Tiny Prefab eBook

tiny prefab second edition cover 200Tiny Prefab, A Do-It-Yourself Prefab Building System.
PDF format – 90 pages – $19.95

Add to Cart

This book contains the plans and instructions for a tiny prefab building system that is easy to build from common building materials. The system is perfect for someone without a lot of construction experience or spare time because building each individual panel is a relatively small carpentry project in itself.

When all the panels are complete they can be transported in the back of a pickup truck to their final site and assembled. Since most of the actual construction happens while building the individual panels the assembly process can be done with few tools and just a little bit of help from a friend or two.

Add to Cart

Below are some Sample Pages

Add to Cart

Free Updates

Today the plans are complete but over time I’ll make improvements and additions as reader suggestions are incorporated. When I do I’ll send out a link to the free update to everyone who has already purchased the ebook in the past. So in many ways purchasing an ebook from me is really more like subscribing to an expanding design resource.

Please Note

Before building any structure be sure to check with your local authorities. In many communities permits are not needed when building tiny buildings like sheds but the rules range widely so it’s best to research your local restrictions before building anything. Also please note that these plans were not prepared by or checked by a licensed engineer and/or architect. Build from these plans at your own risk.

Affiliate program

If you’re interested in selling this ebook on your website you can earn a 40% affiliate commission for each sale. Learn more about the Tiny House Design Affiliate Program.

42 Comments Tiny Prefab eBook

  1. Todd L.

    What’s old is new again!

    Were you aware that the February 1962 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine had plans for a 24′x24′ vacation house that was built of 4×8 modules intended to be prefabricated by the home owner?

    Reply
    1. Michael Janzen

      Yes. Actually I noticed several solutions similar to this and was inspired by all of them. I’ll see if I can dig up some of those older panelized building designs to show folks here.

      What’s old is often still relevant!

      Reply
      1. Gabe Craft

        Right on Michael :) Just dropping in here to say thank you for the work that you do. In fact, even though I am a subscriber of your newsletter I sort of missed that this book came out. I am actually pleasantly surprised. I really do love that you never do a “hard sell” of your books. I am persuaded to believe that they sell themselves. :) Ok… off to search for your printable paper tiny houses. I’m hoping to do some more tactile brainstorming with the family.
        Sincerely,
        The Crafts in Japan

        Reply
  2. William

    Just out of curiosity, I live in Houston TX. Outside of the city proper there are many deed restricted and unrestricted communities. My main concern is being able to build a category 5 hurricane resistant home, do any of the small house/prefab house allow or come with windstorm bracing installed that you are aware of??

    William

    Reply
    1. Michael Janzen

      I know that many of the portable tiny house builders use a lot of metal bracing including hurricane straps since the houses have to travel down freeways from time to time but I can’t remember anyone specifically mentioning that any of the houses are certified for category 5 hurricanes.

      Reply
    2. Tiki

      Hi William,

      I live in Houston too and wanted to know if you found any small houses that were hurricane resistant? I’m just starting my small house journey.

      Thanks,

      Tiki

      Reply
      1. Michael Janzen

        I’ve been thinking about the hurricane resistant question a bit. Tiny houses built for a freeway can withstand quite a bit of wind and bouncing around. Many people also choose to use hurricane strapping and other metal fasteners to hold it all together. But I hesitate to say if any tiny house is hurricane resistant because so many are handmade and I can’t think of an example of someone sticking around for a hurricane. I think most folks would hitch it up to their truck and move it out of harms way.

        As far as the tiny prefab ebook design, I don’t go into engineering details, fasteners, etc. But because it is a bit overbuilt and uses more plywood sheathing and 2×4 framing than most homes I suspect you could easily add the necessary hurricane strapping (per your local codes) to make it as sturdy (if not more so) than a normal house.

        Another option to look into for a permanent house that is known to be hurricane resistant is earthbag construction. It’s a totally different aesthetic and can’t be dismantled and moved like a prefab but it might serve folks on the gulf well. Just a thought.

        Reply
  3. Alex Shaskevich

    I would like to know if the book as a section on how to set up the shower, and sink? I’ll get an electrician for the other stuff, but I plan to live in it and want to do the plumbing myself.

