Have a Look at this Gorgeous Cinderbox Dwelling and Plans


Cinder Box is a MicroDwelling inspired by a desire to produce a prototype for small scale living and working.The definition of a tiny house is subjective, but for me, it's a home of 400 square feet or less, either on wheels or a foundation. I consider a home of between 400 and 1000 square feet to be small. Due to size specifications for rooms, clearances and distances between fixtures, building codes are a little more difficult for tiny houses to meet. Small homes can easily meet building codes. Zoning is a challenge for both tiny and small homes, as many communities require houses to be 1,000 square feet or more.

The 200sf unit includes a general living space with corner sliding doors opening up to an exterior porch. There is a desk alcove for a small office, a storage closet and a bookcase that doubles as a ladder to the bed loft over the desk. As a prefabricated structure, dimensioned to be easily transported, the dwelling can be placed on any lot, as a rural cabin, or as a secondary structure on urban and suburban properties.

The exterior is clad in Japanese shou-sugi-ban style burnt wood siding. The weathered exterior massing is “cut” to expose the inner “flesh” of clear coat plywood. A steel window system set back to create a porch encloses the interior space while opening up the corner.

The design aesthetic was inspired by the dichotomy in desert life. Cacti, such as the saguaro, have rough exterior skins that can handle the intense environment while the interior plant flesh is often soft and wet, designed to hold moisture and the essentials for desert survival. The design plays on this duality with a rough burnt wood exterior contrasting the soft clear wood interior. The shou-sugi-ban provides a long term finish that doesn’t require maintenance as it is fire and rot resistant. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic that is exemplified by the natural, simple, austere beauty in weathered materials. This raw aesthetic perfectly transposes to the Sonoran Desert’s inherent character. These diverse inspirations intersect to produce a simple and efficient design for modern living.

Cost varies greatly from a low of zero (if you can get all your materials donated or find free salvage and build it yourself) to a high of $80,000 or more with a luxury builder, but in general, the average tiny house on wheels will cost $20,000 to $25,000 in materials and an additional $10,000 to $20,000 in labor. Be sure to create a budget.

In most towns, a building permit isn't required for a structure of 120 square feet or less. However, these small structures are considered sheds or workshops. Full-time living in a tiny building is generally not allowed. Some people live successfully "under the radar" but it's risky. A grumpy neighbor or diligent official could make your tiny life untenable.

To be a legal residence, a structure must be built in accordance with local building codes. Most states have adopted the International Residential Code for One- and Two- Family Dwellings. However, there is great diversity in the specific versions. Scroll down to see the US map. In addition to the IRC, a state, county or city may have additional codes that must be followed. Rare exceptions do exist. This book, No Building Codes, written in 2010 by Terry Herb, provides information on areas where building codes are absent or rarely enforced.

While the 2015 IRC has eliminated the requirement for a house to have at least one room of 120 square feet or more, states will need to adopt the new code in order for it to be effective. In addition, the IRC still contains other minimum size specifications that prove challenging: rooms (except for bathrooms and kitchens) must be 70 square feet, ceiling height must be 7 feet, etc. (additional code discussion). Accordingly, while it is possible for a tiny house to meet building codes, a house built on a foundation on its own land is more likely to be small (more than 400 square feet) rather than tiny. In addition, a building permit will probably be required.


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