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The following is a guest post submitted by architect Andrey Bugaev.

This tiny house with just 18 m2 (194 square feet) of interior space is situated in the Moscow region, Russia. It has everything that is necessary for a convenient living. There are two large wardrobes in the hall. There are big wardrobes as well in the corridor near the fridge and over the bed. There is a bath that has a shower cabin, a basin and a toilet bowl. The kitchen is small but comfortable, the kitchen table is combined with a dining table.

This tiny house has a second tier that can sleep and play children. Antresol (mezzanine) is located above the bathroom and entrance area. Her area of 6 sq m. Children love this place as their own space to play and relax.


It’s really cold here in winter, the temperature is as low as -35°C (-31°F).  When visitors arrive the fireplace is started and the temperature rises to 20°C (68°F) in half an hour. In half an hour more the bed is getting warmed and ready – no matter how cold is outside. You won’t get cold in this small house for sure.

The house stands on a hill near a river. An open porch is on the Eastern side of the house. In summer when it’s sunny the porch is lit until the noon. You can have a meal in the fresh air in the afternoon, the porch will protect you from the sun.


The cabin is built on frame technology. On the outside it’s covered with specially prepared unedged planks. The planks are first brushed then covered with blue transparent paint and then white finish is applied with a pallet. On the inside the house is sewed round with organic wooden planks. All the materials used are completely organic, all the house was assembled directly on-site.


The winters in Russia are really snowy and the snow falling from the roof can harm a lot. That’s why the slope of the roof is unsubstantial, of only 18°. Given such a slope the snow won’t slip down from the roof under its own weight. Even if there’s a huge pile of snow on the roof, it’s not that bad. In this case the snow works as an isolator and mini house “Ship” becomes even warmer.


The porch goes round the three sides of the house and protects the walls not only from the sun, but also from getting wet when it’s rainy and windy. It protects the wood from destruction. Seats are built in the fence of the porch all around its perimeter.

On the both of the sides of the porch there are Actinidia plants. Those are a sort of Liana. When they grow they protect the walls of the small house from direct sunlight thus taking care of the finish. Wall gardening is not only aimed at protection. The Lianas prevent the floor of the porch from getting wet in the rain. They smell great in bloom in spring and in autumn there are a lot of tasty fruits on the branches. You can enjoy their taste sitting right there on the porch of tiny house “Ship”.

See more at ArtEcology.ru

A longer forum thread (in Russian) also shows more details for how the house was built. Try using Google Translate for other language translations.


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shipping container remote cabin - exterior open

The ability to button-up and secure remote cabins helps thwart would-be thieves. Tiny buildings made from shipping containers are naturally easy to secure when left mostly intact. Cutting holes for windows and doors not only opens the home up with natural light, it opens opportunity for break-in.

In this design exploration I show how windows and glass doors could be sealed simply with some hinged and lockable steel shutters. Just for fun I show how the small solar panel array could also be secured inside the center shutter – which opens by folding down. This would keep the panels away from the pry bars carried by thieves, but means they can’t do their work charging the batteries when closed. One solution for this would be to mount a single, 5th, panel on the roof for slowly topping-off the batteries, while the bulk of the solar investment sits safely behind the shutter.

shipping container remote cabin - exterior closed

The exterior of a shipping container should be water proof, so a secondary roof should theoretically not be needed; but anyone who’s been inside a metal shed on a hot day knows that without some shade, metal boxes get hot. Flat roofs also provide little to no potential for shedding water and snow. So adding a second roof over the box to shield it against the elements might be a wise decision. In this illustration I’m showing a metal roof with metal framing.

Another ever-present danger to remote cabins is fire. Trimming a fire perimeter around buildings located in high fire danger areas is always a good idea, and required in some regions; but building entirely with non-famable materials on the exterior can also help save the cabin in a worst case scenario. It’s not a sure bet since it could also cook like an oven inside if the fire outside was to close and/or too hot – but the steel exterior would definitely help. The only exception to this material selection shown here is the wood deck.

Another advantage to building a self-contained cabin from a shipping container is that it can be constructed off-site and delivered by truck. The roof shown here would pose a slight logistical challenge, but the container could be brought in and set onto pre-installed concrete footings. The roof could be mostly pre-assembled off-site and brought in by truck, or assembled in parts and bolted together on-site. It could also be added permanently to the cabin prior to deliver but may need a wide-load permit for hauling unless the eaves were shortened.

