Many people looking to downsize have this main question: How much does a tiny house cost? The truth is, tiny house prices can vary widely, due to a variety of factors. Will you build the tiny house yourself? Will you hire a builder? Will you buy a tiny home or just a shell that you finish?
The cost to build a tiny house has a lot to do with building materials, the size of the tiny house, and what systems you want to put in place as far as plumbing, electrical, etc.
With the explosion of the tiny house trend, it’s hard to weed through the costs associated with your tiny build.
One of the cheapest tiny homes you can build is a shed house, which is basically a backyard shed converted into a house. You can start living in a shed for just a few thousand dollars.
One family’s cost to build a tiny house: $10,000
You can drastically reduce the cost of a tiny house by building your own. That’s exactly what Teri Page of Homestead Honey did, building her 350 square foot tiny house for under $10,000. She and her husband did this by forgoing indoor plumbing and doing all their own labor.
“We did all but $500 of the labor ourselves,” she said. “Secondly, we purchased a lot of local white oak that had been milled by local Amish people. The wood is much less expensive than what you’d find in a hardware store. We also used a lot of reclaimed materials, such as rigid foam insulation, barn wood for exterior siding, tiles for the floor. We lucked out at a local auction and found enough oak flooring for our living room for only $40.”
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Teri said her husband has extensive experience in the building industry and was confident he could take on the project.
“Building a tiny house is a great project for builders of any level of experience because it’s human scale building (meaning, you generally won’t need to bring in big machinery),” she said. “But it always is smart to hire people to help you where you need help!”
Instead of indoor plumbing, the off-grid family of four uses an indoor sink in tandem with buckets of water collected from a rainwater catchment system. They have a shower set up in the yard and an outdoor composting toilet.
“It’s so nice to have a home that you’ve built from scratch,” she said. “Every bit of the house was made for our family’s needs, from the loft bed, to the built-in bench seating, to the custom built pantry.”
Main factors that can influence a DIY tiny house cost
A few of the key factors that can influence tiny host cost are these, according to Teri:
- Whether you are doing the building yourself or hiring out the labor
- What building permits are required where you live
- If you’re using new or reclaimed/recycled materials
- The quality of your materials (for instance a granite countertop vs. a re-used counter from the Habitat ReStore)
- And many other factors, such as wiring for electricity, plumbing, etc.
She said if you have the time, you can prepare for your tiny home build in advance by seeking out reclaimed materials, keeping an eye out for bargains.
Teri and her family sourced materials at local auctions, Habitat for Humanity ReStores, green building supply stores, discount window and door liquidators, and so on.
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“We also kept our eye on Craiglist and our local trader groups,” she said. “Most of our exterior siding we sourced from a barn tear-down. Also, we had some black walnut wood from our land milled up for use on window trim and shelving.”
She said she shocked by the prices of windows, doors and lighting fixtures.
“Our cost to build a tiny house was $30,000”
Another example of a diy tiny house is the 204 square foot SHED house, designed and built by Robert and Samantha Garlow over a period of 14 months, weekend to weekend, paycheck to paycheck.
The $30,000 cost of their tiny house is also the cost of materials since the couple didn’t hire out any additional labor.
According to their website, these are the single largest costs associated with their tiny home:
- Tiny house specific trailer: $4,300
- Windows and doors: $3,000
- Dimmable and wirelessly controlled cable and tape LED lighting: $1,200
- Separett composting toilet: $1,400
- Professional grade propane stove: $800
The house was built on a 24’ x 8’ 6” trailer footprint, and Robert said the biggest surprises were the costs he didn’t consider.
“For us, it was adhesives and fasteners (screws and bolt hardware) that slowly added up to thousands of dollars,” said Robert.
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They salvaged their corrugated metal siding from a barn roof in the Yakima Valley, and Robert said searching for reclaimed materials can help keep a tiny house cost to a minimum.
“If you intend on using a lot of reclaimed materials, you should factor in additional time into your timeline and be flexible with your design. It can save you a lot of money but it can be a time-consuming process of trying to find the materials you need. Be prepared for your progress to be delayed,”
To see a video of Robert and Samantha building their ShED house, check out the below video:
How much does a pre-built tiny house cost?
Just like anything, pre-built tiny homes have a wide range of options depending on what systems and size of a tiny house you’re looking for.
One of the more popular brands is Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, which range in price from $60,000-$85,000 for a tiny house RV.
The other side of the spectrum is an ultra-tiny house called The Nugget by Modern Tiny Living that goes for $29,000.
Here are some other pre-built tiny houses to check out:
- WindRiver Tiny Homes offers homes between $50,000-$92,000
- Wheelhaus has a wide variety of tiny houses, that range between $60,000-$120,000
- Titan Tiny Homes offers homes between $36,000-$57,000
So as you can see, building a tiny house yourself significantly reduces the cost. So if you have the time and some building know-how, a diy house will save you the most money.
You can also buy a shell and then finish off the tiny house
Another option for building a tiny house is to buy a shell, which is a finished exterior and an unfinished interior, so you can customize your own home.
Here are some examples of tiny home shells you can buy so you can get an idea of the various price points.
- Jamaica Cottage Shop Tiny House on Wheels Shell for $4,000
- Arched Cabins offers an arched home kit, and one big enough to serve as a cabin costs $4,400
- Tiny House Basics offers a shell for $9,000
- Tiny Heirloom offers a shell on a trailer for $15,000
Shells are great for people who are diy-ers but may not have the time or desire to build an entire tiny home themselves.
There are so many options out there when it comes to the cost of a tiny house, that you’ll just have to figure out what’s best for you.
Advice for people considering buying their own tiny home
Both Teri and Robert have advice for people thinking about downsizing and going tiny.
“My suggestion would be to spend time in a tiny home and see if you like it before building! I love our house, but at 350 square feet, it is a tight squeeze for our homesteading, homeschooling family of four! It’s particularly challenging in the winter months, but much easier in the summer when we can all spend time outdoors,” said Teri.
She said if she were to build a tiny house again, they’d build a taller ceiling and a loft so their kids could have more space of their own.
Robert said if you want to go tiny, but sure to commit to it.