How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny House?

Average range: $40,000 - $80,000
Low
$25,000
Average Cost
$60,000
High
$160,000
(200 sq.ft. foundation-built tiny house with a sleep loft on the second floor)

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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny House?

Average range: $40,000 - $80,000
Low
$25,000
Average Cost
$60,000
High
$160,000
(200 sq.ft. foundation-built tiny house with a sleep loft on the second floor)

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Reviewed by Isabel Maria Perez. Written by Fixr.com.

Whether you call them small, micro, or miniature homes, the tiny house movement is a social and lifestyle change many have embraced over the last 15 years. Tiny houses are energy-efficient and less expensive to build and maintain than average-size residences. While regulations vary by state - and county - on the home type, size, and placement, most agree they typically top out at 400 sq.ft.

Tiny homes can be built in many ways. They can be owner-operated from a kit, purchased directly from a company, or custom-built. They have a wide range of costs.

The national average cost to build a tiny home is $40,000 to $80,000. Most spend around $60,000 on a foundation-built 200 sq.ft. tiny home with a sleeping loft on the second floor. This project’s low cost is $25,000 for a prefab 100 sq.ft. tiny home on wheels. The high cost is $160,000 for a custom 400 sq.ft. tiny home on a foundation with 3 bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, and an upper deck.

Cost to Build a Tiny House

Tiny House Cost
National average cost$60,000
Average range$40,000-$80,000
Minimum cost$25,000
Maximum cost$160,000


Build a Tiny House Cost by Project Range

Low
$25,000
100 sq.ft. prefab tiny house on wheels
Average Cost
$60,000
200 sq.ft. foundation-built tiny house with a sleep loft on the second floor
High
$160,000
400 sq.ft. custom foundation built tiny house with 3 bedrooms, 1½ bedrooms, and an upper deck

Tiny House Cost by Type of Construction

Like standard-size residences, tiny houses are built in several ways. The most common are prefab and custom. Prefab homes are modular: built off-site and delivered fully built or at least the outer shell ready to be finished. Custom homes can be built by the owner or a builder. It is common for the owner to purchase the plans and build it themselves because they are so small. It is also normal for some homeowners to split the difference and finish the interior of a prefab shell. There is a range of costs for both types because you can build a tiny home in many ways.

The prices below are for professionally built tiny houses of prefab and custom construction types.


Average Cost to Build a Prefab or Custom Tiny House

Average Cost to Build a Prefab or Custom Tiny House


TypeAverage Costs (Labor Included)
Prefab$20,000 - $50,000
Custom$50,000 - $100,000


Cost of a Prefab Tiny House

The cost of a prefab tiny house is $20,000 to $50,000. Modular and prefab units are built off-site in a controlled environment and driven to the build site, where the sections are pieced together, and the home is finished. They may be finished completely off-site or only have the outer shell built off-site, with the rest finished at its final location. There is no final installation for some because they are meant to move on wheels. In these cases, the home is usually delivered complete and ready to roll. Prefab units are smaller than custom houses and have fewer options for roof decks, sleeping lofts, and customizable storage.

Custom Tiny House Cost

Custom tiny homes cost between $50,000 and $100,000. With a custom build, you or your builder build from a set of plans. You can purchase plans or have them drawn up. Either method leaves room for customization. Custom builds can have more options, including sleeping lofts, roof decks, and built-in 1 features adding more function. They are usually better for families because you can modify things more easily to meet everyone’s needs. This method is also more common for tiny homes built on foundations than those that are pulled.


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Tiny House Cost per Square Foot

The vast majority of tiny homes are between 100 and 400 sq.ft., with 200 sq.ft. being the most common size. Some sizes may not be legal in your area, depending on where you build and the type of residence. Some states may require your home to be 200 sq.ft. or larger. Others restrict the home size that can be built on wheels. In some areas, you must keep your home to a minimum of 400 or 500 sq.ft. if you build on land purchased for this purpose.

Tiny homes range between $200 and $400 a sq.ft., depending on the construction. Typically, prefab units cost $200 to $250 a sq.ft. Custom builds start at $250 a sq.ft. and approach $400 a sq.ft. for extremely detailed and luxurious spaces. However, people typically pay between $200 and $300 for most tiny homes.