In any case building where it’s convenient and not on top of a mountain can speed  construction and reduce cost. The main logistical issues left would be getting the cabin to the site by truck on the windy dirt forest roads and connecting it to any on-site utilities like power, water, and sewer. If the cabin were designed to be very frugal, truly off-grid alternatives could be used for these as well.

A rain water collection tank and plumbing could be added to that shed roof. A composting toilet could be installed in the bathroom. A grey water system could be used to handle the water from the shower and sinks. All power could be derived from the solar system if sized properly with the expected power consumption. A propane tank could be located outside if gas water heat or heating were used.

Inside this cabin could be a bathroom, micro kitchen, table, and sofa/bunk bend.  But many other configurations are possible, especially if the bathroom were smaller or the container longer.

shipping container remote cabin - floor planshipping container remote cabin - inside at night shipping container remote cabin - inside at dusk shipping container remote cabin - living room shipping container remote cabin - bathroom

Most shipping containers come in two standard sizes, 8×20 and 8×40. There are other sizes but these two are most common. An 8×20 is shown here. The cost of containers is fairly standard but costs rise the father they must travel from ports. You see these boxes are what’s used to ship goods from overseas – but many don’t find their way back. Instead they are resold for other uses. The farther you get from a port, the more expensive they tend to be. Check your local craigslist.org for businesses that sell containers near you.

I’m not sure how much of a DIY project a shipping container cabin would be. Certain parts would likely require some professional help, like the transportation. The metal work would also present some challenges to the average owner-builder. But in terms of cost I think a cabin like this could be completed for the same kind of money as a wood cabin. So at the end of the day the main decision factors would be aesthetics and function. If you felt the benefits of a steel box out-weighted the aesthetics of a wood cabin then a cabin/house like this might be the right path.

The illustrations were drawn with SketchUp and rendered with Podium V2, a photo-realistic plugin for SketchUp. I draw design concepts like this mostly for fun – and share them to help introduce ideas to others. Enjoy!

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Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge

The folks at Outdoor Research have a tiny house for chasing powder. They have a couple seasons under their belts now and a new truck after the first finally passed due to old age. The house serves not only as a ski lodge for the Outdoor Research Sidecountry skiers & snowboarders but serves as an ambassador for the company out in the field.

The house was originally built in 2011 by Zack Griffin, one of the skiers, who works as a carpenter after the snow has melted. Zack and his crew worked steadily for seven weeks and had the house ready just in time for it’s original road trip. It’s only 112 square feet, but sleeps five and has a wood stove for heat. There’s no bathroom, but there is a small kitchen with a fridge and running water. The house has a lot of miles on it now, and seems to be holding up well.

One of the home’s most unique features is the drawbridge bunk. Two wood boards that slide out from below the main loft and connect up front to form a narrow sleeping berth. Two others sleep in the small loft, and two more down below in a sofa bed.

Kudos to Outdoor Research and the Sidecountry Skiers & Snowboarders that made this project happen. Love to see it progressing into multiple seasons. Below are some images grabbed from the videos. Image credit to Outdoor Research.

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Crisp Morning

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Night

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Glamping Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Party Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Party 2

Here’s a couple of shots showing what it takes to get to their starting line.

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Climbing the Back Country

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Long Way Up


Now at the starting line, it’s all downhill from here.

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Top of the World


Yikes… not for the faint of heart.


Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Looking Down

I think the early American pioneers called this kind of terrain impassable.

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Longer Way Down

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Steep Mountain


Tasting the snow.


Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Eating Snow

Love this final shot, a tiny house day dream.

Outdoor Research Tiny Ski Lodge - Daydream

If Outdoor Research is thinking about a future tiny house that (1) has a bathroom, (2) space for snow mobiles, (3) and space for extra gear, they might consider building a new tiny house on a 5th wheel trailer. This should allow you to legally pull a snowmobile trailer too and provide the extra space inside for gear and a bathroom. If you use steel framing or SIPs you’ll save some weight too.

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Helsinki Cabin - Exterior

This small cabin was designed by Verstas Architects and is located just outside of Helsinki. It’s a modern Mökki, a traditional Finnish summer cottage. It’s heated by wood and has views to a bay through the expansive windows up front.

