When you're not an architect or a construction worker but you still insist on designing and building your own home.
There’s nothing quite as luxurious as having something tailored just for you, be it a custom business suit that fits like a dream, a custom holiday with all your favourite activities, or... a custom house built with your lifestyle in mind!
The beauty of building your own home is getting to have complete control over what it will be like. Rather than purchasing a house that's too big or too small, with too many rooms or too few rooms, you can build one that is just right.
But how big is big enough?
The answer to this will vary with individuals; some have found a tiny 150 sq ft to be sufficient, some are more comfortable with 1000 sq ft, while some were able to comfortably fit a family of four within half that space without sacrificing quality of life. The key is to observe your own self and the space you actually use on a daily basis.
To start, I first examined the things I do in my daily life, and listed them by priority, frequency of use and amount of time spent. The following ranking emerged:
A statistical analysis revealing just how lazy I am.
Clearly, the spaces that are going to get most of my attention are: the bedroom and the work space.
The rest are secondary – I rarely entertain people because I am a terrible host, so I don’t need a fancy or large living room or sitting room (heck, I don’t even watch TV, so don’t need that either). I cook only when the mood strikes (which is rarely) and even then I cook very simple food, therefore a small kitchenette is sufficient and a pantry is unnecessary. As for the bathroom and laundry room, they need not be lavish – after all, I hardly spend time there except when forced to.
I then added on the quirky bits that are not necessary, but that would make my life 10x better: an outdoor deck for hanging out in the sun and a skylight to stargaze with.
Taking a stab at designing
As previously mentioned, the first version of my house plan emerged in the middle of a work meeting. At the time, the notion had just taken root and was not fully fleshed out. I had no idea where I was going to put the house or what terrain it will be on, and so the plan was generic and I had assumed a flat land surface. It looked something like this:
A (terrible) sketch of my dream house.
A much better visualisation of my dream house.
After I went through the long process of finding land and finally bought one, it was not flat like the land of my imagination, but sloped at roughly 20 degree angle (but with a kickass view). That required some adjustments to the plan, so I went back to the drawing board.
After a few iterations, I ended up with something that resembled these:
Tiny Houses on stilts for uneven, sloping land
At this point, I’ve been tinkering with the design for almost a year, all by my lonesome self. And despite my best, most earnest effort on the sketches and moodboards, I badly needed the help of a professional to draw up real architectural plans with all the proper architectural components and architectural measurements.
Getting professional help
I reached out to Epic Home, an organisation that specialises in bringing laymen volunteers together to build a modular house for native Malaysians in the span of 3 days. If anyone could figure out how to make my vision buildable, especially by noobs like me, it would be them.
So I sent them this: