What does a Tiny House Cost?

What does a Tiny House Cost?




Really, we need to be asking ourselves: What SHOULD a Tiny House cost? There are many differing opinions on this subject, and because you can’t simply call up Zillow or Redfin to get an estimated value on your investment, you get a wide range of answers. The costs of a Tiny Home have a huge range – from as little as $10k to over $100k – yet the square footage differs minimally. To understand why this is, I’ve listed several examples below, including a detailed breakdown of my own Tiny House cost.


Skip to my Tiny House Cost Breakdown

Me & My Tiny House

Why do people go tiny?

Below I’ve listed a few examples of why people go tiny. Your reason for buying or building a Tiny House will make a huge difference in the overall cost. No one fits into every single category, and that’s okay.

  • Affordability
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Minimalism
  • Off-grid capabilities
  • RV with year-round comfort for all weather / locations
  • To use as temporary housing, guest home or a vacation house
  • Survivalist house in case of emergency
  • Exemption of property taxes
  • Non-toxic or chemical free home
  • Ability to design an artistic home with quality materials
  • Ability to build your own home in short amount of time

Affordable housing is one reason people go tiny, but it’s not the ONLY reason. 


Are Tiny Houses Too Expensive to Buy?

Let’s compare the price of standard homes, RVs, and mobile homes (or trailers). Tiny Homes fall somewhere in between these categories.

According to the above resources, Tiny Homes are less expensive to purchase than regular homes and RVs. They are about the same price as mobile homes but far superior in quality. And don’t forget, you can also build a Tiny House yourself and save a lot more money!

The average tiny home is built for $25,000 in materials.

“Why is the price per square foot in a Tiny House more than a regular home?”

Price per square foot does not work when comparing small or Tiny Homes. Think about it, nothingness (or the empty space in between necessary space) is not the expensive part of a house. Adding square footage is cheap! A 125 square foot tiny house will most likely have all the same systems (kitchen, bathroom, heat, etc.) as a 2,000 square foot house, just in a smaller package. As square footage goes up, the cost per square foot goes down. 

Every inch matters in a tiny house. Who can say that about their 2,600 square foot home (which is the average size of new homes being built in the USA by the way)? To properly design a tiny home you will need to purchase compact appliances. Small, energy efficient appliances are expensive. In a standard size home, you can purchase the cheapest appliances on the market and you will hardly notice the difference.


“My 1,500 square foot home only cost $50k! Why should a Tiny House cost more?”

First of all: LOCATION. If you purchased a home in Los Angeles it would cost more than if you bought the same home in the rural midwest. Tiny homes cost the same amount regardless of location.

Secondly, the maintenance, insurance, taxes and the cost of heating and cooling would be far greater in a 1,500 square foot house than a tiny house. You need to take that cost into consideration. Not to mention the cost of your own time. Cleaning and repairing a large home is time-consuming. Time is money.

Thirdly, see argument #1.

“I can build a tiny house for $7,000 in materials!”

Congratulations, you must be a resourceful and skilled individual! That being said, there is a difference between a $10k tiny house and a $20k tiny house (in the appliances for example). And, unless you have a warehouse of bulk construction materials, you probably spent a lot of time gathering and repairing reclaimed items. Nothing wrong with that, but time is money.

Click on the image below, or here, for tips on building a Tiny House on a shoestring budget.

The appliances in my tiny house alone cost over $10,000! A tiny home built on a shoestring budget would have to be frugal with their choices. Also, many lower budget builds require restoring a used trailer, such as Macy Miller’s $11,416 tiny home. Macy is a trained architect and she received several items on her build for free (such as her windows). Macy’s tiny home is fantastic, but it’s also an anomaly. Not everyone has her skills, connections, and patience for restoration.

“Tiny Homes are being built for the homeless. They must be cheap!”

Tiny Homes for the homeless is a wonderful concept. I fully support the effort many people are making to help others in need. That being said, tiny-homes-for-the-homeless are a completely different animal. Here is a photo from Opportunity Village:

Tiny House Costs

These structures are built with donated materials. Often the electrical and insulation is very basic, and they do not have plumbing. The shapes are simple in architectural terms. I love the concept, but there is no point comparing the price tag of these dwellings to average Tiny House. These are not homes, but merely temporary shelters.

I, honestly, don’t even like to call these structures “Tiny Homes” as I believe they are very different categorically from the home I live in. Calling these shed-like shelters “Tiny Homes” only belittles my home and causes people to say ignorant things, like accusing me of glamorizing the homeless community. I’m not homeless, and I don’t believe I’m glamourizing their hardships. I’m simply living within my means, without debt, unlike the majority of people in this country.

The Average Tiny House is:

  • $25,000 in materials. You can argue that, but this is my estimate after speaking with dozens of Tiny Housers
  • Built with high-end materials and appliances
  • Unique and custom in design
  • NOT concerned with building the cheapest home possible. Instead, they want an affordable lifestyle. There is a difference.

The fact is, the average tiny homeowner would rather spend $20,000 than $10,000 to build the home of their dreams. That extra $10k might afford them better appliances, spray foam insulation, more windows, skylights, solar power, a wood stove, off-grid capabilities, a custom countertop, etc.

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Tiny House Cost

Tiny House Cost Breakdown

Below I’ve listed my Tiny House materials from the most expensive to the least expensive item. I hope this guide is helpful in creating a realistic budget for your future Tiny Home.

ITEM

PRICE

NOTES

Tumbleweed Trailer 

$4,850

Including registration fee.