Inside you’ll find built-in furniture can be transformed from seating space to sleeping space and a small sleeping loft for children. The kitchen’s floor is a step down from the main living space with a bit of shoe storage below the step – a clever way of keeping the floors clean – and a nice dual use for the kitchen. The cabin has 14 square meters (150 square feet) of living space.

What I don’t see is a bathroom. In the cross section drawing (below) a shed roofed space is visible on the back of the cabin. I’m not sure if that’s a shed, bathroom, tiny sauna (common companion to a Mökki), utility room, or just storage.

Photos by Rauno Träskelin. To see more visit Verstas Architects.

Helsinki Cabin - Sleeping Options Helsinki Cabin - Seating Options Helsinki Cabin - Kitchen Helsinki Cabin - Interior

Helsinki Cabin - Cross Section

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12K Cabin

Sue spotted my post on The Shed Option, and commented with a link to her own shed-based bunkhouse. The whole project cost them about $12,000 to complete. Here’s what she said:

“We bought a 10 x 16 cedar sided “shed” type shell building that we finished as a “bunkhouse”. We live in a small 464 sq ft cabin built on site by the same company that built the shed and brought it out. We finished it, doing all the work ourselves except for the electrical rough-in and the plumbing, which included hooking to our septic system. We just added a 5 x 16 deck to the bunkhouse. Total cost for the project was right at $12,000. No permits or inspections were required for our area and we are in a warm climate. The wall AC unit also has heat.” – Sue

Their bunkhouse looks nothing like a pre-built shed to me – very nicely done!  The addition of the porch looks great too.  Kudos to Sue and her family – and thanks for sharing your project with us!

12K Cabin - Bed 12K Cabin - Corner Potty 12K Cabin - Delivery 1 12K Cabin - Delivery 2 12K Cabin - Delivery 3


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Mighty Shed

An alternative to building your own tiny house is to start with an unfinished pre-built shed shell. You may have seen buildings like these lined-up along side the highway in your community, outside your local home improvement store, or even inside your local Costco.

Typically these pre-built unfinished buildings are sold as sheds, but some are fitted with the right kind of windows & doors and sized appropriately to be used as a house. Photo credit to Mighty Shed.


  • Cost – In some cases you can buy a pre-built shell for less than you can build one yourself, because professional shed builders often pay wholesale prices for their materials and have become very adept at building them efficiently.
  • Financing – In some cases the makers of pre-built shells offer financing. I imagine the financing is some kind of personal loan and the interest is high, but for those looking for financing this may be a benefit.
  • Speed to Completion – Since the buildings are delivered as complete shells, the time it takes to make them habitable may be quicker. But temper that with the reality that building the shell is often the quickest – albeit heaviest lifting – part of a tiny house project. So while you may get the big heavy part of the project done quickly, you’ll still have a lot of work to do after the shell arrives.
  • Warranty – If you build something yourself, you have no farther to look than yourself for repairs. With some of these prebuilt sheds you’ll find that that come with warranties. This may offer some peace of mind.


  • Aesthetics – You’ll probably have fewer choices in the style & color with pre-built shells than with custom designs since you have full control when you design and build from scratch.
  • Quality – The quality will depend on the builder and the shell’s intended use. Inspecting the building and paying special attention to the materials & construction will help determine if the vendor’s shells will hold-up over time.
  • Strength – The sturdiness of structure may vary from vendor to vendor and design to design. For example you may find a really low cost shed but while inspecting it closely you may find odd lumber sizes or little plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). While these details do not mean the building is lower in quality they may point to future difficulties when attempting to finish-out the building as a home.
  • Mobility – Tiny houses on wheels are purpose built to be pulled down the highway. They are anchored tightly to their trailers and the external treatments are often chosen for their wind resistance. While most folks don’t move their tiny houses often, it can be a real benefit to have that option. A pre-built shed may or may not be sized to fit within the legal limit of a trailer, and it may not have been built with high winds in mind. So if your intention to have mobility, greater care should be taken when selecting the right pre-built shell.

With all that said, pre-built sheds are an option for some future tiny homeowners. They do take  some of the heavy lifting out of the project and if up-front costs are a barrier, then these may help break through into tiny home ownership quicker.