Average Cost to Build a 100, 200, 300, 400, or 500 Sq.Ft. Prefab or Custom Tiny House

Average Cost to Build a 100, 200, 300, 400, or 500 Sq.Ft. Prefab or Custom Tiny House


SizeAverage Costs of a Prefab Home (Labor Included)Average Costs of a Custom Home (Labor Included)
100 sq.ft.$20,000 - $25,000$25,000 - $40,000
200 sq.ft.$40,000 - $50,000$50,000 - $80,000
300 sq.ft.$60,000 - $75,000$75,000 - $120,000
400 sq.ft.$80,000 - $100,000$100,000 - $160,000
500 sq.ft.$100,000 - $125,000$125,000 - $200,000


Tiny Home Prices by Number of Bedrooms

While tiny homes are small, they can be organized to accommodate 2 or more people. Depending on the state you live in, there can be restrictions for the size of the house based on the number of occupants. One way to ensure you meet regulations is to build dedicated sleeping areas or bedrooms for each person. A room must be a minimum of 70 sq.ft. to be considered a bedroom. Many owners include sleeping lofts to add sleeping space without bedrooms to save on space. You must increase the structure’s minimum square feet for every bedroom you add, raising costs. Your residence can still be considered a tiny home if it is under 500 sq.ft., regardless of how many bedrooms it has. So, most tiny homes have similar high points for costs and differing lower-end prices.


Average Cost to Build a Prefab or Custom Studio, 1-Bedroom, 2-Bedroom, or 3-Bedroom House

Average Cost to Build a Prefab or Custom Studio, 1-Bedroom, 2-Bedroom, or 3-Bedroom House


Number of BedrromsAverage Costs of a Prefab Home (Labor Included)Average Costs of a Custom Home (Labor Included)
Studio$20,000 - $50,000$25,000 - $80,000
1 Bedroom$40,000 - $75,000$50,000 - $120,000
2 Bedrooms$50,000 - $125,000$62,500 - $200,000
3 Bedrooms$70,000 - $125,000$87,500 - $200,000


Studio Tiny House Price

The cost of a tiny home without a dedicated bedroom is $20,000 to $50,000 for a prefab home. The cost of a custom home ranges from $25,000 to $80,000. Many very small homes do not have dedicated bedrooms. Dedicated bedrooms require at least 70 sq.ft. to be considered a legal bedroom. If your tiny home is only 100 sq.ft, a bedroom can take up much of the living space. Alternatives for small homes include a sleeping loft, which is not included in the square footage, or convertible furniture, which can mean transforming your living room into your sleeping area.

1-Bedroom Tiny House Price

The cost of a 1-bedroom tiny home ranges from $40,000 to $75,000 for a prefab unit. Custom 1-bedroom tiny homes average $50,000 to $120,000. This assumes the size range is 200 to 300 sq.ft. Any smaller, and your bedroom begins to eat into the living areas. You can also have a larger tiny home with a single bedroom. If this is the case, expect your costs to be higher. The bedroom must be a minimum of 70 sq.ft. to be considered a legal bedroom.

2-Bedroom Tiny House Cost

The cost of a 2-bedroom tiny home is $50,000 to $125,000 for a prefab unit and $62,500 to $200,000 for a custom home. This assumes the size ranges from 250 to 500 sq.ft. These sizes can comfortably fit 2 legal bedrooms with a bathroom, kitchen, and living area. You can also add sleeping lofts of this size in addition to the bedrooms. This can allow you to add more occupants. However, 250 sq.ft. is at the start of the high end of size for a tiny home on wheels if pulled on a highway.

3-Bedroom Tiny House Cost

The cost of a 3-bedroom tiny home averages $70,000 to $125,000 for a prefab unit and $87,500 to $200,000 for a custom one. This assumes the size ranges from 350 to 500 sq.ft. This size can comfortably fit 3 legal bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with a kitchen and living area. You can also add additional sleeping spaces with sleeping lofts, meaning they can have more occupants without necessarily adding more legal bedrooms. At these sizes, the house may be too large to be pulled on a highway.

