Small Floor Plan: Huge Comfort
Are you looking for the perfect floor plan for your cabin, cottage or tiny home?
If you’re short on space but still want a floor plan with lots of room to move about, a layout that’s highly functional, and one that’s actually comfortable to live in … then you’ll appreciate the planning that went into our 20ft X 24ft cabin floor plan.
[UP DATE] We’re now giving away our complete floor plans, materials list, cost list and step-by-step build instructions inside a weekly email we’ll personally send you.
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Measure twice, cut once!
We all have… I hope.
It can be a tough and very expensive lesson learned if you don’t follow it.
Hence the reason we’ve taken months to plan out our off grid cabin floor plans, tweak it, re-plan it, tweak it again until we found out what best suits our needs and our budget.
You should too.
Every project I’ve had the privilege to work on with my father growing up I must have heard him say “Make sure you check and recheck those measurements before you cut it.” a thousands times.
MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE!
And for good reason.
It’s a lack of planning and forethought that gets most people in over their heads, way over budget, with inferior results, injured or worse… injured.
There’s NO “cutting corners” (pardon the pun) on this project. Out here when you waste lumber it can be an expensive delivery for just a few pieces that you should have otherwise not needed.
DISCLAIMER: We’re not off grid house building experts. We’re off grid house building enthusiasts.
I’m a retired military helicopter pilot. So what you’ll see is a man, just like you (or woman), building an off grid home from scratch by hand.
We do however share a love of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and everything related to construction and so I’ve spent many years building things and learning how to properly handle the tools you’ll see us using. Nothing complex but what I’ve learned is that safety out here off the grid is paramount!
Our intention is to build this cabin using standard building codes
Without focusing on cost or time let’s be clear that we’re not building a tree fort, a hunter’s cabin or a shack here.
This will be a small home fueled by the sun, gravity, mother nature and a whole lot of ingenuity.
We want it built using proper building techniques to ensure it’s sold, safe and lasts for generations.
We came up with a list of personal requirements that we wanted to incorporate into our off grid home.
All of this came into play when developing the square footage and the floor plan.
Consider someone these when developing your floor plan.
- Year round usability
- Hot & cold running water
- Waterless toilet (no septic field required)
- Separate master bedroom (possibly with a closet)
- Open loft with retractable stairs
- Cathedral ceiling in the living room
- Full bathroom with standard size shower
- Large front deck
- Plenty of windows
- Full kitchen with double sink and standard cupboards
- Standard size fridge
Is that even possible?
While it might seem like an impossible task to tuck all that into a tight 20ft X 24ft cabin, rest assured that with careful planning and measuring twice cutting once… we’re able to make it all happen.
Here is what our floor plan looks like…
Building A Scale Model Cabin Mockup
We’re definitely one’s to go that extra mile beyond just a simple plan on paper (or a dry erase board) and so we built a scale model to give us some perspective on the floor plan, wall placement and room size..
This helps us reference exactly were inside the cabin we want things to go such as the kitchen cabinets, fridge, shower stall, water-less toilet, the fold down bed, microwave, stairs… etc.
Making a scale model isn’t something everyone will do but it can help you to understand a lot more than just the placement of items inside the home. You’ll understand why it was very helpful for us when you read our Ultimate Roof and Rafter Guide!
Here's How We Build Our Scale Mock-up
Our cabin mock-up was constructed of simple corrugated plastic from a couple sale signs we picked up at the local dollar store.
You can use cardboard, Bristol board, Lego or whatever you have available that’ll give you a scaled representation.
We’re looking to save money in each phase of the build but not because we want to built cheaply.
In fact, we’re putting in so many extras you won’t believe it. If we’re going to live here then we may as well be comfortable.
Plus, every penny saved allows us to get one or two extra special build tools, which we cover in the future, that allow us to same time and money! Without these tools we wouldn’t have been able to build the cabin in two weeks or with just two people.
How to make a 3D digital model
I am pleased to say that we have finally decided on the floor plan, the roof design, as well as the layout for all the facilities such as shower, sinks, doors, and heating unit… etc.
