Behind the Scenes of Project Dream Home A.K.A The Tiny House Renovation

6/08/2014 02:59:00 AM

Half a year done and we're finally making some progress on Project Dream Home. Last January, I did some sort of to-do list for the year, and I put "Start building House, latest April." I guess that didn't happen. Well a lot of things happened actually, but just not the building part.

I almost wrote "quick update on Project Dream Home" on the subject of this post since I needed to sleep badly and I just wanted to share some updates, but I realized that this will not be quick at all. I have a lot to tell and sleep can definitely wait. Hahaha...

So let's back up a little. (This is the chronological order of what has transpired in relation to this project, prepare yourself!)

1) When we started dreaming up this house, we originally planned to build on the bf's family lot. They live in an apartment type compound so it's quite small, but we know that we can make it work and build us a cozy home.

2) But then we realized we wanted to have a showroom so their space is not enough, so I thought, why not build on my family's lot instead? It's big (400sqm lot area) with so much wasted space. We could definitely carve out a small portion up front for the showroom / house. (Lot is very expensive in our area and we don't want to be very far from our respective families so building on either of our family's lot is the ideal solution for now... you've got to work with what you have you know haha)

3) I told my dad of the plan and asked permission, and as kind and generous that he is, he agreed.

4) Which of course makes me so excited and I started researching and came up with some plans on how to build on the cheap. That's where the container van idea and metal cladding idea came in. And being my obsessive self, I did floorplans and moodboards for this particular set up.

Click photo for larger view (measurement in ft)
Had a few more tweaks to the plan especially of the rooftop level, but that's the basic idea.

Here's a moodboard of the living space on the third floor.
Obsessed I tell you.

5) I showed the plans to different contractors and asked for quotations, which of course came way higher than we can afford. Haha.. I know it's four freakin' floors so it should well be expensive. But we didn't let it bother us so much, we thought that we can start building the lower floors first, then just add up as we go. Or maybe live in a a very raw house without windows, tiles, working toilet, and paint? We wanted industrial so we might as well live up to it. Haha..  

6) Then the real problem came. LOT of issues. Literally, issues about the lot itself. Haha.. Since my dad is not the exclusive owner of our house yet, and some people didn't like my idea as much as I love it, it just won't push through. I won't be expounding on this since it's a very sensitive topic, but God has a plan so I'm just letting it be.

7) Back to the drawing board, which means back to the bf's house idea! He then asked if we can buy a small portion of the house and build there, and the answer is yes yes yes. Thank you! 

As I've said earlier, their house is in an apartment compound, meaning much smaller footprint. Here's a diagram of the tininess of the Dream Home.

Small, yes. Doable, of course. It's basically just the garage so the width of the house will be just a bit wider than your car. Thankfully, I never dreamed of living in very big spacious house, I wanted simple, easy to maintain place. Of course a little bigger than 26.25 sqm lot would be ideal, but who am I to complain? We've now got a space to actually build one so I'm just super excited. 

8) But the issues are not over yet. Since it will sit in a small property, we wanted to build up. As in five floors up. Haha...
1st level: a place to stock our products (I wouldn't dare call it a showroom, but maybe I can since it's literally just a room?! haha)
2nd level: living, dining, kitchen
3rd level: bedroom, full bathroom
4th level: My office (future kids room?!?!), walk-in closet
5th level: powder room, bf's workshop
PLUS rooftop!

One night when I still don't have actual measurements of the space, I came up with this moodboard for the 2nd level (living dining kitchen space). Also why I posted about living/dining combos.

But after measuring, we realized we can actually fit a separate living and dining space. But instead of doing the usual moodboard, I played around and did this very rough rendering. Please excuse this, haha, definitely not the exact look we wanted, but the basic layout and finishes are here. I just can't contain myself and I needed to see something in print and not just in my imagination.

So we had our architect friend do a proper plan which I've shared a glimpse of here. But when we asked some city hall insider regarding permits, they told us it won't be approved since it's too narrow for all the level we wanted. womp womp. 