Tiny Home Cost by Number of Stories

Just like an average-size residence, a tiny home may be built in levels or stories. In most cases, the upper floor or floors are used for sleeping lofts and do not have tall enough ceilings to be considered true stories. However, stationary homes - those built on foundations - can have two or three stories, depending on the layout. Square footage makes a tiny home, not how tall it is. A home can be 400 sq.ft. with 200 sq.ft. on each story or 500 sq.ft. with two 200 sq.ft. levels and a 100 sq.ft. loft for sleeping. Below are the average costs for tiny homes of different heights based on the average sizes for each.


Average Cost to Build a 1, 2, or 3-Story Prefab or Custom House

Average Cost to Build a 1, 2, or 3-Story Prefab or Custom House


Number of StoriesAverage Costs of a Prefab Home (Labor Included)Average Costs of a Custom Home (Labor Included)
1 Story$20,000 - $75,000$25,000 - $120,000
2 Stories$60,000 - $125,000$75,000 - $200,000
3 Stories$80,000 - $125,000$100,000 - $200,000


1-Story Tiny House

Single-story tiny homes range from $20,000 to $75,000 on average for prefab construction. For custom construction, costs range from $25,000 to $120,000. These costs assume a size of between 100 and 300 sq.ft. These are the most common sizes for single-story tiny homes. These do not have lofts or other areas that could be considered a partial story or additional level. Homes of this size are most commonly built for single people or couples and may be towed easily on the highway.

2-Story Tiny House

The cost of a 2-story tiny house is $60,000 to $125,000 for prefab construction. Custom builds range from $75,000 to $200,000. This assumes a house size of between 300 and 500 sq.ft. This includes homes with a single story of living space, an upper level for sleeping, office space, or other functions. While you can have smaller square footage and still include a loft space, most homes with a true second story are at least 300 sq.ft. to fit everything comfortably. Stairs take up considerable space, and the story requires a set of stairs to be a true second story.

3-Story Tiny Home

The cost of a 3-story tiny house averages $80,000 to $125,000 for a prefab home. The cost of a custom build is $100,000 to $200,000. This assumes a house that is an average of 400 to 500 sq.ft. You can add sleeping lofts on a third “level” in homes of smaller size, but these are not typically considered three “stories.” That is mostly because you need stairs to reach each level, and each floor must have a minimum height of just under 7 feet. For this reason, most homes with 3 true stories are between 400 and 500 sq.ft.


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Average Cost of a Tiny Home by Type

You can build tiny homes in many ways, areas, and locations. You can have them located in trees, on wheels, or on foundations. They can be built from sheds or shipping containers, and, in some cases, you can purchase the outer shell and finish the interior yourself. Each type has a range of costs, depending on how it is made and its size. Below are the average costs for most types, based on their average sizes and type of construction.


Average Cost to Build a Prefab or Custom Tiny Home by Type: Shed to Tiny House Conversion, Shell, Tiny Trailer House, Tiny House on a Foundation...

Average Cost to Build a Prefab or Custom Tiny Home by Type: Tiny Treehouse, Tiny House on a Foundation, Shell, Shed to Tiny House Conversion...


TypeAverage Costs of a Prefab Home (Labor Included)Average Costs of a Custom Home (Labor Included)
Shed to Tiny House ConversionN/A$5,000 - $30,000
Shell$15,000 - $40,000N/A
Tiny Trailer House$20,000 - $75,000$25,000 - $120,000
Tiny House on a Foundation$25,000 - $125,000$30,000 - $200,000
Tiny TreehouseN/A$50,000 - $60,000
Shipping ContainerN/A$120,000 - $180,000


Cost to Turn a Shed Into a Tiny House

The cost to turn a shed into a tiny house ranges from $5,000 to $30,000. Many sheds average between 100 and 200 sq.ft. This can make them an ideal shell for becoming a tiny house. You could convert an existing shed into a tiny home. Costs range depending on several factors, including the shed’s materials, size, and amenities. The more you add to the shed, the higher the final costs.

Cost of a Tiny House Shell

The cost of a tiny home shell averages $15,000 to $40,000. Shells are the house’s outer frame and structure. They are often finished on the exterior but empty inside. They are not ready for utility hookup or immediate living. However, they make a nice project for homeowners who want to do some of the work. You can take your time finishing the inside because the structure is already built. This can keep costs down for some.

