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. Jonathan
    March 14, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Was up ya’ll. First and foremost, awesome post and great perspective. 2nd, As my brother always say, “To each their own”, and if you don’t understand why, then just ask, don’t bash! Cause my opinion is gonna offend hella people. I enjoy simple but high quality things, and that’s why I would get a decked out, teched out, tiny house($120k-$200k)(Btw, I’m 22yrs old, from 3rd world, and broke right now, but work hard the smart way and you’ll be good, but I know working hard is foreign to like 50% of population lol). But honestly, I’m hearing a whole lot of broke people looking for a cheaper way to live. which makes sense, especially if you live in Cali like me. But work harder, make more money, and all your dreams will be realized, monetary and more important one like family goals, etc(because time=$, so if you have enough growing residual income yearly, you control your time)(Yes you get taxed more(like 50%)(that why’s Democrat thinking regarding taxes doesn’t ring a bell with me, I understand some find loop hole like super rich people, but most high income earners actually pay $$$$ in taxes)(just make more lol). To end my rant, that’s just my thoughts(and yes, I did just use a Tiny house article to express my life politics), but once again to each their own ?? . Ya’ll have a great day!

  2. Pierre
    March 5, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    Hi,

    Love your post, I am building a Tiny House Community site can I post it on my site, of course I would give you and your site the credit

    • Hanita Zuckerman
      March 25, 2017 / 10:13 pm

      Hi, where is your Tiny House Community going to be?

  3. Becky Jean Bogart
    January 22, 2017 / 7:37 pm

    Thank you for your post. It gave me a ball park figure and a base to start with.. I now know where I may cut costs or increase them to meet my own taste.

    • January 26, 2017 / 7:41 am

      Thank you. That’s exactly why I wrote this post and shared my personal costs. Build YOUR Tiny House to YOUR budget and preferences.

  4. bryan
    January 21, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    I bought a plastic storage shed 10 foot by 8 for 500 dollars from home depot. Has a door and a roof INCLUDED in the box. I might mount it to a trailor. I think you people are getting carried away with all your DEMANDS. My advise is to buy a nice plastic storage shed and insulate it and maybe reinforce it with boards. And maybe add a window if you want.

    KEEP IT SIMPLE !

    • January 26, 2017 / 7:42 am

      That might work for you, but some people want to build their own home and customize it.

    • American
      January 26, 2017 / 8:17 am

      If I pass a $500 plastic shed and a bunch of housewares and personal effects strewn along the side of the freeway I will know who it belongs to.

    • February 18, 2017 / 7:35 pm

      Thanks. That is exactly what I want to do. I have a settlement coming for $12,000.00, I have been homeless bouncing from place to place awaiting disability which I finally won. This is my 1 shot at age 47 to have my own home with a little money. Can somebody please help explain how to start? I just want a couple windows, insulation, electric, plumbing,basic appliances. I’m a great decorator and live simple. Is my dream achievable?

  5. January 21, 2017 / 4:47 am

    tiny houses are of course cheaper.
    it is a matter of where to park. and that costs a lot probably more than renting a room if you want to do it legally!

    • February 18, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      I am getting a check each month so I could rent land after it was built. I live in Pottstown, PA and the rooms for rent are crackhouses. I am 47 and want my own, simple home. I’m disabled and need to plant my roots for the remainder of my life. Renting a crackhouse room isn’t stability which is what I need after years in and out of homelessness awaiting disability. This is my only shot to own something that’s mine. Don’t know how to start outside of buying the shed or trailer. I am greatful for guidance anyone can give.

  6. KeepsItRealGurl
    January 18, 2017 / 11:47 pm

    It just doesn’t make sense…. A website that sells manufactured homes, single & double wides and park homes has 4oo sq ft park homes for sale at $4o – $55K and on the same sight 8oo – 12oo sq ft single and double wides are $25 – $5o K.
    Obviously you get what you pay for and everywhere is different but the 4oo sq ft park house looks exactly like the singe/double wides just smaller.
    This is just one example but other websites also have similar costs for the two different homes.

    I just don’t understand why they cost so much more for smaller.

    Some ppl are paying $5o – $6o grand for a 192 sq ft tiny home and ppl can do w/e they want with their money but no way in hel would l ever do that. For $5o -$6o k it should be at least 6oo sq ft.m

    Imma supporter of tiny living, l can’t do it now as we have 5 kids and l value adult time w/o having kids in a loft 3 feet away from us and l never would have wanted to live in a tiny home as a teenager so I’m not gonna do that to a kid.

    Most states are really so far behind this as Democraps squabble over why they won’t allow tiny homes, all the crooked politicians need to wake up!

Leave a Reply