Sweet Tiny Home For Only $8,000
Building our dream tiny house was absolutely not going to happen with all of those bills towering over us (and I realize that these bills are low comparatively). Our solution to this problem was to build a very inexpensive tiny house to live in temporarily while we built our dream house. I bought a used travel trailer frame for $500 and got to work. Our first tiny home was 24â€² long, with a 7-8 foot ceiling. There were no lofts, no appliances, and no hot water. We had a 5 gallon bucket compost toilet with Pete moss, and one small sink. We used a convection cook top, a mini fridge, and we did our laundry at my mother-in-lawâ€™s house (which was quite simple seeing as though we were parked in her driveway).
With this transitional tiny house we were able to cut our rent down to $0/month, and electric bill down to $40/month. I got rid of my Verizon smartphone plan and started using an old flip phone that I had in storage. We also sold one of our cars which gave us extra cash and a lower car insurance bill. After we tackled all of our bills, we were able to focus the majority of my income on our dream tiny house.
If you're blessed with more time and skill than money, building from salvage is a great choice. Not only can you get beautiful, sturdy materials, you also can avoid the excessive chemicals present in many new materials. Here's an example of a beautiful wood floor built from pallets. Old windows, doors, and paneling can be found at salvage stores, dumps, curbside on trash pick up day and through Craigslist and Freecycle. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to modify your design to work in the materials you're able to find. In addition, if you're trying to meet building codes, you'll want to document and take pictures of your materials, and perhaps even ask your building inspector to come out and take a look to be sure they're acceptable.
According to the article, Design for Climate, "approximately 40% of household energy is used for heating and cooling to achieve thermal comfort. This rate could be cut to almost zero in new housing through sound climate responsive design." While written for Australia, the tips and different climate types are easily translatable to other regions of the world. Cost varies greatly from a low of zero (if you can get all your materials donated or find free salvage) to $40,000 or more, but in general, the average tiny house on wheels will cost $20,000 to $25,000 in materials. Be sure to create a budget. Many folks do the carpentry work themselves but budget for hiring an electrician and plumber.
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