Cost to Build a Tiny Home on Wheels

The cost to build a tiny home on wheels is $20,000 to $75,000 for prefab structures. Custom tiny homes on wheels range from $25,000 to $120,000. Tiny homes on wheels must be smaller than average. They must fit into specific dimensions dictated by each state if you want to transport them. In many instances, you want them to be sturdier than houses on foundations. This is so that the home can withstand travel and movement without facing structural issues.

Cost to Build a Tiny House on a Foundation

The cost to build a tiny house on a foundation is $25,000 to $125,000 for prefab construction. Costs range from $30,000 to $200,000 for custom construction. This assumes pricing of roughly $5,000 for clearing the land, pouring the foundation, and anchoring the home. Most tiny homes use a slab foundation 2. Depending on where your residence is, you may want to insulate the foundation or pour a thicker foundation to prevent cracks or structural issues from cold weather. Building into a hill or other types of custom foundations can raise costs.

Tiny House Treehouse

The cost to build a tiny treehouse averages $50,000 to $60,000. This assumes a treehouse that is livable for adults. It includes adding utilities and access to the tree. Tiny home treehouses are usually small, with many being even smaller than traditional tiny homes. You can build 100 and 200 sq.ft. treehouses easily, but you may be confined by the tree’s type and size for larger treehouses. Your costs increase if you build larger than 200 sq.ft.

Shipping Container Tiny House Cost

The average cost of a shipping container tiny home is $120,000 to $180,000. Shipping containers come in many sizes, including some fit for tiny houses. Converting them to tiny homes is not inexpensive when compared to many other homes of the same size. The interior is an empty shell and not ready or set up for utilities or living spaces. The entire container must be completely outfitted. Many also must be altered to accommodate windows and doors and seal larger doorways for energy efficiency.

Cost of a Tiny House by Brand

If you want to purchase a prefab tiny house, tiny house kit, or work with a company that deals only in this construction type, you can choose from many companies. Some only make shells, while others build you a custom home. Some are region-based, so ensure they work or ship to your area before purchasing.


Cost to Build a Tiny House by Brand: Volstrukt, Clayton, Barnwood Builders, Timbercraft, 84 Lumber, New Frontier, Tumbleweed...

Cost to Build a Tiny House by Brand: Volstrukt, Clayton, Barnwood Builders, Timbercraft, 84 Lumber, New Frontier, Tumbleweed...


BrandAverage Costs (Labor Included)
Chattanooga$15,000 - $25,000
Volstrukt$15,000 - $25,000
Barnwood Builders$20,000 - $80,000
84 Lumber$20,000 - $80,000
Timbercraft$51,000 - $124,000
Tumbleweed$56,000 - $105,000
New Frontier$75,000 - $100,000
Clayton$100,000 - $200,000


Chattanooga Pricing

The cost of a Chattanooga tiny house frame is $15,000 to $25,000. This company provides kits, frames, and trailers for people who want to build or partially build a tiny house. The frames are made from lightweight steel, so they are durable but can be pulled on a trailer. They have a range of kits in several sizes. They can also provide more finished options at custom pricing. Their products are good fits for people who want a classic tiny home - meaning very small and meant for travel.

Volstrukt Pricing

The cost of Volstrukt tiny house frames ranges from $15,000 to $25,000. Volstrukt manufactures lightweight steel house frames. They also manufacture a small range of tiny house steel frames. These frames are designed to be used by DIY house owners who want to construct their own home. The frames are made to be used as a kit, so assembly is fast and easy. The homes are designed to be small and can be taken on a trailer.

Barnwood Builders Cost

The cost of a Barnwood Builders house averages $20,000 to $80,000. Barnwood Builders uses reclaimed wood to build with. This wood is taken from old buildings like barns and reused in new projects. This is often old-growth lumber that can still have decades of use left. You can create a more sustainable home with reclaimed wood rather than using new-cut lumber. Barnwood Builders handles all types of projects, including some tiny homes, all of which are custom made.

84 Lumber Tiny House Prices

The cost of 84 Lumber tiny homes is $20,000 to $80,000. 84 Lumber makes a range of prefab units. These are completely finished homes in a set range of sizes and layouts. Some of the layouts also have higher-end or customizable options, increasing the cost. The homes range in size and can be used in many ways, including on wheels or foundations.

