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 The Big Book of Small House Designs: 75 Award-Winning Plans for Your Dream HouseThe Big Book of Small House Designs is a collection of more than 500 drawings illustrating all aspects of 75 small homes of various styles, from a New England farmhouse to a sophisticated steel frame to a Santa Fe ranch. Each design includes detailed floor plans, section drawings, elevations, and perspectives, as well as a description of the materials used and landscaping around the home. Keeping in mind that a chief priority for a small home is often energy efficiency, most of the plans incorporate some energy-efficient element. There are dozens of plans suitable for every environment and climate in the country. The designs are all a direct result of several international competitions that solicited from architects the best homes of 1,250 square feet or less. Contact information for the architects is provided in the back of the book.
  Date Published 1/4/2004

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Rated By: Midwest Book Review
From: Oregon, WI
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: A wealth of environmentally aware plans
The Big Book Of Small House Designs assembles over 500 black-and-white drawings displaying all aspects of 75 small homes of a wide variety of styles. Drawn from several competitions held among architects and designers to create the best, most liveable and affordable home possible within a limited amount of space, The Big Book Of Small House Designs expands its idea into a wealth of environmentally aware plans that involve such tactics as vaulted ceilings, vertical space, single-story or split-level format, and much more. Designs ranging from traditional to avant-garde make The Big Book Of Small House Designs a superb catalogue of ideas for anyone considering building an economically sized dwelling whether for personal use or as part of a continuing desire to improve one's skills and awareness in the architectural professions.
Rated By: Rick Magley
From: Hays, KS
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Some excellent ideas, some not so good
This book contains a collection of small, unique house plans and BLACK AND WHITE DRAWINGS (no photographs). Some of the homes are up to date and very creative. Others seem dated. There are a few problems including the one on page 5 where the illustration for level two is exactly like level three. I guess I could have seen it; this page is in the Amazon preview pages.

Overall, I'm glad I bought the book for the many unique floorplans, but need to buy a magnifying glass to go with it. The illustrations are fairly small.
Rated By: Nicole Young
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Very refreshing, original plans!
This book is definitely a cut above all the "cookie cutter" house plan books that are out there. It doesn't go into detail about the houses, and -- most disappointingly -- doesn't provide much information about the designers, their other work, etc. I don't know if it would help someone who's actually planning to build a home. But for a $10 picture book, this one was very much worth it.

Every plan is interesting. Many use new ideas I haven't seen before, and believe me, I've looked at a LOT of house plan books. I had to look through this one about four times before I felt like I'd absorbed all the information. And the homes really are small, when a lot of books seem to have very different definitions of "small" and "afforable" than I do. If you're used to picking up Dream Home Magazine at the check-out stand, you'll find this book a very refreshing change.
Rated By: ladridi "ladridibiciclette"
From: Oakland, CA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Be aware that the sizes may not be accurate
This is an exact copy of a letter I received from Don Metz when I complained about one of the sub-1250 sq. ft. plans (from a different book) not being under 1250.

Dear Mr. Measuring Things Very Carefully,

Your letter was surely the most self-righteous, missing-the-point piece of work I've ever recieved. Frankly, it would please me no end if you did indeed become "very skeptical of any books that you or the other judges publish in the future because of what I perceive as incompetence." That way, I won't have to read another of your whiny little responses ever again. If you are so obsessed with measuring things, I suggest you try measuring your capacity to understand that the book is meant to feature and promote compact house design. What defines a compact house? Size, mostly. What size? Take your pick, Mr. Measuring Man. Small? Not big? Modest? Efficient? I couldn't care less if the houses featureed are a bit under or over the 1250 advertised -- and if your so-called "architectural background" had anything to do with anything other than the nit-picky measuring of things, (as if that were somehow crucial to the importance of architecture) -- you wouldn't either.
As for owing you an apology, I owe you nothing but my bemused contempt.
Sincerely,
Don Metz

P.S. Any response to this letter will be deleted, unread.

While I admit that I did use the term incompetence, I should also point out that the inability to accurately measure a house in a competition with a square footage limit is, in my opinion, incompetent. So I feel it was justified. If curious, here is the letter I wrote.

I would prefer if Mr. Metz would contact me, because this comment is very specifically directed at him and therefore he can most accurately respond.
I own the title New Compact House Designs and have a major complaint.
I have an architecture background and am currently designing a house that when finished will be sub-1250 square feet. I purchased the book to give me some ideas about what I might do to squeeze the most out of the space. I was pleasantly surprised to see the winning design was very full featured. It was only when I attempted to apply some of the concepts in the house that I realized that it is not even close to 1250 square feet. The back cover of the book states that these houses had the following guideline: "design a single-family house with a minimum of two bedrooms whose gross floor area does not exceed 1250 square feet." Gross floor area is the covered area within the exterior edge of the exterior walls of a minimum ceiling height of 7'6" (typ.) not including areas that are open to the elements such as porches. I suspect that the winning house would not even qualify if you measured based on the interior of the exterior walls. The only way I think it can come close is if you subtract all the interior and exterior walls. I have not checked all of the other house plans, but I will be very curious to discover how many followed the requirements of the competition.
My questions are the following. 1) Why did you not check the designs to make sure they fit the size limit? 2) Do you plan on doing a second printing retracting those designs that failed to meet the size limits and ask that the ineligible winners return any sort of award they received? 3) Does this fiasco not shoot your whole small house attitude in the foot if you yourselves prefer larger houses and award larger houses instead of small houses in your own competition?
I will be very skeptical of any books that you or the other judges publish in the future because of what I perceive as incompetence. I think that you owe an apology to anybody who purchased this book and especially to the architects who submitted designs that followed the rules and lost.
I will be very curious to hear your response, and in the meantime I will very carefully measure the designs.


Just thought I would share my experiences with this editor.
Rated By: Gina Kruml
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Too easy
While containing a number of intersting plans for small homes, this book falls short on several accounds. First, there is almost no text save what is on the inside of the jacket. That's right: no introduction, no methodology. There is no explanation of which competitions the plans were taken from or what awards they won. (Amusingly, I went to show my neighbor one of the plans that I liked. He said he liked it too but that it was an old plan from a competition in the early 90's. And would you believe that he happened to have a copy of the competition from which the plan was taken!)
Secondly, as to the plans themselves, dimensions are rarely marked and often unclearly. In the case of two or three of the plans this makes them nearly unintelligable.
The lack of wall sections or descriptions of materials used for the majority of the plans makes it impossible to understand the particulars of what makes the houses energy effecient.
In short, the book far from lives up to its description and isn't worth spending the money for a handful of plans since a person can look at plans all day long for free online.
Rated By: M. Cittone "mcittone2"
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Short on information and poor layout
The layout looks as if the home plans themselves were photocopied from elsewhere, often too small and without accompanying information about materials, why and how certain layouts work in the context, labels, etc; thus even as a catalogue of disparate houses that happen to win an architectural contest, this is not very useful. Further, despite being plans of 1250 sq ft or less, there was little in the way of explanation of how this space is designed to accomodate living. Because of the topic, I expected to see a variety of houses designed to fit various contexts (urban, rural, etc) and living situations within the 1250 sq ft. I'm sure there are better books out there on this topic; not being an architect I don't know if this book would be useful to help brainstorming ideas or whatnot.