Tiny House Design and Construction Guide Book Review
If you are like others, you have come here because you are considering to build a tiny house on a trailer bed (a.k.a. tiny house on wheels). However, building a tiny house isn’t straight forward and might even seem daunting without guidance. Especially for the uninitiated, trying to build a tiny house might not only turn out to be actually difficult, but any building mistakes can cost time, labor, and tons of dollars to rectify. If you still want to build a tiny house on wheels, then you should consider checking out “Tiny House Design and Construction Guide” written by Dan Louche.
By the way, I am reviewing 2nd edition of this book; which is the latest edition of this book. I will later include a comparison of both the 1st and 2nd editions of this book and justify why one should have the 2nd edition.
Finally, in the later part of this post after the review, you can buy the book directly from this page via BUY NOW button; or you can click the book’s images(which have ‘cloaked’ affiliate links) and purchase directly from the book’s source website. Additionally, you can also consider buying access to the e-Workshop which is a visual accompaniment to the book.
I. What Is In This Book
To start with, this 2nd edition guide consists of 180 pages and 168 colored photographs and illustrations. This guide is not specific to any set of plans and would be pertinent in building any tiny house, shed, studio, or any other small structure.
Still, the “Tiny House Design & Construction Guide” is mainly for how to build a tiny house on wheels. It covers the following building aspects according to this book’s table of contents(at bottom-left). Take notice that at the bottom of the page is the purchaser’s name, email(I blotted mine out), and the order number; these are automatically imprinted onto every page in each E-book ordered.
The book’s chapters are chronological since each chapter builds upon the material of the previous chapter(s).
In ‘PREPARING TO LIVE TINY‘, it gives many tips and suggestions on the mental/physical preparations involved in downsizing as one can’t live tiny right away. Other tips include suggestions on where to live via tiny houses.
In ‘DESIGN & PLANS‘, it first gives recommendations for custom designs in order to use space efficiently. Other things covered include framing and building basics with regards to design and planning.
For ‘TOOLS‘, a wide variety of ‘essential’ and ‘almost essential’ tools for tiny house building are listed along with individual tool explanation(s). There are also accompanying pictures showing the needed tools.
‘BUILDING MATERIALS‘ is self explanatory. The section is a comprehensive list of all possible materials needed for building; along with explanations for each material. The list covers all facets like lumber, electrical, plumbing, and etc.
The ‘TRAILER‘ chapter covers the different trailer types as well as some suggestions on trailer choices/features to make construction easier; and it explains how to prepare the trailer before building upon it.
‘SUBFLOOR FRAMING & INSULATION‘ provides general instructions on how to create the sub-floor framing (along with adding the flashing & insulation) which acts as the foundation for future building. There are many photos detailing the process. The ‘SUBFLOOR SHEATHING‘ explains how to put a wooden covering on the subfloor frame.
As mentioned earlier, the chapters are chronological. This means that after ‘SUBFLOOR SHEATHING‘, the ‘WALL FRAMING‘ and ‘WALL SHEATHING‘ comes next. ‘WALL FRAMING‘ covers the general instructions for wall framing as well as how to account for doors and windows. ‘WALL SHEATHING‘ is about putting on the exterior wooden covering on the walls’ frame. Both chapters have several images to complement the text.
‘ROOF FRAMING‘ is self-explanatory as it gives instructions for doing the roof framing after finishing the wall framing and sheathing.
In ‘STRAPPING‘, it explains where to install metal strappings onto the various areas around the tiny house frame so far in order to fasten and secure the structure. The images showing the locations are helpful.
‘DRYING-IN THE HOUSE‘ concerns adding weather/moisture protection for the house. It covers weather-proof material choices as well as how to install them on the roof and walls of the house.
Assuming proper framing and use of studs has been used to create space to install windows and doors; ‘WINDOWS & DOORS‘ explains how to install the windows and doors onto the corresponding spaces.
‘EXTERIOR SIDING‘ concerns with installing sidings which are the visible external part of the house. The sidings explained here are wooden sidings and not plastic or metal sidings seen on more standard homes.
‘ROOFING‘ concerns installing a metal roof. Tools needed are listed and their usage is explained. Also, the proper way to install the metal roof is detailed and elaborated with well placed images.
‘PLUMBING‘ discusses the different material options for the supply and waste pipelines as well as how to connect pipe parts. There are also details on how to fit the pipes within the framing as well the needed orientation for proper flow. The images here are especially helpful in showing this.
