The price of tiny homes is far too often near the price of traditional homes these days. With many being advertised at $60,000 and more(in some cases much more), some people are wondering if there is a more affordable way to go tiny. The answer is “of course there is”, but it often means you will have to do most of the work yourself, which some people will do enthusiastically, while others may have physical limitations that keep them from doing the majority of the labor on their own. For those who are able to do the work themselves, there are some pretty basic tips to help keep your costs down.
1. Buy used! From your furniture to your fixtures and almost everything in between, if you buy used, or even look for free materials on Facebook groups or Craigslist, you can save yourself a small fortune. There are going to be some things you will probably want to buy new or used if it includes some sort of limited warranty, such as your plumbing and electrical components, but even your lumber and your windows can be sourced as used material. Also check for scratch and dent stores where new appliances, furniture, fixtures, etc can be found at pretty good discounts.
2. Start gathering your material in advance. If you aren’t in a huge rush, then start stockpiling what you need as you find it for later use. Plenty of items come available cheap or even free, but you probably can’t rely on that happening right when you need it if you are already working on a deadline.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and offer to trade/barter for labor or materials. The worst anyone can say is “no”. If you know others interested in downsizing into a tiny home they may offer to help with the labor simply to gain the knowledge and experience for their own build. If you have a skill that others can use, offer to help them out in exchange for things you can use.
4. Never pass up a deal! If you find lumber for free, or windows, or paint, etc, take it! If you can’t use it for your own build, you may be able to trade it for other items that you can use. Maybe you don’t have a use for the 10 gallons of pink paint but somebody else probably does, and they could have some pallets or old windows that you can repurpose that will better fit with your plans.
5. Get creative! Especially when it comes to the interior design. Hinges, old drawer fronts, curtains, and more can be utilized to create unique storage areas and storage is always at a premium in a tiny home. Also on the creative side of things, learn to repurpose other items, even if only as decorative touches. Put a touch of your own personality into your tiny home. After all, it is yours and it should still feel like home no matter how small.
By no means is this a complete list, but it is a start. While you will see tiny homes starting at $25,000 and up for many budget models, doing a lot of the above has helped others build their own tiny homes for under $10,000. So, get out there and find those bargains, use your connections if you know people who do plumbing, electrical, metal fabrication (for your trailer frame if you need it to be mobile due to zoning restrictions), call in those favors if you have to. Going tiny doesn’t have to be a big budget production. Leave that to the various T.V. shows.