Much like container homes this section of the property market has redefined itself over the past 5 decades. Where once upon a time, a small house was literally a smaller size version of a large Victorian country home. Now, Small house design entail so much more in relation to shape, size, form and function. I say this because even as much as 20 years ago I could see the change coming, from large homes to urban warehouse conversions, café conversions and even lofted spaces converted into small homes for individuals. This re-invention of the small house has not come as a surprise to those in the industry.
I have witnessed clients taste convert from the usual to the un-usual. From once dead inner city spaces now converted into small apartment spaces, the change has finally come to small housing design. The demand for small house designs has come to the forefront of Residential Architecture in recent trends and its pushing the boundaries of what is considered a small house. Maybe a more appropriate name should be ‘Cubby House’ given the size and construction style elected by some small house owner designers.
However, in my experience I have found that most effective small house designs have been completed by specialist apartment style Architects who’s focus is to maximize small design in free flowing spaces with tiny m2 areas. But I understand, given budget constraints most small house designs are completed by the home owners who elect to design and build themselves. This opens exposure to problems and ultimately unsatisfactory results. So armed with this knowledge lets focus in on budgeting for first time small house designers.
Size and Shape
The most basic shapes are going to be the cheapest and consequently the easiest to build. Looking at examples of smaller houses will give you ideas on the limitations small house designs have. Size and shape can effect liveability and comfort in ways you can’t possibly imagine. If you can try log cabins or hobbit homes on Air BnB to experience what its really like to live in one of these small houses. Granny flats are another really great small house design and are often used in suburban family homes where one teenage child need there own separation and privacy from the rest of the family.
Materials and Finish
The fact that a small house design is by nature ‘small’ allows for some unique opportunities to finish the home in original textiles. Size equates directly to overall material costs and yet its not considered by most as the best opportunity for expressive finishes. By taking ordinary materials and transforming colour and pattern, the same material can be re-invented to create something new. The mere fact that you can finish a small home at a fraction of the material coverings should be enough to at least try uniquely original finishes. A great way to research this area is to look at magazines on materials produced by bigger companies or even go to a recycle centre and discover what materials could be re-purposed for cladding and finishing a small house design.
Economics and Innovations
Regardless of your situation I can honestly advise that you are going to get the best results using a trained professional. If its unique, original and inspiring the best results will always come from a bigger investment to begin with. So many times I see individuals seek to save, yet spend to satisfy in the end. The final goals should be set early on and the desired outcomes need to be clarified before commencing. Any small house design will have compromises but ultimately with a good leading hand, any Architect can improve cost savings through innovation and clever design solutions.