Book Review: DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses by Jay Shafer

Book Review: DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses by Jay ShaferWhat’s most enjoyable about Jay Shafer’s DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses: Build Your Own Guest Cottage, Writing Studio, Home Office, Craft Workshop, or Personal Retreat is that it provides ideas and, perhaps most importantly, whether or not you want to build your own shed or tiny house, or have one built for you. Right there alone is a big choice that needs to be made before the project begins.

Jay’s Four Lights’ small buildings have appeared on CNN, Oprah, Fine Homebuilding, and This Old House. Ranging in size from 100 to 120 square feet, these tiny backyard buildings can be used as guest cottages, art or writing studios, home offices, craft workshops, a personal retreat, vacation retreats, or a full-time residence (be sure to check with your local building code before starting because the location can matter).

Books by Jay Shafer…

This book is filled with photos, elevation drawings, and door/window schedules for constructing 6 of the handsome little buildings, plus an extensive how-to set of instructions that can be applied to any backyard building project. This revised edition of Tumbleweed DIY Book of Backyard Sheds and Tiny Houses contains many new photos of buildings designed by Jay Shafer. The first segment of the DIY Book of Sheds & Tiny Houses features Jay Shafer’s new tailored floor-plan system, Box Bungalows. Unlike any other tiny house plans you can buy, Four Lights’ Box Bungalows enable you to configure your own buildable floor plans, without all the hassles of designing from scratch (such as windows interfering with walls, or bathrooms which don’t fit). Two elements make this possible: No wheel wells: For trailer-based tiny houses, the walls are inside the wheel wells. This eliminates a major design constraint, allowing the space to be used in a greater variety of ways. Component furnishings: Jay has designed bathrooms, kitchens, and ladders in relationship to a few window layouts to make countless good floor plans possible. This first segment also contains schematic designs for all six Box Bungalow models and a dozen starter floor plans to inspire the perfect floor plan for your unique needs. For each model, you’ll find a beautiful exterior image, four exterior elevations, a floor plan, and a window-and-door schedule. Everything you need to plan your perfect Box Bungalow.

You might also enjoy reading Tiny House with a Doggie Elevator to the Loft

The second segment is a ‘how-to’ book of residential carpentry, presented by the experienced editors of Skills Institute Press. In 68 pages, they explain and illustrate foundation construction, floor and wall framing, roof framing, roofing, sheathing, and window-and-door installation. Everything you need to understand before you start building.

This super-helpful book, written by a true expert on the subject, includes a lot of great pictures and ideas if you are just looking to be inspired. If you are ready to build this book also has construction details, but not full architectural drawings and plans.

Not covered in the book:

  • Plumbing and electric
  • No materials list
  • No steps on how to downsize

About Jay:

Jay Shafer is internationally recognized as an expert in small living. He is a designer specializing in sustainable architecture and urban planning. He has lectured extensively on these subjects for such venues as the Eco-Dwelling program at New Collage, the Boston Architectural Center, and the University of Iowa’s School of Art and Art History where he served as Adjunct Assistant Professor for more than a decade. Jay’s designs and essays have appeared in a number of periodicals, books, and television shows including Fine Homebuilding, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, Oprah, and This Old House. He currently lives in an 89 square-foot home of his own creation in Sebastopol, California.

Shafer’s first book, The Small House Book, was self-published in 2000 and revised in 2010, in cooperation with Fox Chapel Publishing. An underground self-publishing success, it has sold many thousands of copies over the past 10 years.

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