Intro: How to Build a Scale Model House
Building a model of a house is a lot of fun, and would be a great project, no matter whether you're building a play house for a kid, or you simply want to build a model of your current house, or maybe a future dream house. It does not have to be expensive and I'm simply using cheap 2x4 framing lumber to cut up strips to build this house. I decided to build a model of a "tiny house", however of course you can choose any house style you want and make it more or less elaborate.
I think building a model of a house is a great way to learn how a house actually is constructed. It also would make for the most amazing play house, just because it actually is real, constructed like a real house and made with solid materials.
Step 1: Cutting Up Wood
First of all you need some building material. I cut up a variety of sizes on my table saw. Most of it was 1/4 by 1 1/2 inch width (the width of the 2x4). I also cut some of that wood in half to get more narrow pieces.
I wanted the model to be an accurate representation of an actual house. I decided to go for a 1/12 scale model, however you could choose whatever scale you want, depending on the size you're working with. So I marked out where the studs would go on the joists, then I glued and nail in the studs to create real walls.
Step 2: Scale
When you build a model it presents the perfect opportunity to play with scale. It will give you a great perspective on what looks good. You don't necessarily have to conform to conventional standards. In my tiny house model I wanted 24 inch on center instead of the traditional 16. Then I realized I could also fit two foot wide windows without needing headers, thereby saving on materials and weight.
Step 3: Flooring
It's really cool when you cut wood strips like this because then you can also cut strips for a floor. Once I had created a simple frame for the floor, and nailed in joists, I wanted to lay down a floor. I decided that 12 inch boards, relatively speaking would look nice. Once I glued them down, I oiled them with boiled linseed oil.
Step 4: Roof
To build the roof I first put together a simple jig that enabled me to lay down two 45 degree angled pieces together during glue up. Of course if you want to make a roof with a different pitch, then simply change the jig. I cut up all the roof joists with an angle on one side. I placed a thicker piece in the middle to act as a beam, and I placed the joists at 24 inch on center.
Once I had the joists glued together I glued on thin strips of wood along the length to act as a sheathing.
Step 5: Sections
I created two main separate parts when making my model: the base including floor and walls and loft, and the roof which is removable. This way it's a lot easier to peak inside the house, however it's still a "real" house once you put the roof back on.
Sections to build:
- Floor Sections (Joists & Floor Boards)
- Walls (4 sections for a traditional house)
- (Loft) In between walls and roof, if wanted
Step 6: Walls & Windows
Once I had built my wall sections, complete with studs and spaces planned out for windows and door I was ready to connect them together
To raise the walls I put on some temporary support while the walls were glued in place. Then I used small staples to connect the walls together, and staples to connect the wall sections to the floor sections.
I left openings in the walls where I wanted windows, and then I used very thin pieces of wood which I glued in as casings. I also left an open space for a door which I built using small pieces of wood, and I cut up some really fine pieces to act as moulding around the door, and around the little window inside the door. I planned an open space in a wall for the door, and I connected the door to the wall with tape acting as hinges.
Step 7: Siding
In general when you build a house model, it's great if it has a lot of windows since that makes it a lot more fun to be able to see through and let the light inside the house.
I planned out some space for a small porch in front of the door, so the area for the door was set in a little. Over the door I added a small loft which I added a column to, in order to provide support.
In terms of siding, I used thin pieces of cut up wood, which I attached to the studs. I added some different sized wood to the walls to create some visual interest.
Step 8: Painting
When you've built your house it makes a huge different to paint it, and take care to use different colors to really make it look realistic. I left the wooden floor and loft simply oiled, but everythhing else I took care and painted in different colors. I created my own paint using milk paint (the paint consists of dried milk powder, water, pigment and a small amount of calcium hydroxide)
I finished the house with boiled linseed oil to protect the paint. You could however use any type of paint such as house paint, acrylic artist paint etc... You could also stain the wood if you wanted, or white wash it, it simply depends on what kind of look you're going for.
Step 9: Furniture
To make the house a little more realistic, I created a couple of furniture pieces out of scrap wood. I made a simple desk, stool, bookcase and small books which I painted in different colors. When putting together small pieces of furniture like this it's a lot easier to use hot glue because it connects instantly.
Step 10: Conclusion - Watch the Video
For a much better perspective on all the different parts, please check out the video. It also includes some thoughts about building and houses in general. Creating this model of a tiny house was so much fun, and I love how you can easily adapt these basic techniques to build any house or structure you want. It's a great "adult" project, however it would also be a lot of fun to do with kids.