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Big Book of Small House Designs: 75 Award-Winning Plans for Your Dream House, All 1,250 Square Feet or Less Hardcover – January 4, 2004

3.1 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Editor and professional architect Don Metz is a partner in the architectural firm of Metz and Thornton. He started his career in the energy-efficient house design business in 1972 with his award-winning Winston House. He was the consultant for the book The Underground House Book by fellow Storey author Stu Campbell. Don also wrote Superhouse and edited Storey's New Compact House Designs, and edited The Compact House Book. Metz has also written two novels, Catamount Bridge and King of the Mountain. He lives with his wife in Lyme, New Hampshire.

Owner of the architectural firm BarnOwl Designs, Catherine Tredway is an award-winning designer who has been helping clients create their dream cottages and leisure-time homes for 15 years. She teaches courses in landscape design and architectural preservation.

Kenneth R. Tremblay, Jr. is a professor at Colorado State University. He has also written the book, Social Aspects of Housing and Beyond the American Housing Dream. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal (January 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579123651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579123659
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gina Kruml on September 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
As one of the putative "Authors" of this book, I'm dismayed at Black Dog and Leventhal's sloppy work and failure to involve -- or even notify me -- that they were publishing this thing back in 2004. They essentially scrambled houses from two books I'd previously done with Storey Publishing and presumably -- I've never met or spoken with the other four "authors" -- used their ideas as well. I recieved one modest check after the book was in production and haven't seen a cent since. Nasty business and a pretty useless book, I'd say. I'm ashamed to have my name on the cover.
Don Metz
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
A compilation of few interesting ideas and very hard to see illustrations. Poor quality reproductions. No measurements at all. Furthermore the contact information in the back was not cross-referenced with the designs & listed no phone or web contact, just mailing addresses. Seems like the authors took the cheap and easy way out with a good idea.

Taunton Press's "The Cabin" is a much more inspiring & informational book.

I do not recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew the book wouldn't be a great resource but I thought it might have some reason for having been published other than the author and publisher just trying to cash in on the "not so big" / "green" trend.

There is really no redeeming quality in this book. Most of the houses are severely outdated and are poorly proportioned. Except for one or two, they don't even look designed by an architect, they just look like run-of the mill cracker boxes, some with poorly planned additions. There's no useful information on how to best economize space or anything. The "design" information is useless because the illustrations are so bad they are painful to look at. Some are so muddy, it looks as if the book were published using water damaged drawings and a broken Xerox machine.

I apologize for not editing this review, but this book has already wasted enough of my time. If you're looking for something more current, try James Grayson Trulove's 25 Houses Under 1500 Square Feet. It's more design oriented, even if does have a lot of filler. It's not a 5 star by any stretch of the imagination. At least his illustrations are legible and the photos make the book look produced by professionals that actually care about design and architecture.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
Read more ›
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