Tiny House: Building Options and the Chosen One

9/08/2014 10:45:00 PM

From the beginning of all this project dream home conception, even before we landed on the bf's family's property, I have thought of different approach on how to build a house. We definitely won't do the typical build as we have a budget and have a lot of "wants."


1) The first I thought of is your traditional concrete build and just keep everything bare and basic for the industrial look + save on cost by not using the typical finishes like ceiling, paint, flooring.

2) Then my contractor suggested Shipping containers. He renovated a home made of shipping containers here in qc so he knew it is possible. I did my research on it, and even visited the site, it looks promising.

(Check out: Living in a Metal Box)

3) But my very persistent brain thought, "Maybe we could do something cheaper?" Yep, after all the costing I did for shipping containers, it still is somewhat costly for all the modifications you need to do. Plus craning it to higher floors sounds terrifying in a home setting. Hehe... I have inquired about prefab houses and realized we can do that type of construction. Warehouse / factory do this a lot, so why not a residential build right? Just build a metal skeleton frame on a foundation, and clad it with rib-type longspan, insulate and build interior walls. Sounds doable. I've discussed my thought process in this post: New House Construction Idea: Hopefully Cheaper than Shipping Containers.

But even before all the plan progress, we got a hiccup on where to actually build a house! Discussed it all in this post, and in the end, project dream home will rise in the bf's family's property. :) Which of course, needed a new construction approach. It's 3.5 meters wide so we can't use shipping containers, plus I think it would be impossible to bring them in anyway since we're at the far end part of the property. The steel post/beam plus metal cladding will be tricky as well since there's an existing 2 story structure in it.

For a while, we were set on just doing the conventional build. Extend the existing posts and put additional beams using rebars / concrete and do chb walls. No solid concrete flooring, we'll install wood floors just like how all the houses in the compound were built.


BUT then again, even just based on this post alone, you would know that I want to have better options. So I consulted with our structural engineer if it's possible to....

1) Build the post and beam (additional level) using the conventional rebar + concrete so they are all properly connected to the existing structure.

2) But use steel bars + exterior metal wall cladding + insulation + interior walls for all the walling of the additional floor. 

Something like this, but instead of I-beam steel post, we'll have concrete.

So basically, it's the new construction idea of using metal wall clad but in combination of the concrete post / beam build. We will have concrete skeleton for the entire house, but for the additional floors, we'll have metal walls instead. 

WHY? I guess you're wondering why not go with chb walls then if we're doing concrete posts anyway. 

1) Even though the engineer told us that the existing foundation / post can carry the load of additional story, I still wanted the extension as light as possible. Less stress for the structure. 

2) It will be so much more convenient. We're building on a tight space so we actually have almost zero storage / work area. No space to store all the chb, and no space to mix all the concrete for the walls. (We're going with ready-mix concrete for the post / beams) It would also cut construction time significantly, installing the longspan would be easier and no more exterior painting necessary as we're going for pre-painted panels.

3) As for the cost, I have no idea if it's cheaper. Haha.. I think it is though overall. Even if the materials would cost the same, labor cost will be cheaper because it would take less time to install.

(Wow this post if full of numbered list! haha)

 I still can't vouch for the longevity of this approach. I just thought that if a metal roof can withstand the elements, then using those as walls could do the same right? Also with all the huge metal warehouses I saw standing strong, I think it would fare well in a tiny house. I think proper maintenance is key, as for all type of house construction anyway.

So is this the best option for everyone? Definitely not. But for us, for now, it is the best plan we have. We'll give you update over the years on how it will hold up, but I'm hoping for the best!

As for what's going on in the construction now, can't give you update just yet as there's nothing to say / show. Haha.. It still basically looks the same like the last time I showed you. All that happened does not translate to photo well as it is all about formwork / framework in preparation for the pouring of concrete for posts and beams happening this thursday! That is one big step as I'm tired of looking at rebars and cocolumbers. Haha.. But after the first pour, we'll have another one for the loft level, which means another round of formworks! This is taking too long.. haha.. But we got to do it properly so we've got to suck it up and be patient. 

Here are some photos I took the past few weeks. Not very nice, I know.

Hoping to share a better update and more progress soon after the first concrete pour. It's a very exciting time as it means that the extension will officially be part of the house. Yay!

Wish us luck.

(Follow the Tiny House Saga here


  1. excited for you! ang dami mong ideas! hehe

  2. Would you mind sharing the contact information of the contractor with experience in building container homes? Greatly appreciate it!


Thanks for dropping by. I'd love to hear what you think! :)

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