Cost of tiny houses

schoolhouse_gwJuly 30, 2011

Why do they cost $25,000 or more? It always sounds like a great idea until I go to a site that sells them or the plans and then see the price of the finished product. Why would a "tiny house" cost that much? Is it mostly labor cost?

I'm still looking for an old camping cottage or vintage fancy shed I can turn into my Orchard Cottage. One of these days I know it will come across my path.

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Are you talking about a kit?

I think the cost is a lot in labor, but also a markup just for the convenience. Like convenience foods or stores.

If you could get a plan and either build it yourself or hire a carpenter, I think you'd be able to do it cheaper.

I see sheds at the big box stores and they are easily twice the price of what it would cost to diy, and even I could build one of them.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 11:04AM
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Every real house, regardless of size has to have the 'expensive' stuff- bathroom, kitchen, utilities, heat and A/C, etc. The shell of a house is the cheap part, relatively speaking. Even with a much smaller shell, you still need to have all of the basics, which in this country are pretty extensive and expensive. All else being equal, the cost per square foot of a finished house goes up the smaller the house gets. Thanks to over-reaching building codes, you HAVE to have all of those things in most areas if it is to be a habitable dwelling. Some areas even require mandatory fire sprinkler systems. Many areas also have 'anti-shack' laws that would make a tiny house illegal, which is why they sometimes mount them on a trailer.

Your best bet is to buy or build a 'shed', and always call it that. If you want to add electricity or plumbing, be careful who you tell.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Hey, Schoolhouse, so glad to see you on this side.
Like previously stated, it is the systems you have to put into the structure to make it functional that bring the cost up. And PLANNING the layout so these things are easy to add w/o taking up too much living space is a consideration too.

Plus, if you are inside a municipality, you run the chance of getting crossways of the building permit process.

When we restored our derelict garage to create the Teahouse, it cost us $25K to do it. And it was a plain single room with a loft, cement filled blocks, and a new thick cement slab floor. If we'd wanted to put in plumbing and water, plus electricity, they would have required the neighbors to vote on it, because they have some sort of concern about it being rented out, or used as a real dwelling. I'm speaking about increasing the population density, a little house behind another house. They are very critical of such things. I think the property next door to us is a case in point, because what started as a garage became a full service doggy kennel, and then they started renting it to people, and now they have an address and a mail box with "A" and "B" because it has two separate households. This was why I installed my first piece of privacy fence in 2007.

But what I'm trying to point out, the $25K you post about is just the tip of the iceburg.

Come on back and visit some more. Thinking small is definitely the way to go.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 1:25PM
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WE built a 864 SQ FT house of three sided logs in 1986.With attached 24 by 20 garage. Three of us, my DH and our friend Ray and myself, did ALL the work other then some dirt work and having the well dug.Septic tank set in hole. There was nothing fancy at all about the house and if you do not include the land which was 18K for four and a half acres we had aprox. 40 K in the house.WE paid cash as we went along and that saved interest money. Well I guess that amount included the pole barn that was large. I do not remember the exact size. Only one end of it was enclosed for the mules.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 3:50PM
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Hi moccasin. I visit this forum daily and have for a long time but rarely post because I just love little houses, don't own or live in one. Plus to see pics of those that belong to others. Yes, I followed your Teahouse remodel,too.

I live in the country, so I don't think neighbors would be an issue; but I guess one never knows for sure. I would research all the do's and don'ts before building or moving a cottage to my property. It happens around here often, last year I had to pull over to the side of the road while a truck pulling a trailer approached. On the trailer was the prettiest little old railroad depot building with gingerbread still attached! I was salivating as I watched it carefully make the turn down someone's long lane. The community where the depot was from just wanted to get rid of it so put a price on it the truck driver said.

Like flagargoyle mentioned, if the buildings sit on a trailer or even blocks, I think you can skirt some expense.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 3:58PM
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As flgargoyle said, the stuff every house needs is the expensive stuff. That's why monster mcmansions are available at relatively low prices. Extra room footage doesn't cost much of anything, except for the land.