‘ELECTRICAL‘ explains the electrical components needed for the house as well as how to wire through the frame; all this is accompanied with very detailed charts of the different circuits involved. However, this will all be confusing unless one takes the time to learn the fundamentals of circuitry first.
At this point, the framing and exterior should be done and that leaves only the interior. ‘INSULATION‘ covers different insulation material options as well as how to utilize any of them.
‘INTERIOR SIDING & TRIM‘ and ‘FLOORING‘ are about finishing the interior of the house. These chapters cover how to install wooden boards and hardwood for the walls and floor, respectively.
The last section is about ‘CABINETS & SHELVING‘. It only gives few tips on how to choose and install cabinets & shelves as they are built into the wooden wall and/or floors. This part feels more like a bit of an extra than an actual chapter.
I did the chapter-by-chapter overview for the Tiny House Design and Construction Guide to help you understand what you’re relating my impressions with in the next section.
II. My Overall Impressions
Here is a pros vs cons list which summarizes my impressions after reading though this book:
- I found this book quite comprehensive as the guide covered all aspects of the tiny house building process starting from the trailer and all the way to the finished interiors.
- The book is well organized with chapters in chronological order with each chapter building upon the previous chapter(as explained in previous bullet point). Also the content within each chapter is divided via headers.
- All the chapters’ content was appropriately detailed and not superfluous. Explanations were given when needed.
- There were plenty of photographs (and some diagrams and tables) provided for each chapter and they overall do well in helping the reader relate better to the written content via visual association and understanding.
- If the book is purchased from Dan Louche’s website, tinyhomebuilders.com, there is a 30-day money back guarantee if the book’s purchaser isn’t completely satisfied. The guarantee is listed on the bottom of the site’s page where the book is bought. When I got this book, I never needed to ask for a refund as I was satisfied with my purchase.
- There is no instructions on how to install things like toilet, shower, sinks, stoves, and etc. As there are lots of ways to approach these, I am very sure that the author intended to focus mainly on building the house itself and leave that freedom to the reader.
- While the pseudo-instructions paragraph format is purposefully used to avoid turning this into a manual, it’s harder to follow at times if all the instructions are scrunched into paragraph form. This is only a minor annoyance.
- I at times think that the images should have been labeled and the text should directly reference the relevant image(s) to make a faster connection with regards to understanding. This is also a minor annoyance.
- Due to the fact that most readers won’t have any experience with construction(let alone with tiny houses), it’s unavoidable that outside research will be needed to fill in the knowledge gaps.
If I rate this book based on the Amazon rating system, I would rate this book at least a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating. After reading this book, one should then have a solid knowledge base for constructing tiny houses; from then on, the reader will know how to proceed with regards to learning what he/she doesn’t know yet. This was how I felt after I read this book the first time.
I ultimately feel that this book is well worth investing in even if there are minor difficulties in using this book as mentioned in the cons. Being one of the relatively few books available specifically for tiny home building(on wheels), this is one of the best ones to have for reference.
1st Edition vs 2nd Edition
There are some who already have the 1st edition of this book and are pondering if they should get the current 2nd edition of this book. The 2nd ed. book consists of of 180 pages and 168 images whereas the 1st ed. consists of about 143 pages and ~133 images (if I counted right). Besides the increase in content, there has also been changes in the content from the 1st ed. I will use some examples to illustrate:
First: one of the new chapters was ‘PREPARING TO LIVE TINY‘. In the 1st ed., the book went right into building. One can’t build without doing various forms of planning. The ‘PREPARING TO LIVE TINY‘ chapter was clearly added to explain what kinds of planning are needed first before building; I think this chapter was very much needed to ease the transition to building.
Second: there is the ‘DRYING-IN THE HOUSE‘ chapter which replaces ‘HOUSE WRAPPING‘ from the previous edition. The ‘HOUSE WRAPPING‘ chapter only had few tips and wasn’t very detailed. In comparison, the replacement chapter ‘DRYING-IN THE HOUSE‘ is more descriptive visually and in text; it even accounts for moisture protection of the roof sheathing which was not included in the 1st ed.
Third: in the ‘DESIGN & PLANS‘ chapter, the 2nd ed. version of the chapter is also more detailed in general. It includes new content like framing and building basics (and their accompanying images) and how they apply to the design and planning of tiny house building; I believe these should have been shown in the previous edition.
Fourth: in the 2nd edition’s ‘PLUMBING‘ chapter, there were more content, more text-accompanying images, and the chapter flowed better. The plumbing components were represented with more images. The plumbing installation is more thoroughly described including how to connect the components. There is finally some material related to installing water heaters as well as off-grid living material on rain water collection and composting toilets.
