“How much does it cost to build a tiny house?” I hear this question a lot. Perhaps you’ve seen news headlines about people who have built tiny houses for next-to-nothing and thought, “if they can do it for cheap then so can I.” I sure thought that.
I have to announce a reality check: only in rare circumstances can a tiny house be built for under 10k. Maybe if you’re skilled in construction or have free help with the labor; maybe if you get multiple sponsorships or free materials; you spend lots of time searching for and fixing up secondhand materials; if your house is really really small; if you choose all super cheap materials (not necessarily bad for some things, but there are risks). Remember, the general rule is “pick two”: good quality, fast completion, or inexpensive materials.
If you’re building yourself, the basic materials for an average-sized, mid-quality tiny house on wheels will probably cost $18-25k. And this doesn’t include if you hire out plumbing, electrical, spray foam insulation, etc. If you’re new to building and can’t get free help regularly, I would recommend leaving room in your budget to hire some things out and/or buying a pre-made shell, especially if you don’t want to take forever to finish.
A trailer alone can be 20% of your budget – our brand new giant 28′ trailer was $6k! Windows and doors were our next biggest expense at nearly $4k (if we had bought these used we could’ve saved more).
This post isn’t meant to discourage anyone but to provide a realistic expectation about the level of financial commitment required (in general) to build a safe, fully functioning, good-looking house within a reasonable deadline. Finding that “sweet spot” between quality, cost, and construction time is part of the challenge, but also it’s what makes every tiny house amazingly unique.