April 25, 2020


So you're thinking of taking the plunge into tiny house living.

I've put together a few tips, guides and questions to ask yourself before committing to the lifestyle. While tiny house living in a more affordable lifestyle, it is still a significant cost and you want to be sure you're making the right decisions for yourself.

Before You Even Start Planning

1) STAY IN A TINY HOUSE. Yes, they're cute and the couples on that tiny house show seem so happy in theirs. But what if you sunk $80K into a tiny home and realized in the first hour that you're suddenly starting to feel claustrophobic? There are tiny houses popping up on Airbnbs across the country all the time. Stay in one for a night or two and make sure it really is something you can see yourself doing. 

I keep a running list of tiny houses that are available through Airbnb or other means of renting. Have a look, pick one out, and spend a weekend in one to see if the lifestyle is right for you.

2) SET A REALISTIC BUDGET. Can you build a tiny house for $10,000? With prayer, voodoo, and possibly an animal sacrifice- maybe. But more realistically, you'll probably be spending $30-60K. Materials are costly. You should have a licensed plumber and electrician install what they need to and that isn't free. You'll need appliances and furniture. Also, again, this is a significant cost. You can try skimp to cut costs but ultimately you need to remember that this is your home. It needs to be comfortable, habitable, and sturdy. 

There's also the route of buying a tiny house. If you look through sites that sell used tiny homes, $30K to $60K is about what you can expect to spend. If you're going for brand new or the customized route, then $50K to $85K+ is pretty standard. 

Also, Tiny House Nation is a great show but not very realistic as to what you pay for a tiny house. Builders will add in extra stuff for the show so you're wowed because it's good advertising for them. So whatever the couples on that show got for their budget, add on $20K-30K for what you'll have to pay. 

3) LOOK AT AT LEAST 100 DIFFERENT TINY HOMES. Just browse through blogs, tiny house related Instagrams, or my Pinterest. But it's important to see the variety that's out there so you can get a better sense of what you need and want for your home. There is a fair amount to consider; trailer types, size, color, interior layout, etc. 

You might have seen one home and decided that's the one, but look around. You might see something new, something you like better, or a small feature you think you'll want in your own home.

How Will You Get Your Tiny House?

There are a few different ways to get yourself a tiny house:

1) ORDER FROM A TINY HOUSE BUILDER. I strongly, strongly, strongly, recommend just going straight to a company that knows exactly what they're doing. Any tiny house builder who's worth their salt is going to know the best way to maximize a limited amount of space. The industry develops fast and the kinds of thing these builders can do and put into a home that's less than 400 sq ft just gets better and better. You can order a copy of an existing model you like, or work with them to create your own one-of-a-kind home. 

I have a list of tiny house builders compiled here that gets updated fairly regularly. I take care to make sure all the builders on the list have a stand-up reputation, and everyone on there has built at least one home you can look-up and see for yourself as a testament to their work.

That being said, be sure to do your own due diligence. Lookup your builder of choice online and keep an eye out for negative reviews. You'll find the overwhelming majority of tiny house builders to be caring, honest, and hard-working people/companies but it's still good to know who you're getting into business with. 

2) ORDER A SHELL. You can come across tiny house shells pretty regularly on sale sites, and a few tiny house builders offer them as well. Basically, the exterior of the home is completed and you just finish off the inside. Less expensive than a finished model, plus you have the freedom to finish it how you want. But you should be experienced with building/construction if you chose this route. Also, if plumbing and/or electricity isn't installed yet you'll need to get that done as well. 

3) BUY PLANS. If you're experienced enough, maybe you want to build the home yourself. If you find a tiny home you like, try contacting the builder to see if they'll sell you plans. There are also websites that offer tiny house plans which is another route to go

And please remember that drawing up plans takes time and design experience. They usually cost money, which surprises a lot of people. They're usually less than $400, but they are important to make sure you're putting together your home correctly. Just Google "tiny house plans" and browse the search results. 

4) BUY USED/FINISHED MODELS. Numerous websites sell tiny homes that are either used, or finished by a builder and available for sale. A good way to go if you just wanna buy it, park it, and put your feet up.

Sites you can go to:
You can also follow tiny house blogs- there's a few of us and we post/mention when a home is for sale regularly. Tiny House Town is great for that (no bias😉) but also Tiny House Talk.

Think About the Design

1) IS IT SAFE? Your tiny house should have all the basic safety features as a regular home. Are there smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, a fire extinguisher? Do you have a fire exit? If you're in a hurricane zone, is your tiny home proofed for that? 

Also, just because it's on wheels doesn't mean it's safe for regular/frequent road travel. If you want to do a cross-country tour in your home, be sure to ask the builder if your home can withstand regular moving and/or if it's RVIA-certified.

2) IS IT FUNCTIONAL. Your home may be tiny, but it should still have a layout that allows you to easily move around. Bumping into stairs or counter corners gets old real fast.

3) THINK ABOUT SEWAGE AND POWER. Do you want RV-hookups? Are your appliances going to be propane or electric? Do you want your home to be able to go off-grid? If you opt for a composting toilet, can you commit to emptying your waste every two weeks?

4) WHAT ABOUT PETS? Can your cat get around without knocking stuff over? Is your hamster's cage somewhere safe and out of the way? If you have dogs, think about the stairs not being too slippery for their paws. Also, if you enjoy your dog curling up in bed with you every night, maybe opt out of a ladder-accessible loft. 

5) IS IT COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR CLIMATE? If you live in the southeast of the United States, you have hurricanes to think about. If you live in the north or, worse- Canada, then you have winter to consider. Talk to your builder about design, heating/cooling, and insulation!



Anyway, that's what I have for now. I'll try add more to make this as helpful as possible. 

Oh, and a few other tips:
  • join tiny house Facebook groups or Reddit's Tiny House page- great places to ask questions!
  • if you want a second opinion on a builder or a company recommendation, feel free to email me and ask 
  • always check with local building codes to make sure your tiny house is allowed!


  1. I want a tiny house soooooooooooo bad

  2. Sign me up! Im in- I cant rent anymore and be at the Mercy of another landlord who decides to not fix things and you spend more time fighting the process than living and risking being kicked out over "like" and "dislike" its who pays more and doesn't complain about fencing falling over or rats infesting your house.... YIKES'

  3. I'm thinking of building my own and purchase appliances for less especially when you know someone, also electrical wouldn't be a problem. I have family that are electricians and myself, I'm a retired plumber. I also have experience in carpentry, drywall, etc. So this Tiny Home would be less inexpensive than most people who doesn't know how to began to build a home.