Small House Plans & Small House Plan Architects

Looking for small house plans?  Architects explain how to find them.

The Search for small house plans: how NOT to do it:

Searching for small house plans is probably Not the way to find what you want.  Better to look for small house plan architects whose designs you appreciate, then work with them to get the plans that work best for you.

And why will your searching for house plans that are small in square footage Not yield the wonderful results: of being able to find exactly what you want?  Because you are unique and so is your family.  What someone else has guided an architect to create for them by means of paying those architects for their expert services resulted in small house plans for their lifestyle and their dreams and wishes, not yours.  By placing yourself into a generic situation where you are trying to find someone else’s lifestyle plans will probably feel somewhat uncomfortable, take a lot of your time and likely end up leave you frustrated.

(C)Copyright 2010 Rand Soellner, All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Anyone is hereby permitted to link to this webpage from your website, using the anchor text: Small House Plans.
(C)Copyright 2005-2010 Rand Soellner, All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Small house plans by Rand Soellner Architect. A possible trend in housing: smaller and higher quality.

So how do you find house plans that happen to be small, or judicious in the use of space and square footage to suit your exact needs?  Hire the architect whose work you like the look of, then engage them to either design your family’s small home from scratch, or from some existing house plans that architect has (and for which he owns the copyright), then pay him to modify it to suit your needs.

There seems to be a thought in some people’s minds that they are going to save money by finding existing small house plans on the internet, print them out, scribble some marks on them indicating how you want it to be modified to suit you, then hand it to a local architect (or residential designer) in your hometown and say: “Here, I did all the work, this is what I want, all you have to do is make my improvements and you’re done.”  That is not really the way things work.

Small house plans (or any size of plans) and copyright law

First of all: why would you want to find something that your family is going to live in for free on the Internet.  And is it really free?  Did you actually read the fine print about copyright protection on what you printed out?  That is a very real Federal law, Per USC Section 102, Copyright Act.  The rights to reproduce them and especially (here’s the important part) to actually Use them to build something belong to the person or company that created them.  Check out that fine print.

US District Attorneys enforce that, so please be careful with your assumptions.  It would be the same as your placing a microphone (or your computer) next to a radio, recording the latest hits from your favorite recording artists, then trying to either sell those tunes to others, or even broadcast your recording in your own place of business for public exposure.  Surprised?  It’s true.  The same applies to a situation where you saw a painting you liked and took a photograph of it, then took that home and printed it out and hung it on your wall, or on your office wall, or tried to use it elsewhere.

You would have violated the Copyright Act and violated the intellectual property rights of the creator of the painting, song, and house plans.  So: now you know: it is illegal to simply copy and reuse someone else’s plans.  And that applies to “derivative works” as well, wherein simply moving a doorway or partition or some other small item is still deriving from the primary initial creative work and so your moving a toilet or other minor change does not constitute a new creative work on your part.  That is a common misconception.

Starting with house plans, small or otherwise that don’t really suit you does not accomplish what you are after and does Not save time or design fees

Any architect familiar with copyright law will promptly inform you that he cannot take the work of another architect and then “slightly” modify it to suit your suggested modifications.  Also, what you have done does not save you any money.  Your architect has to start a new design, usually on computer, and your little printout with your markup does nothing to save your architect time while he is drawing your real house plans for your new small home.  And, guess what?  You will discover, as your architect begins to lay things out, that what you thought you liked so much online, when it was the size of a postage stamp, begins to have flaws that don’t really suit your desires, as you start to see them enlarged and at a proper scale of 1/4″ = 1′-0″ (the size of most house plans, small or large, used to build the project).  So, you will end up taking More time to work through the fact that what you have given to your architect, in hopes of “saving him time,” in reality takes more time and fee, for you to see that what you have instructed him or her to to really doesn’t suit your needs.

Your family deserves plans that suit their needs.
And the smaller the house is, the more important the design.

Trying to find architects small plans online that fit your exact house needs is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  It probably doesn’t exist.

Okay, second: Don’t you and your family deserve house plans, small or otherwise that suit your needs?  If you think we’re kidding, just go ahead and get online and check out what you think you can find “for free.”  Mark the time on a piece of paper (and the date on a calendar) when you start looking.  We’ll bet that you will not find anything that is perfect for you and your family after an hour, a day, a week, or a month.  Why?  Because it doesn’t exist.  Once again: you are unique and so is your family.  If you happen to have something not the norm, that will make your search even harder.

For instance, let’s look at just one aspect of your house plan design program requirements.  You may have a compact car, like a Toyota Prius, then perhaps a Land Cruiser, and because someone in your family hauls heavy loads, a long bed Ford F-250, and because someone likes to golf and you want to live on a golf course, you might also want a garage space for a golf cart.  Okay.  That’s a pretty distinctive 3-1/2 vehicle garage requirement that you are probably not going to find on any set of house plans, small or large, anywhere on the planet.  Why?  Because that is a distinctly unique set of vehicular storage requirements that does not fit the norm of a standard 2 car garage of normal length and width.

