Do you love the tiny house trend that is flooding our nation?
Well, I personally am a huge fan of it because I love the idea of not having a ton of debt wrapped up in a house. I also love the fact that it is less to have to take care of. They seem much more cost effective as far as maintenance goes.
I mean, there isn’t a lot of square footage to maintain so why would it cost you an arm and a leg?
But how much do these tiny houses actually cost? Are they worth the money? And how can you save money if you decide to build your own tiny house?
Well, these are all things we are going to discuss. Here are my thoughts on the matter:
How Much Does it Cost to build a Tiny House?
This is a tricky question. The real answer is it will depend upon what part of the world you live in. I am not well versed in pricing throughout the country so I can’t give you a breakdown for your area. The best thing you could do (if you want someone to build your tiny house for you) is to call a local contractor and see how much they charge to build by the square foot.
Then you can go over tiny floor plans. You shouldn’t need a special builder if you plan on placing the house on a foundation.
However, if you want your tiny house to be mobile, then you’ll need to look for someone who specializes in building that. They are all over the country so use the internet to scope them out. I live in a very rural area, and my husband came across a man during his day job that makes his living building tiny houses.
So if I can find one in my neck of the woods, I’d say they are pretty well everywhere. You just have to look.
But for my area of the world (and I live in rural NC), my husband and I recently found out how much it cost to build a house. When we were deciding on buying more land, we weren’t sure if we wanted to buy a home with the land, or build a home on land.
However, we decided against building because of the expense. Yet, we still found out that it was going to cost on average about $120 per square foot to build a house. This means for an average size 1500 square foot house, we were looking at spending around $200,000. That was way outside of our budget so naturally, we passed on that idea.
But don’t get discouraged. If you have a smaller house-building budget and want to go tiny, then take that same figure and realize you could have your own tiny house built for around $36,000-$60,000. That may not be as ‘tiny’ a number as you hoped, but you could have your very own home that is custom built for you, for only a fraction of what a normal sized home would cost.
Again, if you decide to go this route, I recommend you talk to a general contractor in your area that can give you a building quote in your specific location (as the numbers vary greatly), or seek out a tiny house builder in your area that might be able to offer some figures as well. The number I just threw out is what we found in our experience.
No doubt, it will change so you might be surprised to find that it might cost you less or a lot more to build. Definitely, do your own research when deciding if having a tiny house built for you is within your budget.
Things to Consider
1. Money, Money, Money
When deciding to build a tiny house, it is a little different than building a ‘normal’ house. For instance, you’ll need to really do your research on financing.
So if you don’t have the cash up front, then financing might really determine what type of house you could build.
For instance, the idea of having a mobile tiny house financed is probably going to be really difficult in finding a lender for that. It is becoming harder and harder just to get a mobile home financed, and they (usually) have to have a permanent foundation under them to be financeable, unless they are coming straight from a mobile home dealer.
So know where your money is coming from before you get really excited about building tiny because financing can be a definite pickle.
But if you need to finance a tiny house, then you might want to look into placing it on a permanent foundation so hopefully banks will just look at it as a house with small square footage.
Or you could go to an RV dealership where they sell park model homes. They should offer financing at the dealerships for them, and they look like little tiny houses.
Also, you could consider buying a really small mobile home as well that comes straight from the dealer so you could hopefully find financing options there as well.
2. Can You Fit into Tiny?
Going tiny is no small feat, as I’m currently learning. The house we are now moving to is on a lot of acreage, but it is less than a thousand square feet with a basement under it.
So as a family of 5, we are having to really get rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose, have some sort of sentimental value to it, or make us happy. With kids, this can be challenging.
But I’m sure you can only imagine how small the bedrooms are in this house. Thankfully, the basement will make a large play area for the boys on rainy days, but we still have to choose what we need and what we don’t.
So really think about this before making the decision to go tiny. Will you really be happy living the tiny lifestyle? We aren’t going as tiny as some, but for us, the drop in square footage (we believe) will make us happy and fit right into our lifestyle.