    Reply
  4. Isaiah

    Hi Michael,
    We are planning to build an 8 x 12 tiny house with a loft. I’ve noticed that your 8×8 design doesn’t have any space above for a loft. However, you state that the design can be modified to expand in 4 foot increments. Is there a roof design that can accommodate a loft within an 8×12 in your plans?
    Thanks,
    Isaiah

    Reply
    1. Michael Janzen

      Hi Isaiah,

      The 8×8 (or 8×12, etc) tiny prefab doesn’t have a steeper pitch roof in the ebook. I did draw an example of a 12/12 pitch with standard framing for the 8×8 free plans. http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/free-plans/

      In the Tiny Prefab ebook there are examples of how a loft panel can be put atop a 16×16 house. You could build three of those 4×8 panels for a 8×12 and then frame a roof, or adapt the 16×16 roof for a smaller 8×12.

      I will add this suggestion to the next version of the ebook. It would be a useful alternative to the design.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Isaiah

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your reply! We’d love to purchase the book. When we do, is it possible to also get a sketch up model of this plan?

    My partner and I are talking about merging the plans for the tiny prefab with your plan for a camping cabin, so I was also wondering if it might be possible to buy the sketch-up model of the house below:

    http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/2010/01/11/camping-cabin-rough-house-plans/

    Thanks! We’re beginning house-builders and are big fans of your work.

    Meara and Isaiah

    Reply
  6. Richard Gay

    I have to think these won’t be hurricane resistant without tiedowns and berming with some kind of sandbag. These structures are so light (relatively speaking) with a high wind load that 115 mph would probably roll them at least, or carry them away if they aren’t somehow restrained. If they can be built with an aerodynamic end that can be pointed into the storm it would help, like an upturned boat.

    Richard Gay
    Austin

    Reply
  7. UP Dave

    Michael, I live in a cold climate. Does your ebook discuss insulating the walls and floors? It is January and -14C outside and I’m itching to start on a new project I can assemble in warmer weather. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Peter Lacey

    Would you consider this design to be reconfigurable? In other words, could you reuse the panels in an 8×12 to make a 161×16 later?

    Reply
  9. Michael Janzen

    Yes. But the more interior/exterior finishes, wiring, plumbing you add the harder it would be to pull apart and reconfigure. So if you plan to take it apart later noodle through these improvements before installing them.

    Reply
  10. Tracey

    Is it possible to build an octagonal structure using the wall panels? I realize the roof panels probably wouldn’t work.

    Reply
  11. Gisele

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve been looking for plans to build a temporary small structure that could serve as a guest house. I’d like to know if any of your houses/cabin can easily be taken apart/rebuilt every summer, and taken down again in the fall?

    Reply
  12. Capitalism at it's Finest

    Twenty dollars for a 90 page PDF? You sir, are exactly what’s wrong with this world. I’ll be purchasing this under a different name soon, and spreading it like wildfire through pirate sites.

    Reply
    1. Michael Janzen

      When I chose to publish a PDF online I knew there was risk of someone posting is elsewhere online. It’s a risk I’m comfortable taking.

      What bothers me about your comment is that you have no idea what ‘Capitalism at it’s Finest’ really means.

      ‘Capitalism at it’s Finest’ is billionaires, working through their corporations and governments, exercising free reign over world economies and controlling the power to take the whole thing down. Too much power is now concentrated in the world’s richest capitalists and we’re all suffering from it.

      When individuals produce things to trade things they’ve worked hard making (yes sometimes for money) it’s the right level of capitalism – peer to peer, person to person. We empower each other when we buy from each other – other real people.

      So here’s a suggestion… why not use that anger of yours and find a way to slow and stop the wildfire of billionaire greed and plot against someone worth plotting against. You might find yourself making a lot more headway than by attacking individuals who are trying to do some good.

      If you’d rather trade something you’ve made for a copy of my ebook I’d be happy to take a look at what you have. If it looks like a good trade, you’ve got a deal.

