There are some fantastic free resources for small and tiny houses right online, including THE small HOUSE CATALOG! There's the stellar design software SketchUp along with sites like Fine Homebuilding Magazine, The Tiny House Blog and Tiny House Living that all offer complimentary articles. There are also blogs and small and tiny house enthusiasts galore.
But let me tell you the library is still the best resource of all. Pretty much everything you need to begin learning how to build a functional, long-lasting, beautiful little house is available right from the local library - for free. If you want to learn how to build, I suggest getting a pile of books and simply start reading. If you like to shop online that's fine but you absolutely do not have to spend money on DVD's, online courses, expensive plans, inspirational seminars, or any of the other trendy marketing gimmicks cropping up all over the place to SELL you a tiny house or DIY building experience.
Books are old-fashioned, hands-on, and from the library, 100% free. And best of all - if you put in the time to learn - they work.
My two cents.
Now, I do recommend investing in a basic book toolbox after you've thoroughly explored the library and are ready to actually begin preparing to design and build a house. A couple that I keep at hand at all times are:
1. The current International Residential Code, which I use for draftwork. It's the most useful reference I have and is used ubiquitously.
2. Building Construction Illustrated by Chen illustrates various code specific residential building practices and is useful reference during the design process.
3. Practical Carpentry by Goodheart-Willcox. This is a gem! It's an old tome I picked up for a buck at a used library book sale in Port Townsend, Washington and it's the best book I've ever found on traditional carpentry techniques, like balloon framing, stair sub-construction, et al.
Here's a peek at some of my extended personal library of house building books:
Investing in good books is like investing in good hand tools. It fact it is investing in good hand tools. Books will help you continue learning over the long term. This is a frugal approach to your future as an owner-builder because you're going to need to know the skills to build and maintain a house. With books so it is with tools: research your options and invest in the best you can afford.
When it comes to design there's a vast supply of books available for all kinds of architectural styles: craftsman, bungalows, mid-century modern, vernacular, contemporary, post-modern, and others. For a veritable hands on approach, Shelter Publications has some really interesting modern design classics (and don't forget to check the library first).
Eventually you'll intrepidly move on to other aspects of construction like insulating, ventilating, plumbing and wiring, cabinet making, stairs, and more. Just keep your house modest and you'll be well equipped to build an efficient and beautiful house to last generations.
Don't just sit there - that is until you've got that stack of books from the local library!