Timbercraft Tiny Homes Price

The cost of a Timbercraft tiny house ranges from $51,000 to $124,000. Timbercraft makes a range of all-inclusive prefab homes. The company does all the work, from initial construction to final installation. This includes foundations and utilities. Their homes average more than $300 a sq.ft. They have several layouts and sizes, with many having sleeping lofts, studios, and bedrooms.

Tumbleweed Tiny House Prices

The cost of Tumbleweed tiny homes averages $56,000 to $105,000. Tumbleweed makes all-inclusive prefab tiny homes. They do all the work, from the beginning to the final installation. This includes foundation work and utility hookups. Their homes cost between $350 and $450 a sq.ft. They have several sizes and layouts, with most being studios and 1-bedrooms. All their houses are under 260 sq.ft.

New Frontier Tiny Homes Cost

The cost of a New Frontier tiny home is $75,000 to $100,000. New Frontiers makes custom high-end tiny homes. These homes are truly tiny, measuring 200 sq.ft. or less in most cases. These homes are completely bespoke. This means they are built for you. So, while they cost more than a prefab home, you can easily customize them to fit your needs. This can make even small spaces more livable than prefab spaces of the same size.

Clayton Tiny Homes Prices

The cost of a Clayton tiny home averages $100,000 to $200,000. Clayton makes custom, luxury, high-end tiny homes. Their starting costs are usually above $100,000 before factoring in the land purchase, foundations, and utility hookups. These homes are custom-built on-site to your specifications. This means you can add details and features to make the homes more luxurious and livable than prefab homes. Their homes are small and built for foundations, but you can make changes because they are custom.


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Tiny House Construction Cost Breakdown

The cost of tiny house construction ranges depending on the home type. Prefab homes tend to be all-inclusive and only need the foundation and utility hookups when complete. Custom homes have a more traditional cost breakdown, including plumbing, electrical, framing, siding, roofing, and other features.

While every tiny house is different, you can get a loose breakdown of the project’s cost. This can be helpful if you plan on doing some of the work and want to know some of the basic costs. Your costs may differ because tiny homes may have trailers or foundations, which can be made with wood or metal frames. You may also not require everything on this list.


Tiny House Construction Cost Breakdown: Foundation, Electrical, Plumbing, Appliances, HVAC, Interior Finishing, Trailer, Framing...

Tiny House Construction Cost Breakdown: Foundation, Electrical, Plumbing, Appliances, HVAC, Interior Finishing, Trailer, Framing...


CategoryAverage Costs (Installed)
Trailer$3,500 - $5,000
Foundation$4,000 - $6,000
Framing$5,000 - $14,000
Electrical$750 - $3,000
Plumbing$3,000 - $7,000
Exterior Finishing$2,500 - $13,500
Appliances$400 - $4,000
HVAC$1,000 - $2,500
Interior Finishing$1,350 - $6,200


Tiny House Trailer Price

The cost of a tiny house trailer is $3,500 to $5,000. You may want to mount it on a trailer if your residence is not in a permanent location. This allows you to tow and move it from location to location. In many states, this means your tiny house qualifies as an RV and is subject to the relevant regulations and codes. Your home likely must be 250 sq.ft. or smaller to use a trailer. Larger homes should be on foundations as permanent homes.

Tiny House Foundation Cost

The cost of a tiny house foundation ranges from $4,000 to $6,000. Not all tiny homes have foundations. Those that do most commonly have a slab foundation. The foundation size and depth vary based on the home size, weight, and location. Your costs could be higher if you need a larger or deeper foundation, particularly in northern areas. However, many tiny homes are light enough not to require substantial foundations or reinforcement, keeping costs down.

Framing Pricing

The cost to frame a tiny house averages $5,000 to $14,000. Tiny homes can be framed in lumber like many average-sized homes. However, metal frame kits are becoming increasingly popular. These lightweight metal structures can help your home maintain better structural integrity if frequently on the road. Using a metal frame kit limits the number of sizes and configurations you can build. Lumber is endlessly customizable and gives you more flexibility in size and layout.