You should also look into the legal limitations and allowances for using these tiny structures as dwellings in your area. The shed builders in your area may be able to help you with these details. Some of them may even offer specific models that they’ve built to meet local codes for use as dwellings.

In any event be sure to look at a lot of shells if you’re considering these options. Take notes about the construction details so you can compare later since after a while they will all look the same.

Construction Details to Consider

  • Is the structure framed with standard 2×4 lumber (1.5″ x 3.5″ actual)? Rafters in the floor and joists in the floor are usually larger – depending on the span and weight loads needed.
  • If you’re in a cold climate you may want to use at least 2×6 lumber (1.5″ x 5.5″ actual) in the walls.
  • What is the spacing between studs in the walls, joists in the floor, and rafters in the ceiling? 16 inches on center (O.C.) is preferred. 24″ O.C. is still usually acceptable and common in mobile tiny houses to save weight.
  • Are the walls, floors, and roof sheathed? In the walls and roof do you find at least 5/8″ thick plywood or OSB? Is the floor decking at least 3/4″ thick? Mobile tiny houses often use 1/2″ plywood sheathing in the walls and roof to save weight but thicker is stronger.
  • Is there a separate layer of external siding on top of the plywood (or OSB) sheathing on the walls? The plywood (or OSB) add strength to the structure while the siding provides weather proofing. Some sheathing materials can do both, like T1-11. These materials can speed construction time and lower costs, but they put less material between you and the weather.
  • Is there a layer of plywood (or OSB) decking between the roofing material and rafters? In many sheds you’ll look up and see the exterior roofing screwed right to the rafters. Just like adding extra layers to the walls, extra layers in a roof protect you better from the weather.
  • Are the windows and doors good enough to use in a home? Windows and doors are expensive so if your intention is to save money, try avoiding buying a shed shell with doors and windows that you’ll have to replace later.
  • Is any house wrap used in the walls? House wrap adds a breathable but weather resistant layer to walls and can significantly improve your home’s energy performance.
  • Is there any roofing felt used in the roof? Roofing felt (a.k.a. tar paper) adds another water repelling layer to roofs.
  • Are there any nailers in the walls for speeding the installation of interior sheathing, like drywall? These appear in the corners and look like redundant studs and rafters. Their purpose is to provide a nailing surface to attach the interior sheathing. All sheathing, on the inside and out, should be connected to framing for fire protection and strength.
  • Does the building have the right number of fire exists, as defined by your communities local code? In some places this can be a 2′x2′ opening window and in other areas it’s two doors.

Below are a couple videos from folks considering using these building shells for homes. The opinions they express are their own and may or may not agree with mine – or yours. I’ve provided them here to add food for thought.

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An old mill in southwestern France built in 1822 served as the basis of this small 2 bedroom, 215 square foot cabin. Londoners Anthony and Gillian Blee bought the property in 1981 and began the transformation in 2010 with the help of Blee’s design partner, Lee Halligan.

They prefabricated panels that would fit in the back of a van and brought them to the site for assembly. The property if off the grid which added to the challenge of bringing such a dwelling back up to a habitable state. Some solar panels were setup nearby and 12 volt lighting is used. A power inverter allows some electronics to be used as well, like a laptop computer – but otherwise the solar system is small and simple.

Heating comes from a wood stove which is situated in an old unneeded doorway between two rooms. The house sits on a north facing slope making passive solar heating options more difficult. Large windows were used in the south face to let light in and an eave is used to shade the windows in summer months. Other thermal advantages are that the cabin has some thick stone walls and is partially buried underground – thermal mass always helps even temperatures out.

See more of this cabin at Dwell. Photo credit to Sarah Blee.

Blee-Cabin-Photovoltaics-Detail Blee-Cabin-Patio-Portraits Blee-Cabin-Bedroom-Windows


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beach chalet - kitchen

This small beach cabin is 388 square feet – not tiny but includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, and kitchen. A simple door shingled in cedar as the rest of the exterior blends into the front facade.

On the ocean side a large window opens the home to the sea and a deck. Inside the tall ceilings and softwood clad walls open and lighten the space. A loft overlooks the main living space and kitchen while a bedroom and bath are tucked below. Also notice the large wide window on the front lighting the loft – there must be one heck of a header in the wall framing above that wide window.

