Table of Contents
*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
The American fixation on buying a cheap tiny house has gone to a whole new level. Thanks to popular television shows such as HGTV’s “Tiny house hunters” and “Tiny House Revolution.” In addition to their Pinterest-worthy cuteness, a cheap tiny house can provide many with a practical and affordable path to homeownership.
These space efficient, miniature homes are often smaller than 400 square feet. They are priced between $20,000 and $50,000 and touted as an affordable path to homeownership. Reduced resource consumption to build and live in a cheap tiny house has won over environmental conscious builders and consumers. Its 400 square feet of space also gives new homeowners a fantastic excuse to declutter and live a less materialistic lifestyle.
What Exactly Is a Tiny House?
Typically, a tiny house covers an area of between 80 and 400 square feet. There isn’t a standard measurement for a tiny house, but they will rarely exceed 500 feet. Beyond the 500-foot mark, it’s merely a small house. You might have wondered how the tiny house movement started. Well, multiple factors influenced the growth of the miniature house movement.
As thousands of people lost their homes due to foreclosure or unemployment in the 2008- 2009 financial crisis, many homeowners turned to tiny homes. Tiny homes are a cheap alternative to traditional housing. At the same time, those who are watchful of the environment and are looking to shrink their carbon footprint find these tiny, cozy homes as efficient and save them a bundle on bills.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Cheap Tiny House
Most people think they can live in a tiny house, but you should try to find out before diving in. In case you plan on buying or building a cheap tiny house, the investment can easily run between $25,000 and $70,000. This investment is a sizable amount of money. Therefore, you want to be sure the tiny house lifestyle is right for you first.
When you are looking at the tiny home plans, you will need to be realistic about the costs involved. It doesn’t matter if you plan on using recycled materials, your costs can rise very quickly. This scenario is more likely to happen in tiny mobile houses where specialized fixtures and parts are essential for the build. A better way to determine your approximate budget is to look at the price of units by professional builders such as Tumbleweed.
Trailer or Permanent Foundation?
If you plan on moving your tiny house more frequently, then you need to consider a trailer mounted design. However, you need to keep in mind that your size and plans are limited to the trailer you can afford to pull with your car.
A tiny house that has a permanent foundation has more flexibility compared to a mobile one. You will have the luxury of choosing a larger plan, add decking, covered decks or modifying your plan easily. It’s also important to note that getting a cheap tiny house on a permanent foundation will require inspection, permits, costing more to complete. The upside of this is if you follow the permit and inspection route, you will be eligible for insurance. You will also have the luxury of selling your tiny house in the future for a higher price if the market remains strong.
Buy or Build?
It doesn’t matter if you are a professional carpenter or contractor, a tiny house is not a small project. Building a tiny house requires almost every building skill needed to construct a typical home. A simple, cheap tiny house build will involve carpentry, framing, plumbing, electrical, woodwork, roofing, painting and more. Therefore, if you plan on building your own cheap tiny house, you might need to do a realistic and personal assessment of your skill set. For instance, a mobile home will require it to hold up against heavy stresses, wind and most importantly, be safe to live in.
With that in mind, if you plan on building on a permanent foundation using permits, the process is more forgiving. However, you will have to build to code and have each step inspected as required. You will also need to consider the resale value when building your own cheap tiny house. If it is not professionally constructed, you might end up selling it for much less than you invested in the house.
It is important to note that building your own tiny house is a lot of work. Therefore, DIY’ers need to double their estimated completion time. If you are an experienced carpenter, you could probably add 25 percent more time if this is your first project. Most importantly, if you have doubts about your ability to build these kinds of units, buying a ready-made unit is a good option. It may cost much more, but you will have a unit complete and ready for use from the getgo. What’s best, you will have the peace of mind that your tiny house was built safely by a professional builder and backed by a warranty.
Are there features you can live without?
Everyone has certain things that they can live without in their home. It might be a washer/dryer unit, cooktop, furniture or a small workspace that suits their needs. In case there is a feature, appliance or another item that you might want in your tiny house, it is vital that you consider it when viewing your final plans. How will the feature affect your living space? Can the layout or design accommodate it without too many changes? In case you need to make substantial changes to your tiny house, does the layout still work for you? In case you have certain needs or changes, make sure you verify if these will fit in your floor plan or design before considering.
The Overall Price of a Tiny House
The overall price of a tiny house varies and is dependent on its size as well as the materials and finishes used. While a luxury, custom built tiny house will cost upwards of $150,000, a cheap tiny house will cost much less. While this is rare, individuals looking to build their own tiny houses themselves could pay as little as $10,000. According to tiny home experts, a DIY built tiny homes will cost anywhere between $50,000 to $70,000. A tiny custom-built house will cost upwards of $80,000 to $100,000.
According to Good Money, the average cost of a cheap tiny house is $20,000. However, the website specifies a few things. To keep the budget low, the potential owners need to maintain the size to 186 square feet. Therefore, if you are hoping to get more space in your tiny house, the budget for a cheap tiny house is somewhere in the $50,000 ballpark.
