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on February 1, 2012
I bought this book after reading the earlier reviews. As soon as I saw the low resolution quality of the cover photo, I thought, wait a minute, is this the right book? Then I started looking at the content, and I realized, gee, I've seen this content before. It's pretty old. But almost none of the houses list a date or timeframe. The book mentions a few newer homes and builders, but by and large, I don't feel that this book is really current. At the end, the author says that he wrote this book over the last two years, collecting images off the Web. Maybe that's why there are so many tiny photos in this book, because that's the best resolution he could get.

I wondered why these reviews were so glowing, so I checked their authors. For most of the authors, this book is the only review. Many of the reviews have the same words, and they mention the publisher. How many consumer reviewers mention the book publisher? Come on, something's fishy here.

This book is a hodge podge of sheds, trailers, tree houses, mud houses, mini-vans, etc. Some of them look 10-20 years old, and most are kitschy. Some of the photos have nudity. If you are looking for a compendium of the latest trends in tiny houses, this book is not it. I have been studying and following small housing for several years, and this book was a disappointment.

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ADDENDUM on Feb-9-2012

I was kind of taken aback by some of the comments I received on my review, so I am adding this update.

In the credits on the last page of the book, Lloyd Kahn wrote: "We combed over 5,000 photos to make our selection. Information came from hundred of blogs and websites. ... With this kind of complexity, it was impossible to determine (or remember) credit for every bit of material, and we apologize to anyone not properly credited with helping us out. ... About two years ago I started gathering information on tiny houses. A lot of it came from the web."

After one comment that I was too hard on Mr Kahn and possibly endangering his livelihood, I went to the library. I found 2 earlier books: "Shelter II" (1978) and "Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter" (2004). A small amount of content from 2004 is reused in Tiny Homes, and 20 pages of the new book are from pre-fab manufacturers (such as the cover photo). I guess Mr Kahn has been collecting photos of tiny houses, shacks and twig huts around the world for decades, and that is laudable. Clearly he is passionate about his subject. And if you enjoyed the 2004 book, you will enjoy Tiny Homes as well.

But, I have been studying interior design for 4 years, and I was looking for something more formal and architectural, not so quirky. Also, after closely examining the book, the pages are already tearing out. I probably would not have posted my review in the first place if I hadn't felt that the previous reviews (as well as WSJ and NYTimes) had mislead me. I of course don't know if the Amazon reviews were planted, but after my additional research, I stand by what I wrote in my original review.
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on February 21, 2012
I've seen a lot of the houses in this book before online, featured in magazine articles, on youtube or in alternative builder books, but it is nice to have them all in one place. I would have liked it better if there had been interior shots and a floor plan for each one, but as it is the book is full of eye candy for those interested in exploring the living small options. This book covers most of them, cob, stone, prefab, modular, tree houses, bus conversions, yurts, vardos, adobe, straw bale, and tiny homes on wheels. Missing was an example of a shipping container home, or if there was one I blew by it.

I am a long time fan of Mr Kahn's books, and the layout of this one is great, the photos are wonderful. Did he take it to the next level? No. As gorgeous as it is, it offers more inspiration than useful info, so it is not the holy grail go-to source for reliable info on the ins and outs of tiny home building/living that I was hoping it would be, and I'm a bit sad it isn't. That OMG, this is IT book still needs to be written by someone, until then I'll continue surfing yahoo groups, tiny house blogs, and living small forums gathering info on how wide and tall can it be and still be mobile, pros and cons of mobile vs stationary, how to figure the house weight to trailer ratios, how to set up viable and affordable off grid power options, heating and cooling options, pros and cons of conversions, stick built, metal frame or SIP construction, how to build and vent a composting toilet in a tiny home, storage tricks, info on tiny house friendly parking options and problems, or what to look out for when buying land to build on. Basic code info would be helpful for stationary tiny homes, like minimum size, foundation options, etc. I also want to hear from people who tried tiny living and are either struggling to stay tiny or they went back to larger living. I want them to explain what went wrong for them in living tiny. I guess I want meaty info so I can decide if this is truly a viable housing option for me. I do not want to wind up with a costly albatross on a trailer, nowhere to live in it and feeling the burden of an unhappy financial investment that I find I regret making. A lot of us are sitting on the fence, someone needs to answer the hard questions and address the pitfalls.

What is clear from the pics in this book is the sad fact that very few tiny house designers are laying out floor plan designs that would make tiny home living even marginally comfortable or long term viable, and very few of them are designed for people who truly need affordable housing options like those with mobility issues. Maybe more women need to start designing them. Personally, in rainy Oregon I need more than a sleeping loft, 5 ft of kitchen counter plus 2 chairs and table if I am going to do this long term, and I don't consider myself space greedy. I have downsized my life from a 2400sqft house to life in under 300sqft over the last 3 years, I am ready to make the jump both mentally and emotionally but I need reliable info that is still hard to gather and this book doesn't provide much of the info I was looking for, but it is indeed lovely to browse through...
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on February 27, 2012
What this IS: a picture book of very small housing units photographed in some beautiful settings and nicely printed.
What this IS NOT: Useful information for constructing actual, livable small houses.

