how to build a tiny house with no experience

If you’re wondering how to build a tiny house with no experience in building, you may feel daunted by the amount of work you need to do. It’s understandable – a tiny house may be smaller than a traditional house, but it still takes a lot of time and effort to build.

But never fear! You don’t need to have construction experience to build your own home. In fact here at DIYGazette, we’ve already covered a story where American illustrator Michael Talley figured out how to build a tiny house with no experience, all on his own.

It’s possible to do, you just need the right knowledge and resources to make it happen. Keep reading and we’ll share the basics of what you need to kickstart your tiny house dream.

What Kind Of Tiny House Do You Want?

tiny house in a field

First things first, you need to figure out what kind of house you want to build and live in. There isn’t one single type of tiny house that everyone lives in – there isn’t even a best type of tiny house. Just like traditional housing, there are dozens if not hundreds of types to choose from!

And you can’t start planning until you know which one you want. Here are the most common variations of a tiny house to consider:

  • Tiny house on wheels – a tiny house built on a trailer, that can be moved from place to place as needed.
  • Container home – A tiny house that is built using one or more shipping containers for the shell of the home.
  • Bus conversion – a home on wheels! While unorthodox, many people are using cheap old buses as the foundations for a tiny portable home.
  • A-Frame cabin – a triangle-shaped tiny home, normally with the loft or living space at the top of the triangle.
  • Cob homes – earthen tiny homes built out of a mixture of clay, sand, and straw.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more. Make sure you do your research so you can choose the right kind of home to fit your needs.

From-Scratch vs Shell Vs Kit

When you’re thinking of how to build a tiny house with no experience, you probably believe that you only have three options: building the house from scratch, paying a builder to do it for you, or simply buying a pre-built tiny home. But this is far from the truth. You can also consider buying a shell or kit set for your tiny house build.

Building from scratch, building with a shell, or building with a kit set are three other options you have when it comes to a DIY tiny house. Your choice will depend on which one best suits your needs.

Building From Scratch

Building a tiny house from scratch can be a great option. You get the satisfaction of knowing you have planned, designed, and constructed your entire home. Not to mention you learn an enormous amount about the building process, which can be helpful if you want to take on similar projects in the future.

But building a tiny house from scratch can be difficult if you have no experience and don’t have the assistance of an experienced builder.

Tiny House Shell

A tiny house shell is a pre-built exterior, constructed by a professional builder. Pre-built tiny house shells usually include bare walls, floors, and a roof already built on a trailer. Buying a shell is a great option if you’re not feeling confident in your building abilities. Though you do have less control over the overall design, there is still a lot of space for creativity and customization.

Tiny House Kit

Tiny house kits are another way of making your tiny house journey much smoother and easier. Thought kit sets will vary considerably from company to company, most include a set of plans and blueprints that guide you through the building process step-by-step and a list of materials and exact quantities you will need to buy.

Some come with pre-cut wood and other materials (not unlike a meal kit that comes with prepared ingredients!), and some can be customized depending on your needs.

Planning And Logistics

tiny house in the desert

If you are not using a tiny house kit, then you’re going to need to plan your tiny house. If you’re buying a shell, then you only need to design the interior. There are great 3D modeling programs such as SketchUp that you can use to design floor plans and blueprints for your home.

However, if you want your house to be fully customized to suit your needs rather than a more traditional and straightforward design, you should consider working with a builder or designer to bring your plans to life in a realistic way. Your plans need to include exact measurements for materials, and should also accommodate any utilities that need to be installed.

Once you have a mockup of your building plans, you need to figure out where you’re going to put your house. This is important because some places have building and zoning laws that restrict where and how you can build your tiny house.

If you’ve already got a piece of land and have verified that you can build legally on it, then you’re ready to go! But if not, you are going to need to check the laws in your area or contact your local council so you know if building a tiny house is an option for you.

Building and zoning laws are a good reason why many choose to build tiny houses on trailers (or in converted buses and RVs). This gives you the option of transporting your tiny home quickly and easily if you are having trouble finding a permanent residence for your new home.

Ask Your Friends And Family To Help

This should be a given if you’re thinking about how to build a tiny house with no experience. Building a tiny home on your own may seem like a romantic idea, but it’s only going to make the process longer and more difficult

Ask your friends and family if they can lend a hand, regardless of their building experience. An extra hand can always be helpful even on the smallest construction site. And if you know someone with professional experience in building and construction then ask them for help! They will be the greatest asset and will make the process faster, and help you to avoid many of the obvious beginner mistakes.

Start Building!

collection of building tools

Before construction starts, make sure you’ve sourced all of the building materials you need. You can buy directly from home depot or other home renovation stores. Or you can salvage material and ask for donations if you’re building on a budget.

This is where your friends and family come in, particularly if you’ve chosen to build with a kit you need several people to assemble them.

You should already have a detailed idea of what you need to do and how you’ll do it. Make sure you have a checklist of steps that need to be completed as the build progresses. These are the steps it should include:

  1. Set the foundation for your home if you aren’t using a trailer

2. Build the floor, then sheathe with plywood or OSB (oriented-strand board). If you are building on a trailer, make sure the floor is fastened securely to the trailer.

3. Start building the shape and structure of your home by framing the walls. Don’t forget to use as much metal bracing as you need to keep the frames in place. You won’t see them once the house is finished.

4. Time to add the roof! This is one of the trickiest parts of building a tiny house, and you’re going to need as much help as you can get. A simple roof design is the best idea for a rookie builder.

5. Use waterproof house wrap to keep your interiors dry and protected from harsh weather.

6. Now you need to install doors and windows. This is one of those jobs where you will benefit from hiring a professional to help with installation.

7. Finish the exterior with plywood or concrete board cladding, and then you can paint your home whichever color you choose. Don’t forget to seal any gaps with caulking.

8. Install any plumbing, pipes, and electric components that you need to add to your home.

9. Insulate your home using low-VOC (volatile compound board) foam insulation.

10. Finish your interior sheathing with either wood or drywall.

11. If you haven’t finished your flooring, now is the time to lay any floorboards, tiles, or vinyl.

12. And now comes the best part! Once construction is complete it’s time to move in your furniture and start decorating. This is likely going to be the most fun and the most creative aspect of the build. Try to take your time and enjoy the process, you deserve it!

So if you were wondering how to build a tiny house with no experience, now you know!
The important things are to make sure that you know what you want, that you have everything you need, and that you have a few extra pairs of hands to help. Building a tiny house can be a complex process but it isn’t out of your reach.

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