Floor Plan Tip: I found this handy free app for the iPad called Roomle.
It’s been indispensable in drafting up several versions of the cabin floor plans. This allowed us to make changes on the fly and seeing how it’ll comes together.
Best of all it allows you to fully furnish your home’s floor plan, take a virtual 3D tour around the inside, and even get a birds eye view from above.
This gives you an unimpeded view from every angle.
You can check out Roomle for yourself and download it for your tablet on iTunes.
Here's our floor plan using the Roomle app
Today we showed you how we designed our cabin’s floor plan using a few different planning techniques.
It’s not just about a pencil, ruler and some graph paper.
Although it’s still a great place to start!
The living space (square footage) of an off grid home isn’t meant to “large” like an on grid home where there’s an abundance of power and fuel for heating.
When designing your off grid home it becomes critical to be smart and strategic when it comes to floor planning.
Use all the tools we’ve shown you here today and be sure to share any others you find helpful in the comments below.
Go ahead and make sure you follow along with the entre build!
We’ll update the Building The Cabin section every time we complete a new phase of the build.
LIKE WHAT YOU SAW?
Let us know what you think of the cabin floor plan in the comment section below.
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Real Men live off the grid, step lightly, and carry a Husqvarna!
P.S. If you enjoyed this post on the cabin floor plan then please share it.
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I signed up for the Newsletter and look forward to it as a source of inspiration as I begin my own journey toward a Grid-less Cabin up near the Canadian Border. I look forward to seeing and maybe even incorporating some of the complete floor plans, materials list, cost list and build instructions noted above as available (as soon as I can find them ;-) ).
Great site, great story, great inspiration.
So glad to hear your along for the journey George! As you may have read on my about page, I’m undergoing cancer treatments but I do try my very best to keep the information flowing as often as I possibly can. I’ve also recently been medical released from the military after 24 years an adapting to this new “lifestyle”, being back in school full time (at home) and trying my best to raise my little girl are all high on the priorities list.
Thank you again for signing up to my newsletter! We just finished installing the solar system and so there is LOTS to get caught up with my posting.
Well my husband and I have been dreaming of off grid living for a while now. So we have bought some land, sold most of our belongings, and are ready to begin. As of today, we are living in a trailer while we build. Our lot is just about cleared and our well is going in this week. We are planning on building a 20 by 24ft cabin completely off grid. Any help would be very much appreciated. I enjoyed reading the blogs here. I found a lot of useful information. Keep up the great work!
Elisabeth, that is fantastic to hear you too are building your own of grid cabin! Please send us some photos during and after your build and feel free to ask us any questions you like! Our doors are always open :)
where’s the stove in this house?
Hey there Karolina,
The wood-stove is pictured in the living room in the front corner of the cabin. You can see the exact location in the floor plan photos we made using the Roomle app near the bottom of the post.
I’ve bought my land, and debating on a cement pad for the building? So I don’t have stairs, thinking for the future when I’m older, plus waiting on a new hip? Will the way you built it on posts be warm enough? What about critters getting in, I guess skirting will keep them out, what about a washer dryer? Guess not or just by hand, some things I’ll have to get use to, smart TV? Great blog, can’t wait to get started . Thanks again, and hope your doing well.
Hey there Tony!
We’ve been fortunate to never have any troubles with critters under our cabin. One of the perks of living in Nova Scotia I perhaps? There really isn’t anywhere for them to crawl into as our our cabin is build on pads/posts. I could see it being more of a problem with a cabin that has exterior walls coming down to ground level that aren’t built properly or with the wrong material(s).
Our floor is exceptionally warm. It’s built with layer of OSB over the floor joist, then a layer of 1 inch thick pink rigid insulating foam (which acts as a thermal break), another layer of OSB, then 6 mil Poly, and finally a laminate wood floor that has additional insulation padding underneath.
Our Magnum solar inverter is good for 4000 watts and has a 240V output. Enough to power pretty much anything, including a washer. in fact, did you know that even Costco now has an off grid appliance section.
Thanks for dropping us a line Tony. When you do get started on your build please keep us in mind and share your build with us. If we can help in any way let us know!
