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.

Like this Article? Pin this for later:

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!

Follow:
Share:

101 Comments

  1. January 18, 2017 / 11:21 pm

    Nice Artikel..
    what are the estimated total costs for size 6 x 10M ?

  2. H
    December 30, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    It’s not the fact that anyone really cares about how much you spend on a tiny house but more as to a question of why do Tiny houses cost just as much as normal size homes.

    I’m watching the FYI channel and they are showing Tiny homes in my home state of California and they were showing homes @ $250,000 for only 709 square feet. And where it was located you could literally purchase a home three times the size for that price. So why on earth would idiots spend just as much for way less space? Ideally you would think less square footage should require less money.

    • January 6, 2017 / 6:07 pm

      I didn’t watch the exact same show that you did but I’m assuming you can purchase the larger home for that price with a mortgage tied to it. It’d be spending more money in the long run which keeps people tied to working longer hours in order to pay off the price.

      That cost alone doesn’t mention the price of utilities and other bills that take up most of people’s income. So in theory the larger house would become more expensive in the long run. A tiny house is more expensive upfront but that’s it. Also, depending on the way the house is built, your utility expense wouldn’t be as high as a normal house since you’re downsizing. Less physical space to heat, light, cool, etc. Plus, it sounds as though the show was angled more towards buying a tiny home in which you’re absolutely right and it is more expensive than building one yourself.

      But why? One reason that it is more expensive to buy a tiny home is so that realtors (who have noted the significance of the tiny home) can actually make a profit off the house you’re buying. You don’t sell products at the same price it took to make it, you’d make no money. Half the allure to tiny homes is that there is no mortgage or ultimately spending less in the long run. If you’re a tiny house realtor with no banks to give you that profit in the long run you wouldn’t have much of a business. So that’ll rack up the price in order to create a profit. If you’re a buyer who has that kind of money than go ahead. It’s also possible that the interior is made out of more expensive materials to give off a feel that it’s like a regular house. But these are just my rationales as to why it’d be so expensive.

      Overall, you gotta be informed on how you want your tiny house and why you’re getting one and if buying or building is the right option for you. There are tons of people who don’t pay that much for a tiny home and still look awesome!

    • Walt
      January 11, 2017 / 2:29 pm

      The price of the home mentioned here is determined by costs alone, not the location involved. As soon as you start considering lots then the costs of said lots is more than anything tied to the area you decide to live in. To say a tiny home costs $250k is subjective to the location where it is placed and should not be scrutinized the same way. Unless these tiny homes are plated in gold or you paid for shipping for every single item of your tiny home then there’s no reason for a tiny home to cost that much.

    • February 18, 2017 / 7:51 pm

      My point as well. The whole point of me wanting a tiny house is due to my financial limitations and because I want to live simple!

  3. Emily
    November 24, 2016 / 8:59 pm

    What someone wants to spend on any house is their business, their buck, and not really up for scrutiny. We all spend our money how we see fit. I appreciate the shared information. Whether I choose to build a tiny house or not, having this info gives a great outline to start from. For someone who is very interested but clueless on what it would take (me), it’s quite valuable.

    That note aside, the reason someone chooses to build/buy/live in a tiny house doesn’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectation. I currently live in a 1200 square foot duplex with my family of 5. It is the total lack of efficiency of the 1200 square foot that causes a tiny house to appeal to me. They are designed so well! Every inch is used. Every item is multi-functional. That’s genius! A 500 square foot tiny house functions much better than my duplex. Personally, I would aim for a 1000 square foot tiny house on a slab. I have three growing boys, one with special needs, that I home school. For our family, we need a bit of “school space.” And that’s the beauty of a tiny home! I can design it to be PERFECT for our needs and functions in our everyday life… which I get to predicate and NO ONE ELSE.

    Thank you for sharing this personal information. I, for one, am grateful.

  4. November 23, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    All I can say is that your materials costs seem very high to me. A few years ago I built a 12×16 building on my lot. The structure included double pane windows, an insulated door, a pitched roof with ice and water shield under asphalt shingles. I also dug a trench and buried conduit from the main house to the building and installed a 50 amp 220 volt service. The walls are double 2×4 construction 8″ thick) and fully insulated with studs staggered to avoid thermal bridging. There are two outlets on each wall and two light fixtures. The interior is fully finished in pillar foundation for it and my floor has 6″ of foam insulation. The exterior is sided with cedar shingles. My cost for the building came to just over $3,500. ALL the labor was mine. My building is heated by a single 1,000 watt baseboard heater that is more than is needed in Maine. I do not have a kitchen or bathroom facilities, but could easily add a stove, refrigerator, sink, water system and composting toilet for under $2,500. A 400 watt solar system with an MPPT controller, inverter and 450 amp-hour battery bank can be done for $1,600, but if you want to go solar your could save a lot by going with a pure 12 volt house and only having a small inverter for charging phones and stuff like that (It is certainly possible to get all 12 volt appliances and lights, except the stove which can be propane). That would reduce the cost of the solar system by about $400.

    What it comes to is that I think you spent a lot on expensive materials for aesthetic reasons. Consequently your costs are in no way representative of reasonable costs.

    Note: My primary experience is from boating where the square footage of a tiny house would be considered huge. I also completely rebuilt my 32′ boat for about $28K. That cost included an $11,000 diesel engine. Materials quality on the boat is certainly higher than in your tiny home. That refit included a new solid mahogany cabin house with 19 windows, all new systems (fuel tanks and other fuel components, all new furniture with custom cushions, Custom cabinets, toilet with holding tank, all new plumbing with water heater and solid bronze sink, solid maple counter tops, etc. In addition all finishes were done with marine grade finishes (varnish, paints, etc) which are MUCH more expensive than home finishes, I also installed a marine diesel fired forced air heating system. All woods used were either solid mahogany, clear douglas fir, teak or marine grade plywood (= expensive compared to home grade woods). The boat has a stove, refrigerator sink and bathroom as well as 2 beds.

  5. Namegoes here
    September 12, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    What a load of bull. Why don’t you just go live in a tent.

  6. Scott
    September 6, 2016 / 1:29 pm

    Gah! I can’t believe the idiots who populate these interwebs. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with everyone, even these trolls who wouldn’t know an original thought if it hit them over the head with a wrench.

Leave a Reply