mine to have a few more features, to make it perfect for me personally, rather than a generic one-size-fits-all product.

I started going a little crazy with ideas – I decided to brainstorm everything this desk could possibly have, before settling on the more practical aspects of design.

Here’s what I got, in no particular order…

Spekti Standing Desk Ultimate Wish-List

  1. Perfect height for typing
  2. Charging station for tablet and phone
  3. Built in swing-arm/angle poise lamp (with colour temperature control)
  4. Holster for spare cables/sewing scissors and other stuff
  5. Drawers for pens, pencils, etc
  6. Inbuilt speakers and sound system
  7. Bunny proof!
  8. Two shelves
  9. Extra stand for laptop/tablet to bring closer to eye-height
  10. Place to store sewing machine
  11. Slim enough to get through doors
  12. Tilting desktop for drawing
  13. On lockable castors for easy movement
  14. An extendable ‘pull-out’ for extra desk space
  15. Curved edges to top – purely aesthetic!
  16. Basket for storing sewing projects
  17. Camera rostrum for overhead photos/animations

As you can see, I was asking a lot from my little standing desk.

standing-desk-sketches-01

This is always the key, I think, to making something new – at first, don’t hold back, go a all out, otherwise you’ll always feel at later stages that you could have done more.
Then try a few designs and you’ll soon find out what is possible or what’s not, and get a feeling of what you really want out of your project, rather than just ‘nice to haves’.

For example, my first sketches for the ‘Spekti Standing Desk’ were quite similar to the Knotten desk in many ways.

standing-desk-sketches-02

But I soon realised after these initial doodles that I really wanted this to be suitable for sewing as well as writing, and to do that it would have to be longer (deeper?), not just a square but a rectangle so that the fabric wouldn’t just be falling off the end all the time

Of course, it will do eventually, you need a gigantic sewing table to prevent that, but it would at least save some smaller projects from this fate.

My final drawing here gives more of an indication of what the finished Spekti Standing Desk will look like – as you can see, I managed to pack in several features from my list…

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I cut out some things out, for example…

The Castors

I really like the idea of moveable furniture, but I was forced to ask myself ‘How many times will I actually want to move my desk – and if I do, where would it be?’

It could only conceivably be in one of two places – either the in front room or the bedroom, and once it has found its niche it’s probably better staying there rather than moving back and forth.

The ‘Pull Out’ Extendable Bit

Since the desk is going to have rectangular top and have more space anyway, this seemed over-egging the pudding. Also, I fear it would disturb the drawers in the construction and most likely be beyond my minimal woodworking skills.

Tilting Desktop

This is still a fun feature, but there is really no need for it to be build into the desk itself – I could make an additional tilted top later and add it on. The same goes for the rostrum camera set-up and the extra stand for the tablet.

Inbuilt Speakers and Sound-System

This is another potential ‘add later’ feature – it is a cool idea, but I don’t really need a subwoofer on my desk! I usually prefer headphones anyway. Besides, with bluetooth technology these days, a speaker could be placed anywhere you want it.

This first part of the design process is really useful and worth going through with any project – first brainstorm, then make it practical, cutting down rather than adding on.

The next stage – making a scale model to test the concept!

Stay tuned folks- Spekti out!

One Year Of Throwing Away – What Can We Live Without?

Ahoy everyone!

So, I wanted to do a blog commemorating a year in my tiny abode.
But what to say? How has it changed my life? Has it, in fact changed my life?
It feels, looking at first, that very little has actually altered.
I wanted to have a look into to what I’ve done but more importantly, for Tiny House dwellers like myself, look at what I’ve got rid of.

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When space is at a premium, you have to figure out what you can live without.

You have to be honest with yourself about what is adding value to your life and what is just taking up space. And, since we’re being honest, there is a lot of stuff on this list – almost all of it in fact – which I knew I should have thrown away or passed on a lot earlier, and haven’t missed at all. I really struggled to even remember a lot of it – thank goodness I take plenty of photos!

So let’s go through month by month and see what’s gone on.
I will start from when I stopped posting my super-regular updates last year, so  around…

September 2016
Barely had I got two months settled into my tiny house when I abandoned it for a week and a bit to do my first REAL Cycle Tour! You can read all about my cycling adventures on one of my other blogs, The Intrepid Cyclist!

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Despite spending a lot of September out of the tiny house, coming back to it at the end of the journey really, genuinely felt like returning home.

Threw Away:
Lots of random bits!
This included some cushions and cushion covers I’d been hoarding, some old electronics and more paperwork I’d brought with me.

Continue reading “One Year Of Throwing Away – What Can We Live Without?”

How To Plan A Tiny House 1 – Big (Floor) Plans

Hello everyone!

As I mentioned in the last blog, I’ve been frustrated by money recently – I can’t really afford any materials or tools to bring my Tiny House to its full potential. At the moment I’m only using about 30% of the available space, and that very inefficiently.

