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Single Story Tiny Homes: An Interview with Dan Louche

It might be the number one comment here at tiny house talk: “I want a small space, but I don’t want a loft. I’m looking for a single story design.”

Friend of Tiny House Talk and designer Dan Louche has created a fantastic tiny house without a loft and it is available on his website. Alex has spoken to Dan about the tiny house he built for his mother, which is the same design. I wanted to ask him a few additional questions about designing and building a single story home on wheels.

What was your reason for designing a single story tiny house?

The first house I ever built was our single story Tiny Retirement model (affiliate). It was for my mom. She had been living in a mobile home that had started to deteriorate and so she needed to move. I loved many of the tiny houses that were available but I knew a loft wouldn’t be an option for my mom. So I worked out a design without one that could still accommodate her lifestyle.

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Tiny Retirement House with No Sleeping Loft by Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders

Do you just sell plans or is this a custom-built home? What are the costs of plans and what are the costs of a custom-built house?

For all of our designs we sell the plans, for someone who wants to build it on their own, shells, for someone who wants to be involved in the construction but isn’t too crazy about assembling a metal roof, as well as fully finished homes. The plans cost $249 (which includes a copy of our eBook, the Tiny House Design and Construction Guide), and finished houses cost about $34,000 depending on options.

What is the best way for someone to reach your company to discuss buying plans or having a house built?

Our plans can be purchased directly on our website at tinyhomebuilders.com. There is also a ‘contact us‘ form on the site as well if someone has additional questions.

Interior Shot of Tiny Retirement House by Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders

Photo Courtesy of Dan Louche at Tiny Home Builders

How are you able to maximize living space while including a sleeping space on the first floor?

This is done through a convertible sofa. It’s a sofa/couch by day and a bed at night.

Video Tour of the Tiny Retirement House

If you’re interested in plans to build your own tiny retirement house click here. (affiliate)

To learn more about Dan Louche’s Tiny House Design & Construction Guide click here. (affiliate)

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More Like This: Tiny Houses | Adam Rasmussen’s Tiny Two-fer House Design | THOW

Single story tiny spaces are possible and functional. If you are looking for a tiny space of your own and you aren’t interested in dealing with ladders, you may want to consider the Tiny Retirement Home. How would you build a tiny one story house on wheels?

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Laura LaVoie

Contributor and Tiny House Owner at 120SquareFeet.com
Laura M. LaVoie is a professional writer living in the mountains of North Carolina in a 120 Square Foot house with her partner and their hairless cat, Piglet. Laura graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Anthropology. She has been published in magazines and anthologies on the subjects of mythology and culture. She spent nearly 15 years in the temporary staffing industry before deciding to become a full time writer. Laura works closely with the Zulu Orphan Alliance volunteering her time and the skills she's learned building her own small house to build a shelter for orphans and other vulnerable children living near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Laura also enjoys simple living, brewing and drinking craft beer, and popular culture.
{ 18 comments… add one }
  • November 21, 2012, 11:04 am

    I have always wanted one of the tiny houses with the loft, but it really didn’t occur to me that I would need to climb down in the night to go to the bathroom. I can see me tumbling down in the dark now. I like this alternative plan.

    • Valerie
      November 21, 2012, 6:00 pm

      Somewhere out there is a tiny house waiting for me. I look forward to the mobility to have your stuff with you, and the convience of staying home where you park!

  • LaMar
    November 21, 2012, 11:10 am

    If you do not have company or kids a single level with no loft and a pull out, hideaway or futon bed makes sense.

    However, you can make that roof taller using a gable barn style roof or a higher sidewall and knee roof and get a complete loft in that same foot print and double the interior room.

    That loft space could be used for guest bedrooms, kids bedrooms, storage, or office space and the additional amount in building material would not increase the expense that much.

    It makes sense to include lofts in your tiny home design even if you do not plan to use them as a bedroom.

    I know it is harder for older or disabled poeple to access a ladder or stairs but that space can be used for many purposes while you maintain a bedroom and all necessary features on the main floor.