Cost to Wire a Tiny House

The cost of wiring a tiny house for electricity costs between $750 and $3,000. Most tiny homes do not have very extensive electricity needs. It depends largely on the property size and the appliances you add. Your HVAC system and water heater can impact your electricity needs, depending on the fuel system. A tiny home may only need minimal lighting and outlets, or it may need to be wired for heavy appliances, changing the costs. Your costs are higher if you add car chargers or backup generators. If your home is on wheels, it must be wired like an RV to plug into various sites.

Tiny House Plumbing Cost

The cost of plumbing for a tiny house ranges from $3,000 to $7,000. This includes installing a toilet, shower, and 2 sinks in the bathroom and kitchen. Most tiny homes are small enough not to require extensive piping, keeping costs down. Most water appliances like showers and sinks are smaller than average, which can keep costs down. If your tiny home remains on a foundation, you may have additional costs for a water main line. Homes on trailers must be plumbed for hookups like an RV.

Tiny House Exterior Price

The combined cost for the exterior of a tiny home averages $2,500 to $13,500. This includes the costs for windows, doors, roofing, siding, and insulation. You have many options for how you finish the house’s exterior. Siding may include wood, metal, vinyl 3, or fiber cement, among other materials. You can also use several materials for the roof, including asphalt shingles or metal roofing. Many people use highly durable materials on the exterior, particularly if the house is intended to be moved, because this lasts longer with less maintenance.

Appliances Pricing

The cost of appliances for tiny homes ranges from $400 to $4,000. Like standard homes, tiny houses can have many appliances. Some are optional, such as having a washer and dryer or dishwasher. Others may be more important, such as a stove and refrigerator. You may not be able to fit in full-size appliances, depending on your kitchen’s size. In this case, you can use half-size or quarter-size appliances, such as those used in RVs or small apartments.

HVAC Price

The cost of HVAC for a tiny home is $1,000 to $2,500. HVAC for tiny homes comes in many forms. Not all tiny homes are large enough to have things like ducts run through them. In this case, things like radiators or baseboard heaters may be the best options for heat. The cost of the system is usually much smaller than what may be used in an average-sized home. Many people use small electric heaters, but you can also heat with gas, propane, or oil. If your tiny home is on a trailer, you need to consider fuel storage if you opt for things other than electric-based systems.

Tiny House Interiors Price

The cost to finish the interior of a tiny house averages $1,350 to $6,200. This includes interior walls, flooring, cabinetry, painting, and finish work. While small, tiny homes can be finished in many of the same ways as a standard-sized home. The difference is mostly in size - there are fewer walls, cabinets, and less flooring. This can keep finishing costs down. Larger tiny homes and homes with multiple levels cost more to finish than smaller single-story ones.

Labor Cost to Build a Tiny House

Labor costs to build a tiny house vary depending on the home type. Prefab units have the labor built into the home’s cost - your only costs are for utilities and potentially a foundation.

You can still have a wide range of costs if you choose a custom build. This is because many options are available, from kits you can DIY to traditional builders who specialize in tiny homes. You may also have a range of costs depending on what you plan. For example, using a readymade frame means you do not have labor costs for building a frame. Using a trailer eliminates the labor costs associated with foundations.

Below is a basic breakdown of the labor for the project.


Labor Costs to Build a Tiny House: Electricians, Painters, HVAC, Carpenters, Plumbers, Roofers, Flooring Installers...

Labor Costs to Build a Tiny House: Electricians, Painters, HVAC, Carpenters, Plumbers, Roofers, Flooring Installers...


ProfessionalAverage Costs (Labor Included)
Electricians$40 - $120/hour
Painters$50/hour
HVAC$50 - $70/hour
Carpenters$70/hour
Plumbers$75 - $130/hour
Roofers$1.00 - $1.50/sq.ft.
Flooring Installers$5 - $20/sq.ft.
Concrete Workers$110/cubic yard
Architects10% - 17% of the total building budget


On-Grid vs Off-Grid Tiny House

One of the appeals of building a tiny house is going off-grid. Off-grid means completely disconnected from traditional utilities, such as electricity, water, gas, septic, and internet. Many trailer-style tiny homes are made to connect to RV camps as needed, but others are designed to be built on a foundation.

