Tiny house living is a trend which has taken off around the world, especially in overcrowded cities, but also out in the countryside, where a small home can help to put the occupant in touch with nature. One of the purported benefits of tiny house living is downsizing—not just in terms of space and “stuff,” but also in terms of cost of living.
But are tiny houses really all that inexpensive? Well, that depends on quite a few factors. First of all, whether you build the house yourself or you hire a contractor can make a huge difference in price. Secondly, the square footage of the home is going to have an impact on the cost. And then there are materials to consider, and features, and location, and style, and so on.
Basically, when you come down to it, there is a huge range in cost for tiny houses. Yes, it is possible to build a tiny house on a shoestring budget. You can even manage it for $10,000 or less. But most tiny houses cost more than that. It is not uncommon to see tiny houses that cost $50,000 and up. Some tiny houses even sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars—or even more.
If your main goal with tiny house living is to save money, you can get discouraged when you see the price tags for a lot of models you can purchase. But that shouldn’t stop you, especially if you possess carpentry skills.
If you are willing to build your own tiny house, either from the ground up or from a prefabricated model, you may very well be able to do it on a very minimal budget. To prove it, I’ve scoured the web for some examples of real-life tiny houses built on a shoestring. Let’s check them out.
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1. The Foxhole: $6,500
This house was constructed over a two-year period and cost around $6,500. Around a third of the total cost went toward insulating the roof with a moisture barrier. The support beams for the home are made from local timber, and the walls are insulated using regional straw. The family grows much of their food themselves out in their own garden. The house has no inside bathroom, only an outhouse, but it is equipped with solar panels to power modern devices. The home is located in Dancing Rabbit Eco-Village.
Dancing Rabbit Eco-Village: dancingrabbit
2. Wisteria Lodge: ~$1,500
Another home in Dancing Rabbit Eco-Village is Dan Durica’s Wisteria Lodge. Originally, this home was constructed by a different architect, who called it “Arm’s Reach.” When he moved away, he put the structure up for sale, and Dan was able to buy it for only $1,500. He did some refurbishing, and now it looks absolutely stunning!
3. Bohemian Escape: $20,000
While in general I am trying to keep the tiny homes I list here as cheap as possible, in the grand scheme of things, $20,000 for a beautiful, functional abode is not bad at all. That was the original cost to construct Bohemian Escape, which since then has been sold multiple times, and is now valued at $49,000. This proves a tiny house can also be a great investment.
4. Kyle’s Gnome Dome: $3,000
Yet another beautiful structure in Dancing Rabbit Eco-Village which was built for almost nothing is Kyle’s Gnome Dome, constructed out of reclaimed and recycled supplies. The Gnome Dome was actually originally erected by a novice. Kyle had to make a series of improvements to it in order for it to be liveable, but even he sees the structure as an example of how accessible tiny house building can be even for beginners. Check the AirBnB link below if you want to stay in the Gnome Dome for just $22 a night!
5. The Hermitage: $4,250
Also in Dancing Rabbit Eco-Village is a round structure called the Hermitage, constructed by natural builder Hassan Hall. The cost was around $3,500 for the materials, around a third of which was used to get hooked up to the power grid, plus another $750 which was spent on the roof’s pond liner. Astonishingly, it only took around four months for to complete this amazing abode.
6. The Shed: Cost Unknown
I am not sure how much this home cost to construct—the original source link for the project is dead. I do know however that it was built by college students as a school project, so the budget had to be pretty tight. It is amazingly beautiful and compact!
7. Arched Cabins: $5,000
If you are a beginning builder and you want to go with a pre-existing design, it is hard to beat one of these $5,000 Arched Cabins. They are incredibly spacious and posh-looking. Note that $5,000 is the base price for the panelling, flooring, beams, ribs and insulation, but if you are smart with your money, you can probably build and hook up an entire home for a very reasonable price!
8. Driftwood Home: Cost Unknown
This unique abode was constructed using local natural materials: bottles, bones, and driftwood, and was built using a technique called “stackwall.” While I am not sure of the exact cost of the home, it was made by a woman who had very little to work with financially. Stackwall apparently costs about a tenth as much as conventional construction methods. Definitely check out the link below to read the full story—it is an inspiring one.