9) OH KAY. I was actually quite fed up already with doing plans, moodboards and imagining day in and day out and then nothing ever happening. But as persistent as I am, we came up with a new plan. We're originally planning to knock down the existing two storey structure (which is somewhat connected to their main house through doorways and such -- his mom's room below, bf's room upstairs) 

So I asked the bf about letting go of our "wants" -- our own offices, his workshop, my walk-in closet, rooftop -- and just renovate the existing structure, add a floor with a loft, and just have what we actually need. He thought about it, I thought about it, and we both decided to just simplify everything.

10) Since I've not learned my lesson yet, I, Elle Uy, of course, made another plan, AGAIN. 

Click on photo for larger view (measurement in mm)
First and second floor will be the original structure, and third floor and loft will be the addition. You might wonder why the master bedroom is on the 2nd level, and have the main living space on the 3rd. Well, the 3rd level will be more spacious since there'll be a very high ceiling in there so we can achieve the industrial loft look, even in a much smaller scale. We'll be spending most of our time there anyway, so might as well utilized the nicer space.

And while I didn't make a new moodboard yet, I've been doing some sketches of what the 3rd level would be like. 

11) I had this new plan quoted by a few contractors and I'm just waiting for their feedback (fingers crossed!)

12) I'm not yet done. Oh my gawd I'm already tired, but I need to finish my story so here we go. (I'm seriously hoping that at least a few people are reading this so this late night writing will be worth it Haha..) Since we're getting that part of their house, we need to relocate bf's mom to another room (she's currently using a portion of the first level). They have extra rooms, yes, but they have a lot of stuff. Things that were from decades past that they just don't have the time to sort and let go. So the past few weeks, the bf and I sorted and disposed of what I believe is a room full of stuff. We're far from done, but today (technically that's yesterday), we have started renovating his mom's new room. Hooray!! Progress!! It's a small start, but I have this dizizit feeling. 

13) Once his mom moved to her brand new room (which will be so much nicer than what she has now), we can then again sort, organized, move stuff out of the current tiny house structure and start on renovation. That will of course depend on the quotes I'll be getting next week! But I'm assuming it will be MUCH MUCH cheaper than our previous quotes for a 4 storey ground up build on an 80sqm lot. We now have a renovation plus addition in a 26.75 sqm. That is quite a downsize so I'm hoping the cost will be sooo downsized as well. Haha...

Whooo. So all that happened in I guess 9 months time span? Maybe longer. I really don't know and I don't wanna remember. I'm just so happy where we are now. We are slowly getting there. That's what matters most. Will it be our forever home? I hope not since it's really quite a tight fit. Maybe we'll become extremely rich and buy a lot and build our bigger dream home, I don't know. But now, this is our dream coming true. I believe that whatever happens next is the actual plan for us, so all the mishaps from the past were just His way of saying, it's not for us. Maybe we don't want to live in a house without windows, tiles, working toilet? Haha.. With this new renovation plan, we can at least have some more left in our savings and do other things like maybe travel? :) I know a house is not all that is to life, I'm not that weird, so maybe with this tiny footprint, we can simplify our lives, enjoy our small house, and enjoy everyday without worrying too much about rain coming in our windowless house. Haha...

That's all folks. It has been 3 hours, who knew. I'll update you with what's next and share his mom's new room as well. Wish us luck! :)


  1. go ms.elle! matter what the size is,i know it will turn out excited for your new crib and excited for me to see the pics..looking forward on that.

  2. @precious Thank you! Well as you can see, I'm excited too.. haha

  3. What software did you use for the floor plan and perspective rendering? It's nice.

  4. @anonymous for the floorplan and 3d rendering, I used a free software called Sweet Home 3D. For the moodboards, I used photoshop.

  5. If you don't mind, how much did you spend on building your tiny house (EXcluding the interior decorations)?? Your answer would really mean a lot coz my father and siblings have been looking into this container van idea also as a cheaper option for our own home.

  6. This is literally 5 years ago.. ha ha.. it's been a month since I saw your vlog at youtube and I am so curious on how you planned your TALL TINY HOUSE.. I'm a fan! I am not also into big houses... I just want a small house with a livable space and of course with a style.. and I so love your house! your blog here gave me an inspiration that someday I can also have my own house... currently living with my husband's family- we're on the process of renovating one of the bedrooms into our small bedroom slash office room slash living room slash kid's room hahaha I'll try to send the outcome in your IG... you're an inspiration... thanks a lot!

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