The NARROWEST house plan you have ever built or been in?

37 Replies

We are going to be building 2 new condos in San Clemente, CA, and each unit can only be 16' wide. Michael has already designed a 3/3 with under building parking and 2 levels of living space. If we could find 9" more, we could eliminate the lower level garage! But that's not to be. 

However; for fun, I've been searching online for other narrow lot plans that others have built. I must say, so far, nothing had beat what we already have. 

I was just wondering, what is the smallest plan you have ever built? (Plan not lot) 

I also thought some of you from the more populated places like Los Angeles,  San Francisco and the bay area might enjoy this site. Innovative Designs

Hmm... I've been in row houses in Hoboken, NJ that must have been 10 - 12 feet wide.  There was a sofa, less than a foot of space, a coffee table, less than a foot of space, and the entertainment center... that was wall to wall width for the entire unit.  The kitchen table folded down so you could walk through the kitchen when you weren't eating.

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16' wide (actually 15'9") is pretty common in modular construction because of shipping issues - not sure but I think they can put that size box on a trailer and just be subject to "Oversize Load" transportation requirements (such as an escort in certain states).  Anything wider than that and it gets astronomically expensive to ship.

I'm working on two separate townhouse condo developments (one is three attached units, one is five attached units) with floorplates of roughly 16 x 32.  They're tall skinny units, but with some tweaks to the floor plans the layouts aren't bad - parking under; kitchen, 1/2 bath and open living area on the first floor; two beds and a bath on the second floor; master bed and bath on the third floor.  1,400 - 1,500 sf of living area.

@Andrew Cordle  

 Here's a link to the page on our website that shows the floor plan as it is now, where it will have under building parking.

 San Clemente Condos - Each 16' wide - 1800 sq. ft.

@Tom Meade  It's not so much the width, though it's a challenge, it's trying to get 2 stories without having to do under building parking, as it will save a lot of money. 

@Nathan Emmert  Yes, there are some tiny houses out there! Crazy. 

@Karen Margrave  Those plans are beautiful!  I was just searching for narrow floor plans to start researching for a possible narrow plot urban infill (more of a "someday" plan).  I really love the flow and use of space! And you're right, nothing I've seen even comes close to what you've got. Bravo!

The smallest I've been in were Baltimore row houses. I'd guess about 12' wide. Had me feeling pretty clausterphobic!

OMG in Baltimore 16' wide is huge in some parts of town! Eleven feet across is not uncommon in some 19th-century brick townhouses. This is also true of some pricy neighborhoods in downtown DC, such as Georgetown, Capitol Hill, and Foggy Bottom. 

Count your blessings! 

Nancy Roth

I have not walked in or built these, but I'm sure some folks would enjoy taking a peek at these phenomenally thin buildings in Japan. Cheers to @Shane Pearlman  for sharing a bit about Japanese real estate with me when we went hiking down in the redwoods in Santa Cruz. I knew exactly what @Arlen Chou  was talking about with a new home. And saw an article about some amazingly thin buildings..

Some of them appear to be no more than 5-6 ft across..

J. M.  Those aren't houses, they're wide walls! Unbelievable! Who would ever think it feasible to build something like that. No wonder there's no obesity in Japan, you might get stuck in the house! Thanks for sharing. 

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@J. Martin

I think thin buildings are elegant in certain settings, and your Japanese examples show that off perfectly. My favorite among many brilliant buildings in New York City is the Flatiron Building, the skyscraper at 5th Ave. and Broadway just south of Madison Sq. Park. I would love to have an office right at that tiny point.

@Steve Babiak In a Colonial-era townhouse in South Philly I once visited, going up the stairs felt like climbing a ladder. There was one small room per floor. Folks just didn't grow very big or live very large back then.

@Karen Margrave It's a cultural thing, I think. Westerners are so used to wide-open spaces that a 16-foot width feels confining. Easterners, especially urbanites, have found ingenious ways to live reasonably well in tight spaces. In fact micro-apartments are trendy in NYC and to some extent in DC. I'd be surprised to find anything like that out West, you just wouldn't find a market for them.

Nancy Roth

I built 4 of these last year and the year before, 18' wide ~1550/ft 3/2.5 on pilings. They are officially called "townhomes" but only share partial stair entry. Lots are 28' wide. 

Yeah I guess that is why I love the burbs where I live. I love wide open spaces, high vaulted ceilings, and lot's of space.

I wouldn't live in these constricted houses. I would rather sleep outside in the open then be confined like that.

The 18' wide isn't that bad. Those others are just getting way too cramped.

I guess it is required for urban core areas. I would just spend more money to have a larger open space or buy outside the city. I guess some do not have a choice.  

Originally posted by @Nancy Roth :

OMG in Baltimore 16' wide is huge in some parts of town! Eleven feet across is not uncommon in some 19th-century brick townhouses. This is also true of some pricy neighborhoods in downtown DC, such as Georgetown, Capitol Hill, and Foggy Bottom. 

Count your blessings! 

Nancy Roth

Nancy I agree!  I have become so numb to DC and MD's narrow structures; It blends in as  NOT so unique anymore!  I really enjoy getting creative with the DC area's narrow floor plans though........its challenging as well.  

@Joel Owens

Yeah, there is definitely an aesthetic component to it. Being an urban dweller to the core, I really like being close to the community, and smaller, closer houses are part of that. 

I would feel isolated and lonely in a big country or suburban enclave with a lot of acres separating me from my neighbors. 

Obviously not everyone feels the same way. Aren't we lucky to have choices in this country.


Nancy Roth

@Karen Margrave  

  we do a lot of Portland skinnies 15 feet wide @Keith Bloemendaal  

  and we are doing the same as Keith in Charleston.. I have an offer in on a lot now that is 15X40 

J. M. 

  On my drive up to Hood River yesterday with one of my partners.. ( his wife is from Tokoyo ) he was regaling me on these ultra tiny homes. And the little 10 by 12 lots they buy and go one story down and 4 up.. and they pay a million bucks for the lot...