8×16 Free House Plans Preview


I had high aspirations of staying up late tonight and finishing the plans for the 8×16 free house plans, but I’m ready to drop. I’m also struggling with the height of the loft in this design and wanted to throw it out there for some feedback before I continue.

I’m trying to design this tiny house to be able to be carried by a common 7×16 trailer without being permanently attached to it. It just seems like a good idea to have the option of being able to remove the house from the trailer. But it comes at a interior height sacrifice.

The compromise is that I can’t take full advantage of the 13-foot 6-inch road height limit that I’m trying to stay under for this design. You see if the house is built right on the trailer and wheel wells are cut to make room for the wheels, like in a Tumbleweed, the floor of the house can be lower. When you try to design it with a flat bottom you need to raise the floor about a foot to clear the wheels. This extra foot is then lost in the loft area. So my questions to you are:

Would you rather have the house permanently attached to the trailer and retain more height in the loft?

Below is the cross section drawing I’m working on and below it an example of trailer dimensions from Big Tex Trailers. Both images can be clicked for a closer look.


24 thoughts on “8×16 Free House Plans Preview

  1. Harrison Embrey says:

    Michael, one solution that enables you to retain both a great base and a trailer is to look at the goose wing low loader trailer and or a demountable or retractable wheel arrangement once the house is in position and where ground clearance is an issue. One of the problems we have here in the UK is the extra height created by the wheels eats into the overall height allowed by the planners so these solutions are required! Alternatively design the roof to be at one height for transportation and then raised and locked in place when on site. It should be possible to overcome any engineering issues with out compromising structural or design aesthetics.

  2. Michael Janzen says:

    Thanks Harrison. Those solutions never occurred to me. Don’t change the house, change the trailer… and make the house more transformable. Good thinking, Thanks!

  3. Jello Biafra says:

    I would prefer to have it permanently attached to the trailer in order to provide extra loft height. One can always support & disguise the trailer for semi permanent living or build in place without a trailer if one chooses.

  4. Tim R. says:

    I would prefer to see a permanent trailer design. I’ve noticed in other similar designs they have the storage loft at 8ft. and a separate sleeping loft at about 7ft. off the floor to give more headroom. Wouldn’t have to wear a helmet to bed that way. 🙂 Here’s a couple people who have built similar designs:
    By the way, what are you using to draw your designs?
    Keep up the good work!

    • Michael Janzen says:

      Thanks Tim. I’m thinking more and more you’re right. I also suspect few people would want to have a spare trailer rolling around anyway.

      I’m using some Mac software called DoodleCAD for the 2D stuff. It’s a simple vector application and costs only about $60. I’m still in demo mode but I think I’m going to have to buy it. http://www.doodlebytes.com/

  5. Jill says:

    have you thought of making a taller roof, but having it with a center peak. The center peak could run the long way or the short way. Each half is hinged, as are the short gable end walls. These fold flat for travel (or detach and lie down). Upon arrival you crank them up (similar to the mechanism on my aunt’s RV that cranks out the room extension).

    Not surprisingly, I’m not a designer. But I’ve lived in more than one camper, trailer, shack, shanty, etc. Headroom seems important when living in small spaces.

    There is a business in town here where old containers are made into collapsible buildings and I think some of the techniques (such as folding walls) could be adapted to this sort of application.

    • Michael Janzen says:

      Thanks Jill. I love the idea of moving walls but I’m a bit afraid to put them on top as a roof. If just seems like inviting leaks. But you are the second person to suggest the idea of finding a way to have our legal road height and taller interior height too.

  6. Todd says:

    Here’s another thought. Your thought about removing it from the trailer seemed to be more about semi-permanently afixing the tiny house to a location than “freeing up” the trailer. It seems many people want the tiny house to be like a RV, with a high degree of mobility.

    I haven’t seen this done, but your “removable trailer” approach could be a different genre of movable tiny homes. If complete portability is not the objective, then the 13’6″ might not be as set in stone. If you don’t intend to move the house frequently, you might have more flexibility with height via an overheight/overweight permit. In my own WI this height looks like 15’0″.


    I’m sure this would be FAR less popular than the “standard” school of thought for mobile tiny homes – just wanted your comment on it.

    Thanks for the content and keep up the good work!

  7. Kieran says:

    Wow, I’m impressed to see that you’ve already started this.

