- Want to join the tiny-house movement? You can either buy a tiny house or build it.
- Building a tiny house is typically cheaper, but costs vary, from less than $10,000 to more than $30,000.
- The cost boils down to a variety of factors, such as location, materials, and labor.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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Tiny houses are having a moment.
They're minimalist, portable, and environmentally friendly — and people are jumping on the lifestyle.
It really all comes down to location, housing materials, and labor. Here are the general rules of thumb when it comes to setting a realistic budget for your tiny house.
The cost of building a tiny house is about $300 per square foot, Zack Giffin, the host of the TV show "Tiny House Nation," told Apartment Therapy in 2016.
That's more expensive than the median price per square foot of a house in the US in 2016, $101.72, per Apartment Therapy.
Ryan Fitzgerald, the owner of Raleigh Realty, told Reader's Digest you should budget at least $65,000 to build a tiny house — but others have spent way less than that.
Source: Reader's Digest
Ryan Mitchell of the website The Tiny Life previously told Business Insider it cost about $30,000 to build his 150-square-foot tiny house, including solar panels. "Even after accounting for the cost of the house," he said, "I've saved over $100,000 going tiny."
Source: Business Insider
But it's possible to build a tiny house for less than $10,000. One couple told Tiny House Build that they shelled out just $8,000 to build their 24-foot-long, 8-foot-wide, 13-foot-tall house.
Source: Tiny House Build
Ultimately, the cost of building a tiny house depends on several factors, from plans and materials to location and labor. Here's what to expect.
Permits: Fees for local building permits depend on where you're building but can cost as little as a few hundred to as much as thousands of dollars.
"Rural areas usually have more lenient laws, so choosing rural areas may save you money," Rachel Preston Prinz, who runs an architectural firm, told Reader's Digest. "But what you save here might get eaten up on connecting to the utilities' grid."
Materials: Building materials involve everything from lumber and roofing to doors and windows. Mitchell said materials make up 80% of building costs.
Most tiny houses begin with a trailer. Mitchell wrote on The Tiny Life that his trailer cost $3,600, but Reader's Digest said it could cost as much as $35,000.
- Windows and doors: $1,000 to $6,000
- Lumber: $1,000 to $10,000
- Roofing: $500 to $2,000
- Flooring: $300 to $2,000
Electricity and plumbing: The cost depends on whether your tiny house is on or off the grid, as well as whether you hire out the labor, which is required by law in many locations.
Owners of tiny houses may spend about $1,000 on plumbing and $300 on wiring, while solar panels can cost about $3,500 to install, according to Realtor.com.
However, Mitchell estimated that the total cost of both ranged from $750 to $3,000.
Labor: Building costs really come down to who's behind the labor. According to Mitchell, the average tiny house costs between $10,000 and $30,000 to build yourself, and twice that if you hire someone to build it for you.
Page said that her husband built much of their house but that her neighbor hired laborers for $15 an hour, costing a total of $7,000.
Source: The Tiny Life
But you can also compromise by buying a tiny-house shell — a finished exterior with an unfinished interior — and personalizing it. A standard shell at Tiny Home Builders ranges from $27,000 for a 12-foot house to $36,000 for a 28-foot house.
That's without things like electrical wiring, plumbing, and dormers (sloped roofs that create extra space).
Source: Tiny Home Builders
And don't forget to check Amazon, which also sells tiny-home kits that range from $5,000 to $19,000 and take eight hours to two days to build.
