Photographs may show modified designs.
Plan 454-3

Key Specs

Plan Sq Ft

sq ft

Plan Bedrooms


Plan Bathrooms


Plan Floors


Plan Garages


Plan Description

THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE PROTOTYPE 454-3. This beautiful home was designed by architect, Sarah Susanka, for herself. She built it originally to illustrate the ideas she was writing about in her first book in the Not So Big® series. The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. It is designed to promote a floor plan that is far more appropriate for present day lifestyles, and it is filled with special details that make the house a delight to live in, while living up to it Not So Big® name. Instead of building formal spaces that rarely if ever get used, this house is designed so that every space will be put to good use everyday. Featuring spacious, light-filled rooms, built-ins, and an open floor plan, it embodies the principles of quality and comfort that are at the root of Not So Big® design. The house is designed for a full walk-out lower level, ideal for a visiting guest to enjoy their own private bed and bath, and with excellent home office space with its own exterior entry. In a tiny attic garret, there also a cozy Place of Your Own (or Poyo, as Sarah calls it), accessed by a ship's ladder from the second floor. Like Sarah's other house plans, the Not So Big House Prototype illustrates a play on a theme and variation, with the frequent appearance throughout the house of an archetypal form--the circle. On the second floor, directly above the front door, there is a large translucent window in the shape of a partial circle. The curve of this beautiful form runs through the upstairs bathroom and stairway landing, lending significant drama to the second floor--in a Not So Big® way, of course. The house features adaptable spaces that open to one another, and are designed for everyday use. Long diagonal views give the sense that the house is significantly larger than it really is. The kitchen is the heart of the house, and is designed as an integral part of the main living space. Connected to the living and dining areas, it is a great gathering place for family and friends. The big screen porch is designed to be converted into a main level master bedroom, should one story living ever become a necessity. To this end, the front door has no steps up to the entry, making it ideal for visitors who are mobility impaired. The upper level of the home has a spacious master bedroom and walk-in closet. A large bathroom serves both the master bedroom and second bedroom on the upper level. Rather than build two separate bathrooms, resources are combined to make one spacious, though not over-sized, bathroom that is as beautiful as possible. There are many photographs and descriptions of this home in The Not So Big House, and in the first chapter of Creating the Not So Big House. The house is designed to be highly energy efficient, and to live large without using more resources than are necessary. Sarah tells us that, when her work took her away from Minnesota, where this house was first built, it was one of the hardest things she's ever done to sell it. "It worked beautifully," she told us, "and was a really inspiring place to live." She strongly encourages anyone considering this plan to read The Not So Big House, as it will give a much more complete description of the home's numerous special features than can be enumerated here.
This plan can be customized!
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Floor Plans

Floor Plan - Lower Floor


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Floor Plan - Main Floor


Floor Plan - Upper Floor


Full Specs & Features

Basic Features

Bedrooms : 3
Baths : 2.5
Stories: 3
Garages: 2


Depth : 30'
Width : 37'


Total : 2440 sq/ft
Lower Floor : 700 sq/ft
Main Floor : 940 sq/ft
Upper Floor : 800 sq/ft
* Total Square Footage typically only includes conditioned space and does not include garages, porches, bonus rooms, or decks.

Exterior Wall Framing

Framing : 2"x6"

Garage Features

Detached Garage

Energy Efficient Features

Energy Efficient Design

What's included in this plan set

See a sample plan set

All plans are drawn at ¼” scale or larger and include :

  • Foundation Plan: Drawn to 1/4" scale, this page shows all necessary notations and dimensions including support columns, walls and excavated and unexcavated areas.
  • Exterior Elevations: A blueprint picture of all four sides showing exterior materials and measurements.
  • Floor Plan(s): Detailed plans, drawn to 1/4" scale for each level showing room dimensions, wall partitions, windows, etc. as well as the location of electrical outlets and switches.
  • Cross Section: A vertical cutaway view of the house from roof to foundation showing details of framing, construction, flooring and roofing.
  • Interior Elevations: Detailed drawings of kitchen cabinet elevations and other elements as required.
*See important information before purchasing


Plan Options

5 Copy Set

5 printed plan sets mailed to you.

Reproducible Set

For inexpensive local printing / making minor adjustments by hand. 1 printed set, typically on Bond paper.


For use by design professionals to make substantial changes to your house plan and inexpensive local printing.

Foundation Options


Ideal for level lot, lower level of home partially or fully underground.


Ideal for semi-sloped or level lot, home can be built off of grade, typically 18” - 48”.


Ideal for lot conditions where the home needs to be off the ground. A pier foundation consists of wood posts or concrete piers connected by beams to support the home. Some lots may require drilling deep into bedrock to support the posts.


Ideal for level lot, single layer concrete poured directly on grade.

*Options with a fee may take time to prepare. Please call to confirm.

Additional Options

Additional Construction Sets

Additional hard copies of the plan (can be ordered at the time of purchase and within 90 days of the purchase date).

Audio Video Design

Receive an overlay sheet with suggested placement of audio and video components.

Construction Guide

Educate yourself about basic building ideas with these four detailed diagrams that discuss electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and structural topics.

Mirror Reversed Sets

A mirror-reversed set is a printed copy of your house, resulting in the same image you would see if you held the drawing up to a mirror. Everything, including the text, is backward in relation to the original design. These kinds of drawing are typically used to reorient an original plan more advantageously on a site, either because the homeowner prefers it that way or because of limitations of the site itself. Note: Mirror reverse sets are only available with a 5 copy or 8 copy set. With a Reproducible, PDF, or CAD set, you can print mirrored copies locally. In addition: 5 Copy set selected, should only allow 4 mirrored sets to be selected. 8 Copy set selected, should only allow 7 mirrored sets to be selected.

Unless you buy an “unlimited” plan set or a multi-use license you may only build one home from a set of plans. Please call to verify if you intend to build more than once. Plan licenses are non-transferable and cannot be resold.

Meet the Designer

Sarah Susanka Architect

Sarah Susanka Architect -
“'Not So Big®' puts the emphasis on quality rather than quantity and is designed to fit the way we really live today. It's a message that's being embraced now more than ever, and it's wonderful to see so many people come to the realization that a house doesn't have to be bigger to be better.” Award-winning architect and best selling author Sarah Susanka is the J K Rowling of home design. She has brought her practical, less-can-be-more brand of magic to the world of architectural home plans. A member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, Sarah was born in Kent, England and lives in North Carolina. Hailed as an innovator by Fast Company, Newsweek, and US News and World Report, she received the Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award from the Lindbergh Foundation for outstanding individual achievement, and Builder Magazine honored Sarah as one of their 30 Top Innovators who have changed the face of residential construction. Sarah Susanka's influential books include The Not So Big House (Taunton, 1999), Home By Design (Taunton, 2004), The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters (Random House, 2007), and Not So Big Remodeling (Taunton, 2009). She has lectured widely and appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Oprah, Charlie Rose, and Diane Rehm. She is showing a new generation of homeowners, builders, and developers how to "build better not bigger."

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