9. The Golden Tiny House: ~$5,000
This home was constructed using an old trailer and otherwise new materials. I have not found an update on the final cost of the home (it was under construction at the time of the entry quoting the price). But I highly suggest checking out the entire blog, as it is one of the most transparent and realistic depictions I have read of what it is really like to build and live in a tiny house on a shoestring.
10. The Flouch: Cost Unknown
Remember the guy who bought Arm’s Reach and transformed it into Wisteria Lodge? He actually was only living in Wisteria Lodge temporarily while he worked on constructing his dream home, called the Flouch. The home was built using strawbale construction and incorporates Roman-style thermal curtains for passive heating during the winter, along with a cantilevered second floor which keeps the design cool and ventilated during the summer.
11. Downsized Home in Texas: $7,000
This modest-looking house was built for a modest price. While it may not look like much from the outside, the inside is very cozy with some artistic touches. The house was built using a combination of salvaged and new materials because in some cases salvaged materials actually end up costing more than new supplies.
12. The Ultimate Shoestring Tiny House: $2,000
This home was built for only $2,000 using an old trailer as a base for construction. If you click on the link below, you can follow along with the construction photos and watch the development of this tiny house from the ground up. Prepare to be impressed!
13. Larkspur: $20,000
This home is a bit more expensive than many of the others I have featured on this list, but it is also larger, more of a comfortable size for a family. Perhaps one of the home’s most unique features is its “alternating staircase,” also known as a “Jefferson stair.” This type of staircase was invented by Thomas Jefferson, who used it in Monticello to save space.
14. The Bearmobile: $16,000
I don’t know the original construction cost of this tiny home on wheels, but the asking price for it is just $16,000, so presumably it cost even less than that to build. The interior is unfinished, but that means that its new owner will have a chance to customize it fully.
15. Aubergine: $6,000
This home does not have a particularly “finished” look about it, but it is certainly real and down-to-earth. It is quite literally an old school bus with a roof on top of it and a porch attached along with some greenery. It gets major points for being imaginative—and cheap!
16. Lil Red: $18,000
This tiny house is truly tiny—it measures just 90 square feet, and is only 14 feet in length. The house sold for just $18,000. While I do not know what the original construction cost was, it probably was less than that, so this was a cheap house to build, but it does not skimp on style!
17. The Cinematic Tiny House: $10,000
This tiny house is somewhat famous—it has been making rounds online for years, shared time and again for its unusual and beautiful design. But what is just as impressive as its appearance is its construction cost, which came in around $10,000. Click the link to learn more about the resourceful couple who built it.
18. Tave’s Tiny House: Under $20,000
Skilled craftswoman Tave was able to build this marvellous tiny house for less than $20,000, and she did it in just nine months. Take a look at the source link to take a complete tour of her beautiful abode (I think my favourite part is her house number of her door, which reads “943 1/4″).
19. Wesley Birch’s Tiny House: $8,000
Wesley Birch and his wife dreamed of living in a tiny house, but were understandably put off by all the $60,000+ price tags they were seeing—so they decided they would build their own instead. With some resourcefulness and creativity, they were able to construct an absolutely amazing home for just $8,000!
20. Pin-Up Tiny Houses
Pin-Up Tiny houses are plans you can purchase for $300 or less to construct your own tiny house on a shoestring budget. The homes themselves are designed to fall within the $10,000-and-under price bracket. Check out the link below to see the entire catalogue.
21. Custom Tiny House By HeavenLeiCreationsII
Oddly enough, one place you can shop for tiny homes just like you can other handmade merchandise is … Etsy. Here is one lovely house for sale which costs just 23,000. It took about a year to build, and is spacious enough to sleep four. The interior is still unfinished, but the exterior is gorgeous.
22. Tiny Cabin: $7,695
The interior of this structure is unfinished, but you don’t have to step inside to fall in love with the charming western-style exterior … or the super low price! According to the description on the video, you can buy these cabins at 140 different locations. You can then finish the interior in any way that suits you.
