My obsession with residential architecture seems to grow with age. Or, perhaps it’s because I still don’t own my own little house. However in my quest to own my own place, I have come across some fantastic little cottage plans along the way. Some of the plans I’ve encountered are from architects building communities in other states, so purchasing the plans is my only option at this point. Other plans are kit homes my husband and I have discussed as an alternative to buying an existing or older home. The more I search, the more amazing alternatives I come across. (In my next life I think I’ll be an architect!)

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]If you’re interested in building your own tiny house instead of going prefab, tiny house plans might just be the ticket.[/dropshadowbox]

Ross Chapin is one architect that I admire. His housing communities are well thought out and the house plans are adorable! Too bad I don’t live in Washington. My favorite house plans fall in the small house plan category, homes between 1,300 sq. ft. and 2,800 sq. ft. Though the larger square footage, 2,800 sq. ft.,  I wouldn’t consider small. The Kaleah and Vinnlee plans are my favorite, each house has a sunroof or two and a fantastic front porch. The Vinnlee has a slightly more open floor plan that I like more so than the smaller Kaleah plan, but I’d be thrilled living in either home. All of Chapin’s plans are for sale. His website also offers PDF files for examination before purchase, this is smart. I have little experience building my own home, but I would think you’d want to run the plans by a contractor before purchasing to make sure the layout would work on the existing lot.

Another option my husband and I have discussed is buying a kit home. It seems a like a slightly easier and less expensive alternative to building our own home from scratch. There are so many choices today, but I have listed a few of my favorites below:

  • Michelle Kaufmann’s Glide House – This prefab house incorporates sustainability. However,  it is one of the more expensive prefab homes I found and it’s now offered through Blu Homes (which I recently updated that they are quite pricey, but beautiful).
  • Maple Homes – This prefab home company has some great designs, I especially like their Craftsman houses. The only downfall is they are based out of Canada. I’m not sure what the pricing would be to deliver to Southern California. Square foot price up to $60 per sq. ft. which is 1/3 of the total build price, according to their site. Not bad if the total price ended up at $90 per sq. ft, much less than anything where I live.
  • Marmol Radziner – Has some great modern looking prefab homes, think Frank Lloyd Wright in design. (2016 update: they claim their price per square foot is $600 – 800. Yikes! I would hope that includes the land, but I’m thinking no so much!) The price isn’t bad, $179,000, for the smaller Rincon 5 series, but the larger Skyline series seems a little steep starting at $500,000.
  • Cottage in a Day – Small cottage cabin, reasonably priced, can be put together in a day! I personally like the larger model, 2842 T, and I think you can add to it looking at the picture on the contact page. (Update 2016 – they’ve updated their website and have some great small prefab house plans. However, I couldn’t find pricing anywhere.)
  • Lowe’s Katrina Cottage – Originally designed to replace the temporary housing in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit, these kits are apparently being purchased as regular homes as well. The price is really affordable.

As much as I love the idea of building a brand new home or kit home, finding the land where I live is a little challenging. I might just have to settle for an existing older home and renovate it. I found a cottage retreat in Venice that inspired new ideas for doing just that: Venice Beach Eco Cottages. I might have to talk my husband into booking a weekend retreat to check out the cottages.

Have you completed a major renovation on a house? Have you built a house from scratch? Any information on these topics would be helpful!

*Photo credit: Ross Chapin Brightside model.


  1. Susan Tiner Reply

    Hi Little House, thank you for the great links–really cool designs. I especially like the Venice cottages–Aunt Zoe’s place is the cutest. I got your comment re: cash flow analysis for a home purchase and plan to provide one soon. Merry Christmas to you!

  2. Well Heeled Blog Reply

    I’m not ready to buy a home yet… but I have already warned my fiance that he needs to tell me if I am looking at homes that are too expensive (but that we can technically afford). I know I fall in love with houses – years of watching HGTV will do that to you! – but I also know that stretching your budget to buy a bigger or fancier home is the surest way to increase your financial pressure and up your stress level.

    • Little House Reply

      @WellHeeledBlog – I recently started watching HGTV and it is really addicting! I have to stop myself. 😉

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