I thought I would find most examples close to the 500SF cut-off. Instead, in my opinion, there are WAY too many truly tiny units half the size which just can't be a serious option for the vast (99%+) majority of Americans. That's close to the size of smallish camper! There was even a page devoted to Japanese sleeping compartments which is perhaps culturally interesting but doubtless of any actual use to Americans.

Many examples in this book used composting toilets. Are there any building code enforced areas that allow these? Actual success and failure stories by real users
would have been helpful.

Many other readers complained about the lack of floor plans. It's one of my complaints as well. I thought the purpose of this book would be to show the practicality of actually living in a small house .... not just a showcase of those owning them as a part-time curiosity. Tree house for real?????

For me: a waste of money.
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After eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book, I was NOT disappointed! It is packed full of beautiful full-color photographs on every page. Quality of the book, text, photographic elements and diversity of tiny homes and simple shelters is superb!

Various types of homes, different locations, building materials and styles mean this will appeal to a large variety of people. From city dwellers to cave (and even tree!) dweller, there is something here for nearly anyone. Whether you are just curious, desire a spare space for some peace and quiet or searching for a full-time alternative way of living...this book is sure to inspire a multitude of ideas.

There is a nice selection of pre-fab/kits and other options as well as significant treatment of recycled materials. Examples of tiny homes range from ultra modern to quaint, primative to luxurious little escapes.

Size, price estimates and materials are all mentioned. This is not a blueprint book nor a dedicated "how to" but rather a complete overview with a plethora of examples that will allow anyone to plan the perfect tiny home of their very own.

Interviews with tiny home owners and designers are both informative and intersting. The writing style is engaging and the visuals beautifully executed.

Well worth the wait!
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on February 7, 2012
"Tiny Homes" is a very interesting book loaded with pictures of tiny homes (defined as 500 square feet or less). There is a wide variety of building material used, excellent pictures, and interesting side stories about the people who built them or live in them.

To be frank, I have no real interest in living in something this small (probably) but truly enjoy looking at them to see just what is possible. I have also enjoyed the books by Sarah Susanka ("Creating the Not So Big House" is just one of her books). My husband and I are at odds about home size but this book has allowed us to have some useful discussion about what is next for us. It has gotten my creative juices flowing a bit and has also come in helpful when thinking about downsizing my mother-in-law to a small apartment.

My only real complaints about the book are two-fold. One: the working definition of a tiny house is one under 500 sf but almost all the pictures are of homes more in the 250 sf range. I can't imagine living in 250 sf but can picture 500 sf - just not enough of this slightly larger home for my desire. Two: I would have liked to have seen more floor plans. The pictures are great, but having a floor plan would help be better visualize what I am seeing.

Even with those two quibbles it is a wonderful, picture-packed book that was well worth the money I spent. I am keeping it on my family room coffee table for perusal and inspiration!
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on January 11, 2012
This is the forth Lloyd Kahn book I've read (Shelter, Builders of the Pacific Northwest and Shelter II), and after a quick read through it's my favorite so far. The pictures are great and there is a good level of coverage on some truly wonderful tiny homes. I was really looking forward to this based on Lloyd's blog, and it has lived up to my expectations!
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VINE VOICEon August 7, 2012
Love this book. This is his best as far as I'm concerned. Lots of great color pictures, informative and creative ideas to spark your own well of innovativeness. If you have to get one book by Lloyd - this is it!
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on December 18, 2012
After buying and reading this book I was impressed by Mr. Kahn's efforts in collecting such a variety of photos which does offer a somewhat comprehensive review of the topic. However, I too feel that it would have been more helpful if his work had been more up to date and covered the growing modern trend in small/tiny homes especially in Japan and Europe. As it stands it does feel dated and isn't as useful a guide as it could be, especially considering that in most parts of this country, more and more stringent building codes make many of these structures implausable as real alternatives to standard "big" homes on the market today. But it is a fun read and can inspire the reader to delve into the subject further, which I feel offers an important solution to not only the problem of rising home costs and the accompanying overburdensome mortgages, but also a great green alternative which is vital to this and future societies.
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on January 15, 2012
This is an absolutely terrific book. Pages upon pages of gorgeous illustrations with information as to cost, construction, including individual homes built from the ground up as well as pre-fab packaged tiny homes. The endless variety and creativity that goes into these living spaces restores your faith in humanity and gives you the confidence you need to undertake your own project. There are many books on small houses. This is the best I have ever seen.
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on January 15, 2012
Great book! Add it to my list of recent/new tiny housing favorites alongside Zeiger's "Micro-Green", Diedricksen's "Humble Homes, Simple Shacks", and Johnson's "Shedworking". Some great stuff coming out these days! -Dan
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