But that is a personal choice that you must decide for yourself.
How Can I Save Money on the Build?
1. Pull Out the Hammer and Nails
Framing up your own tiny house could save you quite a bit of money. Even if you have a general contractor, almost anything that you can do yourself will save you a decent amount of money.
Because when you do a job, you only pay for materials. Whereas if you hire someone else, you pay for materials and labor. Labor these days is quite expensive.
So if you have the skills to frame up a tiny house, then you might really want to consider rolling up your sleeves and taking on the job yourself.
Or maybe enlisting the help of those around you that have the skills to do it. Friends with carpentry skills are great treasures that you may fail to appreciate until you need something built. My husband is very skilled when working with his hands, and I can’t tell you the money he has saved us because of it.
2. DIY the Necessities
Every house will need electricity and plumbing. You can decide to do this in different ways. You could run traditional electricity throughout your home. If you do decide to do this, please use a licensed electrician. Electricity is not something you should play around with.
But you could also decide to go with solar panels or a wind turbine to power your home. Either way, you still need some assistance from someone who specializes in these areas or has experience.
Always remember when doing electrical and plumbing work, you need advice from the professionals because you may have to get permits and if so, it will definitely have to pass an inspection to ensure your home is safe. After all, safety is of the utmost importance.
3. A Tiny Roof
One of the great things I love about tiny houses is the low maintenance costs. In most houses when you need a new roof, you might as well go ahead and plan on taking out a loan because you are lucky to get out for around $10,000.
But with a tiny house, there isn’t much roof so there isn’t nearly the same amount of materials or time needed. Which should equate to less expense.
So if you would like to save money on your build, you could actually do your tiny roof yourself. Here is a resource that might help you along the way.
But as always, we always recommend that you seek out help from those who have experience when taking on any type of DIY project.
4. Second-Hand is Your Friend
Second-hand items are always your friend when building a house. You could find old wood and repurpose it for siding. You could find secondhand doors and windows that could potentially save you a ton of money.
So don’t be afraid to shop around at recyclables stores. They often have items that you could take home and refurbish. They could look great on your home and save you a ton of money in the process.
5. Get Creative with the Design
I know from first-hand experience, if you get creative, you can save a bundle of money when remodeling a home.
So if I can remodel these rooms in a full sized home on a tight budget, I feel certain some of the same ideas could be applied to a tiny home.
For instance, you could use wood plank flooring instead of the prefabricated floors to save money. You could build your own cabinets and use open shelving to save money in your kitchen. You could also make your own light fixtures and shop discounted paint as well.
Also, consider building your own furniture. You may need to rethink your plans for a king sized bed, but we were able to put two pieces of furniture into one (a bed and a dresser) when we built our bed.
As you can tell, there are many ways to save money on decorating the inside of your tiny home.
6. Some ‘Tiny’ Items Do Not Carry Tiny Prices
When you are considering your budget for a tiny house, really think about how you can save money because there are some items no matter how you slice it, they are just more expensive because they are specially made to fit inside a tiny home.
For instance, we were shopping for a woodstove to add into our future home. Again, our house is just smaller. It doesn’t qualify as tiny, but we don’t need a full sized wood stove, or we’ll cook. I was stunned to find that these stoves cost more than my large woodstove that we have now, cost us.
So be prepared for a price increase on appliances, wood stoves, etc. You may want to figure out a way to make room for full sized appliances in your tiny home in order to save money, or you may want to figure out where you can save money elsewhere to be able to better afford the increase of the price for tiny house appliances.
Well, I hope that this guide gave you a few things to consider when deciding on whether to build a tiny house or not. I’ve learned through my house hunting ordeal that the more educated you are on things the better off you are going to be.
But I’d love to hear your thoughts. How much did it cost you to build your tiny home? Do you have any tips on saving money on the build for those that are considering building a tiny house? If you are going tiny, what are some areas in your budget that are throwing you through a loop? I’m sure our community would be glad to help where they can.
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