This is a very nice example of how what might have just been a simple box can be transformed into a spacious city loft-like apartment. The home was designed by Studiomama.

beach chalet - studiomama

beach chalet - exterior beach chalet - bunks beach chalet - micro sink beach chalet - loft beach chalet - view

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Rough Cut Sheds 4

Rough Cut Sheds is a small company in Yelm, Washington that literally uses rough cut board & bat siding on their structures. They can build tiny structures up to 200 square feet and deliver them to your property in most parts of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

What impresses me about the houses, cabins, playhouses, barns, etc, that I see on their website is the diversity of buildings they have made. While the aesthetic seems very consistent it sounds like they’re happy to build to their customers specifications. So if you have an idea and need a builder in the Pacific Northwest these may be some people to considering hiring.

To see more visit the Rough Cut Sheds website.

Rough Cut Sheds 3 Rough Cut Sheds Cabin Rough Cut Sheds Cabin 2 Rough Cut Sheds Interior Rough Cut Sheds Interior 2


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Anderson 8 wide

Back in 2010 I posted news of a tiny house builder in North Powder, Oregon called Rich’s Portable Cabins. I thought it was time for an update. Rich builds both tiny house sized and park model sized homes.

His tiny houses are less than 8′ 6″ wide and can be pulled behind a full-size pickup. The park model sized homes are usually 12′ or 13′ 10″ wide and often 14′ 6″ tall. The narrower park model homes are easier to move and often don’t require the use of a pilot car.

He also has designs that come with and without lofts for those that don’t want to climb to bed. Unlike some of the larger park model home manufacturers Rich is more flexible and uses quality materials – lots of wood, wool insulation, etc. So if you’re not interested in building your own home and/or want to be able to finance your tiny/small home this is one route you could take.

To see more visit richsportablecabins.com and at facebook.com/RichsPortableCabins.

Below are some photos of the Anderson, one of Rich’s 8-foot wide homes. Scroll past the Anderson for some selected photos his larger homes.

Anderson overhang

Anderson ladder

Anderson front door

Anderson floor plan

Anderson wool insulation

Below are samples of some of Rich’s other cabins.

IdeaBox in Salem Oregon

Oasis Duplex

Chico Cabin


Kitchen 2


Narrow Double Loft

Classic Puget Sound

Central Loft Dore

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Hotel Endemico - Hill View Closer

These visually stunning tiny buildings are located on rugged hillside with dramatic views of vineyards outside Ensenada, Mexico. They are luxury cabins at Hotel Endémico and offer visitors a unique experience.

“Endémico, Spanish for endemic, meaning native to a specific region or environment, was designed to highlight the isolation of the desert, singling out the area’s indigenous qualities – something owners Carlos Couturier and Moisés Micha planned to emphasize.” (source)

From my perspective these little buildings are an interesting experiment in desert design. Lifting them off the ground would allow air to flow around the building’s shell and may provide some cooling opportunities in a desert climate.The shade roof on top would keep the sun from beating down on top of the building and I imagine being perched on top of a hill must provide some swift breezes. The wind factor might partially explain why the shade roof doesn’t extend too far past the outer walls too. I imagine in a high wind area a large roof like that might want to be lifted like a sail.

For more information visit the Hotel Endémico website and DesignHotels.com.

Hotel Endemico - Interior Double Hotel Endemico - Close Up Hotel Endemico - Side View Hotel Endemico - Interior SIngle Hotel Endemico - Pool View Hotel Endemico - View from Pool Hotel Endemico - Hill View

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Nido Micro Cabin - Sept 2012

Robin Falck’s lakeside cabin in Finland is just 96 square feet, has a 50 square foot loft, and required no permit to build. It took him about two weeks to build it in 2010 and the total cost was about $10,500 in materials.  Loosely translated Nido means Bird’s nest in Italian, which speaks to the feeling created inside by the large lake facing window open to the lake.

As you might have guessed Robin is a designer – the careful attention to detail and balanced un-box-like design might give that away. You can find him living & working in Helsinki. In addition to building himself a micro cabin for fun, he also works on illustrations, product design or interior design.

You can find Robin online on Twitter @robinfalck, and see his work on his website, robinfalck.com.

Nido Micro Cabin - Construction Nido Micro Cabin - Entry

Nido Micro Cabin - Interior

Nido Micro Cabin - Loft

Nido Micro Cabin - Front

Nido Micro Cabin - Side