Fact Checked

What Are the Different Types of Small Cottage Kits?

Cynde Gregory
Cynde Gregory

Once, owning a vacation home was outside the budgets of most people, but the increasing popularity of tiny cottages, cabins, cabanas, and the like are making owning a diminutive home away from home a real possibility. Small cottage kits are available for do-it-yourselfers that range from simple plans and building information to prefabs costing under $20,000 US Dollars (USD), which individuals can construct in very little time. Backyard artist studios or guest cottages, seaside beach mini-houses, and many other types of teeny retreats are offered as kits both online and, in many areas, locally.

One of the best-known tiny house aficionados was Henry David Thoreau, who built a tiny home on the shores of Walden Pond. His tiny cabin retreat fulfilled all of his needs by an ingenious use of space. With plans and kits modeled after his original plans, anyone who dreams about downsizing or constructing a secluded getaway for rest and recuperation that features an old-fashioned flavor will discover this is one dream that can easily become reality.

Cottages are sometimes heated by woodstoves.
Cottages are sometimes heated by woodstoves.

One of the most popular types of small cottage kits feature tiny Victorian-style structures complete with bric-a-brac, inviting porches, and charm. These designs are typically two-story cottages reminiscent of those that were built at revival or other church camps. These little homes are most often constructed as children's playhouses, but plans and kits are also available for full-sized folks.

DIY house kits come in many different designs, such as log cabins.
DIY house kits come in many different designs, such as log cabins.

While many small cottage kits feature wood-built retreats, other materials are equally popular. One of the least expensive and most versatile solutions is offered by companies who combine wooden framing, windows, and doors with weather-tight fabric walls. This type of tiny cottage is most suited for areas with mild winters, although they can be insulated and heated with a woodstove or other source of heat.

Another popular type of small cottage uses industrial materials such as corrugated metal. These little homes are one or two stories and typically feature at least one wall that is largely window glass. A number of kits are modular, allowing the cottage owner to design a unique retreat.

Some small cottage kits are designed for structures that must be built on a foundation and include running water and electricity. Others are more rustic and are constructed on a platform. In most cases, owners must obtain building permits, but there are some small cottage kits, which create homes of only a few hundred square feet (ten square meters and up), that do not.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@SkyWhisperer - No, it’s not that bad. As the article points out you can own a small cottage simply as a getaway retreat; it doesn’t have to be your main home.

As for the people who have jumped on the tiny house movement, I suppose they all have their reasons. But the fact is that there is a time for everything.

I don’t own a big house just so I can make a larger mortgage payment. I own it so I can have more breathing room and my kids can have a place to grow up in, and bring their friends over and have fun.

Believe me, when the kids are out of the house, I will definitely downsize. I don’t know if I’ll scale back to 900 feet, but it will definitely be much smaller than what I have now.


Whatever happened to the American dream? I read that many people have turned to some serious downsizing by living in tiny houses – and by tiny I am talking anywhere from 100 to 900 feet.

These people get all their needs in these little tiny houses. Some of them have built the houses themselves using plans they ordered online, while others have just had someone build the house for them.

As I am speaking there is a whole tiny house movement afoot, driven primarily by the fact that so many people feel that they’ve been let down by the idea that owning a big house would make them happy, and of course that so many people are underwater on their homes. Is it really that bad?


@stl156 - I think I read that story. It sounds very familiar, at least. In addition to ordering the plans from companies online, home improvement stores like Lowe's and Home Depot will often carry building plans and house kits. You might not have all of the same options you would have online, but if you get one from those places, they will be able to gather up all the right materials and deliver it all to the home site.

I know a lot of the small cottages being built are supposed to be rustic looking, but I really like the more modern ones. The article talks about using corrugated metal. I think that is a great idea, since it is easy to take care of.

I think the best part of a lot of the modern looking houses is that they use a lot of environmentally friendly utilities. They usually collect rainwater to use for various things and having the large windows helps to heat the house using the sun.


@kentuckycat - I was reading an article online not too long ago about people who had chosen to give up their normal houses for these small, economical cabins. It was a pretty interesting discussion.

As you might expect of someone who gave up a big house for a much smaller space, they were pretty free-spirited people, and most of them were some type of artist. A lot of them actually designed their own plans for the house to suit their needs. One artist put in a special little attic area where he could paint. Another had a small design studio.

At the end of the article, though, they were talking about where the average person could get those types of plans. Apparently, there are quite a few websites where you can buy plans for houses of all sizes. Some of them are huge and some of them are like the ones mentioned here. You buy the plans from them and then can decide where to get the materials and how to put it together.


I know who Henry David Thoreau was, but I never knew that he built his own cabin. I guess I never really thought about where his living quarters came from. I was never really a fan of Thoreau's writing, so I have only read excerpts of Walden Pond and am not familiar with his cabin. What was so special and efficient about it compared to the way houses are usually built?

I think if you had a need for a small building or something, one of the cottages would be an interesting solution. If you wanted one, though, where would you get it? Do you have to order them online, or can you just buy the plans by themselves and then get all the material wherever you want?

I don't plan on getting one any time soon, but how much work is involved in putting one of the kits together? Is it something that can be done with just two or three people? How long does it take?


I like how manufacturers have started to make these little buildings in a variety of different styles. My parents just used one of the kits to build a little cabin down by the pond on their property. Usually, we just use the pond to fish, but sometimes in the summer, the grandkids like to go down there and swim.

We always like the try to keep an eye on them, but sitting next to the pond can get hot, and the house doesn't always give a good view of what is going on. Now that they have the cabin, the adults have a place to sit and talk while still watching the kids. It sort of makes it feel like the kids have a little more privacy, too.

This is just a little two room building with two little sitting rooms, and it didn't cost much at all, I don't think. Luckily, my dad has done a lot of carpentry in his day, so he was more than capable of putting it together on his own without having to hire someone to do it. That helped cut down on the cost a little bit.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Cottages are sometimes heated by woodstoves.
      By: Paul Maguire
      Cottages are sometimes heated by woodstoves.
    • DIY house kits come in many different designs, such as log cabins.
      By: Close Encounters
      DIY house kits come in many different designs, such as log cabins.