      Reply
      1. Earl

        Ignore Moron Capitalism at its Finest. I understand how business work. In my option 19.95 dollar for 90 page PDF is really reasonable price and I’m buy it!. I enjoy read about build house. I never able understand how build work. But what I just saw your sample. I understand it very clearly. I want that book! I might end up talk into my aunt to build tiny house at her backyard as my apartment :)

        Reply
        1. Cathy

          $19.95 for a book of BS, for example, “How to make a fortune stuffing envelopes!” would be Capitalistic GREED at its finest. A well written “How to” book which shows people how to live more independently is very reasonable at $19.95– and a far cry from Capitalistic greed. What the moron probably doesn’t get is that those who want to make the world a better place still require some sort of income to support themselves/their family WHILE making the world a better place. Personally, I don’t hear moron whining about the high cost of alcohol (capitalistic and addictive, contributes to poor judgement, fattening), “entertainment” (capitalistic, brain dulling in many cases and mostly not providing either a positive role model OR much in the way of entertainment) or the pornographic, um, LITERATURE which he probably relies on (capitalistic, degrading to model AND reader, as well as giving many readers the opinion that disrespect to women is acceptable, potentially illegal in some forms).
          Anyone else see a trend going on here? Lots of capitalism going on, but not all of it is very positive.

          Reply
  13. jay

    What the Hell is wrong with “Capitalism at its Finest” above? Nothing better to do than tear down the small business guy? You have it exactly right Michael. Kudos.

    Reply
  14. John Corin

    Is it feasible to use 4 x 1″ on the outside elements of a panel where they join another and thus the 4 x 2″ is formed from the join. If this will work surely there is some saving from using two 4 x 2″ studs etc.

    Reply
  15. Michael Janzen

    Hi John,

    Great question.

    2x4s at the joints do make some stout (and possibly overkill) connections between panels – but I personally think it’s the best way to go since the studs are 24″ O.C. and the panels are not connected except with the spline.

    But I bet if you kept the weight of the roof low the 1x4s would work too. But like I hinted… I’d error on the side of stoutness in this case.

    Another thought though… while we’re on the topic. You could also try using one 2×4 that’s 3/4″ exposed and leave it off the other side. That would reduce the number of 2×4 and even give you more places to screw the panels together.

    Thanks!
    Michael

    Reply
  16. jaydubya51

    The very first post back in 2009 referred to a Popular Mechanics issue about a prefab house. I found the full article via Google books for free to view. Here is the link for all to enjoy.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=reEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA7-IA2&lpg=PA7-IA2&dq=February+1962+edition+of+Popular+Mechanics&source=bl&ots=f7UOzTmXU0&sig=1HfiuIUfvDsRkuVl0aAMoePn0xI&hl=en&ei=L62xTYyJIcH50gH67uybBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=February%201962%20edition%20of%20Popular%20Mechanics&f=false

    Very long url. If it doesn’t come up as a clickable link, just cut and paste it into the address bar and away you go. Looks like you may be able to use Google books to get at other such articles if people know the magazine, month and year to search. Hope that helps.

    Reply
    1. alice

      Wow, some pretty alarming articles in that magazine as well as the useful ones. Cringeworthy stuff abounds.

      Reply
  17. Andrea

    I’m considering purchasing the ebook, but I need to know if the materials cost is within my budget. Is there a cost estimate for the materials?

    Reply
    1. Michael Janzen

      I’ve not included cost because it ranges wildly with regional price differences and actual material choice – especially for plywood. You could do a rough estimate by thinking that each panel is roughly 4 8-foot 2x4s and 2 pieces of plywood.

      In my neck of the woods a 2×4 costs $2.50 and 1/2-5/8 plywood costs roughly $20 depending on quality. So a wall panel would cost $50 (ish). Then add $10 for floor panels and $20 for roof panels since there is more wood in floors and ceiling panels.

      An 8×8 would need:
      2 roof panels = $140
      2 floor panels = $120
      8 wall panels = $400

      $660 is for the lumber only. Then add insulation, screws, glue, wiring, roofing material, windows, doors, etc.

      But as you might now see it’s comparable to normal framing. The main advantage of the system is the panelized design which gives you the ability to build offsite and assemble the building elsewhere.

      Reply
  18. Andrea

    Also, what is the insulation like and what kind of heating would you suggest? Could you live in it in the Northwest Winter?

    Reply
    1. Michael Janzen

      Hi Andrea. The panel design is mostly a 2×4 based framing approach – the insulation is up to you. I’d imagine that In cold regions you’d want more than 2×4 walls.