Although there are more examples of added and improved upon content within the 2nd ed. book; the four above listed examples already evidence the significant improvements from the 1st edition. Also, the added material related to off-grid living is worth noting given my site’s niche theme.
I believe the additions and the improvements are significant enough to state that anyone who has the 1st ed. should consider buying the 2nd. edition as it helps to be able reference more and up-to-date information when needed.
III. Recommended Resources and Links
Here are few resources and URL/links I recommend to help accommodate the book:
Hidden URL inside the Book: As understood by now, the author himself surely knew that the book by itself couldn’t provide for everything that the reader needed to know. Resources provided by the URL inside his book include:
- Tiny House Chat Map: this feature allows one to add his/herself onto a virtual map. Then one can contact other map members to discuss tiny house business anonymously.
- Market for Tiny Houses: this resource enables one to easily put up a tiny house for sale as well as buy a completed tiny house from the directory.
- Tiny House Rental Building Location: a place where one can reserve an area to build a tiny house, store tools, and camp while building. There is a monthly rental fee for reserving a building spot.
- includes links to relevant building codes, safety standards, and etc.
My earlier post on choosing a trailer: Some of this post is already seen in the book, but many parts(like legalities) can only be found within this post and is worth a read since this book mainly deals with tiny houses on wheels.
Drawing a tiny house floor plan: Drawing a floor plan is the basics of designing any house. This article is from another tiny house site.
Tiny Home Builders Hands-on Workshops: This is very much needed for those who wish to build tiny houses while while avoiding as much of the costly mistakes associated with a trial-and-error approach from relying only on text and images. One can attend a tiny house workshop to get visual instructions. For this book, the author also sells access to a series of videos which function as an virtual workshop. More on this later in this post.
IV. Purchasing this Book
The Tiny House Design and Construction Guide can be bought directly from the website owned by this book’s writer, Dan Louche. There are 2 forms of the book available. This book can be bought as an eBook(PDF) or as a softcover(physical book). Anyone who buys the softcover directly from Dan Louche’s site will also get the eBook version as a bonus. One can click on the below images(which are affiliate links) to buy directly from Dan Louche’s site or buy from here by clicking the BUY NOW button below:
If you click through either of the above images, scroll down to near the page’s bottom and one should see both the eBook and softcover available for you to purchase. Also, at the bottom of this page, as I mentioned earlier, you should see the ’30-day money back’ guarantee written down.
This is the end of the review for the book. If you want to see my thoughts on the E-Workshop videos found on Dan Louche’s website, which are complementary to the book, please continue afterwards. Otherwise, you may return to the store page.
V. Consider Getting the E-Workshop Videos
While owning this book will indeed provide useful guidance on how to proceed with building a tiny house as a DIY project, it would be even better to have visual guidance and instructions for building the tiny house.
For visual guidance, one can view Dan Louche’s E-Workshop which contains video lessons for tiny house building. While Dan Louche offers Hands-On workshops as well, tickets for entering those workshops costs about $300-$400/each. Additionally, because those workshops tend to be in metropolitan areas like Washington D.C. and Austin, TX, there are traveling expenses and time-commitment issues for those not near those areas. If you want to go to one, you can visit the below URL link and then click on the “Hands-on Workshop” button:
According to Dan Louche on his website, the E-Workshop has the same content as the hands-on workshops. Similar to the book’s chapters, the videos are divided and grouped according to what segment of the tiny house on wheels is being built.
The benefit of an online workshop is that there are no travel expenses or costly tickets; also, one can view the videos over and over and learn at one’s own pace. Lastly, there is a discussion forum under each video for those who have additional questions regarding the videos’ topics; this means you are not alone and can get help. You can click either of the below images(which are affiliate links) and go the E-workshop webpage for more information as well as buying access to the E-Workshop.
There are two plans. One can purchase lifetime access to just the E-Workshop videos for a one-time subscription fee of $99. The other plan is where one can get lifetime access to the E-Workshop along with the softcover and E-book versions of the book for a total of $119. Either plan can be purchased via clicking though the below images(affiliate links) and buy directly from the bottom of the sales page; or either plan can be bought from here with the BUY NOW buttons.
Image Attributions(You may skip this):
- Post header image: I own all rights to this remixed image(NOT for share). This composite image is made of the following:
- Everything Else: All other images are slightly modified screenshots and cutouts from various places within the book and Dan Louche’s website.