However, I did have a revelation – a lack of money does not stop me PLANNING that full potential. And in fact the more planning I do, the less I’ll have to mess about when I do get the resources I’ve been dreaming of – so I got to work planning for the future of my dwelling!

So, here’s how I’ve done things so far – I think any lay person like me (a non builder, non architect, non-DIY expert) can use similar steps – of course they can be used for any house plan, but there are special concerns for Tiny Houses which we will get to!

  1. Measure Up and Make A Rough Plan

To say this was my first step may seem self explanatory – to make a floor-plan I needed to measure. Duh. But what I learned from it is that it’s no use getting excited and starting to throw around ideas if you don’t know what you’re working with.

The internal dimensions of your house are your canvas – and it can be very liberating, having measured, to discover just how much floor space you really have at your disposal.

The first draft of my plan was very rough, and that was how it should be – I have heard many people (including the lovely Steve Ramsey of Woodworking For Mere Mortals) say caution against ‘driving yourself crazy’ when it comes to planning projects.

Here’s what my first draft looked like:

tiny_house_floor_sketch_01

You can actually see a shopping list in the top right hand corner.

This roughness meant that I didn’t have to think too much about the drawing, just note down the measurements nice and quickly to fill in the blanks later.

  1. Neaten It Up And Get The Fixtures

I am a child of the computer age so my first act upon completing my sketch plan was to transfer it into a digital environment. You may be more comfortable with graph paper of course – I’d say the advantage with a digital copy is its flexibility, no need for rubbing out, plus the ability to rearrange things with a few clicks (more on that in stage 4) but it can be a little bit fiddly and take a bit of time.

The other main thing I put down on this second, neater version of my floorplan with the fixtures – in-built cupboards and shelves, the bath, sink and toilet. I also included the bed because, even though it is movable, whatever I choose to do I will still need a bed, and it will take up roughly the same amount of floor space.

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Also worth noting down are sockets and ventilation grids – if you live in a static home like me, there will probably be more of the latter! Knowing where your sockets are will definitely help you when it comes to deciding how to plan out your rooms.

Also, there may be fixtures which get in the way. One of the major features in the front room is the fireplace, which I never use – in fact the one time I did try to turn it on it wouldn’t ignite, just released gas, so I am slightly concerned it might not work at all- and the in-built shelves above it, which are far too shallow to store books and barely deep enough for DVDs.

These both annoy me, but I can’t get rid of them so I will have to find a way of incorporating them into my plans!

NB: For general help, and for the official blueprint-style symbols to make your floor-plan look all official, I found the site House Plans Helper. You can get some downloads by popping in your e-mail address – I did and haven’t been spammed at all, so give it a go!

  1. Consider Your Needs

NB:  From this point on I will be focussing on my front room, as this is the largest of my four rooms and has the most potential for re-modelling, but this step can be applied to any room and indeed the whole of your (tiny) house!

Of course the thing about a tiny house as supposed to a regular property is that limited space means pairing down exactly what you need and getting clever about the use of space. Some considerations which are just nice in a regular home are critical in a tiny house – one is storage, usually vertical storage, the other is considering that things will need to be moveable and storable – tables, chairs, desks etc.

Needs For The Front Room….

  • Varied storage space – primarily for shoes which currently get piled up everywhere, and for books and DVDs
  • A place to put my computer and a desk to work at it
  • Lots of seating – at least sofa sized – for guests
  • A place for my rabbits
  • A dining table and chairs for group meals
  • A place to grow things – flowers and culinary herbs
  • A guest bed – double size if possible

So, that’s quite a big order for a little house! Can I do it?

Something you’ll probably notice ISN’T on the list (you may even be surprised by it) is a space for a large TV and the accompanying massive sound system (plus video games consoles) that seem to be mandatory these days, especially to millennials like me.

I watch all of my TV through computers – as do many of my generation – but that is VERY little. I only watch about an hour a week, so having a big TV and making space for it just doesn’t make sense. And when I have guests round my major goal is to enjoy their company and conversation – hence the extra seating and dining table!

However, if I did need a TV, and intended to spend a lot of my time watching it and playing video games, it would probably shape the entire room. Likewise you may wish to have extra appliances in this space or a display cabinet or a place for crafts – having moved my sewing table to the bedroom, this last is no longer included on this list, which is also worth considering – if you find that you can’t fit one of your needs in one room, could it be located somewhere else?

  1. Experiment And Play

This is, to my mind, the fun part. To take your floor plan and experiment with different layouts. There are theoretically infinite ways to arrange this space that I call my front room, but in practice only a dozen or so can really fulfill any set of needs, especially a long list like mine.

