Budget for a Tiny Home

Looking to downsize and live a more economical life? Here’s what you’ll need to build a tiny house.
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The tiny house movement has been gaining steam over the past decade and has become particularly popular with new college graduates who, burdened with student loan debt, are opting for a downsized and more economical way of life. Though the term tiny goes with the territory, saving for one of these pint-sized spaces can actually be a huge undertaking with multiple variables to consider. That being said, let’s break it down so your tiny house dreams can become a big reality.

A hauling vehicle

Perhaps you already own a massive truck capable of pulling the Titanic. However, if you’re looking to build a tiny house, chances are that you own a more economical vehicle. If you can’t afford a new vehicle any time soon, perhaps you could choose to build or place your tiny house in a location where you won’t have to move it for quite some time, or you could enlist friends or family members with larger vehicles to pull it for you.

If hauling a tiny house is part of the dream, look for a vehicle that can pull around 2000 pounds. Some other things to consider for minimum towing capacity includes the type of trailer you’ll use to pull your tiny home, the tongue weight, hitch type, and tow capacity. In the interest of saving money, buying a gently used vehicle is, of course, your best option.

Used truck, or SUV and trailer

Interior expenses

Your biggest interior expenses are most likely going to be the electrical work (if you are not qualified to do this yourself), your water/plumbing, and paneling for your walls. Ways to save on these items include salvaging your parts from re-stores and finding reclaimed wood paneling. If you are going the DIY route, you may also be able to connect with someone near your community who has done their own electrical work and plumbing for their tiny home. They may be able to give you tips and show you tricks.

Electrical work, plumbing, and walls

Appliances and comfort items

Some other interior expenses that people usually consider to be necessities include a wood burning stove, furniture, a shower, paint, and insulation. For furniture, keep in mind that you will have to measure the dimensions of anything you plan to bring into your tiny home, making sure that it will fit through your door and in the space. To be frugal, it’s suggested that you go with used furniture. Concerned you won’t find what you want in the size you need? There are dozens of blogs dedicated to tiny homes and they are a great reference for your interior needs.

Bigger interior necessities

Large exterior expenses

Hands down, one of your biggest exterior expenses for a tiny home will be your roofing. Depending on the type of material you choose, whether you put the roof on yourself or you hire help, and whether or not you opt to go with reclaimed materials can make a big difference in your price. Obviously, the DIY approach is the cheapest method. However, because DIY projects can often be faulty, be sure you do your roofing right the first time or you may end up with leaks and structural issues that cost you more money in the long run.


Small building materials

You’re going to need a lot of little items that can really add up—nails, screws, windows, window facings, and flooring, just to name a few. Not to mention, if you don’t currently have a well-stocked tool collection, you’re going to need to invest in hammers, a drill or two, levels, and numerous other items to get the job done.

Smaller building materials and tools

E-books, instructionals, and workshops

If you’re going to take the DIY route, it’s highly recommended that you purchase books, DVDs, read blogs, and attend workshops on building a tiny home and living in it legally. Many workshops not only detail how to build your house, but they also discuss various zoning laws in different states, building codes, and a wealth of information to help you make sure you’re building and residing in your house legally.

Instructionals and workshops

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