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How to Design & Build your own Scale Model Tiny House

In this post you’re going to learn how to design and build your own version of a tiny house to scale.

This is a great way to play around with different ideas you might have before you actually start spending lots of money building your home.

It allows you to work out kinks and try out different concepts after you’ve gathered ideas for your future tiny house before you ever buy any of your materials.

And one of our readers, Dan Paquette, is going to show you exactly how to do it step by step in the video below.

How to Build your own Scaled 3D Tiny House Design (VIDEO)


What you’ll need before you start:

  • 4 1/4 inch styrofoam sheets
  • Marker & pencil
  • Tape measurer

  • Speed square
  • Straight edge ruler or yard stick
  • Nail pins to hold everything together
  • Glue gun with glue sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Box cutter

Besides that you’ll just want to have plenty of ideas for your tiny house.

For example, you’d want to know some of the measurements for the windows, appliances, and furniture that you’re thinking about going with so you can scale them down accurately.


How to do it Step by Step

1. Have your ideas ready! This means you should have your general design chosen (8×20, 8×30, etc), favorite appliances, furniture, and everything else picked out with measurements ready to go.

2. Go get your materials that are outlined for you above.

3. If you’re using 1/12 scale, as shown in the video above, that means every 1 inch equals 1 foot. And every 1/8th inch equals 1 and 1/2 inches.

4. With those numbers in mind, you’re ready to begin converting your ideas into a real life scaled model tiny home!

For further reference, watch Dan’s video again below:

And be sure to click here and subscribe to his YouTube channel as he’ll be releasing more informative instructional videos based on his designs and future tiny house build.

If you enjoyed this tutorial on how to build your own scaled down model of a tiny house you’ll love our free daily tiny house newsletter with more! 

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Leslie
    December 27, 2013, 6:20 pm

    This is great and very helpful. My family just gave me a second house to refurbish. This one is very similar to the first one. One square box split in the middle. A scaled model will help make the difference.

  • Sarah Belham
    January 1, 2014, 10:12 am

    Excellent idea. My only suggestion is to get an architect’s scale. This is a ruler – usually triangular in cross-section – with the markings already measured to scale. This allows you to do the layout directly without the conversion of units. Cheap ones run about $6 at office supply stores.

  • jim
    September 2, 2014, 11:12 am

    very nice

  • janet
    September 14, 2014, 3:45 pm

    I can’t find 1/4″ foam boards

    • Wyatt
      May 4, 2015, 12:32 pm

      It’s not styrofoam sheets. It’s Foam Core sheets and they come in a standard 1/4″.

  • Dan Sgt
    September 23, 2014, 12:24 am

    I like the method you use on the scale. Makes it simple and you explained it very well.
    Thanks, Dan

  • May 25, 2015, 8:21 pm

    Great video. I can’t wait to make my tiny house.

  • Conner
    July 1, 2015, 2:22 pm

    good idea,

  • Rita
    March 3, 2016, 4:29 pm

    I’m excited to try this. Thank you so much for the informa

  • Trevor Bennett
    March 3, 2016, 8:23 pm

    Thank you very much for the article

  • Kathi
    March 4, 2016, 5:46 am

    Great information. Love it and want to hear more.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Michael L
    March 6, 2016, 3:17 pm

    Fantastic, dude! Definitely subscribing!!! Off to Walmart for my gator foam!

  • Rev
    March 9, 2016, 5:50 pm

    To determine livability, a tiny mock-up is a start.

    Then, a full-size mock-up gives a better idea of traffic flow and sight-lines and air circulation and usability of cabinets and furniture.

  • girl
    August 27, 2016, 5:38 pm

    Uh… I don’t have enough money for Styrofoam sheets- or at least I don’t want to spend my money on them. I’m doing a project with my friends, and we don’t have access-not allowed to touch- to hot glue guns and stuff like that. Instead, we’re using packaging tape, cereal boxes, and cardboard boxes to recycle. Can you help us with planning something for that?

  • Brad
    December 15, 2016, 7:31 pm

    Why not build a double envelope tiny house with geothermal heating /cooling & solar panels . So you could live totally off grid. The only thing you would pay is taxes on the land , once it is payed off.

    • Natalie
      December 16, 2016, 8:22 am

      That sounds awesome! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Jon Westover
    December 31, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Is there any place to buy tiny house scale models?

    • Natalie
      January 2, 2017, 9:47 am

      Huh! I’ve never seen it! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Chris Cardinal
    February 16, 2017, 12:09 am
    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 16, 2017, 7:52 am

      No! Looks great!

  • August 7, 2017, 7:28 am

    Hi to every one, it’s really a good for me to pay a quick visit this site,
    it contains important Information.

  • March 11, 2019, 12:07 pm

    I used this site for a project and I got an A+ because of this site. 🙂

    • Alex
      March 12, 2019, 11:29 am

      Way to go, Beverly! Glad that article was helpful, sounds like you did a good job executing the information here! Keep it up… 🙂

  • June 16, 2020, 4:25 pm

    I like how you mentioned that a speed square, ruler, yardstick, and a glue gun are just some of the equipment you’ll need to build a scale model home. My wife and I are thinking of hiring an architectural scale model specialist because we’re considering building our dream custom home for us to live in with our kids. It seems like a good idea for us to think about hiring a reputable professional to help us construct a smaller version of what we want in our house so that the real house can be built to our specs.

    • Alex
      June 17, 2020, 1:59 pm

      Hi Jesse, thanks for adding to the conversation. Seems to me like that would be a really good and smart thing to do too. The more you plan everything now, the easier everything will go when it’s time to build. Wishing you guys the best, please keep us updated. Would love to see your models/designs too if you would ever like to share.

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