    • jim sadler
      November 21, 2012, 4:37 pm

      For those that like lofts I strongly suggest a loft that can be deployed and removed at will. The reason why is that zoning laws that take square feet into account will sometimes count the size of the loft and add it to the floor size which may cause you to not have your home in the area.
      Also height clearance for bridges and traffic signals and gas stations can be a big issue as well. I suggest a pop up design so that you can have a high ceiling but travel with a lesser height. Also if you want to sleep in that loft or have storage use a cot that can be taken down at a moments notice and use shelf like units up above so that they also can be removed. Any building inspector gaining access can plainly see that no loft exists. Ten minutes after he leaves you are back to normal and won’t be bothered by that inspector again in all liklihood.
      For those that move around a bit this could really be important.

      • LaMar
        November 24, 2012, 10:50 am

        Zoning laws/building codes generally say any structure with a single wall height of 10 feet or less is a single level home and the loft space is considered attic and not counted as square footage.

        If an inspector says otherwise hand him the state building code manual.

        Ceilings can be lowered to 7 feet providing more head room in the loft.

        My own off-grid cabin is 14×14 with 8 foot side walls and ceiling at 7 feet giving me almost 7 feet of head room in the loft at the peak.

  • Lisa
    November 21, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Please ask the camera people not to jump all around with their filming. Maybe the people in Hollywood think this makes for a more interesting movie, but that really doesn’t work here. We want to study the appointments and have time to reflect on how things would work for us, or maybe see a good idea, want to study it and catalog it for our own tiny house. Beyond that, I can’t speak for anyone else, but all that jumping around quite literally makes me physically sick like being in a centrifuge. Please, slow down. Take your time so we can fully enjoy the design ideas and the beauty of a tiny house. Thanks.

  • Sandra
    November 21, 2012, 1:13 pm

    My tiny house was featured in this forum and it has a loft. Since I am almost a senior I designed the ladder so that if there was a slip the wall would stop me from falling. This actually works. I have some beautiful chairs as seating right now but have it set up so I can use a futon when I feel it is to much for me to use the stairs. My home is the log sided one featured a month or so ago. Go look at the safety feature of my stairs.

  • jerryd
    November 21, 2012, 1:23 pm

    I don’t see the point of lofts as it makes it harder to heat below being tall and in summer too hot to sleep in especially in the south.

    It hampers towing and uses more material too.

    If you want a higher bed just make it over a couch,desk, etc with a non peaked roof keeps the design lower with more room even with a loft. One can have such without going over 8′ high this way.

    A curved or shed style roof gives more inside room whether using a loft or not.

    In a tiny home does one really want overnight company of more than one? A reason for tiny homes is to make it so one doesn’t have such guests. Especially if you live in Fla with family up north ;^P

    I put 12′ long semi lofts in my recent shed roof 12′ sq cabin but they are used as storage/attic. Too hot to sleep there. And it is only 9′ high at the tallest part, 7′ at the lowest.

    • jim sadler
      November 21, 2012, 4:44 pm

      I also am in Florida and far enough south that cooling is the big issue. Good insulation and leak proofing the home are vital as the cost of cooling can be a shocker if you are not careful. The southeastern corner of Florida disallows even mobile homes now. No new installs are permitted at all and existing parks tend to be shutting down as well. This is a sad affair as now we have inexpensive sheds that can withstand a hurricane far more easily than any home could hope to. It is odd that the hiusing industry made so little effort and the mobile home industry made close to no effort at all to storm proof units. Yet the garden and farm shed folks can easily and cheaply sell you a shed rated for over 160 mph winds. It makes one wonder.

      • jerryd
        November 22, 2012, 9:42 pm

        Hi Jim,

        It doesn’t make me wonder, it’s about money. They want expensive houses, not low cost living. Facts are a $10k home is no big deal if blown away and if it’s on wheels it could be driven out of harms way.

        But you can put a tiny home on floats and call it a boat and it’s legal. Or actually float it and live with the worlds largest swimming pool for free.

        So are ‘pole barns, etc and in Tampa any building under 150sq’ not connected to utilities needs no permit.

        Yes in Fla as much of the south you need a large overhanging roof to stay cool and to keep water damage from rain down.

        Good insulation and small size helps a lot as does good airflow. I’m doing a powered flow using a 6” computer fan needing little power to cool off at night in the summer and heat at peak day temp in the winter is another option.

