Building our tiny cabin, Chapter 2


With our Cumberland Buildings 12’ x 32’ Side Lofted Barn Cabin delivered and set in place, it was time to get serious with the design of the interior.  Now, bear in mind that we’d worked through some 10,000 (not really, but it sure seemed like it) different interior layouts even before we ordered the building, just to prove to ourselves that we could make 384 square feet (on the main floor) into a comfortable home.  It’s important to remember that this isn’t going to be a “weekend getaway” but our future home, so every square foot (sometimes, even inch) had to taken into account and considered for possible use.

Observation #4:  What looks good on paper doesn’t always work in reality.

We quickly learned that the building is measured from outside edge to outside edge.  While that didn’t present a much of a problem for us in terms of the building’s length, the real width of the interior proved to be a bit of an eye-opener.  Width-wise, the cabin is measured from eave to eave which, accounting for the roof overhang and the actual depth of the 2” x 6” wall construction, left us with a 10’ 4” interior width.  Also, the company “misplaced” the back door, moving it out 5-1/2’ from the inside corner rather than the original 1-1/2’ feet that we had asked for.  Sigh, back to and a revamp of our design … again.

In the end, here’s what we’ve settled on (at least until the next meeting of the design committee) –

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.12.22 PMWe’re actually pretty happy with it so far.

8' Loft
Original 8′ Loft

The standard version of the cabin includes another 184 square feet in the form of a front and rear loft.  The front loft provides roughly 64 square feet of useable (i.e., storage space in our case) with the “sleeping” loft making up the remaining 120.  Since we had opted for 8’ walls (as opposed to the standard 6’ 3” height), that cut the useable loft height to something just shy of 4’ or so. We kicked around solutions for weeks and finally decided to take out the rear loft and replace it with a 6’ raised “platform” that would also provide a walk-in closet underneath.

Observation #5:  No floor plan survives as originally designed.

7' Loft
New 7′ Loft

Ever had one of those “d’oh!” moments?  After we demolished the loft, we were staring at the open space and talking about building the sleeping platform when we realized we’d actually get more useable space if we just lowered the loft – so that’s what we did.  We brought the joists down to 7’ (as measured from the floor) and recovered the better part of a foot in height with the new loft.  We’ll use a ship’s ladder to access with a closet and (hopefully) a built-in dresser under the ladder space.

We also replaced the stock single pane windows with a set of low-E, double paned windows.  It was an easy fix, but of course we didn’t plan on having to shim them a bit so it took longer than we had originally expected.  Because of their design, the original trim will have to be replaced as well, again a project for another day.  And, because we didn’t confirm the size of the window currently installed in the bathroom (it’s a 2’ x 3’) we ended up with an extra 2’ x 2’ window that eventually be installed by the ship’s ladder.  We’ve also two 1’ x 3’ windows that will replace the vents at either end of the cabin, just beneath the high ceiling, but that window project will have to wait until after laying out the wiring and plumbing.

Remember those two walls we framed in last year for the bathroom?  Sigh … they have to be demo’ed and rebuilt for the new floor plan.  That’s the next project on the “gotta do” list, hopefully just prior to starting the wiring and plumbing.

Because our collective minds boggle with the prospect of designing the electrical and plumbing systems, we’ve elected to work with Gary Bute of Tiny House Systems (  We can pull wire and pipe just fine … once we figure out where it all needs to be pulled from/to.  When it comes to this next phase of construction we literally run into a mental wall, so we reached out to Gary.  (Here’s an early example of one of our drawings below:)Skip.EL-1.0.MAIN.6-16-16He and THS are quick and professional.  So far, the only delays in the process have been our fault as we’re kinda slow in returning updates to the drawings THS emails to us.  As we complete our design with Gary, we’ll provide an article detailing the process.

Any questions or comments?  Please let us know what you’re thinking via either the comments below or in the Forum!

Next:  The Quest for Power!