The Not So Big Bungalow: A Kit House Made with SIPs (Part 1 of 4 — Introduction)

The Not So Big Bungalow

I’ve always been fascinated by the success of the Sears Kit Homes of the early 20th century. And so, many years ago, I began scheming with Michael Morley—friend, colleague, fellow author, and an expert in Structural Insulated Panel (SIPs) construction methods—to create a smaller-but-better home for today’s homebuilding market that could be purchased as a SIPs kit.

In 2014, we launched the first Not So Big Bungalow SIPs Kit Home plan, fulfilling those schemes from years before. In this post and the ones that follow, you’ll learn about the features of the Bungalow, the Not So Big design principles it embodies, and the SIPs kit that makes it highly energy efficient.

There’s a lot here, so we’ve broken it up into four parts. I hope you enjoy this tour of the Not So Big Bungalow.

A House for Our Time

Since my first book, The Not So Big House, came out in 1998, readers have been asking me if I would design a smaller version of my original Not So Big House Prototype, with the Master Bedroom and Laundry area on the Main Level. The Not So Big Bungalow is my response to that request.

Like the Craftsman Bungalows and Sears Kit Homes of a hundred years ago, the 1,600 square foot Not So Big Bungalow is built better rather than bigger. It’s also designed for today’s informal lifestyles, and it’s filled with personality and the small details that can turn a house into Home.

You’ll recognize many of these details from that first Not So Big House prototype, in fact. Add to that all the energy efficiency features that the SIPs construction process allows, and you have a home that minimizes carbon footprint while providing an inspiring platform for everyday living.

The Original Not So Big House (left) shares many features with the Not So Big Bungalow (right).

Smaller but Better

Although I’ve had the opportunity to design many homes for families and couples wanting to build based on the principles I write about, most of these homes have still tended to be over 2,000 square feet in size. But today, with a new awareness of what it costs to heat, cool, and clean a lot of rarely used square footage, many people are seeking a house that’s more compact but still sporting the same quality and character that my books encourage.

Sears Kit House

A Sears Kit House

The bungalows from the early 20th Century do this, but although these charming older homes are the perfect size for singles, for couples without children, and for empty-nesters, sadly, they just aren’t designed for today’s lifestyles. They tend to have tiny kitchens that are separated from the living spaces, and the bedrooms have minute closets—not quite up to our present day shopping habits. Their sensibility, however, is spot on.

What’s needed today, I believe, is a house that’s not only right-sized for the way we really live, but also designed for a more sophisticated and discerning buyer—one who values quality over quantity. The unfortunate reality is that smaller has also been equated with cheaper starter homes that generally sport low end finishes, and minimal craftsmanship. That’s what needs to change.

There’s a place today for a smaller home that’s designed for the long term—a house that can fit the needs of today’s smaller households, with an eye to convenience and comfort, as well as energy efficiency, and that allows one to work from home, or age in place if desired. And that’s what the Not So Big Bungalow is all about.


How to Order the Plans and SIPs Kit

The house plans for the Not So Big Bungalow are highly detailed, and delineate all the “Not So Big” features and characteristics that I explain in my books. The SIPs kit provides all the parts required to create the structural and thermal building envelope (all the parts that make the building stand up and keep the inside insulated from the outside), except for the doors and windows.

Although the plans and kit are sold separately, both are needed in order to build the house. Click on the separate links below for more details, and for ordering information.

The Not So Big Bungalow Plans

The Not So Big Bungalow SIPs Kit



Next Up…

Go to Part 2 — Main Level, to continue the tour.


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