Hi, I was wondering where can I get the plans and material list for this cabin! Is their an email or somewhere on the web page ? Thank you.
Jessica, we’ve designed everything ourselves from scratch using pen & paper, a dry erase board and by building a small scale model. We are currently writing up our complete materials list, as well as the exact cost of each component, and I’ll be making it download able for every one as soon as it’s done. As well, I will be sending it out personally to all our subscribers in an upcoming email :)
We bought a 2 acre piece of land near the French River in Ontario last June and got 1/2 the driveway in before winter.
I’m planning to build a 16′ x 20′ cabin with an 8′ deck. You can’t believe how excited I was when I came across your web site!
I’ve looked at a few of your videos and web pages so far. They’re very helpful.
Looking forward to learning more.
Will send you some follow-up info once I progress with my project.
Thanks so much for sharing.
I’m so glad you’re finding our website helpful and thank you very much for the kind words. We look forward to hearing all about how your build progresses next spring/summer and please let us know how it goes ok!
Steve and Mireille
Will be building a cabin this coming spring as soon as snow melts.
Hi there –
Just found your site this morning and it looks to be a fine resource. My wife and I purchased a property in northern Minnesota and there is a cabin on it. The structure is off the ground, on posts, with bare dirt underneath. If I read correctly, similar to your set up.
While working on and cleaning up the place this summer, we found the cabin to be very musty and damp … all the time. We have to tear up the entire floor next spring/summer to inspect and likely replace all of the joists as at least some of them have rotted. When putting it all back together again we are wondering whether a vapor barrier between the earth and the cabin floor is called for.
The flooring currently appears to be 3/4-inch particle board right on top of the joists. Did you install any sort of barrier beneath your cabin? Regardless, when we replace the flooring, we’ll definitely go with the OSB/insulation combination you noted above.
Here’s the complete makeup of our flooring system…
On top of the floor joists put down our first single layer of 5/8” T&G OSB. On top of that we have a foamular codebord extruded polystyrene rigid insulation – 48-inch x 96-inch x 1-inch with a ship lap edge (provides the thermal break). Next is another layer of 5/8 T&G OSB. At this point we completed the remaining work inside the cabin so as not to mark up the flooring we will eventually put down.
Once the inside wall framing was complete, windows and door installed, I put down a CGSB approved 6 mil vapor barrier to prevent moisture from under the cabin from entering. Finally, that was all topped off with an engineered flooring that has a thin foam backer for additional warmth, allows for slight expansion and prevents any squeaks.
Hope that helps Gordy.
Why do you need to put the vapour barrier on the second lot of osb, I thought we would do that before we laced the second layer down.
You certainly can as long as it’s somewhere between the outside and inside. It’s simply preventing in ingress of moisture and so there’s no critical stage where it needs to go. We put ours directly under our locking laminate flooring because the flooring has a foam backer that can easily slide on the poly. This helps to greatly reduce creaking noise, allows the floor to float properly and makes installation much easier.
Thanks Steve, we’re building very similar to you but our size is 16×24 so slightly longer, would you put an extra set of pillars in so making it 12 instead of nine.
Congrats on the build Garren!
At 16×24 it may not be required but there’s no rule that says you have to build using a minimum. One of the factors that determine the style of foundation (and in our case the number of posts) is the soil type. If you have softer soil (we have gravel and bedrock below our cabin) then adding an addition set of pillars could indeed be required. If you are unsure then it’s always advisable to over build than under build. You “could” always go back and add additional posts if your cabin ever did begin to settle/shift but it’s much easier during the initial build when you can access, tools, and materials at the ready.
I am building a cabin at a remote site in Northern Manitoba and wanted to know why chose OSB instead of plywood for your flooring layers. I am planning to use also a 1inch extruded polystyrene rigid insulation between the layers which seems to be the way to go in a cold (like really cold) environment.
Can you tell me the square footage of the loft? Do you have any floor plan of that or visuals of what it looks like? Thanks. Barb
Hey Barb! The loft is 16 x 12 and overlooks the main living area. There are complete build details of the loft in our Framing the Loft section.