Off grid design

16 / 09 / 2015

Long time, no write

It’s been two weeks since the last post. I’ve been learning and planning all kinds of stuff related to the project, which of none is covered to the point I would like to write it down. Getting all the info on a subject together and processing it to neat and tight for blogging is taking forever, so I’m gonna chop it down to smaller bits. I’ll start with the new model I’ve made, but before that I’ve got something to say about software.

Software and soft thoughts

A friend of mine lent me his copy of 3D Studio Max. It’s not a really a software for a beginner modeler, since it’s incredibly complicated. Complexity obviously opens an option for seriously realistic models – if you have the time and nerves to bend it to your will.
Whereas Sweet home 3D and SketchUp have like 10 settings to tinker, 3DS Max has a gazillion and nothing really works if you don’t manually customize them. Even though it’s fun to learn a new tool for expression, I would highly recommend NOT doing it meanwhile you’re supposed to focus in budgeting and weight calculations.

Now that I’ve tested a few very different kinds of modeling software, I’ve come to the conclusion that SketchUp is the most efficient and time wise choice for tiny house planning. It’s super easy and you can build your plan in precision of millimeters. There are expansions available for rendering and lighting also if the blocky look doesn’t meet your optic requirements.

But. Even though it’s not time wise, I’m personally going to stick with 3DS Max a little while longer. I’m a visualist, a perfectionist, and 3DS Max offers the playground to execute just about anything. That is why I humbly want thank Samir for allowing me this opportunity to fulfill my irrational and oh-so-satisfactory neuroses. You’re a wise man and a philanthropist.

* Throws a bucketful of gratitude on Samir. *


The model

The reason why I made yet again a new model was off grid living. I want to be able to maintain a certain comfort level without access to a water or an electricity network. Living without a pressurized water system sounds like lunacy to me. If I already have difficulties finding time for feeding myself, imagine how would I find time carrying around water? Body needs are the worst and I would love to give up sleeping, eating and washing up anytime. While finding a way to robotize myself, I’ll try to make mandatory body maintenance as easy as possible. That’s why I need a water storing and pressurizing system. Inside the house, because of the winter. Obviously it turned the whole plan upside down.

I also found a trailer that might even be the one for me. I built the model according to it’s dimensions. The trailer is a bit bigger than previously planned ( 250 * 600 cm ), which is actually a good thing considering the water system. It might not be wise to store hundreds of kilograms water on a shelf. I tried to compensate the weight gain due to bigger footprint by dropping down the ceiling height, which is not more than 2.1 meters at this point.


This is the floor plan. Living area on the left, bathroom on the right. Empty area in the bathroom is for a 90*90cm shower and toilet is to be placed under the cabinet on the far right end of the plan. For sleeping there’s the double folding bed I planned, built horizontal. The bed won’t take take even half of the cabin space, so there should be enough room for clothing and personal belongings as well.

So where’s the off grid?

In the previous plan I already had a space for solar power batteries, which is located similarly in this one. Above the composting toilet. The he big cabin beside the shower makes the difference – besides the water heater it’s big enough for over a 500 liter cold water tank and pumps. All the plumbing is inside the thickened wall behind them and sewage water will flow naturally to a grey water tank under the trailer (or wherever it’s routed). Washer is located right opposite to the shower and used with detachable water intake and removal hoses.

Interior ideas


Stacking tables and light framed seating. Stash away folding chairs for guests. Entrance to the bathroom is the yellow door, kitchen cabins next to it. The light cabin opens up revealing a worktop and a sink. I haven’t had time to model the interior further than the living area – the bathroom slash household area will probably continue the same style. With multicolored cabin doors. If you haven’t noticed yet, I love multicolored things.


A couple of field of depth exercises (and a broken window model, apparently). The asymmetric table pair is my own design, not too hard to DIY. See the model in 3D Warehouse.
Due to the low ceiling height, I’d love to make the walls entirely windowed and openable. It would make the house like an outdoor living room. And I could have a backyard! Not sure if it’s very energy efficient, though. But a girl can dream, right? Next posts subject will be timber framing structure for this model, which gives indication towards the total weight (and cost) of the house. Super interesting, can’t wait to share!

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