Source: Business Insider
Q: How much do tiny houses cost? Weisbarth: The most economical house we built was $40,000. There's a perception that you can build your own tiny house for $8,000 to $12,000, and while that may be possible, that requires doing the labor yourself and getting material donated.Do tiny homes actually save money? ›
Conclusion. There is little doubt that living in a tiny house will save you money. In fact, 58% of people who live in tiny houses have about $11,200 more saved in the bank than the average American and 65% of them have no credit card debt.What is the average budget for a tiny house? ›
The average cost of a tiny house is a reasonable $30,000 – $60,000, although they can cost as little as $8,000 or up to $150,000 depending on the amenities you choose to include. It's typically cheaper to build a tiny house than to buy one prebuilt, but don't get too caught up in the savings.What size trailer is best for a tiny house? ›
That being said, most tiny houses don't need trailers any larger than 28'. Keep in mind, too, when you're deciding on the length of your trailer that you need to think about the length of your hitch too. This will make the entire setup a good four or five feet longer at the very least.Are tiny houses worth the investment? ›
Are Tiny Houses Worth the Investment? Nope. Not if you're thinking of purchasing a tiny home as a long-term investment. But if you're absolutely sold on living small and going tiny, you do you—but don't expect any returns on your investment.Can you live full time in a tiny house? ›
Some people may use a tiny home as a guest house or in-law suite, but many make a complete conversion to tiny living. Whether you're looking for more affordable living or an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, you might find that the tiny home lifestyle is a great option for your needs.How many years do tiny homes last? ›
Tiny homes can last between 30 and 50 years with careful maintenance. Naturally, many different things will affect this, such as the materials used to build it and the construction method. A tiny home without a base typically breaks down faster than those on wheels.What are the disadvantages of living in a tiny house? ›
- Less Living Space. A tiny house doesn't have room for a full-sized luxury kitchen or bathroom. ...
- Less Storage Space. ...
- Limited Entertaining Capability. ...
- Zoning Rules. ...
You Want Homeownership Without the Maintenance
But if you want to be a homeowner without the stress of constant upkeep, a tiny house can be perfect. Smaller size means minimal maintenance and less time cleaning, which allows the perfect amount of freedom for you to pursue your interests in retirement.
|Tiny House Square Footage||Average Cost|
How long does it take to build a tiny house? The industry average to build a tiny home is about three months for professionals, according to Haery. DIYers can take a year or more.Why are tiny homes expensive? ›
Tiny Homes Are Expensive
The small size of tiny homes doesn't make them much cheaper to build -- in fact, the typical tiny house costs more per square foot than larger houses do, in part because larger construction jobs make for more efficient use of resources.
The biggest a tiny house can be is between 400 and 1,000 square feet (37 - 93 m2), with the majority sitting under 400 square feet. However, there are no rules that say you have to stay below a specific number, unless you will be building on a trailer.What type of trailer is best to build a tiny house on? ›
The Deck Over Trailer is the ideal trailer for single-story Tiny House RV designs. The Deck Over has maximized trailer width by building over the wheel wells. Another advantage is you maximize the width and don't have the wheels sticking into your tiny house.How big is too big for a tiny house? ›
Tiny Houses can range from 60 square feet up to 400 square feet when built on a trailer. Of course, you can build bigger if you build on a foundation. Typically your tiny house can be up to 8 feet wide inside, so your length will be the main variable that impacts square footage.How does Tiny House Nation work? ›
In “Tiny House Nation,” renovation experts and hosts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin, travel across America to show off ingenious small spaces and the inventive people who live in them, as well as help new families design and construct their own mini-dream home in a space no larger than 500 square feet.Do the Tiny House Nation hosts live in tiny houses? ›
Zack is a professional skier and contractor who is co-host of Tiny House Nation. He has so much love for tiny homes that he built a mobile tiny ski house for himself, and has lived in it full-time for years. Each winter Zack moves his tiny home to powdery slopes across the country.What happened to Tiny House Nation? ›
Why was the TV show canceled? There were no public statements on why the network stopped airing the episodes of Tiny House Nation. However, the last episode aired in 2020, which might mean they wanted to attempt a different type of show to replace Tiny House Nation.How to afford a tiny house? ›
If you're working with a tiny home contractor or builder, they may be able to help you secure financing for your tiny home. Some companies actually build tiny homes as well as offer loans for them – which they typically do by working with a lender to help buyers secure loans through their business.