23. Macy Miller’s Tiny House: $11,000
You have probably noticed a pattern with the cheap tiny houses I have shared here, and that is that most of them have a decidedly “unfinished” look to them. They redefine rustic. That is not the case with architect Macy Miller’s house, which frankly is nothing short of a masterpiece. If you check out the linked article (below) in the Daily Mail, you can see a full breakdown of all construction costs!
24. Whimsical Tree House in Hawaii: $11,000
I have long been a fan of Kristie Wolfe’s innovative tiny house in Hawaii, which features a very unique design like no other! It was built on a tight budget, and includes all kinds of cool, surprising features—including an amazing swing.
25. 20 Foot Portable Folding Container House: $8,000
Here is an outstanding deal—you can purchase a 20-foot portable house for just $8,000 with free shipping right now. What is ridiculously cool about this model is that it is fully collapsible for easy transportation (or even storage). The interior is unfinished, and it is up to you to get it hooked up to electricity and plumbing, but it offers an awesome starting point.
26. The Clearstory: $29,000
One of the more expensive houses to make this list is this one built and sold by Jeremy Matlock in Colorado. The house is stunning with many unique details which make it stand out from the crowd. I do not know the construction cost, but considering it was sold for a fairly modest price, I would assume it was quite low.
27. Built to Order Cabin: $4,650
This built-to-order product is available only in Oregon, and is sold on Etsy. As best I can tell, the interior is probably unfurnished. This could work as a tiny house or as a shed. The spacious porch is great if you want to spend time outdoors, while big windows let in lots of sunlight.
28. Guest House Cabin: $5,000
This inexpensive cabin was designed to serve as a backyard shed or guest house, but you could very well turn it into a tiny house.
29. Earth House Domes of Solscape: $10,000
These tiny houses were built on a budget in Raglan, New Zealand. Each one measures less than 10 square meters, and is constructed out of natural materials. Watch the video to take a tour and learn more about how they were made.
30. James Galletly’s Tiny House: $10,000-$15,000
This tiny house was put on auction with a starting bid of $10,000-$15,000. What really blows my mind about this house is the beautiful wood interior with all that openness and light. Check out the Daily Mail link to learn more.
31. Upper Valley Tiny House: $15,000
Here is one of the few all-in-one tiny houses I have seen that you can purchase pre-made for a very reasonable price. For just $15,000, you get a home which is actually outfitted with electrical and plumbing systems, and which even comes complete with a kitchen, bath, TV hook-up, and some basic furnishings. No building required!
32. Ranch House Storage Shed: $4,773
This house was designed as a storage shed rather than a “home,” but it is easy to imagine it serving as one with a few simple modifications and augmentations.
33. La Petite Maison: $10,000
Here’s an inspirational story—this petite house was built on a petite budget by a petite person. Sicily Kolbeck was just 12 years old when she started building this structure, and was 14 when she completed it. Measuring 128 square feet, it includes a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Be sure to click the link below to read her story. If a 14-year-old can build a tiny house … so can you!
34. Lulu’s Shipping Container Home: $4,000
With nothing more than a shipping container, $4,000, and a lot of hard work and determination, Lulu created a beautiful, functional home for herself and her daughter out of recycled materials she found in junkyards. Like the story above, this one is very inspiring—be sure to visit the link and read the video!
35. Hobbit Hole: $300
Owen Geiger’s little hobbit hole in Thailand looks like paradise on earth, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, this tiny house was constructed for a mere $300. That’s right, I didn’t say $3,000—I said $300. Check out the link below to see photos of the house under construction and learn how it was made. This house really does prove that even on a miniscule budget, you can build a beautiful, liveable home!
Conclusion: You Too Can Afford to Build or Buy a Tiny House
Whether you are thinking about building your own home from the foundation up or you are planning on purchasing something partially or completed prefabricated, this list of budget tiny houses proves one thing—anything is possible. Even if you only have a few thousand dollars (or even a few hundred dollars!) to work with, you too can create a tiny little haven for yourself and your family!