Kimberly Wood Stove & Flue*

$4,495

Splurged for the aesthetics, efficiency and off-grid capabilities. Read my review.

Windows & Skylights

$4,000

Egress Skylight, Vented Skylight, & 14 Custom windows

Structural Lumber, Sheathing, Etc.

$3,000

Estimated costs of lumber, sheathing, house wrap: Tyvek, & screws: Screw Solutions Starbit Head

Portable Solar System*

$2,800

Goal Zero Solar Generator, Cables & 2 x 90W Panels

Siding

$2,200

Reclaimed siding purchased from retailer

Insulation

$1,200

Rigid Foam. Read my build tips here.

Water Heater*

$1,125

Brand: Precision Temp. Buy Here. Read my review.

Compost Toilet*

$900*

Get $25 off with this link. Brand: Nature’s Head.  Read my review.

Refrigerator*

$870

Brand: Dometic. 3-way power. Buy here.

Roofing

$800

Onduvilla 3D Shingles. Underlayment: Grace Ice & Water Shield

Build Plans

$769

Tumbleweed Cypress-20 Overlook Plans

Plumbing*

$700

Click here for detailed breakdown of plumbing.

Mattress

$450

I love sleep. Sleep is good.

Shower 

$440

Shower tub, low flow fixture, and shower fan

Light Fixtures

$400

 Read about my DIY copper lamp.

Front Door

$385

Bought new and trimmed to size. Read more here.

Propane Heat Blanket*

$380

For extremely cold climates. Buy HereRead more here.

Flooring

$330

Engineered hardwood

Propane*

$310

Tanks, regulator, and piping. Full breakdown on my materials list.

Wood Slab Countertops

$300

And a lot of work! They sure are pretty.

Kitchen Sink & Faucet

$220

Stovetop*  $176 Propane 3 burner. Buy Here..

TOTAL COST:

$31,160

“Holds onto your butts!”– Samuel L. Jackson, Jurassic Park

*Off-grid and/or energy efficient item*

For a detailed list and photos of all materials, click here or on the image below:

You may notice some items are missing from the above list, such as hardware, electrical, and miscellaneous build materials. These items, as well as my decor and furniture, are not included in the total. I also hired a finish carpenter, plumber and electrician intermittently during my build. The cost of labor is not included in this total. The REAL total cost to build my tiny home is somewhere between $35,000 – $40,000. I did receive several sponsorships which saved thousands of dollars. Thank you! If you’re interested in gathering sponsors for your build, read this article.

My tiny house cost breakdown is more than the average. Why?

Because I built my dream tiny home. It’s okay if my tiny house cost breakdown is more than yours. It’s mine.

I would never consider my tiny house to be outrageously expensive. Instead, I focused on quality over quantity. I splurge when I wanted to and saved when I wanted to. My tiny house lifestyle affords me a smaller footprint, mobility, and flexibility. It also allows me to work part time and travel the world. That’s real freedom and affordability.

I don’t think my house “missed the point” or that “I am in the tiny house movement for the wrong reasons.” In fact, I would never say that about another tiny houser. You have achieved your goal of owning a tiny house, and that’s wonderful.

Watch a video of my Tiny House Cost Breakdown

What do you think of my REAL Tiny House cost breakdown? 




If my Tiny House Cost Breakdown has helped you in some way, consider making a small donation. This is how I am able to maintain this website. Even $5 helps! Thank you for your support!

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106 Comments

  1. Tan
    October 29, 2017 / 4:38 pm

    Thank you for the breakdown! You are living the dream! Debt free and free to do whatever you want. I am trying to convince my husband to grab hold of the tiny home concept. A bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom…everything else is just wasted space. Life is about LIVING! And enjoying it to the best of your ability!

  2. Rachel
    October 24, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    Can I ask about the towing? No means am I trying to disrespect, I’m completely in awe of your story and inspired to do the same. I’m curious about carbon footprint when having to tow with a truck. I hate the oil industry and I think the investment here is to wait until we find a truck that is hybrid or also solar (wishful thinking)/ electric, but I’m no where rich enough for an electric truck.
    I’m curious if you had to invest in a truck to accommodate your tiny home? Living in LA once upon a time, now in Bend, Oregon myself, my subaru is paid off, would hate to get another car pmt.
    My other thoughts, was on quiting your job but then coming up with the funds to build, assuming the article on sponsorships will answer that?
    If u come through Bend, it’d be awesome to chat. Thanks for being here, I’ve been showing everyone your video interview. Absolutely love your tiny home, regardless of others opinions on your choice on items.
    Cheers!

    • October 25, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Hi Rachel. When I was traveling around, I had purchased a truck to tow with. It was a Ford F250 Diesel, and even with 100k miles and it being 8 years old, I still paid $26k for it. It was almost has expensive as my house! I’ve since sold it because I don’t tow the house often anymore.

      That being said, I don’t think you need to buy a truck unless you are going to travel full time. Instead rent one when you need to move. And if your carbon footprint in a concern, I wouldn’t suggest towing a Tiny House full time. You can, of course, offset your carbon footprint in other ways, but you will still be burning a lot of fossil fuels.

      I hope this is helpful! I’ll be sure to reach out if I come to Bend.

  3. Roger
    October 19, 2017 / 4:42 am

    You are cool! Considering building a tiny house in Hawaii. Do you ever get claustrophobic?

  4. John Earl
    October 17, 2017 / 2:52 am

    You could totally have one built for half or less than half not buying a $5k stove or fridge. Some of the items are completely unnecessary. Nonetheless i appreciate your info buddy thank you.

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