My fascination with tiny houses began several years ago when I watched an episode of Tiny House Nation. The idea of living and traveling in a tiny home of my own compelled me to start designing one, with the hope of eventually building it. 

I’m still a few years away from fully realizing my dream, but I really enjoy toying around with different ideas for the exterior. Here’s my latest design, rendered in Onshape.

tiny house rendered in wood and brickWood or brick?

Why Tiny?

For many people, moving to a tiny home is a financial decision. Tiny houses can be built for far less money than full-sized houses. Depending on the size and the number of amenities, a tiny house can be built for as little as $10,000 (not including labor). The average sales price runs about $40,000, but you will also see elegant tiny homes for as much as $100,000.

For others, a tiny home on wheels can provide the freedom to travel anywhere you can find a spot to park your home. In cities around the U.S., you can often find parks specifically designed to accommodate tiny homes, and more states are starting to loosen restrictive zoning laws to accommodate tiny home subdivisions or “villages.”

Tiny houses can be built with sustainable materials and designed to work “off the grid,” so they’re also good news for the environment.

Temporary Shelters & Accessory Dwellings

There are some builders already using CAD to design smaller, more sustainable homes.

Onshape customer Markus Baumgartner is the designer behind the “Reconstructable House,” an easy-to-assemble, sustainable shelter that can be put together by two people. Markus’ goal is to develop shelters that use a minimum amount of energy to build (and disassemble), minimize energy consumption, optimize the construction for energy production, use sustainable and reusable materials, and avoid waste and land damage. 

The first house was built in Jura, Switzerland, and is now open for public visits. Check out their website for more information or follow their progress on Facebook.

Markus BaumgartnerMarkus’ first tiny home in Jura, Switzerland. Courtesy:

Markus isn’t the only one using CAD to make a tiny home into a reality.

Onshape customer Cover designs, manufactures and installs beautiful backyard homes in the Los Angeles area. Every dwelling is designed for the specific needs of the client. Perhaps you need a new home office away from the main house, or maybe you have in-laws visiting constantly and need a space for them

Last year, Cover raised $60 million Series B funding and plans to use it to build one million homes. This just might be a sign that these types of innovative homes might be the future.

3D-Printed (Tiny) Houses

When I worked in the 3D printing business many years ago, I never imagined that one day we would see the technology used to build houses, but here we are. 

There are many examples of companies using CAD and 3D printing for dwellings from 350-square-foot tiny houses to 2,000-square-foot four-bedroom homes. Some of these projects are from ICON, Twente, and Mighty Buildings. The biggest advantage of 3D printing homes is speed. In many cases, these homes can be built in a single day.

I wish I had the luxury of building my tiny house in one day, but as designed, it’s not a good fit for 3D printing (yet). But that isn't going to stop me from using Onshape to try out some new designs that could be 3D printed, just in case I have a change of heart and decide to plunk my tiny house on a slab here in Las Vegas.

When Will My Tiny House Get Built?

Good question, I wish I knew. I'm still fixated on the exterior design because that’s what I’ll see every time I come home, and that’s what other drivers will see when I’m cruising to a new location. 

My biggest hurdle so far is what kind of materials to use, what colors match, the types of doors and windows I’ll use, and so on and so on. Thankfully I can “Branch” my designs using Onshape to experiment with many different looks, and then render them in a Render Studio to create realistic images until I find the one that makes me happy.

I’m close to finishing the exterior, but I could still use some help. I’ve had plenty of good suggestions during the design phase, and I’m always looking for more. Join us at any Onshape User Group meeting (I’m always there) and let’s talk during “networking time.” 

Help me make my tiny house a reality, at least virtually.

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