Schoolhouse, if you go to Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, they address the fact that even on a trailer, their homes are expensive:

Here is a link that might be useful: why so expensive?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 6:35PM
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Like shades, we built a small house 15 years ago. It was not within a city limits, about 1200 sq ft, kitchen, one bath, and we built every bit of it ourselves, with the help of bil, fil (who was a carpenter), and a friend (who was an electrician). The only thing we had done was the plumbing before the slab was poured. The cost at that time was $25K, not including the land.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 8:36PM
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I often see free sheds or small buildings on craigslist in this area. The only expense would be moving it or taking it apart to rebuild elsewhere. But as a friend said, even though I got most of the materials for my glasshouse free, I still spent a few thousand on other lumber and roofing.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 3:26PM
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I've looked at CL, but so far haven't come across anything. Well, I don't browse the site every day. Word of mouth seems the best way to find something out here in the country. Yes, I agree, the hiring of movers or the expense of tearing down to rebuild has to be taken into consideration. Luckily I know guys who enjoy that sort of thing and would do it for a small fee if any at all.

Materials cost so much more these days. A person can find good deals at Habitat for Humanity centers I hear.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 10:00AM
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It used to be that materials and labor were just about the same costs, but now materials is leading the band.

Don't forget there are Universal Building Codes that one must adhere to or you could be in violation....and that costs!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 9:49PM
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schoolhouse - you don't need to have / live in a small house to post and communicate with us... fire away any time!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 11:13PM
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It's also because in order to make the tiny houses look and feel really nice those price estimates include using materials like cedar wall siding, pine interior siding and stainless steel for kitchens. The trailers are expensive too.

But others are doing it inexpensively by getting recycled trailers and wood. I've seen examples of people building nice ones for around $12,000 just because they took the extra time to look for reclaimed materials.

I've also seen tiny houses I wouldn't live in that cost even less.

My whole view on it is if it's going to be tiny it better be nice. Lol. So yeah- I'd spend the extra on the higher quality materials versus using plastic siding and drywall.

And the $20k estimates are not including labor. That's if you build it yourself. Hope that helps because I used to wonder the same things too.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 3:02PM
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My Tiny House will of cost of about 10k - 11k but I started with a rent to own shed.. so alot of that did not have to come out of pocket all at once. About 5k materials to make it a home. This does not count the cost of installing a water well, and a waste water treatment system. I have a blog site that contains pictures, videos, a timeline blog and more.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Blog Site

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:12AM
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Ha another Table guy only selling tiny houses?? Some thing fishy here. NOT clicking on that link.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:22AM
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What the heck are you talking about ? what is a table guy. Im not selling anything, its a blog about losing my job, losing my large house and converting a shed into a home.

Relax a little pal.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 11:03AM
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Do not let the yapper puppies discourage you...they yap and bark every time someone new walks down the sidewalk. After they get used to you their tails wag and and they are cuties and vie for attention. Offline they tell kids to stay off the grass secretly handing out brownies and cookies.

Like your blog and job well done on your house. I am thinking seriously of doing something similar but my advanced age says there is no place close to the facilities we need that would allow us to do so. Zoning laws can be very inflexible close to grocery stores, doctors and hospitals.

Shades what is a table guy? That is a new one to me.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 7:51PM
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If you read this thread linked below you will see this board and many others have been spammed by a guy selling something. Usually tables so we all named him the table guy. Your post bringing up a very old thread was the table guys MO. Also you just joined. Another MO of his. Once the link I stupidly clicked on took me many hours to clean out my computer because it put a big nasty in it. This has happened many times over the years.

If your post is legit I am sorry I reacted so strongly in a negative way. Would have been better to just make your own new post. Not that there are rules to do so but you will see we all have been burned by this table guy before. I just do not trust a link from totally new person with no more then you posted as explanation. We all love pictures and you can post them directly from your computer now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Table guy

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 12:01AM
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