Naj Haus in SketchUp (since revised slightly, including adding a full-length covered porch on the front)
Now that I’ve survived the last few months of design crunch and the first building stint, I’m catching up on some technical posts. You may remember I was determined to design my house the old school way with graph paper, pencil and a triangular engineering ruler. Part of this was because I loved the tactile feeling of drawing and it seemed in keeping with the tiny house simplicity mindset, and part of it was that my earlier experience with SketchUp had been a little frustrating. I’m usually comfortable diving into a new software application and figuring it out as I go, but I quickly learned that SketchUp, while an amazing free 3D modeling tool, is not exactly intuitive. I was able to make some rudimentary conceptual designs but lines stuck together, moved in strange ways, and basically made me want to kick it.
Just as I was getting serious about my final designs, I stumbled across some online SketchUp tutorials and the lightbulb went on. Once you get a few key concepts, it starts to make a lot of sense. I invested a weekend learning it and then spent the next few weeks painstakingly building my virtual house stick by stick, pretty much like I would do during actual construction (it takes less time if you aren’t making a zillion design decisions and research tangents along the way).
So to share the SketchUp love, here are the tutorials and resources I found most helpful:
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Scottish sheep. Credit: George Gastin
When I was in film school, I wrote a short screenplay called Shear Madness about a sheep and a hairdresser who was waiting to hear if she had breast cancer. It was a strange, dark little serio-comedy; probably a good thing it didn’t go further than paper. What interested me was playing with various takes on the words shear/sheer and madness.
We took ourselves very seriously in film school.
I had to look up the terms for this kind of word play, which opened up a whole new esoteric world. According to Wikipedia: “In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Thus homonyms are simultaneously homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of their pronunciation) and homophones (words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of their spelling). The state of being a homonym is called homonymy.” Try saying that three times fast! Homophones that are spelled differently are called heterographs. Confused yet?
In that weird cyclical nature of life, shear/sheer and madness – in all their heterographic and homonymic splendor – have come up again 17 years later as I find myself pondering plywood and wool for my tiny house. Continue reading →
The original vision…
If you’re up for a glimpse into the tangled workings of my mind, I thought I’d share the convoluted way I got to my final design for Naj Haus. It all started last summer at a music festival. Camping next to a woman who had a fiberglass “egg” trailer similar to the one above, I found myself obsessed with the idea of getting one. At first it was just for camping and tootling around, but I was also looking ahead to splitting my time between Oregon and California and the idea of living in one started to grow. Turns out if you get one that is about 17′ they come with a tiny kitchen and bathroom. My first serious thoughts of tiny living started to sprout.
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Ready for some tiny house eye candy? First you must endure a short lesson and then you’ll get your reward… 🙂
One of the first decisions you need to consider when designing your tiny house is what architectural style you want.
Unlike their land-tied, foundation-built cousins, which can be made into virtually any shape from any material, tiny houses on trailers have certain limitations that need to be negotiated in their design. These involve road legal limits for height and width; weight of materials; and structural stability to withstand vibrations, torquing, wind shear and other road-related stresses. There are also aerodynamic considerations to make the houses easier and cheaper to tow.
For now, we’ll keep it simple and just look at 1) roof shape and 2) whether or not there is a loft. These two elements are surprisingly crucial to designing a tiny house that’s right for you well into the future.
“But how does your roof make you feel…?”
Some of the many styles of roofs to choose from.
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