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Tiny houses and transformed spaces -'s top ten

Earth domes in New Zealand. Pic courtesy of Living Big in a Tiny House. Mostly when our thinks drift dreamily to the type of accommodation we will cacklingly obtain when millionaires, it is of the portable and very expensive variety.

A three-storey RV like Robert de Niro’s, a billionaire’s Earth caravan and a £3500 tent have all featured in our musings, mostly on Monday mornings when it is raining and the bus is late.

But! Some people are more practical and handy than us. The very clever sorts in this blog have realised millions aren’t needed to build or transform a space into a home: here are our top ten teeny or transformed spaces – plus info about a free e-course on building your own tiny home:

Converted shipping containers

Can’t afford a mortgage? Buy a shipping container instead like these imaginative sorts and doll it up any which way you please . While there’d be a small mountain of costs beyond the $2000 for the Converted shipping container container itself, and while you’d still need land to put the finished product on (not so possible in a city), some of these are downright delightful.

A hobbit house in Wales

Simon Dale and his father in law built a hobbit house in Pembrokeshire in 2003 using about £3000 worth of materials, starting Simon and his wife Jasmine’s passion for small space eco living. They now live in the Undercroft, part of the Lammas Project eco village, proving that these types of houses are hobbit forming.

Hobbit house in Pembrokeshire. Pic ©, used under Creative Commons. Their friends Charlie and Meg also have a hobbit house as part of the Lammas Project, but it could be knocked down unless retrospective planning permission is granted by Pembrokeshire Council. Council representatives are due to visit this month; keep up to date with the latest at Charlie and Meg’s Facebook page .

Looking for the ten best hobbit houses on (Middle) Earth? Put your hairy feet up for a look at these.


French photographer Jérémie Buchholtz got a little tired of trying to find affordable accommodation in Bordeaux, so decided to create his own in a run-down garage within his budget. Luckily, he had an architect friend, Matthieu de Marien, to assist: see the full story here.

Inside the converted garage If you haven’t yet managed to buy that restored gypsy caravan for your private garden office, Channel 4 has tips on converting your garage to a living space; get some inspiration here.

Hank bought a bus

Not so teeny but full of win. Hank Buttita bought a bus on Craigslist for $3000 and converted it into a home with the help of instructor Adam Marcus, as part of his final project for his Masters in Architecture at the University of Minnesota. And to think we wasted our graduate time writing non-practical essays. Nice one, Hank.

Hank in his bus. Pic © Justin Evidon.

Have a look at Hank's site for the full process, as snapped by photographer Justin Evidon.

The towable houseboat

Like us, one of Roy Schreyer’s travel dreams is to sail a boat around the world. But he sensibly didn’t see why that should stop him enjoying local waters in the meantime, and so he built Dianne’s Rose, a mini – and towable – houseboat which he says was cheap and easy to sort.

Dianne's Rose. Pic courtesy of Roy Schreyer. Contact Roy for plans if you’d like to try it yourself – and possibly build us one too?

Macy Miller makes micro

Macy Miller wanted to build a teeny house since she was a teeny nipper and finally got round to doing it with $11,000, designing and building her own micro home on a 24’ trailer in Idaho.

Macy's micro house. Pic courtesy of Like Roy, Macy has house plans available if you’d like to try this yourself (we are casting around for a piece of hidden forest as we type) and has written at length about the process on her website.

Creative car roofing

Many peeps into teeny or transformed spaces like to use salvaged scraps, put here to inventive use by architects Karl Wanaselja and partner Cate Leger in the small house they built in California.

The McGee house. Pic courtesy of Leger Wanaselja Architecture. Their two-bedroom McGee house uses over a hundred car roofs on its upper walls and the awnings are made from the side windows of old Dodge caravans.

As dumped caravans make us cry, we applaud Cate and Karl for putting these to good use.

Keep on trucking...gran?

Australian Rob Scott liked small spaces but got tyred of the ‘horrible prefab toxic boxes’ used as granny flats and small apartments. His idea for his first ‘non-toxic romantic granny flat’ used a truck as it was both cheap and portable – and he’s now built four.

The studio house truck. Pic courtesy of Rob Scott. More pictures at Rob’s Flickr account here.

Dome down under

Clever Kiwi Phil McCabe of Solscape Eco Retreat used earth bag construction in designing his tiny and sustainable ‘earth domes’ (main pic) where bags are filled with earth, rocks, sand and clay and then compacted down.

The domes come with wine bottle-sized windows, lofts with meditation spaces and can be built for around $10,000 for two. The ones in the pic were put together by Bryce and team at Living Big in a Tiny House, who have a video tour here .


We are a little in love with these, partly because of the mountainous views in the background. Greg Parnham of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses builds tiny environmentally friendly houses and lives in his Durango design, built on a 16’ trailer and with a wetroom, kitchen, high ceilings, desk area, sleeping loft, storage loft and a fold up porch. Best of all, it’s portable: you could park it outside work and have a nap at lunchtime.

The Boulder. Pic from Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses. We are mightily inspired now and have something else to daydream about while waiting for the bus… If you too have the itch in your feet (or hammer hand) after seeing the above, start reading – and plotting – here:

Less is More: Living Simply in Small Spaces

Tiny House Movement info

Tiny House Community

Tiny House Design

Tiny House Blog

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TinyHouseBuild – FREE e-course: how to build a tiny house