If you’re interested in the burgeoning tiny house movement, one of the first things you’ll wonder is – how much does it cost to build a tiny house? 

Because cost is going to be one of the most important things to consider when you begin your tiny house journey. And those costs are going to vary greatly, depending on what you want and of course, what you can afford. 

Today we’re going to discuss the different costs involved with the process so you can answer this question for yourself. Please keep in mind these costs are in US dollars. Keep a currency conversion app on hand if you live outside the U.S.

Average Costs For A Tiny House

An average 240 square-foot tiny house with electricity, plumbing, a water system, and necessary appliances will cost around $10,000 to $30,000 to build yourself. However, a pre-built or custom-built tiny house will set you back by around $30,000 to $60,000. 

hand holding money - How Much Does It Cost To Build A Tiny House?

Tiny house costs are a result of many factors. But average costs are based on two major differences – whether you are building the house yourself, or hiring someone to build it for you. 

Tiny House Shells

If you don’t want to choose between building your own home entirely from scratch or paying someone else to build it for you, buying a tiny house shell is a good halfway point. Shells are typically a complete (if basic) frame of your tiny home, with a completed exterior. It’s then up to you to complete the interior of the home including walls and flooring and installing electricity, appliances, and plumbing. 

This option gives you more freedom than a pre-build, but less than building from scratch yourself. Most tiny house shells will cost anywhere between $15,000 and $40,000. 

Tiny House Kits

Kit homes are another alternative building option that leans more towards a self-build than buying a shell. Using similar logic as meal kits, tiny house kits provide you with thorough blueprints for building your home. They also come with a list of essential tools and materials, and a trailer to build it on. Many kit homes cost less than $10,000, making it fairly cost-effective if you have proven building experience.

Again, these are just averages. Depending on your circumstances a build can be both cheaper and more expensive. Most people agree your average house can be built with only $25,000 in new materials, regardless of time and labor cost. 

What Dictates The Cost Of Your Tiny House?

A self-built and custom-built/pre-built home will dictate much of your costs, but labor’s not the only factor involved. Below is a list of other factors that you need to be aware of. When you’re asking yourself “how much does it cost to build a tiny house?”, knowing these things should help you to calculate the costs of your ideal home.

  • Materials: The second most important factor that influences a tiny house’s cost. If you know how to shop smart, you can save a huge amount of money on overall costs. This includes shopping around for varying prices, looking for discounts, and sourcing reclaimed or recycled materials at much lower costs. 
  • Zoning laws: Zoning laws dictate how land and property can be used in different areas. These laws will change depending on the country, state, and county you are living in. In some U.S states, it is illegal to keep your tiny house on someone else’s land for free. In some countries, you can break the law if your tiny house isn’t built to a certain size or specification.
  • Appliances: Some people can live on the most basic of appliances for the sake of saving space and money. If you want the same appliances and creature comforts of a traditional home, it’s going to cost you.
  • Furniture: If you find that your furniture is too small for a tiny house (a common predicament), you may have to shell out for extra furniture.
  • Utilities: If you want to live off-grid you’re going to have to pay for some extra features. These include installation of alternative energy sources and likely your septic system. Living on-grid means you will likely be able to use local utilities. 
  • Loan or credit card interest: If you are using credit cards to pay for extra costs, or are lucky enough to obtain a personal loan, any interest rates you have to pay on top of primary repayments will add to your tiny house cost.
  • Home insurance: For a tiny house (and most other alternative dwellings), insurance can be very difficult and expensive to obtain.
  • Resale: Don’t expect selling on a tiny house to be as easy as a traditional dwelling. Tiny homes have a limited and specific market, so resale can be difficult. Not to mention some tiny houses can depreciate in value. But if you have no desire to resell, this won’t be an issue.

Different Types of Tiny House

triangular tiny house in forest

By now you probably know that there are many different kinds of tiny houses. And you have to consider which type you’re going to build, as it will affect the overall cost of construction. So if you ever wonder: how much does it cost to build a tiny house out of an old bus? Well from now on you’ll know. We’ve talked about the cost of a traditional tiny, so now we’re going to break down more alternative types of tiny houses and the average price differences between them.

Shipping Container Houses

Container homes are the second most common kind of tiny house and are a highly popular building alternative. Tiny container houses are a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to build and is widely accessible to most people. 

Average container homes can cost between $20,000 and $50,000 to build, and generally, you can expect to spend between $2000 and $5000 on a shipping container alone.

Cob Houses

These tiny houses are built out of sand and straw mixed into composite clay. Cob houses are one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly options for tiny house construction. They are also fully recyclable when demolished. 

Cob houses may also be the most durable option, able to stand for hundreds and possibly thousands of years. The average cob house can be built for between $3000 and $15,000, depending on the size, location, and climate of the chosen area.

Bus Conversions

It may sound crazy, but turning buses into tiny houses is more and more common these days. The concept of having an easily portable tiny house is enticing to some. The interior of the bus also stands-in as a readymade base for your home.

Bus conversions can be simple or complicated. Therefore an average can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $40,000, depending on the cost of the bus. 

Reclaimed Tiny Houses

A reclaimed house isn’t so different from a traditional tiny house – the structure is the same, and technically the materials are the same too. The major difference is that the materials used to build these homes are reclaimed or recycled – meaning wood and steel that has been taken from other structures and reused. 

The average reclaimed house can cost between $5000 and $20,000, depending on how much reclaimed material is used. Some have built reclaimed tiny houses for only $1000-2000!

These are just a few tiny house varieties for you to consider. But the world of the alternative living is a many-varied thing, so further research will show you all of the options you have when it comes to building a tiny home. 

Final Thoughts

side view of tiny house

So there you go, a general rundown of the costs involved with tiny house building. Building a tiny house is a complex process, so you’ll have to do more research to get a more specific estimation for your future home. But hopefully, next time you wonder “how much does it cost to build a tiny house?”, you’ll have a clearer answer.

Please keep in mind that we don’t recommend you attempt to build your own home from scratch or from a kit if you have no prior construction experience. Building even a small home can be difficult and sometimes dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

We only recommend this if you have the requisite knowledge and experience. Or of course, if you are being assisted by someone who does. Safety first after all!

And remember one of the great benefits of building a tiny house. You have far more control over how it is constructed, even if you’re paying someone else to build it. Because of this, and its diminutive size, it’s not difficult to make adjustments that can save you time and money. Just remember to build smarter, not faster. A tiny house is a good investment, so you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

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