    I’ll share my two cents, though everybody else has seemingly said it: I prefer the idea of a house permanently attached to the trailer.

    I’d asked about woodstoves with my last post and read up on the smaller stoves, which was interesting. I don’t know if you’ve heard of these, but would something like this seem impractical: a corn-burning stove?


    Interesting, to say the least.

  8. Justin says:

    Another vote for the permanent trailer. I love the photos of Jay Shafer’s trailer house where the trailer is wrapped in what looks like trellis to disguise it, I plan to do something similar to mine when it’s finished.

    I’m not thinking of my tiny house like an RV, more like a mobile house, only to be moved when needed and, hopefully, not too often.

  9. Grant Wagner says:

    I for one am looking for a house for a permanent foundation. I think the 8×16 size would be perfect for a backyard retreat and I am not too interested in keeping it mobile. On top of that, I would like to be able to insulate with stray and build a rocket mass heater to keep the place cozy, so event if I did get it on the trailer, I could not get a trailer bulky enough to support it.

    What I AM interested is a tilted southern wall for maximum solar gain. Could we see that in one of your future designs?

  10. Michael Janzen says:

    Todd, you’re absolutely right. I bet there are two markets for tiny houses, portable and semi-permanent, and instead of trying to serve both communities simple design two separate houses. Thanks!

  11. Michael Janzen says:

    Kieran, love it! A corn-burning stove. Now that’s renewable and who knows might even be carbon-neutral. I’ll have to read up on that. Ironically the farmer that works the family farm (where I’m building the tiny free house) is growing organic feed corn this year… and I’m certain there will be lots of corn left on the ground. Might be perfect for heating.

  12. Michael Janzen says:

    Grant… great idea… and reinforces the idea that there are probably many different groups of people looking for different types of tiny houses: mobile, semi-permanent, permanent, floating, etc. Thanks!

  13. Harrison Embrey says:

    Hey Michael, seeing as you love plans, check this out!

    Youcanplan3d.co.uk the graphics card on my steam driven laptop struggled but I dare you to create a tiny house community to get the neighbours going!

    Heres another that you might also know about but tis free!


    P.S Corn is a food first for humans and animals and then heating fuel, now if it was shucked corn cobs then that’s cool or is that hot! Just an opinion 🙂

    P.S.S. My next trick is to design and hopefully build a 5-6m long 2-3m deep SIP (structural insulated panel) Tiny House using straw bales. Mini non-structural bales as super insulation in wooden frames max 300mm thick, zero thermal bridging, air tight build, we’ll use the same idea for the roof and the floor with a salt box design to give us a chance to make it fully passive and able to use natural ventilation with a clerestory. The big elevation will face the sun and will be deckable to extend the living space and capture oodles of sun rays.

    Pictures to follow soon!

    KUTGW Mark

  14. Kieran says:


    That’s what I was thinking; from what I’ve read, it burns cleaner than most fuels, it’s cheaper, and (I assume) it’s one of America’s most abundant crops. Also, you apparently don’t need a conventional chimney: it can be used with something similar to a dryer vent/duct. It doesn’t give out radiant heat, like wood, so the box isn’t hot to the touch, except for the glass door. It also seems there’s little clean-up, and that the corn burns for a long time.

    Here’s a site that sells corn stoves, though I’ve not viewed many sites, nor have I read everything on them, yet: http://www.generaltechstore.com/Cherokee.htm

    I share that one because of its dimensions.

    Harrison: I wish it did burn corn cobs–that was my first thought when I read about it. Too bad, huh?

  15. frank dewith says:

    Michael, nice work on the plans. I’m wondering about your sheathing choices…3/4″ plywood all around. I’d think for a mobile dwelling you’d want to keep the weight down as much as possible. Mobile or not, many builders might want to keep the cost down. 5/8″ ply or 1x lumber is enough for the floors, especially for the loft where standing is not possible. 1/2″ plywood would be adequate for the roof and walls (assuming 16″ stud spacing), and even 3/8″ might be enough on the walls. If a metal panel roof is planned, then more weight could be saved by installing it on wood strapping instead of ply.

    Also, is that a second layer of plywood underneath the house? That could trap moisture within the floor cavity…I believe the glue layers in ply act as a moisture barrier. If there was a water leak that found its way into the floor system, it would take a very long time to dry out.

    You are doing a great service in preparing these plans for anyone to use.

  16. Lebnjay says:

    Seems like nobody has mentioned one of my top reasons for wanting the house on a trailer, avoidance of permits and codes. I’m pretty sure you could never get a house of this size permitted for permanent occupancy, plus it would probably double the cost to do so. Being on a trailer you don’t have to deal with any of that. If someone wanted it more permanent you could probably lower it down onto a foundation of sorts and remove the wheels and maybe even the axles.

  17. Sarah says:

    It may be too late (since it’s May), and I didn’t read all the suggestions (very low on sleep); but what if you just leave wheel shaped bumps in the bottom sides of the house? You would only lose a little bit of space on the bottom floor (which could be shaped like chairs on the inside or another method used to make it less intrusive), and then you can have the full height inside the loft. It would still be removable from the trailer, at which point you would stack bricks or another form of support in the place where the wheels once were.

  18. Kin Keener says:

    The idea that Harrison had, I believe, is on the right track. When they build the modular houses here in the U.S., many of them come with a hinged roof. My house has a 10-12 pitch roof, and 9 foot ceilings, and it was transported with no problems. I would not give up the extra space in the loft. I would fold the roof down for transportk, and raise it up when in it’s permanent location.

    Kin Keener-North Carolina

  19. Tom says:

    I just bought a school bus…..a mini one in great shape. My plan is to do a complete conversion of the bus rigging it with the shower/toilet, stove, fridge and carry all of my tools including my generator which will be mounted in a custom built pull out drawer. I am going to paint it an earth tone as yet to be decided. The roof will either be mounted with a collapse-able solar array and/or a small veggie garden. ( I saw it one time on a truck and it was soooo cool!). I got the bus to be the workhorse/power supply/ tool shed work station…..but here is the cool part. I am designing my tiny house on the trailer the bus will pull and by using so much of the space in the bus I will have a bit more uncluttered space in the house as well as be a completely mobile and utterly self sufficient “rolling compound”. It began as just an idea to pull the house as it is a good strong diesel, which gets far better mileage and lasts far longer than most gasoline engines…..but when realizing how many tools I own that I just can not part with as I use them soo much, and wanting to be self sufficient to the point that if I wanted to pull out into the middle of the wilderness , or be able to take a remote job , say working on building or helping with friends eco-cottages in the Green Mountains, if any of you are farmiliar with the mountains in Vermont, there are some really cool cabins, but they are really out there…..and I think when complete I will be as micro sized as a roving carpenter/musician can be…..Ill be able to give attention to both talents this way! If anyone has any clever ideas for my set up please e-mail me anytime and share. Oh and I plan to build/weld, a hydraulic lift to be able to carry the Harley on the back of the bus as well. So wherever I go (and I avoid Vermont winters and try to go south) Ill have an inexpensive mode of get around transportation when I make camp….or whatever one would call it. I cant wait. I am at the very beggining. I am so glad that I didnt go out and just purchase a camper. That would have been ………..well ………….really dull and I cant stand the chemicals of all that new built stuff. I already am getting calls from people who wish to donate materials to help build the house because the fire is spreading as it were and people really are amazed at the concept of living within ones means and with as small as a footprint as posssible. my best friend does the same stuff i do right down to riding Harleys and playing guitar and building for a living. And he owes 65,000 dollars toward a mortgage, he has a small shop for all of his tools, and he is limited geographically by all this costly space. And just his heating/a/c bills for a year are staggering! With my set up i could use about 5 % of the space he occupies for so much less of a utility cost and be able to literally go anywhere and follow the work. In my trade sometimes natural disaster like in Florida and Louisiana pop up, and there is tons of work there……My friend wanted so many times to pack up a crew and go, but the cost of renting motel rooms and having to still live out of just a work truck is rediculous. I can go, line up a few jobs and park right where the job is……and perhaps if the family is small enough, allow them to crash in the 3 dual purpose bed/tables in the bus while work is being done that might otherwise cause them to have to spend money at a motel of other such place. I feel liberated!

  20. Wolf says:

    Good ideas, but a word of caution. Many states don’t allow contracting for disaster relief from outsiders. Jobs away from locals and all that nonsense. In Fla. you even have a residency requirement.
    ‘Socially conscious’ butts heads with the’Single Dollar Theory’ all the time.

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