I started sketching a couple of ideas at work, like this…

tiny_house_floor_sketch_02

I found a hybrid of the two above that I liked a lot, and decided to put into my digital copy…

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My list of needs are fulfilled quite neatly:

  • Storage space – There are three mixed cupboard/shelving units which will provide tons of space (I tried to figure it out in litres but my brain just wouldn’t do it!). Shoes will be stored nearest the front door, making it easier especially in wet weather!
  • Computer space & desk – The cabinet nearest the door will also have a fold-out desk – It is far enough away that it won’t disturb either the guest bed or the table if they are out at that moment

Click to see the fold-outs and temporary features

  • Lots of seating – More or less the whole back wall will be taken up with a continuous built in ‘snug’ seat which can be used for reading, relaxing and when the table is out (see below)
  • Place for rabbits – my beloved buns can have a multi-tiered cage to retreat – I’m a bit concerned about the lack of floor space in this model and the proximity of the cage to the dining area – although I do plan to make an outdoor bunny palace at some point so it may become less of an issue in future. We shall see.
  • A dining table and chairs for group meals – These will all be foldable and can be stored (fingers crossed) in the cupboard closest the window, which will also have small drawers for extra cutlery, coasters, table-clothes etc. When out the table is placed with one side along the built in seating, so four to six people can sit comfortably.
  • A place to grow things – a plant shelf will be just behind the in-built seating, hopefully away from nibbling bunnies – although of course they will get some of the herbs as treats!
  • A guest bed – This will (again fingers crossed) be unfolded or extended from the built in seating, with the cushions for the seating converting into a mattress. I’ve seen it done elsewhere so I’m sure I can manage it – it may be a little fiddly though!

Not too shabby! But what will it look like? That takes us to the final point…

  1. Bring It To 3D

At the top of this blog I said that I was using, at a guess, 30% of the available space.
But I wasn’t necessarily talking about floor space – I mentioned vertical storage earlier and as you will know if you’ve lived in one for a while, getting the most out of a Tiny House means building upwards!

A floor-plan can only show so much, so making a 3D model is the next step, and is brilliant for visualising what it would actually be like to live in such a space.

Well look more in depth at this stage in the next projects blog…stay tuned!

Spetki out!

Tiny House Projects – Sewing Table

Hi everyone!

Well, it’s been a little while since I did a blog here – mainly because not a lot interesting has been happening. With the house, I mean – plenty of other interesting things have happened elsewhere, which you can read about on my other blogs – but due to one thing or another (money and time being most critical) I haven’t had much to say about my tiny dwelling and its evolution into a perfect living space.

But now I do!

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I loves me some sewing. But for a while now my sewing machine, fabric, threat et al has been banished to a corner gathering dust because the only tables in my house are in my front room and there isn’t a suitable place for a permanent set up – at least, not when troublesome bunnies are around to nibble!

So one day, lying in bed, it suddenly struck me that a whole bunch of floorspace was already being taken up in my bedroom by random bags, many of while contained sewing projects. Why not just make a table in that space?

Continue reading “Tiny House Projects – Sewing Table”

Tiny House Diary – Return To The Tiny House! To Do, Bunny Barrier & SEWING MONTH

Hi all!

It’s been a little while since I posted – for a large chunk of September, I was off on a Cycle Adventure (which will be described in detail over on one of my other blogs, the Intrepid Cyclist!) and both the holiday itself and the planning thereof somewhat stymied my progress. But I have returned now, and plan to get back into the blogging habit!

I have now been living in the Tiny House just over three months – quite a short time, all things considered, but time enough to get over the ‘Honeymoon Period’, as it were.

So do I regret my decision to move here?
Not at all!
I am just as psyched about my living arrangements as I was before. But now I can think clearly about what needs to be done around the house – I was aware from the moment I stepped in that work would be required to make this an ideal home.

Some of the things I have seen are…well, take a look…

So in the next few months I will be trying to tackle these DIY challenges…or get experts in if I despair of the tasks myself.

However, despite the DIY needs I have decided to initially take a very different path – feeling at a loose end after my cycling and not yet financially solvent enough to afford to Cordless Drill and other things I so desperately need for my projects, I have declared October SEWING MONTH!

Continue reading “Tiny House Diary – Return To The Tiny House! To Do, Bunny Barrier & SEWING MONTH”

Tiny House Projects – Pantry Shelves Pt. 1

When I moved in, I discovered that my kitchen, despite having less floor/surface space than my old kitchen, had about as much storage space in terms of cupboards. Excellent!

So I managed to put everything away.

However, I ended up putting things back in a very similar manner to how I had organised them at the previous house which was, I have to admit, not very practical or comfortable (especially for my knees, having to bend down to get pots, pans etc). It was the best I could manage in the flurry of moving in, but even at the time it was my goal to improve on my previous kitchen arrangements, rather than slavishly follow them.

One thing which was clearly going to be a problem from the start was the pantry.

It was pretty much a mess. I managed to make it an organised mess a few days later, but what with the massive influx of stuff from my MARKET DAY (see my meal planning blogs) it was sooo much worse.

Continue reading “Tiny House Projects – Pantry Shelves Pt. 1”