If you are looking to get a made-to-order cheap tiny house, Tumbleweed, a leader in tiny houses averages between $50,000 and $80,000. That price is much lower than the median contract price for a new contractor-built single-family home in 2015.
Can I get a loan on a tiny house?
Tiny houses are extremely satisfying on paper. However, the real task comes when you have to own one, rather than pining over images from Pinterest. At this point, several real-world challenges emerge, and more specifically, the money stuff. As the tiny house industry grows, more and more options for funding these alternative living spaces are slowly but steadily emerging.
Tiny houses are billed more like an affordable alternative to apartments. Traditional homes on the other hand command a heftier down payment and mortgages. However, the latest turnkey model often comes with price tags upwards of $100,000. An intimidating sum, though it’s much less than what you would need for a traditional home loan.
Financing through builders and online lenders
For individuals who are unable to collect cash themselves or secure funds through friends and family, buying a tiny house in the best-case scenario. However, what you might not know is, there are other options. Tiny house owners can get funding directly via RV-certified tiny home builders. Just like navigating building and zoning codes, financing your new tiny investment is more straightforward with RVIA-Certified tiny houses. Lenders consider them similar to RVs.
Popular cheap tiny house builders like Escape and Tumbleweed work with lenders and offer to finance clients who qualify. It normally requires about 15 to 20 percent down payment. With Tumbleweed, the rates vary, and payments start from under $13,000, with monthly payments at $450 lasting for about 15 years. Escape has a 15 percent down payment with an APR of 4.5 to 5.5 percent that lasts 15 years. According to Escape, 30 percent of their clients finance directly through the company.
Securing a loan from a credit union or standard bank is much easier for tiny home RVs. You could also finance your tiny house through online lenders such as Lightstream. Other recommended financial services include Rock Solid Funding, Prosper and SoFi.
There are more regulations on tiny house dwellings than most people think. Understanding zoning, building codes, and regulations are one of the areas that trip up new tiny homeowners when they first start. There are a lot of tiny house building misconceptions. Knowing how to navigate them will help you avoid headaches later.
For one, there are no set of building standards or rules developed that specifically apply to tiny houses. In some rare cases, depending on some factors, including the size, and location, a building permit might not be required.
However, if the intent is for the house to be occupied, in most cases, your local building codes will apply. Building codes are required to impose certain safety and constructions standards that make the structures safe for occupancy. The building codes will impose minimum standards for installation of electrical components to ensure they are safe and not a fire hazard. The concern to make a house safe remains even if the house is a tiny house.
Depending on your location and type of tiny house, different safety standards may apply. If your tiny house is mobile or on a trailer, the local jurisdiction may apply. Your tiny house will need to comply with local safety standards that apply to recreational vehicles. It is, therefore, a wise idea to head down to your local building department and inquire about which permits you need to obtain. A building official will help you determine what, if any, standards apply to your cheap tiny house build.
Getting insurance on your cheap tiny house
In case you plan on going mobile, getting proper insurance (or any insurance at all) will be tricky. You will need to be a whole lot more creative to obtain it. There are very few sources where you could ensure your tiny mobile house should disaster strike, parked or on the road. You could lose everything.
On the other hand, if you have a plan, and a tiny house built on a permanent foundation, with the proper permits and inspections processes, you will be able to get insurance for your tiny house just like any other house. The cost of the insurance is likely to be much cheaper than the initial cost of the tiny house.
Where to park your tiny house
Before you embark on building or buying your tiny house, you will need to decide where exactly you need to park it. Most tiny house owners park or build their home in a friend’s or family member’s yard. According to experts, tiny homeowners can rent lots in tiny home communities and co-ops. The monthly prices often range between $250 and $500. Owning a lot in these communities may cost up to $65,000. However, you need to keep in mind that tiny home communities are not allowed in specific states.
Tiny homeowners also have the option of purchasing empty lots in their community. But due to city and county zoning regulations, you might not be able to park your tiny house on an empty lot. In case your tiny house is considered an RV legally, you might have to park it in an RV park. Since many residential neighborhoods in the US are not zoned for homes less than 1,000 square feet, you might have a hard time finding an appropriate lot. It is therefore important to talk to your local zoning department before purchasing anything.
Ready to Move into Your Tiny House
In case you are planning to downsize into a tiny house, you will need to get a storage unit, at least temporarily. Your stuff from your old home might not fit into your new home, and you will need some storage space while you figure out what to do with the extra stuff.
Like any other American, your home represents a huge financial burden, and it’s also where we burden the environment the most. A large bathtub will take a lot of water to fill. Your typical oven will use more electricity or gas to cook food. Every cubic foot of airspace takes energy to cool and heat. Your cheap tiny house has only a fraction of the airspace to acclimatize for the individual living in it. It’s environmentally friendly, cost-effective and essential. In case you are ready to dive into this new amazing lifestyle, gear up and happy tiny living!