One of the questions I get asked most often is, “how much does it cost to build a tiny house?” Of course, that's a difficult question to answer because the cost of building a tiny house varies enormously. Just as it's impossible to say how much it costs to build a regular house, it's impossible to give one definitive price for tiny houses.
How much your tiny house build will cost you depends on what you want from your tiny house and what your priorities are. If you just want a roof over your head, you could build one for as little as $500, like Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten did. But if you want hot running water, solar panels, and a modern aesthetic, you're probably going to need to save up for your new home.
I've written before about the reaction I get when I tell people that my tiny house cost $42,000 to build. Many people think that's far too much. But I'm perfectly happy that it cost that much, because quality materials and workmanship were important to me.
In this article, we'll look at a range of tiny houses, to see what you can build with a range of different budgets.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Tiny House?
Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten's $500 Tiny House
Photo courtesy of Central College
Students Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten built their tiny house for their senior project. The total cost of their tiny house was $489, largely because they built it out of an old granary. They used salvaged wood, other materials, and furniture from buildings that were being demolished to keep costs down.
This tiny house is extremely basic, with no toilet or power, but it does include a wood stove. This tiny house is therefore not one you would want to live in, but it does show how far you can get with a tiny amount of money.
Wesley Birch's $8,000 Tiny House
Photo courtesy of Wesley Birch / The Tiny House Build
Birch and his wife bought the plans to the hOMe and modified them a bit to make sure their tiny house met their needs exactly. Their tiny house is 24 x 8 feet, and it includes a bathroom, a kitchen, a living room with a pull-out bed, two lofts, and stairs.
This is a fairly basic tiny house, built using many recycled materials. All of the building work was done by Birch and his wife too, so they were able to bring their costs down that way as well.
Birch has a few tips for those who want to build cheaper tiny houses. He recommends learning construction skills from pros on YouTube. He recommends checking Craigslist for free and cheap materials regularly, as well as visiting second-hand building stores to find bargain items (he bought his bathroom sink for under $3!).
To find out more about Birch's build and how he kept his costs down, read this article on The Tiny House Build.
Chris and Malissa Tack's $15-20,000 Tiny House
Photo courtesy of Chris and Malissa Tack
Chris and Malissa Tack's tiny house cost just over double what Birch's tiny house cost. Theirs sits on a 7 x 20 foot trailer and has a Gable roof and dormers, as well as twelve windows! They went for a simple interior, with a fully-fitted kitchen and bathroom. They kept some things simple, like the toilet, which is a bucket and some wood, but also went for solar panels and some other more expensive features.
Again, Chris and Malissa built their tiny house themselves. In total, it took them about 800 hours over seven months. They had no previous building experience, apart from a few shop classes. That said, Malissa is a 3D artist, so she was able to design their plans for them. And they did get some help with the electrical and plumbing.
If you like the look of their tiny house, you can buy their plans here.
Tom and Shaye Wilson's $20,000 Tiny House
Photo courtesy of DIY House Building
Tom and Shaye Wilson's tiny house cost NZD 26,000 to build, which works out at around USD 19,500. They estimate that their build would have cost much less had they been in the US, because trailers and building supplies typically cost more in New Zealand than they do in the States.
Their trailer measures 23′ 7.5 x 7'10.5. This tiny house has a kitchen, dedicated office space, full-sized shower, spacious loft, storage loft, stairs, French door, big windows, and a corner couch.
Initially, Tom and Shaye wanted to know exactly how much their build was going to cost, so they could save as much money as possible. But when they couldn't find the information they were looking for, they decided to get stuck in and just start. They completely made up their budget, but ended up spending double that amount.
This couple also did all the construction work themselves and they didn't cut costs on materials. This is obvious when you hear that they spent $300 on a chandelier!
Anita Howard's $30,000+ Tiny House
Photo courtesy of Lilypad Planet
Living far away from her family and having neither construction experience nor power tools, Anita decided to sell off everything she owned that was worth something to save up to hire a professional builder. Her build took four months and cost about $30,000, not including solar panels, appliances, decor, and more. $13,600 of that went towards labor.
Anita's tiny house is 24 x 8.6 feet and includes two lofts, two staircases, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and an office/living room. This tiny house has solar panels, a composting toilet, and a rainwater catchment system.
For more information about Anita's tiny house, click here.
My $42,000 Tiny House
My tiny house is built on a 22 x 8 foot trailer. It has two lofts, a kitchen, a shower, and a living area. I didn't scrimp on materials, instead choosing high-quality items that I believed would last well and look good. For example, I splashed out on the copper roofing shingles I lined my shower with.
I built my tiny house myself, with the help of a carpenter who I found on Craigslist. In total, I paid him $13,780.67 and I totally believe that money was worth it. With his help, it took me a year and a half to build my tiny house, and I doubt I would have finished if I'd gone it alone.
How Much Will Your Tiny House Cost?
So, how much does it cost to build a tiny house? It depends.
As you can see, the decision as to how much money to spend on your tiny house build is entirely dependent upon who you are and what kind of tiny house you want. While Amy and Ethan just wanted to see how far they could get with very little money, I wanted to build the perfect home for me, with finishing touches that make me happy.
Think about what you want your tiny house to be and do. Do you want something modern and sophisticated? Would upcycling abandoned materials fit better with your ethics? Do you relish a challenge or do you doubt your skills? Do you want to show off your new home or do you just need a space to call your own?
If you're not yet sure what exactly you want from your tiny house, I suggest you work through Tiny House Decisions. This book, and its accompanying workbook, will take you through the questions you need to ask yourself in order to plan your build. Answering these questions will enable you to get a much better sense of how much your tiny house is likely to cost.
How much do you think your tiny house will cost to build? What are you willing to splash out on and where are you cutting costs?