If you choose to go off-grid, you need a well and septic tank. These are also common in many areas for on-grid homes. You also need a means of producing electricity. You can do this in several ways. Tiny homes are small enough to run on a propane 4 generator. You can also install solar panels and use a small backup generator. The cost to go off-grid can be less than $10,000 before rebates because tiny homes are so much smaller. In some cases, costs may be lower than $5,000, depending on your needs.

States regulate tiny homes differently in each area. In some cases, this means you cannot install a tiny house on a foundation without it being part of a larger property. However, you can use a tiny house on a trailer in this instance, and it is subject to the same rules and regulations as an RV. Understand your state’s laws and research if your project is legal before going off-grid.


Beautiful Tiny House With a Wooden Chimney


Cost to Build a Tiny House in a Backyard

The cost to build a tiny house in a backyard is $40,000 to $80,000. Many people build a tiny house on their existing property. This can be used as an in-law apartment, rental, or guest house. In some states, the only way to build a tiny house on a foundation is to do it in a backyard. Your costs are identical to the cost to build on another location. Building in a yard may be easier in some ways because you have ready access to utilities.


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How Much Land Do You Need for a Tiny House?

There are no restrictions on the amount of land you need for a tiny house. The amount of land varies based on your desires for the property, utility access, personal and guest parking, nearby storage, and whether you want a garden or a recreational yard nearby.

In some states, you cannot build a tiny house on previously unused land in place of a standard house. You may erect a tiny house on a property with a standard house already in place. You may choose not to build on a foundation, circumventing this law. Check your state’s regulations and laws on tiny homes before building.

Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a Tiny House?

Many factors impact the costs of purchasing a prefab home and building a custom home. Prefab homes are less expensive than custom-built tiny homes. However, you can also purchase a kit or shell and do some work yourself, lowering costs. You can also eliminate labor costs and build the entire structure yourself for less than the price of a prefab unit.

If you compare the cost of a readymade unit versus the cost of having someone build it for you, costs of purchasing are generally lower than that of building. Building gives you many more options, including different sizes and layouts you may not get from prefab homes.

Cost of Living in a Tiny House

The monthly costs of living in a tiny house tend to range from $500 to $1,000. This includes utilities, insurance, property taxes or rent on a space for a trailer, and regular maintenance. The more appliances your home has and the larger the space, the higher your costs. Smaller tiny homes with few appliances or amenities generally cost less.


Modern Wooden Tiny House in a Green Forest


Pros and Cons of Tiny Houses

Tiny homes are a great way to save money and pare down your lifestyle. However, they are not for everyone. For every pro that comes with living in them, there are often cons to match. The first is the legal gray area of these houses. Some states are very tiny house friendly, allowing you to build or park them anywhere. Others are fairly hostile, with laws restricting where they can be built or parked. So, you may be restricted in where and how you build a tiny home, depending on where you live.

Tiny homes tend to be small in every way, which is good and bad. There is little storage space, which frequently means people purchase and park storage sheds near permanent homes. Otherwise, it forces you to pare down belongings. On the other hand, monthly living expenses are usually much lower. Maintenance is also much lower because you have less space to maintain.

If you have a growing family, you may find that your home can become cramped. This may be fine if you have lots of outdoor space around you. If you are in an area with limited amenities in your yard, you may find the lack of space can be oppressive.

Tiny House vs RV

Your tiny house may be considered an RV if it is on a trailer, depending on the state. RVs or recreational vehicles are designed for living on the road. They can hook to various campsites for water, electricity, and septic and then move to a new one. Tiny homes on wheels can do the same thing. However, tiny homes on foundations do not move and require foundations and permanent utility hookups. In general, monthly expenses are similar for a tiny house on wheels and an RV. The biggest difference is in the amount of space and the cost. Tiny homes on wheels may be restricted in size, depending on where you live. In general, tiny homes are often less expensive, but some small RVs are less expensive than tiny homes.


Comparison of the Cost of a Tiny House and an RV

Comparison of the Cost of a Tiny House and an RV


TypeAverage Costs
Tiny House$20,000 - $200,000
RV$35,000 - $300,000


Tiny House vs Camper

Tiny houses on wheels can also be alternatives to campers. Both are towed behind a car and outfitted with sleeping, eating, cooking, and bathing areas. In general, a tiny house provides more opportunities for customization and is often more comfortable for long-term use than a camper. But the two are similar in size and function. Costs for the two tend to be very similar, with some luxury campers costing more.


