Relaxshax's Blog

Compact Cabins by Gerald Rowan (and other tiny house/cabin books)
January 29, 2011, 7:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


 I don’t know if the machines over at the Folgers plant got their caffeine/bean mixture wrong and overdosed my most recent can, or what, but I’ve been crankin’ out videos, physical woodworking projects, and much more, just in these last two weeks. I’ve also been tearing through books and will have ANOTHER “Tiny Yellow House/” book review video-episode on the way shortly.

In the past, I launched a side episode/show called “Man With The Ugly Hat” solely composed of tiny house, small living, back-to-the-land, book reviews, (I’ll post it wayyy below if you missed it), and speaking of caffeine, most found it far too over the top. Well, IT WAS, and I DID have a blast shooting this little one-take video, but next time, so as to reach (and not scare) a greater deal of people, we just might tone it down a little…..or will we????

That said, among over a dozen new reviews to come, one of my favorites was “Compact Cabins” by Gerald Rowan.

“Rowan’s ‘Compact Cabins’ hooked me immediately- I mean I can’t stop pawin’ through this thing! Its LOADED with (sixty-two!) plans and concepts for cabins, tiny homes, and vacation cottages, some sound “tricks of the trade” advice from an author who clearly knows the trade (and seems passionate about it too), and a non-stop provision of some great watercolored visuals and illustrations- a combination of which has earned this one a place in my all-time “Tiny- House-Book Favorites”. Rank it up there with the work of Lloyd Kahn, David and Jeanie Stiles, and Dan Mulfinger, its just a great all around book for your cabin aspirations. Pick it up and commence drooling, plotting, and daydreaming.”
All the cabin concepts and floor plans clock in at under 1000 square feet. The smallest design isn’t much over 100 square feet, and passive solar, wood heating, “turniture” employment, pre-fabrication, and the ultilization of recycled and salvaged building materials, are all covered. Its just a really entertaining and well-planned, blue-collar, REALISTIC cabin book that doesn’t cater to millionares-only.
I recommend this one very highly. Actually this round of books was pretty incredible- and you’ll hear all about several releases soon on my youtube channel.
-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen
Author of “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks…”
Host of “Tiny Yellow House” TV

11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

nice reference. i read this years back.

and a couple of general observations:

“funky” is expensive unless there is no dollar value placed on the builder’s time.

“square” is the most cost efficient building shape. (not necessarily an esthetic shape).

a 10’x 10’building is 100 square feet. there is 40 perimeter feet to side/ trim/ et cetera. a 5′ x 20′ building is also 100 square feet. there is 50 perimeter feet to build. just an example.(and assumed wall heights being equal.

Comment by jay

Hey Jay- not sure what your observations were in reference to? Thanks though…hope you’re well…

(I didn’t talk about any of those things in the post…)

Comment by relaxshax

Thanks for the book recommendation. Also thanks to the other poster Jay for pointing out the difference between square footage and perimeter footage. I was a math geek back in the day but had honestly never considered this fact. It would require significantly less material to stick with a square.

Comment by Lisa

hmm – this could be an excellent debate. of course if you want to conserve linear feet, then a round building maximizes floor space and is the minimum linear feet of wall… but is clearly more complex to build (yet funky!). the question then becomes “useful” square footage. I need some wall space in my cabin for things like a futon/bed, woodstove, shelving. a square room gives you more space in the middle of the room, but I need wall space. my cabin is 12×16 with an 12×8 loft for sleeping. this made a lot of dimensions work for pre-cut lumber and there was less waste.
A cabin or tiny home doesn’t need to be complex to be funky – I think funky is when the unique personality of the builder starts to come out in the building and it could be colors, plants, or materials (like license plate shingles) in addition to architectural funkiness.

Comment by Rod

I like the license-plate shingles concept- saw that once a ways back- but you’d prob have to really know someone, or work for the DMV/RMV to have access to that many plates. It’d look REAL cool though! Thanks Rod

Comment by relaxshax

This little book is total shack-porn. I picked up a copy a couple months ago and LOVE it. In fact, your featured design is my favorite in the book. I love the broad range of information offered.
Regarding the square vs round ‘debate’ it’s really a matter of taste, isn’t it? How minimal is one willing to go with their possessions? I’ve designed a 20′ yurt (will be prefab panelized wood wall construction) for my next house, and most of my existing furniture won’t work in it — but the openness of space and simplicity is exactly what I want for such a small space.

Comment by Ellen

Mother Earth News has an order form for the Compact Cabin book this month.

Comment by Lisa

Compact Cabins was my Christmas gift to myself and I have really enjoyed it!

Comment by ktee

I may have to look up this book. I am amazed I missed it. The cedar shingled hat-box design appeals greatly…

Comment by Anne

Do you sell any of the plans?

Comment by Dan Beamer

Sorry I don’t, but am working on it- keep check the newer blog

Comment by relaxshax

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