How Much Does It Cost To Build A Tiny House?

Small wooden house at the forest

The tiny house craze has taken the country by storm. People around the United States have started to sell their larger homes and instead, invest in smaller, tiny houses. These houses are a fraction of the size, which makes the homes more affordable and even allows tiny homeowners the ability to purchase the house without the large amounts of debt typically associated with a traditional house.

How much does it cost to build a tiny house? The average cost to build a tiny house will depend on the features and material used to build the house. These small homes can often range anywhere from the low ten thousand to over $60,000 (with luxury versions more than double this price).

Small houses are not often large on space. However, when built right, these houses can maximize the amount of space and provide you with more living space than what you might believe by looking at the home. However, there are a number of variables at play when it comes to purchasing a small house. It can depend on whether the small house is stationary, whether it is built on wheels, and if there are moving parts within the home (so it is more like an expandable RV than a traditional house). However, for those interested in taking advantage of the small house craze, it is important to dive deeper into how much does it cost to build a tiny house?

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny House?

When you hear the word "tiny," you likely will assume it comes with a tiny price tag. Now, it can come with a small price point, but not always. In fact, you'll likely spend more money per square foot on a tiny house than what you'll spend on a traditional house. But, why should such a small house cost that much? You're squeezing more into the small space, so it can be more difficult to build. It's similar to the cost of a smartphone versus the cost of a laptop. Yes, laptops often cost more, but it is still possible to pay more for a smartphone, despite being smaller and less powerful.

Established Frame Or New

The frame of the home will play a big role in answering the question of how much does it cost to build a tiny house. It is possible to purchase an old recreational vehicle that is no longer running for under $1,000. Some manufacturers take old shipping containers, which have a minimal price point as well. Homes built from scratch will require not only additional lumber and material to construct the frame, but for contractors to build the frame. In many instances, it is the cost of construction that increases the price of a tiny house more than the material.

Frame Material

Tiny house navajo monument valley

Image by Stéphane CHADOURNE from Pixabay

When considering how much does it cost to build a tiny house, you need to look at the frame material. The exact frame material will hinge on whether the house is designed for transport or not. Beyond frames that are pre-fabricated, there are other options available that can alter the cost of the house. Wood is a common option, but it isn't all that durable if you're looking to travel with the house (it also requires additional insulation and membranes, which adds to the cost of the house).

If you want a home that is placed onto a lot, you can consider concrete. There are small dome-shaped houses made from a kind of concrete. These insulate the interior of the house better and are installed faster. The material itself is usually a bit more expensive than wood, and there are some physical design drawbacks, but you'll likely save more on upkeep and the amount you pay on heating and cooling.

Utilities And Electricity

You want to live in your home, which means you will probably want to have electricity. Due to this, you will need to find a way to generate electricity, which is one major question you'll need to answer to determine how much does it cost to build a tiny house. One way to do this is through solar paneling. The property will not require as much electricity to run, so it is easier to run most, if not all, of your electricity off of solar panels (depending on where you live or where the house is located for the time being). Solar paneling will cut down on the cost of energy long term, but the paneling itself is pricey. You can have the shingles made out of solar paneling, or you can have some pop-up options. Whatever you go with, the cost of solar panels can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of your tiny home.

You will also need to look at the water. You will need to have a way to gather water for your home. Rain collection systems can increase the home cost by another several thousand dollars. You'll also need to work with the toilet. There are waterless options and designs that will break down the waste, so you don't use as much water, but these devices will, again, add even more to the cost of your property.

Appliances

Another element you'll need to consider when looking at how much does it cost to build a tiny house is the price of appliances. While the appliances, such as a washing machine, oven, microwave, or other devices, are smaller than what you would find in a traditional home, some of these devices will actually cost more. These devices rely on smaller parts, which are usually more expensive. So, you will need to consider exactly what kind of appliances you want in the property. Do you want a dishwasher, or are you fine washing everything by hand? Would you like a washing machine, or can you handle washing your clothes somewhere else? There are plenty of questions you'll need to answer in order to answer the question of how much does it cost to build a tiny house.

Unexpected Expenses

There are often unexpected costs associated with a tiny house; many looking to purchase such a home will not always consider them. Now, if the house is stationary and built into a property lot similar to what a regular home is, then it will be no different than buying a regular home (when the house is stationary you'll pay property taxes the same on a $40,000 tiny house as you would on a $400,000 larger house).

For starters, if you want to have the home placed onto a trailer, you'll need a truck that is capable of pulling the house. Chances are, you won't be able to settle for a 1000 level truck. You will need a truck that has a more robust transmission, shocks, and likely something with a 5th wheel towing. This means you may need to invest in a 2000 or 3000 level truck (such as a Ford F-350 or a Ram 3500). Investing in such a truck can push the cost of buying a new truck up from $30,000 (which is on the lower end of new trucks), to over $80,000.

You can purchase used heavy-duty pickups, but then you'll need to consider what kind of work these trucks have performed. 100,000 miles on a heavy-duty truck pulling a horse trailer is far different from 100,000 miles in the city without any towing. It's more strain on the frame and on the engine.

Beyond the cost of a truck, you'll need a place to park the house. There are some RV parks that can run you up to $2,000 a month. Of course, these kinds of properties give you all kinds of perks, including water and electrical hookups, plus free Wi-Fi. Now, you'll probably already have the Wi-Fi taken care of, and you may not need electricity. Depending on the structure, you might be able to take advantage of some parking passes (many national parks allow you to purchase annual RV parking passes for less than $100, although larger "tiny" homes may not qualify, so it's important to check ahead of time.

Once you have where to park and the truck situation figured out, you must figure out how to collect water and generate electricity. This is typically easier if you have your own plot of land because then you'll be able to set up rain barrels and have solar panels set up. Even if you're in national parks or other destinations, you'll probably be able to take advantage of solar panels. However, if you have a generator (you should invest in one just in case), you might not be able to use it in some park locations.

Related Questions

red small house at the forest

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Where do I go to purchase a tiny house? There are a few options here. First, you can seek out a contractor that specializes in tiny houses. Many of these contractors will deliver the house to a desired property. There are also kits you can customize yourself, or you can look into building such a home yourself. There are plenty of DIY tiny house projects available for you to consider.

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