Now that we had a plan (read about our decision to build backwards), it was time to start putting it on paper! As any excited home builder would, I took to pinterest and searched page after page of tiny houses, garages and any simple living spaces I could find. See my Hunter Shop Board on Pinterest!
Based on a loose timeline for building, family planning and our forever home we determined that we would need two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen and living space, garage doors, and plenty of overhead space to pull in a tractor. I pinned lots of cute ideas, but couldn't find the right layout for our needs. Enter DIY blueprinting on Adobe Illustrator.
Our goal was to keep the design simple, functional and affordable. We started with a basic 30'x30' square to reduce material waste. We set a scale (1in=5ft) and drew the house (a square) to scale in illustrator. Next we determined the sizes of each room (loosely based on the sizes of the rooms in the house we were living in at the time) and drew them to scale within the original square. We continued the process, measuring each appliance and piece of furniture, scaling it and adding it into the diy blueprint. We also added lighting and electrical mark ups.
While this sounds simple enough, it took a lot of revisions to get to this point. We added doors, rearranged rooms and tried multiple furniture scenarios. I vividly remember sitting around our coffee table with my siblings showing them the plan and getting their feedback, I think that night alone we added an extra door and moved the entire kitchen.
Sidney's Tip: Find a *few* people you trust and ask their honest opinion. Too many opinions can be overwhelming, but going through the process alone can allow little details to be left out. Putting 3-5 extra heads together allows you to cover your bases without getting bogged down.
The other challenge in this design was maintaining the mindset that this would be a garage down the road. We wanted to include as few features that would later have to be torn out as possible. It would need a work bench, garage doors, drains so the floor could be hosed down, etc. Every decision we made needed to work for a house, but also for a garage.
A Few of these Features:
+Countertops/Workbench: The shop would require a work bench. We decided to put all the kitchen appliances and countertops on the longest wall so that in the future, there would be plenty of table top space and shelving. The countertops are made of oak plywood, so they look nice now but are functional later. We used open shelving (allows tools to be stored and easily accessed) above and below the counter tops. The shop won't require cabinets...so why spend the extra money? It requires an organized and clean kitchen, because all of our dishes are constantly on display. This hasn't been an issue for us. I enjoy styling the shelves, so its fun for me to maintain the appearance.
+Concrete Floors: With plans to store the tractor and other vehicles in this space we knew we would need durable, easy to clean floors. At first I was nervous about concrete floors (I am always freezing, and worried that we wouldn't be able to keep the house cozy with this feature), but they have turned out to be my favorite part of the house. Pouring concrete was one of the early parts of this process and over time they got muddy, dusty and stained. Before we moved in we had them polished, they cleaned up nicely for the most part. There are a few "construction scars" here and there, but nothing we can't live with. The floors are cold, so I wear bedroom slippers most of the time at home. When our AC went out in late May it came in handy, when we were too hot we just laid on the floor! We do have two drains in the floor which we covered with a rug and the dining room table. Admittedly not the prettiest part of the house, but a small price to pay!
+Garage Doors: We positioned the shop relative to where our forever home will sit. We drew out a rough sketch of the overall layout before breaking ground on the shop. The front of the shop will have garage doors flanking the front door on both sides. We went ahead and framed the house for these garage doors, but in the mean time put large windows in the spaces. When we move, we will take the windows out and install garage doors in their place. This seems like a small detail, but in the future it will save time and money!
It took a lot of planning on the front end to come up with a design that we could live with, and enjoy without spending extra money or creating spaces that would later be useless. We really wanted to have a fireplace in the shop and we seriously discussed adding one in, after lots of figuring we decided that it just wasn't worth the extra money, so it is something we look forward to in our forever home. At the end of the day we were able to construct a livable garage that will maintain its structure when we move out! I will warn you, our current house plan is not exactly like the one shown here...but those stories will come!