10 Tiny House Build Tricks & Design Tips

Bamboo Tiny House

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tiny Digs Hotel build team, Pam and Bruce Westra, to chat about their experience building more than eight Tiny Homes for their hotel in Portland, Oregon.  Each of the Tiny Houses at Tiny Digs has a different architectural design and theme, which is why I asked them to share their Tiny House Build Tricks & Design Tips with all of you!

Watch the Video for Tiny House Design Tricks:

10 Tiny House Tips & Tricks

1). Take Photos & Videos of Your Plumbing & Electrical

Before putting the insulation, wall sheathing, and paneling up in your Tiny House build, it’s a good idea to take photos of your electrical and plumbing. This will help you in the future when you’re trying to get Tiny House Insurance and to make sure you don’t put a nail through any wires or pipes.

2). Move In Your Big Items Before Framing Your Walls

Big furniture items like couches, refrigerators, and shower stalls should be put inside your Tiny House before the walls are completely framed. Why? Tiny House doors are windows are usually smaller than the standard size. If you forget to place these items before your walls are framed, you may not be able to fit them in later!

Tiny Digs Design

3). Create a Structural Link Between the Tiny House & the Trailer

In order to do this, Bruce suggests installing a threaded rod from the top plate of your framed wall, all the way down through the wall, and through the trailer itself. There are other rules of thought about this as well.

4). Use Ram Board on your Floors

Pam, who is in charge of interior design for many of the tinies at Tiny Digs Hotel, says that it’s a good idea to place ram board on your finished floors to protect them during construction. She swears by this product.

5). Choose Wisely Between Stairs and Ladders

Stairs are great for offering storage and easy climbing. Ladders, however, might be more suitable for extremely small Tiny Houses that need to save more floor space. It’s a good idea to think hard about which is better for your layout.

Loft Design

6). Utilize Bumps Outs

“Bump Outs” are an architectural detail that expands the living space over the tongue or the back-end of the trailer. You can’t, however, place bump outs on the side of Tiny House because it will put you over the legal width of 8’6″ defined by the DMV. Bruce explains that bump-outs can be a great area for bathrooms, which they’ve done in a few of the houses at Tiny Digs, such as the Barn Tiny House.

7). Use Space Saving Tables

Pam and Bruce have built space saving tables in a few of their Tiny Houses. Some of their tables fold up or fold down, or their fold within themselves. In “The Barn” Tiny House, the table folds up into the wall and becomes a piece of art!

Tiny House Design

8). Consider How Your Roof Shape Will Work for Your Design

There are many different roof shapes that Pam & Bruce have used in the designs at Tiny Digs Hotel. Here are a few: gambrel roof, double gables, shed roof, and even a caboose shape. Each of these roof shapes will work differently to enhance the designs and themes of Tiny Homes. For example, a Victorian-themed Tiny House should have a classic gable roof. Placing a shed roof would detract from the Victorian style. If you want the biggest loft, you might want to choose a barn roof (or gambrel).

9). Consider Your Roofing Materials

Bruce believes the materials used in your Tiny Home should be chosen based on: Budget, ease of install, and longevity of the product. Standing seam metal roofing is probably the best roof material as far as longevity goes; The easiest product to install would be corrugated metal roofing; Asphalt shingles are very heavy and probably not a great option for Tiny Houses.

Tiny Digs Hotel Design

10). Consider your Door Placement

You have three options when it comes to door placement in a Tiny House. You have the hitch end, the tongue end, or the sides of your trailer. Each option has pros and cons. Placing the door at the hitch end of the Tiny House is the most traditional approach. If you choose to place your door over the tongue-end of your house, you may want to put a deck over the tongue, like Bruce & Pam did in their Log Cabin Tiny House.

If you place your door on the side, you also need to decide whether the door will be placed over the wheel wells. If it is, you will have to install a step down into your living space. The Beach House at Tiny Digs has a door placed over the wheel wells. Often, a side door gives the home a more modern design.

Tiny House Design

Bonus TIP: Have Fun!

Remember you’re not building the Roman Colosseum. It’s just a Tiny Home. Don’t forget to have fun during the process. Check out Pinterest for design ideas, shop on Etsy, create a lookbook, etc.

Bonus TIP: Location!

Choose your built site with care. Will you have power? Will you have protection from the elements? These are important considerations. Also, before you build, figure out where you are going to park it after you are finished. Many Tiny Housers struggle to find parking, so starting early is a good idea.

*Photos courtesy of Tiny Digs Hotel & Jadon Good Photography



  1. July 28, 2020 / 11:06 pm

    My dad is planning to build a tiny home, that’s why he’s currenlty looking for a metal supplier. I’m glad you shared these tips; I’ll make sure to inform my dad that he must place the windows first before having the walls placed. Your idea of adding ladders instead of stairs seems like a great idea.

  2. March 31, 2020 / 2:17 am

    I really appreciate your work especially the research part of it which made the whole point very easy to understand. I really appreciate your work especially the research part of it which made the whole point very easy to understand. I have also found this resource Tacticalroofing.co.nz useful and its related to what you are mentioning.

  3. November 18, 2019 / 3:53 pm

    I love the photo of the interior of a tiny house with the clean, opening-looking white walls and the light wood staircase matching the wood of the bathroom cupboard doors. My brother is thinking of transitioning to a tiny home on wheels so that he can travel to the best climbing spots in the United States. I am excited to help him look for the perfect tiny home for his needs!

  4. Diane Green
    April 30, 2019 / 10:53 am

    Excellent tips. Thanks so much for sharing these.

Leave a Reply