Building a tiny house is a trendy option for homeowners looking to downsize and live a minimalist lifestyle.
Ranging from 100 to 400 square feet, tiny houses appeal to people who want to be unencumbered by large living spaces and to have a more mobile lifestyle. In comparison, the average American home is around 2,500 square feet.
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How Much Is A Tiny House?
If you are considering building a tiny house, the first question on your mind is probably: how much does a tiny house cost? Since, tiny house are not super common, many people have no idea how much a tiny house could cost.
The truth is that the final cost of your tiny house will greatly depend on the size and features you want.
Overall, the lest customization, luxury building materials and space you want your tiny house to have, the cheaper it will be.
Some tiny houses are very small and economical, costing as little as $15,000, while others are luxury construction tiny homes, priced as much as $150,000+. However, most people spend $45,000-65,000 on a good quality tiny home.
For example, a 400 sq.ft. one bedroom tiny house that has everything you need but no major bells and whistles costs around $55,000 – 62, 000
Use our House Building Calculator to estimate the cost of building a tiny house.
DIY Tiny House Building vs Hiring A Pro
If you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider building a tiny house on your own, using a prefabricated tiny house kit or shell.
Building a tiny house on your own can save you as much as 50% of the total cost, since professional contractor labor tends to be very expensive.
Tiny house building workshops can help those with no construction experience dive into building their own tiny house project.
For instance, Tumbleweed Tiny Houses offers a two-day workshop for first-time builders, costing $799. While the workshop requires a financial investment, many say that the opportunity to learn about cost efficient building practices saved them money in the long run.
However, while doing it yourself will lower the price tag, the hours spent on the project might balance out the cost of hiring a professional.
Professional builders can build a tiny house in around 120 hours, it generally takes a DIYer 480-800+ hours to build. Hiring a professional builder may also keep costs down in the long run by eliminating the costly mistakes a DIY-er might make.
Tiny House Kit vs Shell
Tiny house shells and kits are the go-to options for DIYers who don’t want to start building from scratch.
Shells come with a completed house structure, while kits come with all the necessary materials to build the tiny house from scratch.
Here is a table outlining the main differences between tiny house shells and kits.
|Tiny House Shells||Tiny House Kits|
|Cost||$5,000 – $60,000||$2,000 – $35,000|
|Skills Required||No building experience needed||Basic building experience needed|
|Features Included||Comes with everything (roofing, flooring, windows, doors, etc.) all put together and delivered on-site. Interior finishing and decorating are left up to the DIY-er.||Comes with all the materials and resources needed to build the tiny house yourself, from the windows to the flooring to the instruction manuals.|
Is It Cheaper to Buy or to Build a Tiny House?
Building your own tiny house is generally cheaper than buying a pre-made tiny house. Labor can cost thousands of dollars, so doing the work yourself will cut down on costs and will make a DIY tiny house even cheaper compared to buying one.
Generally, you can buy an existing tiny house for $45,000-70,000. Houses on wheels sometimes can be more costly. A luxury tiny house can easily cost over $150,000 depending on their size, features and appliances.
In addition to the pure cost consideration, you also need to realize that when you build your own tiny house (even if you use a kit or a shell) you can customize the living space to your preferences.
This would include such essentials as:
Number of rooms/bedrooms
Any custom design furniture for multiple uses
Quality of building materials and finishes
Utilities and how the house is wired or hooked up
When you buy a tiny house, you either have to live with its existing design, features, and furniture and invest more money into remodeling, which will further drive up your total cost.
How Long Does A Tiny House Last?
With the right materials and regular maintenance, a tiny house can last for decades. It’s small size does make it vulnerable to more wear and tear than you might be used to in a normal size house, which can cut down on its lifespan if not dealt with properly.
All houses experience wear and tear, but some say that tiny houses tend to deteriorate faster than normal sized houses. This may be because of the increased usage that comes with the smaller space.
For one, foot traffic is more concentrated in smaller areas, which can wear the flooring and carpeting.
Other things, like countertops, are used more than normal because of their limited size, and therefore wear down faster. Furniture also will break down sooner, because there likely is less of it than in a normal sized house and it is used more often.
