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The Small House Book

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In 2008, a used house in the U.S. averaged $244,000. That is far more than the average American can afford. Jay Shafer shatters the myth that affordable housing needs to be cheap. In his book, Jay reveals the ugly truth about residential planning and the needless overbuilding that is, in part, to blame for today's mortgage crisis. Did you know that you can't build a house ...more
197 pages
Published 2009 by Tumbleweed Tiny House
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James Eckman
Jay Shafer writes about small houses and unlike architects that claim a 2,000 square foot flat in Manhattan is small, the largest house in this book is 874 sq ft. It's a bit of a mixed bag, philosophy, some DIY, some design guidelines and an ad for tiny houses that he builds. While he likes tiny, he is not a Thoreau, he has a TV and other electric toys and the interiors are designed for comfort.

Many of these designs are based on using a travel trailer chassis to help get around restrictive build
The pictures in this book are wonderful. I use this book to dream of living in a teeny house on a lake (but I go so far as to look for teeny plots of land.) I love this book!
This book generally discusses on the legality, design principles, materials, lifestyle, economics and ideology of choosing to live in a small house. The last 1/3 of the book includes a run-down on the small house plans offered by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, so it starts to feel like a marketing piece, even if they are quite good at what they do. The first 2/3s of the book is fascinating, though. Most of the photos are gorgeous and showcase these beautiful tiny homes. Some of the photos in ...more
Nice book, well illustrated, but very light on engineering and details (like where do pipes go, tankage, and such...)

Not very certain of what the thoughts are on emergency egress (I think I would build in a kick-out panel/window in the roof, with an emergency ladder, before I'd accept sleeping in the loft).

Excellent photography and kindly thinking went into the book - just would hate to find that "The Practical" makes a built project less useful.

Further correspondence with the Author's Website a
The author has some very interesting ideas about housing. Unlike some other ideas that I've seen presented for more sustainable living, I think that a lot of people could find his ideas to be practical.

The photos of the small houses are beautiful, both those designed by the author and those he's discovered.

I do have some issues with the quality of the book itself. Page references are off throughout the book (ie it will say "see page 68" when the actual information is on page 66. There are also a
Intriguing way of life. Living minimally forces a person to prioritize and be more intentional. I see where, to our detriment, our individual homes have become islands without community, without need for one another.
Jay Logan
Tiny houses are the answer to many of our housing and environmental problems. In conclusion I want one!
Peter Owens
Interesting, surprisingly dry, but lots of excellent photos.
Coen Vazquez
I bought this when I was going through my RV phase. Very interesting houses. I would love to own one. I would have zero trouble living in such a small space. I love the idea of it. I think people would do very well in such a small house. People need to spend the majority of their time outside anyway. Out in the sunshine! Not to mention you can take your house anywhere. Isn't that concept amazing? I think it's only fair that if I invest thousands of dollars into a house, that I should be able to ...more

A lovely little book, but maybe a few more specifics would have been nice. I understand this isn't really the how-to or the builder's plans, but I found this slim novel somewhat unsatisfying.
It was great to read about Jay's approach to small houses, including not only the why but also some of the considerations he includes in his designs. Some of the politics of the book were a bit outside of my personal interest, but for those who are concerned with those things, it was nice to have them included. He devoted a lot of pages to pictures of his houses on wheels, but far fewer of his cottages, which I would have liked to have seen.
Feb 07, 2010 Lexi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who care about the earth and environment!
Recommended to Lexi by: Mother Nature
Shelves: non-fiction
A great resource for people interested in sustainable living and reducing their carbon footprint!

Jay Shafer is the owner of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and if you have ever considered downsizing your living situation you should definitely read this book and check out their website!

The book is full of tips as well as actual tiny house layouts. It's hard to pick out your favorite when there are so many great ones!
Jul 17, 2010 Happyreader marked it as to-read
I love Jay Shafer and his tiny little house. Such grace on a small scale and so sustainable. Love that he turned his passion into a business too.
Like living on a boat or in an RV, these little houses raise the bar for making do with less ....but with class. Nothing dowdy about them. Plus affordable housing has become a current topic of interest as well as environmental impact. Thoughtfully presented.
This has been the most inspirational of the tiny house books. I think I have read just about everything on the topic. I own this book and probably look at it daily just to keep me geared up while I build my own house.
I'm fascinated by the small house movement. While written by a small-house entrepreneur, this book provides a lot of basic information about the movement and considerations for those interested in owning a small home.
Mark Polino
I love the idea of Tiny Houses and their efficient use of space. I don't necessarily agree with everything Jay espouses in the book, but you can't deny that he's a founder of the tiny house movement.
Wow. Reading this book was quite the experience. I would definitely recommend it to all of my claustrophile friends. If anyone needs me to build them a tiny house, I've got the info and I'm game.
The first quarter of the book has some nice insights, but if you know about small houses already, I don't know how much will you get from this. Also contains some horrible numerology-kind-of stuff.
the writing needs some editing and goes on and on a bit preaching to the choir BUT the real reason to get this book is for the pictures and there, the book delivers completely.
S. Michelle
Very helpful read when considering to build a tiny house and sustainable living spaces. Definitely inspired me to get back to work on another project of mine.
Here's my future house:

Now If only I could find a place to put it!!!
We don't need huge places of residence to be happy. My minimalist philosophies are encouraged by this revolution.
This book is about simplicity and a philosophy of personal space. I love it!
Jun 18, 2010 Alyn marked it as to-read
Shelves: architecture
I've looked at the website extensively. Fascinating concepts.
Philosophy of living and house plans all in one.
I so want to live in a small house!
Tammy marked it as to-read
Aug 26, 2015
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Jay Shafer is internationally recognized as an expert in small living. He is a designer specializing in sustainable architecture and urban planning. He has lectured extensively on these subjects for such venues as the Eco-Dwelling program at New College, the Boston Architectural Center, and the University of Iowa's School of Art and Art History where he served as Adjunct Assistant Professor for mo ...more
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