Off Grid Cabin Plans and Design Tips

Mar 2, 2020 | Handmade

When designing your home there are so many things to consider and designing an off grid cabin is no different. 

My husband and I decided to design our own floor plans for our cabin because we wanted to make it unique to us and our lifestyle.  Although there are lots of great floor plans available online and from designers, there is something special about creating a space that is made just for you and your family.

Here I share with you our cabin building plans and explain my process for designing our floor plans, which I hope will help guide and inspire you.

Our Floor Plans

Here are the floor plans that we designed for our off grid cabin, drawn in a 1/4 inch scale. The footprint of the cabin ended up being 603 square feet and the loft is 405 square feet.

When starting to design our cabin plans this is the process we took.

First Consider

What do you want in your cabin?

Knowing what spaces, appliances, and key features you want in your home are important to establish at the beginning.   

Before starting your drawings it is helpful to sit down and make a list of all of the things you need and want in a home.  If you are going to be sharing the space with a partner it is important to work on this list together. 

For instance, how many sleeping spaces do you need? Do you want a dishwasher? Do you want a dinning room table or will stools at a counter be enough? Would you rather have a tub, shower, or both? 

Think through each room you would like to have in your home and what elements you want in each space, so you know what needs to be included in the floor plans. 

 

The Location

Where your cabin will be built can impact the design, so if possible it is nice to consider the land when drawing out your plans. Although this may not always be possible, if you know the building location you can factor in natural elements like the orientation of the sun and the surrounding hills and terrain. 

When designing our cabin we chose to have a lot of windows on the south facing wall so we could capture the sun’s heat in the winter. This is also an important consideration if you plan on putting solar panels on your off grid home.

The Size

Knowing your ideal cabin size will be helpful to give you parameters for drawing your floor plans.

The space available,  local regulations, the amount of people living in and visiting the home, and your budget are all things that may impact the size of your cabin design.

Starting out we decided to keep the footprint of our cabin around 600 square feet, with a sleeping loft. We had considered building a smaller home but after thinking about our lifestyle we decided we wanted to have room for company to come over.  Also, we wanted to have a room on the ground level so it would be possible to live in the cabin when we get too old to climb the stairs. 

Having a small home was important so we could afford the building costs, it could be run primarily off solar, it would have a smaller resource draw, and it would be a cozy cabin. 

Sketch Your Ideas

After thinking through the cabin elements, location, and size start getting your initial ideas down on paper. 

Although drawing your floor plans to scale is important it is nice to just freely get your ideas out. Things may need to change when you draw them to scale, but it is good to have an idea and direction already formed.

Get Inspiration

Looking on Pinterest, Youtube and in books was really helpful for my cabin designing process.  Sometimes it can be hard to think outside the box and come up with new ideas, so other people’s designs can be a great source of inspiration!

A friend of mine loaned me some of his small cabin design plan books, which came in really helpful. Some of these books that I recommend looking at for design ideas are:

  • Small Homes: Design Ideas for Great American Houses
  • Compact Cabins: Simple Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less
  • Cabins & Cottages and Other Small Spaces

We found a cabin floor plan from the book Small Homes that we really liked and used it as a base.  We mixed this floor plan with the elements that we wanted for our cabin and came up with something unique and functional for us.

Draw To Scale

Once you have a good idea of your cabin design it is essential to draw your plans to scale to make sure your plans are realistic and have accurate floor plans to build from. 

I drew my floor plans at a ¼ inch scale, which means every ¼ inch of my drawing represents 1 foot in reality.  Using a scale ruler while drawing floor plans is extremely helpful. You can just use a regular ruler, but a scaled ruler will make the process simpler and faster. 

The scale ruler that I used for drawing my floor plans is the Staedtler 12-Inches Architect Triangular Scale Ruler.

Also, a measuring tape is handy to have during the floor plan drawing process so that you can measure furniture, appliances, and rooms to get a better idea of size and space while you are drawing. 

Something I also find really helpful is cutting furniture out of paper to scale and moving them around my floor plans to see how the furniture will fit in the space.  This can show you if your cabin has been designed with enough space for your furniture to fit in, and if there is enough space around items for people to walk. 

Tip: Remember to draw the wall thicknesses in your floor plans. I didn’t consider this in my first cabin drawing and ended up having to add a few square feet to my plans in order to fit in the walls.

Designing your own home is a creative and rewarding experience.  I hope that these cabin floor plan design tips help you to create a cabin qnique to you. 

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2 Comments

  1. Nancy Acreman

    Maggie.. Love your positive energy & interest in living off the grid. I’m certainly not going to build a cabin & live in the woods. But am sure going to watch how you & Eric do. The design is lovely & practical. You are taking your subscribers on a fascinating adventure.

    Reply
    • Maggie

      Thanks Nancy! I am glad you find it interesting and am excited to share all of our journey with you!

      Reply

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Hey, I’m Maggie. I hope you will join me and my family in getting back to the land.  Here you will learn about making things yourself, cooking homegrown food, and beginning a homesteading journey.

 

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