        I keep summer temp at about 80F with the A/C and run a 4” computer fan for a personal fan keeps me very cool at little energy.

        In winter I use electric blankets and stay toasty to hot again with little power use. Even being 50F tonight I won’t use heat except maybe for 1 hr in the morning on low/750wt setting. Even then it doesn’t run full time. And that’s at 240sq’ I’m in now.

  • Ellen
    November 21, 2012, 2:10 pm

    In the couple of years that i’ve been watching this site, this is been THE most livable, pleasant house i’ve seen featured. I love the windows, the monochromatic wall finish. There’s nothing cramped looking in this house. I too would ditch the loft for the vertical interior space.

  • Garth
    November 21, 2012, 2:41 pm

    A few times when I was a child I had the wonderful experience of being in a mountain vacation cabin with a loft where we kids slept but I never saw an adult go up there. I suppose that experience is partly why I want the loft, even now four decades later. I hadn’t thought about the problems of climbing and balance in old age that someone brought up on this website’s comments. I suppose however that nothing _demands_ that you use a vertical ladder, but that good use of space could probably still be made with a very narrow stairway with a railing, since the space under it can be used for storage and other things. We put a loft in the garage for storage though (with ladder access), and it definitely makes an excellent use of room.

  • Carro
    November 21, 2012, 6:05 pm

    If you want a practical but not to big 1-floor home go for a seacontainer house! In a (standard wooden) tinyhouse without sleepingloft you would still need the storage space up there with a ladder….

    Btw I can recomend Clei funrniture (you can find videos on youtube) as super efficent furniture for small living! 🙂

  • Valerie
    November 21, 2012, 6:11 pm

    I can see a small staircase with storage, maybe in 2 parts. The upper lifts toward the loft, and the lower could be storage for clothing, 3 steps with 3 hanging levels

  • TomLeeM
    November 21, 2012, 9:01 pm

    I think a small house without a loft is great for those – like myself – whose knees are not as good as they used to be.

    I have seen a small house with the bedroom on the second floor that had stairs lead to the upper bed room.
    (Link Expired: tumbleweedhouses.com/products/popomo/)
    I like this one. Tumbleweed Houses have a few that are single floor or have stairs leading to the second floor.

  • Janet
    November 22, 2012, 2:12 pm

    How about the idea of a ‘semi-loft”‘. What I mean by that is have a loft that is about waist high(which is about the height of a ‘normal’ bed),use the space underneath for storage, and there you are. Basically the idea of ‘couch during the day and bed at night’. I’ve got arthritis really bad but I still love my small house.

  • Roseann
    January 6, 2013, 2:13 pm

    The house in the featured video is so lovely, such charming and cozy. I’ve been trying to design my own loft-less, tiny house for a while, and so it’s great to see someone else do it. Instead of a couch that unfolds into a bed, I was thinking of a wall/Murphy bed that, when put away, can be used as a desk.

    On a side note, the hamper/garbage closet is quite ingenious. I know some people might see it was a waste of space, but whenever I see other tiny houses, I always wonder where they keep the mundane paraphernalia: the dirty laundry, the trash, the extra toilet paper, etc.

    Also, do you know what type and brand of water heater that is? Someone something about on-demand and automatic, but I didn’t catch all of it.

  • Kat
    January 26, 2013, 10:59 am

    My solution to not needing a loft (except for storage) is a daybed. I have slept in a twin bed for so many years, and that is what a daybed is. There are some really nice ones out there, including some (from IKEA notably) that also turn into a full-size bed. These are much prettier and MUCH more COMFORTABLE than a futon (I’ve slept on them also, and just cannot get comfortable). I like the way this home is set up, and with the daybed (and some have storage built in!) it would be much prettier, and more comfortable for sleeping and sitting.
    I really like that they use on-demand heating since there is already such a small amount of storage space. Keeping the propane tanks outside is also smart. The “upper cabinets” under the counter is great for storage while still leaving room to push in the chairs.
    All in all, it is a good home, and when I could be comfortable in. Storage is the main issue, and I’m sure that could be corrected. A great share! I will be looking into this further…..

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