Comparison of the Cost of a Tiny House and a Camper

Comparison of the Cost of a Tiny House and a Camper


TypeAverage Costs
Tiny House$20,000 - $200,000
Camper$20,000 - $300,000


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Custom Storage

It is very common for tiny homes to add custom storage. Things like seating with built-in storage, closets beneath stairs, or storage lofts can make the most of your space. Adding custom storage increases costs by $1,000 to $5,000.

Deck

It is also common to add decks for outdoor living space. The most common place to add a deck is on the home’s roof. This does not increase costs but does increase the amount of use the space can get. You can also add a deck on the roof to a trailer tiny home without increasing the footprint 5. If your home is on a foundation, you can add a standard deck for costs starting at $500 for a deck that is proportional to your house.

Built-In Furniture

Many tiny homes may have built-in furniture to save space. You can usually incorporate storage with built-in bench seating and beds. This is also a good idea for tiny homes that travel because built-in furniture is less likely to move around. Built-in furniture costs $1,000 to $10,000, depending on what you choose.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Building codes. Building your tiny home on a foundation must meet the same building codes as a standard-size home. Check with your town or city hall for more information.
  • Zoning. You may not be able to park a tiny home on wheels in a residential yard or use it as a permanent residence, depending on where you live. Some places may give permits for this purpose, while others do not. Check the zoning laws to find out if this is possible.
  • Ordinances. Every state has building codes for permanent homes on foundations. Many tiny homes cannot meet these standards, in which case, you may not be able to use the home as a permanent residence. Check the tiny house ordinances to find out what you may need to do.
  • Depreciation. Unlike standard-size homes, tiny homes do not appreciate the same way. Many depreciate over time, meaning they are worth less as time goes on. Understand the associated risks if you are building a tiny home as an investment.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to build a tiny house in California?

The average cost range of building a tiny house in California is $350 to $450 a sq.ft. Costs are higher in this area than the national average, closer to $200 to $400 a sq.ft.

  • Can I build a tiny house in my backyard?

This depends on the area you live in and the type of tiny house. In most cases, a tiny house on a foundation is legal, but you should check with your local city or town hall for more information.

  • How long do tiny homes last?

This depends on many factors, including what it was built with, how it was built, and whether it was built on a foundation or with wheels. Foundation-built homes can last as long as an average-sized home, assuming they were built correctly. Tiny homes on trailers may not last as long due to the potential for wear.

  • What are the benefits of living in a tiny house?

For most people, the benefits tend to be a lower cost of living. Monthly costs are lower and so is the home’s cost. For those who like to travel, tiny homes on wheels can allow you to take your home wherever you go.

  • Which states allow tiny houses?

Technically, all states allow tiny houses. However, every state has restrictions, regulations, and a definition for tiny houses. Check with your state’s ordinances to find out what is allowed.

  • Do you have to pay taxes on a tiny house?

Yes, but the tax type depends on the state, type of house, and how it is built. Many states treat a home on wheels as an RV, and you pay excise taxes if your state requires them. If your home is built on land, you may pay property taxes. Check with your state to find out what their requirements are.

  • Do banks lend on tiny homes?

This depends on several factors, including the type of house and how and where it is built. Some banks do not lend on specific types but may make loans for others. Speak to your bank about your plans for more information.


Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Built-in 1 Built-in: An item of furniture, such as a bookcase or set of cabinets, that is built directly into the structure of the room. Built-ins are therefore customized to the room and not detachable
glossary term picture Slab Foundation 2 Slab foundation: A layer of concrete, poured over a prepared surface of soil or gravel, that supports a house or other building structure
glossary term picture Vinyl 3 Vinyl: A synthetic plastic made from ethylene and chlorine. Vinyl has many applications in the construction industry and it is widely used in sidings, window frames, roofing and gutters, among others
glossary term picture Propane 4 Propane: A hydrocarbon gas used as a common fuel source
glossary term picture Footprint 5 Footprint: The entire area of ground covered by a building, including the exterior walls and porch or patio areas

Cost to build a tiny house varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources
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Cost to build a tiny house varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources