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Couple builds tiny house for US$33k, releases plans


May 13, 2014

Home is a tiny house that cost just US$33k in total to build

Home is a tiny house that cost just US$33k in total to build

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The cost of buying a house today can be prohibitively expensive, so it's no surprise that tiny home builds appear to be increasingly popular. We've featured a number on Gizmag over the last few year and even compiled a top 10 tiny homes list. Andrew and Gabriella Morrison now join that group with their project, Home.

Home was completed in December 2013 following of 4 years of the couple downsizing, researching, planning and designing. The build itself took just four months. The house measures 28 x 8.5 ft (8.5 x 2.6 m) and has 221 sq ft (20.5 sq m) of floor space.

Home features a full sized kitchen with full appliances, an office area that doubles as a dining area, stairs to one of two loft areas that is used as the master bedroom, a second loft area for accommodating guests or watching videos, lots of storage (including plenty of furniture that doubles as storage) and a spacious bathroom with a regular sized sink and a composting toilet. It has plenty of windows that make for a bright house.

"Designing Home was an incredibly exciting process," Gabriella Morrison tell Gizmag. "Creating a list of essential 'must haves' before we even began was an enormous help. The design process then simply became a matter of moving things around on the sketch pad until all the components fit and flowed into each other. In the end we got every single thing we wanted."

Gabriella explains that living in Home has surpassed the family's initial expectations and that it has become the favorite of all the houses in which they have lived. She explains that, with some clever design, it has been possible to retain a sense of spaciousness, despite the compact nature of the house.

"One great advantage to the Home design is that there is plenty of width to the movement corridor that runs through the entire length," she says. "So moving around the space when others are there is easy. Often two of us are in the kitchen cooking at the same time and it works great. It’s nice to have a tiny home where there is a sense of spaciousness."

The Morrisons were building Home towards the end of 2013 into winter and found that this presented the biggest problem that they had to face. Dealing with the cold as well as rain, snow and wind for two solid months during the build proved testing and Gabriella explains that if they were to do it again, they would wait until the weather was warm.

Throughout their website and YouTube videos, the Morrisons are clear that living in a tiny house is as much about lifestyle as space. They espouse an approach of minimizing belongings and clutter (without going short) and of simplicity. As such, when asked about a favorite aspect or innovative part of Home, Gabriella prefers to focus on the lifestyle that it has enabled them to live.

"To live in a space that supports our emotional and physical well beings so perfectly is something we don’t take for granted," she explains. "In all of the other houses we’ve lived in, we have felt that they have taken a toll on us, whether it was because they were too expensive and paying for them created stress, or because they were so cluttered with excess, unnecessary material things that we felt stifled. Living tiny forces organization and simplicity and prevents build up of clutter and chaos."

The Morrisons have made the plans for their tiny house available to buy online and are also planning on releasing a four-DVD step-by-step series on how to build a tiny house in the near future.

The video below provides a comprehensive introduction to Home.

Source: Tiny House Build

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

I think that is really nice. I think small houses are the next big thing, IMO.


That is probably the sharpest tiny home I have seen. I like the steel and dark metal.


I expected to pick it apart for a bunch of mistakes they made too but they actually did a pretty good job. "tiny living" requires doing a fairly masterful job of home organization and they mostly did.

As for home org if there is anything I could point out to improve it's that the combination of bins/baskets + shelves is magical. Not only can clutter be stacked higher than with just shelves it does an impressive job of hiding it from view: http://i.imgur.com/PhtjFsP.jpg

They only have 2-3 objects in some of the cabinets now but presumably they also just moved in. We installed Ikea cube shelves in my sons room with those baskets and the difference in clutter was night and day. The baskets are collapsible with a zipper on the bottom and cost only about $2 each.


As always, the problem is not what/how to build--there are gobs of good designs and ideas. The problem is where to build where you can legally occupy the finished tiny home as a full-time residence. It's not easy in the USA, but it's doable if you are flexible about location. Here in AU, it's much more problematic and council/government control over even the most rural of land is very tight.

I'd really like some commentary on placement/zoning/permits each time we get a new tiny house post on Gizmag.

John Driggers

John Driggers has hit the nail on the head. Here is the Southern UK you cannot erect a garden fence without planning.

It is a forgone conclusion that planning for anything residential will be declined without exceptional circumstances. This despite an alleged shortfall of some 400,000 homes in the South-East alone.

This blinkered approach only serves to force up property prices which have reached absurd levels here and are only going in one direction.

$33k (GBP 19.5k) is a reasonable (new) build cost for 20.5m2, I live in a refurbished static home of some 39m2 If I could obtain permanent residential use for the parcel of land it stands on (700m2) it would sell for approximately $600k (GBP350k) it cost me (delivered) £1200.

Pat Pending

@John Driggers that is what the wheels are for. I remember building a shed for someone in my high school woodshop class with skids on it and I asked about them. My shop teacher told me the only real reason for the skids is so it's "portable" and they don't need a building permit for it.

I learned something useful that day. I think building permits for homes are generally more expensive and require minimum dimensions but on wheels its registered through the DMV (department of motor vehicles) essentially as a camper. It varies district to district because tiny houses are so uncommon but without being considered a permanent residence it wouldn't be subject to property taxes either.

There is an indian reservation near here where people rent camp sites for $300/year and put in trailers. About half the people at it just live there now. You would think low income and lack of police would make it dangerous but nope, they mostly police themselves and they are super friendly people.


John is right: small houses abound but the killer question is where you put it! I could build anything - I just need the land! Land land land. Everything else is just window dressing.

Another problem with small and efficient living is that it's actually very wasteful living. These people no doubt think they're both economically and materially efficient, and that they're not wasteful, but they are. This house has no book shelves, therefore they can only read things by utilising power, which comes off the grid, or by burning gas. This house has no visible tools storage or working area, so when something breaks they throw it away rather than repair it. Additionally, if they need to replace anything, they are forced to throw something out. I have a garage - I wouldn't trade it in for this. In my garage I could be self-sufficient it I wanted. I can repair things, make new things, and store things. This last is important: I have two dryers (I hang washing in good weather, but that's difficult 9 months of the year). I have two because on a dryer either the thermostat or the belt fails, but the rest of the machine is fine. So when it happens I swap them around and the family can continue to dry their clothes while I order a new part and repair the old one. Apply this philosophy to your whole house and you'll find that a regular semi-detached dwelling still wins hands down over a mini-house with no where to park it.


Notice it's on wheels, and 8.5 feet wide.

So it's a trailer, and they don't have to follow building code.

What we really need, is "building code" to be updated so these things can get permanently mounted, and pole barn type small living.

Right now, its' probably illegal to live there, but they can't enforce the 2 week stay limit.


Most of the preceding criticisms miss the most likely use for this design. This is a great idea for a starter home in a rural area. It's not suitable for urban areas, where stacked housing - aka apartments - are appropriate.


I'm not a fan of mini homes but that could change in the future.For my-self the attraction would be modular mini homes that can be "grown" with add-ons,..perhaps there are designs already out there which do just that.This would allow for a cost effective entry into home owner ship and as a family grows so does the living space as needed.I will say the mini homes I've viewed have all been well thought out and definitely are quality built.But for now I'll stay traditional..."Boomer"...

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