      Reply
      1. Earl

        I live in cold area (Michigan) brrr temperature usually go low as between 0′s & 20′s at winter. Any add suggest?

        But I know few good idea like add insulation between inside/outside wall. Also add insulation in attic and crawl space. A lot of heat escapes through the attic, as warm air rises and cold air sinks. Make sure that your attic has enough insulation. Put down a rug or carpet. Rugs and carpets help prevent heat loss through the floor. They are generally warmer to the touch than wood or stone, and so offer a warmer surface to walk on. Light a candle. A candle/candles can produce a lot of heat, just be mindful of where they are placed and do not leave them unattended. A trip to most any grocery store or discount store can provide you with a number of candles cheap! Get a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are designed to remove the moisture from the air, not to specifically heat or cool the room. The way they remove this moisture is to reheat the air to further dry it after it releases its moisture.

        Basically, the room temperature humid air enters the dehumidifier where it is cooled to its dew point which results in its releasing its moisture. This dried air is then heated by the combination of latent heat of condensation, which is a natural result of the process, and by circulating through the condenser where heat is exchanged from it to the air.
        The result is the air going back into the room will be slightly warmer than it was going in, usually around 2 to 5 degrees. Sit on a 50 watt heating pad. Rather than heating the whole house or room, sit on a low wattage heating pad. Last one would be best… Find a friend or pet to snuggle with. The living body of any warm-blooded being is a furnace unto itself. Snuggle with your cat or dog and leech off of some of their warmth.

        Reply
  19. hani

    Dear MJ,
    I am one of the many people who admire small houses. I am from Malaysia and currently in the process of designing prefab houses using our simple ready-to-assemble system for the rural poor. I am wondering if your assembly process is easy for a layman to read? It is great to know that there many out there who are ardent supporters of being small houses.. thank you.

    Reply
      1. Jim

        I agree with Earl, I just purchased the book and it looks extremely well layed out and easy to follow/understand.

        I’ll be going to Menards and Home Depot this weekend to price out materials for an 8′ x 16′ shed and I’m really looking forward to diving in and building my shed over the next month or so.

        Thanks Michael for creating a fantastic instruction manual for those of us that aren’t all that savvy at building sheds and cabins.

        ~Jim

        Reply
  20. Tracy Roberts

    Late comment on the Hurricane discussion but I use to live in San Leon and always wished I had known of the Tiny House movement before I bought my home. Having a “House” on wheels, to me, should be the answer everyone is looking for. When the storm is approaching simply disconnect the utilities, if any, hook up to your towing vehicle and take the whole house out of harms way or at least somewhere the danger is minimized.

    In my case I would have moved the house to the plant I worked in and parked it inside the Fire Brigade Station. There was more than plenty of room in there for a tiny house.

    Tracy

    Reply
  21. Josh

    Hey, Michael, thanks for all of these very cleanly-designed plans, both free and otherwise! I was considering purchasing this plan to construct a tiny house on wheels, but I had a couple of quick questions.

    1. Is the unit described herein short enough to be towed on the highway?

    2. Are the floor panel pieces designed to be placed on a trailer, and if not, how easy would it be to modify them to fit various wheel wells?

    Thanks so much for reading, hope to hear back from you soon!

    Reply
      1. Earl

        It cant be put on wheel. But… There’s other way;
        First… build them together make sure they’re fit and workout as you wanted. Then take them apart and stack them in Uhal or Ryan truck. Bring them to site where you want install your house. Pull them out and put them together like puzzle. I believe it could be done.

        Reply
  22. Adam

    Hello a couple of questions.

    Is it possible to add a second story instead of a loft?

    Would the panels used for the lower walls fit in a second story? How sturdy would that be? I ask because I am a little older and crawling around on my knees or walking at a crouch kind of hurts. :)

    Can this be build larger than 16×16? I was thinking 16×16 side by side with another set of 2 4×4. one for a bathroom other for stairs up or something.

    Reply
  23. felipe

    Hola…felicitaciones….
    Necesito un manual para construir mi casa pequeña…
    ¿como puedo conseguir un libro gratis…?
    Algún tipo de donación….?

    Soy de Valparaíso de Chile
    Saludos.
    Felipe
    PD: NO SE INGLES…HAY EN ESPAÑOL?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>