There are some particular features to pay attention to in order to make sure your tiny house lasts as long as possible.
First, avoid carpet flooring. While it may seem like a good idea to begin with, carpet flooring deteriorates quickly and is difficult to clean and maintain.
Also, fixtures, handles, and screws have a tendency to loosen with heavy use, so it is important to invest in good fixtures and regularly tighten screws. Prioritizing durability over fashion is a good choice in tiny homes, as they age quicker than normal homes.
Furniture, too, will wear over time and from use. Especially in tiny houses, furniture tends to have multiple uses, like sofas with attached storage, that wear out faster than in traditional houses. Buying durable furniture will help keep the lifespan long despite heavy use.
Top Companies That Build Tiny Houses
If you are not into DIY building, you can hire a professional company that specializes in building tiny homes. These companies offer everything from low-end to upscale tiny houses.
Many options can be customized your needs and your budget.
New Frontier Tiny Houses
New Frontier Tiny Houses specializes in luxurious tiny homes. Their tiny houses range in price from $75,000 to $180,000.
Aesthetically, their tiny homes have a rugged, naturalistic look that blends in perfectly with a mountain view. New Frontier Tiny Homes are the perfect fit for those looking for a luxurious upgrade while downsizing to a tiny house.
Jamaica Cottage Shop
Jamaica’s Cottage shop offers a range of tiny house options, including frame-only kits, complete kits, and fully assembled tiny houses.
Their options are affordable and come in a wide range of styles and sizes to fit your needs. They also offer three-season choices and four-season choices.
84 Lumber Tiny Living
84 Living offers tiny homes in three modals: the 448 square foot Salmon Creek, the 540 square foot Ross Run, and the 448 square foot Hearts Content.
In each of their tiny houses is a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room. Aesthetically, 84 Lumber’s tiny homes more closely resemble traditional houses than wood cabins.
Minimaliste offers high-end, designer tiny houses. Their sleek, modern design can blend perfectly with a natural view or a cityscape. Minimaliste houses are made to be self-sufficient and reduce the environmental footprint.
Price wise, Minimaliste tiny houses range from $118,000 to $138,000, and deliver fully made, to anywhere in Canada or the USA.
Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses
Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses offer mid-range tiny houses in both shells and complete configurations. They also provide affordable plans for DIY-ers. They offer a wide array of options that range in size from twelve feet to thirty seven feet wide. Most Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses have a woodsy, cabin-like feel to them.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Another mid-range option, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offers five primary tiny house models, costing between $57,000 to $78,000.
They also offer custom built tiny houses, as well as shells for those interested in DIY projects. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are offered in cabin styles as well as more traditional home styles.
In Which State Can I Build A Tiny House?
You may surprised to learn that building a tiny house is actually illegal in some states. Yes, you heard right: ILLEGAL! Some cities consider tiny houses a safety hazard.
The laws that pertain to building tiny houses vary by state. However, within a state that allows tiny homes, these rules will vary by county, municipality and town.
Do your research well before you uproot from your current place of residence and embark on building a tiny house.
The 10 states with the most friendly rules and regulations for tiny home building are: California, Colorado, Utah, New York, North Carolina, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Texas, and Florida.
The following states have very strict laws that make it very challenging if not impossible to build a tiny house:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
The reason tiny houses are not legal in some states is that there are issues with regulating these types of houses according to real estate zoning and safety laws. In some cases, putting a tiny house on wheels helps to go around many of these regulations, making it legal.
Overall, its best to find a community where tiny house living is acceptable and welcome, so that you don’t have to deal with any of these issues.
Can You Put A Tiny House On Your Property?
Whether or not you would be allowed to to build a tiny house on your existing property depends on local zoning laws.
In some cases, you may be allowed to build a tiny house without obtaining any special permits if it will be on wheels, like a trailer.
Does A Tiny House Appreciate In Value?
In case you are wondering whether building or buying a tiny house is a good long terms investment, you should know that unlike standard homes, tiny homes actually DEPRECIATE in value over time, similar to cars or motor homes.
From this perspective, its worth it to downsize and invest in a tiny home only if you are really looking to transform your lifestyle.