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How Much Does a Tiny House Cost?

TLDR

What You Need To Know

  • The average cost of a tiny house is around $45,000
  • Zoning laws, utilities and storage space are some hidden costs of tiny homes
  • Whether or not a tiny home is worth the cost depends on your individual needs and preferences

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Imagine a perfectly sized home — a place that’s both cozy and chic, minimalist yet welcoming. A place that fits your needs perfectly, without any wasted space. That’s the dream of many home buyers considering a switch to tiny living

The tiny house movement is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people recognize the benefits of downsizing. The average size of a new single-family home in the U.S. is about 2,200 square feet.[1] But the average tiny house is 225 square feet,[2] making it a fraction of the size of a traditional home.

So how much does it cost to build or buy a tiny house?

The answer, of course, is not so simple. The cost of a tiny house depends on several factors, from the size and location of the home to the materials used to build it.

Whether you are looking to build or buy, we’ll help answer all your questions about the cost of a tiny house. Then you can decide which options are best for you.

How Much It Costs To Build a Tiny House

The cost of building a tiny house will vary depending on the materials used, the size of the home and whether you build it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

The average cost to build a tiny house in the U.S. is about $45,000.[2] But that’s the average – the cost can range anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000.[2] Still, that’s much cheaper than the average cost of building a traditional home, which is over $280,000.[1]

Of course, if you’re handy with tools and have some construction experience, you can save a lot of money building a tiny house yourself.

DIY tiny house building kits cost between $4,000 and $10,000, but you can save 30% – 60% by building your tiny house rather than hiring professional tiny home builders.[2]

The choice of building materials is entirely up to you. You can build your tiny house out of reclaimed materials, like old barnwood, for a rustic look. Or you can use new materials, like energy-efficient windows and insulated siding, to build a more sustainable home.

How Much It Costs To Buy a Tiny House

If you don’t want to build a tiny house, you can always buy one. Between tiny prefab homes and pre-owned tiny homes, there are plenty of options to choose from. But be sure to inspect the house thoroughly before making a purchase.

Because tiny prefab homes are built in a factory, they are usually cheaper than custom-built homes. And because they’re constructed in a controlled environment, they’re usually more energy efficient. You can expect to pay $4,000 for a basic prefab tiny home and $180,000 for a luxury prefab home.[2]

Pre-owned tiny homes (which you can find for sale online or at tiny house festivals) are also an option, but it’s essential to scrutinize them before buying. Make sure to check for defects like leaks, mold and structural damage. And consider hiring a professional inspector. The purchase price of the homes will vary depending on their condition and the seller’s asking price.

Tiny Home Cost Factors

So, is it cheaper to buy or build a tiny house? If you’re handy and have some free time, you may be able to build a tiny house for less than the cost of buying one. But if you don’t have the time or skills to build your own tiny house, you may be better off buying a prebuilt home.

Let’s take a closer look at some factors that affect the cost of tiny living.

Building permits

Depending on where you live, you may need to get a permit before you build your tiny house. Whether you’re building a DIY tiny house or hiring someone to do it for you, be sure to check with your local planning department to see if you need a permit.

Building permits typically cost around $1,300, but depending on your location, they can cost more or cost less.[3]

Tiny home type

When it comes to tiny homes, there are several types to choose from. You can build or buy a granny pod, an arched cabin, a gypsy wagon, a tiny house on foundations, a small mobile home or a traditional tiny house on wheels.

Several factors, like the cost of laying a foundation and the portability of the home, will affect the final cost of your tiny house. For example, a tiny house on wheels costs $60,000 – $80,000, and the cost of a tiny house on foundations can range anywhere from $35,000 – $68,000.[2]

Tiny home size

Yes, size does matter – at least when it comes to tiny houses. The cost of a tiny house will increase as the size increases. That’s because you’ll need more materials, and it will take longer to build. Most tiny homes are priced per square foot, and the average cost per square foot is $150.[2]

Cost of land

If you want to park your tiny house on land you own, that’s great! You’ll save money on rent or purchasing land. If you don’t own land, you’ll need to either lease or buy it. And that can add to the overall cost of your tiny house.

The cost of land varies widely depending on the location. But you can expect to spend at least $125 a month on a lot rental or $3,000 – $150,000 if you’re buying land.[2]

Utility access

While some land plots will have utility access, others will not. If you need utilities run to your property – either as an extension or brand-new lines for electric, water and sewer – you can expect to pay between $255 and $37,300.[1]

Building materials

The types of materials you use to build your tiny house will affect the final cost.

Generally, sustainable materials like bamboo and wool insulation cost more than conventional materials. But they’re often worth the extra expense to homeowners because they are environmentally friendly, sustainable and energy efficient.

Upgrades and amenities

Who doesn’t love a luxury upgrade? While some tiny houses come with solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems, others do not. The same goes for wood-burning stoves, composting toilets and other amenities.

You can expect to pay more if you want all the bells and whistles in your tiny home. And if you don’t, that’s okay! You can always add upgrades later.

Hidden Costs of Tiny Homes

As you can see, several factors can affect the cost of tiny living. But what about hidden costs? They are expenses you may not think of at first but can quickly add up over time. Here are a few hidden costs of tiny homes to keep in mind:

Zoning

When it comes to tiny homes, zoning laws can be a huge pain. While some areas welcome tiny houses, in other areas, there are strict laws that make it difficult to live in one. In some cases, you may need a special permit or variance to park your tiny house on your property.

You can live in a tiny house permanently. But you may need to check your local zoning laws to confirm if there are any restrictions.

Limited storage

While tiny houses offer creative storage solutions, you won’t be able to escape their space limitations. If you have a lot of stuff, consider renting a storage unit, which will add to your monthly expenses.

Utilities

Although tiny houses use less energy than traditional homes, they still need utilities like water, electricity and sewer. And depending on your needs, you may want to add features like solar panels or a composting toilet, which can increase your utility costs.

Resale value

Chances are, you won’t sell your tiny house for as much as you paid for it. In fact, most people lose money when they sell their tiny homes. If you plan to sell your tiny house down the road, be prepared to take a hit on the resale value.

Are Tiny Homes Worth the Cost?

And, finally, the question we’ve been trying to answer: Are tiny homes worth the cost? Well, it depends.

A tiny home may be a good option if you’re in the market for a cheaper alternative to traditional housing. But if you’re not willing to sacrifice space and amenities, you may want to stick with a traditional home. One final piece of advice when it comes to financing your tiny home: be extra vigilant.

  1. Home Advisor. “How Much Does it Cost to Build a House?” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/architects-and-engineers/build-a-house/

  2. Home Advisor. “How Much Does a Tiny House Cost?” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/architects-and-engineers/build-a-tiny-house/

  3. Home Advisor. “How Much Does a Building Permit Cost?” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/architects-and-engineers/get-a-building-permit/

ICYMI

In Case You Missed It

  1. A tiny house is a small dwelling that is usually smaller than 400 square feet

  2. You can put a tiny house on your property if you have land. Renting a lot for your tiny house is also an option

  3. Some areas have strict zoning laws that make it difficult to live in a tiny house permanently, but others don’t

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