Creating a Hand Drawn Tiny House Floor plan

If you’ve gotten to a point where you are ready to scale and draw your tiny house floor plan, you are about to embark on another wonderful piece in your tiny house journey. Before you can move forward in hand drawing your plans you’ll need a few tools to help you through the process. To ensure everything is to scale you’ll want to use an  “architectural scale” , which is a specialized ruler used in creating floor plans accurately. The most commonly used scale dimension with architects in the United States is 1/4” = 1’,  so for every 1/4” on a line it represents 1’ in the real world. If you choose to scale your drawing of your tiny house floor plan different, it’s important to note it so that you use the same one during future edits. Another important tool is a high quality mechanical pencil when creating a clean floor plan.

Now we get to the actual work of drawing your plans. You want to start by drawing your exterior walls in your design. this includes the thickness of the interior walls. If you are framing your home with 2×4’s you’ll need to add exterior sheathing which as an extra 1/2” inch on average, and exterior siding which is 3/4” inch on average and an interior wall finish which is 1/2” inch on average. This will add an additional 5 1/4″ inch thickness to your interior walls. Factoring in these dimensions will ensure you’re not exceeding the 8’6″ maximum road width highway standard, which require additional permitting. 

Using your architectural scale and your pencil, and ensure your lines are light enough to be erased if needed. Also, keep in mind how you plan in towing your new tiny home. Are the rear wheel wells exposed on the interior? The more axles you have, the more of your interior you’re at risk of losing due to the wheel wells protruding inside. Also,  if you want to tow your tiny house on wheels will that require any special-use permits for the potential wide-load? Tiny homes and motorhomes are restricted to a total exterior width of 8’ 6″ at the widest point in most states but  gutters, exterior lights, and roof overhangs do count in this measurement.

TinyHouseBasics.com, has shared a tip when accounting for your wheel wells.

“We have a few different formulas to determine the location of the wheels wells. For a 28′ tiny house for example, take the deck length of 28′, divide it in half (= 14′) then add 1 inch for every foot of total deck length (14′ + 28″ = 16′-4″). A triple axle is approximately 9′ long, so the front of the fender is approximately 11′-1o” back from the tongue end, and ends at approximately 20′-10″ from the trailer front. We can modify the location of the fenders to suit any build, but that is the approximate default location, assuming there aren’t unusually heavy items that need to be placed in the tiny house.”
The next step is drawing your interior partition walls, just like exterior walls you’ll need to adjust for thickness of the material you’re using. If you’re building in stairs to a loft you’ll also want to keep that in consideration when drawing out your interior walls. This is important because as you begin to add in the doors and windows you’ll need to ensure your placement won’t be affected by the loft or the staircase. Keep in mind you’ll need to account for gaps in your doors and windows. If the doors are not pocket doors you’ll need to account for the rough space they will take up when opening and closing. for the windows consider the height and the placement you’ll need for your preferred view as well as overall design.

Once your windows and doors have their permanent homes you can begin to think about cabinetry and how to position your appliances in your space. By now you should have done all the research on the dimensions for your appliances. Utilize those dimensions to accurately depict the placement. For some additional help you can create scaled cut outs of your appliances and place them in the space to help with a more realistic feel of what your space would look like. You can also use this same process for your furniture to see how it all lays out in your space. When you get to a place where you feel comfortable you can draw you exterior lines with darker pencil to make them more solid if you don’t intend on making any other changes. At this point you can also account for any electrical that needs to be added. Are you adding in a heater, a water filtration system, or even basic electrical? That needs to be laid out in advance. You’ll need to create a light fixture plan and add those details into your layout.

If you have decided to add a loft to your tiny home you can put a piece of tracing paper to lay over the bottom half of you tiny home, or you can create a new layout on paper. You may have already taken into account clearance or your loft stairs or ladder, but it’s good to ensure those stairs meet building code or building standards before moving forward.

Remember not to get too hung up on the details and give yourself space from drawing your plans if you are having a hard time. Some time away from you plans can help you see them from a different perspective the next time around. Once you have something you feel comfortable with and are ready to move forward you’ll need to find someone to turn it into digital form, or find a software you can use to create your own digital copy.  Just remember to take your time and enjoy the process!

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