Is this starting to make some sense?  You are unique.  You are special.  How about if you have some sort of hobby?  So what to do?  How to approach this situation?

Well, take a deep breath.  Stop your frenetic internet search hoping to find that ideal set of small house plans that will perfectly suit you because it doesn’t exist.  Aren’t you about cross-eyed from looking at the hundreds of itty-bitty plans?  Don’t they all start looking the same after a while?  With nothing particularly interesting in any of them to make your heart soar?  Okay.  What to do?


small house plans
House plans by Rand Soellner Architect are also offered in a new smaller version for people wanting compact houses. (C)Copyright 2005-2010 Rand Soellner, All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Yes, you will probably find this on the internet.
Type in phrases like:

Home Architects
Timber Frame Architects
Post and Beam Architects
Green Home Architects
Mountain Home Architects
Custom Home Architects
Small Home Architects
Cottage Architects

and see what pops up on your computer search engine.  Note the companies that rank highly in whatever categories you wish to review.  Check out their websites.  Do they actually have good, solid information about home design, or in this case, small house plans (like this webpage you are reading right now)?


Give them a call.  Talk with them.  Share some of your hopes and dreams and listen to the Architect talk about his approach to design and how he would go about designing your small house plans.  Tell him about your lifestyle, how many people are in your household and how this number is likely to change over the years, number and type of vehicles, where and how you like to cook, number of visitors on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and other information that you now have the opportunity to share with a true design professional.


When you have found someone that sounds like a reasonable human being and who listens to what you have to say and is interested in the possibility of taking on your small house plans assignment (not all firms may be oriented to this sort of size and type of project), then arrange for an in-person meeting.  Please do not waste this busy professional’s time by asking him to meet you at your project site before you have engaged them.  This usually makes the owner of the site feel good, seeing a knowledgeable professional appear there and walk around and say things like: “yes, sure, we can design a nice one here.” But this really does not help you decide whether or not to hire the guy or gal.  Would you really expect for any other professional that you have not yet hired, to meet you anywhere but at their office?  An attorney?  A dentist?  Your physician?


It is best to meet with the architect in his office.  He or she is best equipped there to have what you need to see to help you make the choice to hire them.  Have him show you, on the equipment and technology and renderings and plans and other items he has, that are normally bulky and hard to transport, what he is doing or has done, or has thoughts about that might lead you to select them to design your small house plans.  Anything else, like site reconnaissance at this early stage, is window dressing.  At least, until you have hired your architect and are ready for him to actually start working on your project.  Then, some site analysis is very appropriate and necessary.  It would be nice if the architect happened to have designed their office, or be able to transport you to some home that they have designed nearby for you to see, because the expertise that you see in the built home will give you a useful understanding of the architect’s use of space, which is crucial in small house plans design.

Important aspects of small house plans creation and design

1.  Effective space usage: every square inch has to count in small houses.

small house plans
Small house plans benefit from the use of movable dividers like these Shoji screens. Photo courtesy of JapanGarden.Co.Uk.

2.  Multi-purpose and overlapping implied spaces: clever architects used to creating plans for houses that are small, have likely developed some interesting ways of handling spacial usage that allows for some doors or other panels to be moved that changes the entire spacial purpose and size, depending on your needs for the space for that day.  This can be an extremely effective method, like the Japanese “Shoji” screens that are slid into different positions to allow rooms to perform different functions at different times of the day or during visitors stays, or other variations from normal daily use.

The actual sliding or moving partitions used do not have to look like Japanese rice paper and wood.  They can be from whatever materials work for you.  This is a useful technique that helps make the smaller spaces more useful in small house plans.  You may chose to not have your architect employ this technique, although it is certainly worth considering, if you are serious about effective spacial usage.

3.  Spaciousness where it counts: Kitchens: make the kitchen as large as you possibly can, with as much counter as you can.  Wrapping counters around walls is usually a good way to start and then refine the layout from there.  Also, having a usable and decent-sized island is a touch of luxury not expected in most small house plans, so having your architects include this feature is a real plus.

4.  Cut down on dining room space if you really do not need that much every day.  Many people waste square footage on formal dining rooms that are rarely used.  Do yourself, your checking account and the planet carbon footprint a favor: don’t build it if you don’t really need it.  Having a main dining are off the side or to the rear of the kitchen, where the dining is separated from the kitchen with a buffet counter is a good spacial separation technique that allows the 2 spaces to enjoy the feeling of shared space, making each of them seem larger than they really are.  Also, locating your dining space along tall doors with glass oriented toward views to the rear can be like dining at the most exclusive restaurant in town with a view.

5.  Eliminate partitions wherever possible, particularly between public spaces like: Dining, Kitchen, Foyer, Stairway(s), Living-Great Rooms and similar spaces.  There is nothing wrong with any of these spaces being in one larger space in which all of these are contained.  The furniture is what defines their actual spacial use in small house plans, rather than walls.

There is a lot more ground to cover and we’ll be adding new pages discussing these over the coming weeks and months.  Please consider contacting us to handle your small house plans design needs.

Contact for small house plans architects :

Rand Soellner Architect  1. 828. 269. 9046

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