How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House?

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House

NAVIGATION

If you’re considering building a tiny home, a good first question I get asked often is: How long does it take to build a tiny house? It typically takes 500 hours to build a tiny house.

This of course can vary depending on size, skill level, and complexity, but 500 hours to build a tiny house is often a good rule of thumb for the average DIYer. Professional builders who have a dedicated facility will be able to reduce this down to about 300 hours.

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny House?

How Long Does It Take To Build A Tiny Home

Like I mentioned, 500 hours is a good rule of thumb for the first-time tiny home builder who doesn’t have any hands-on experience building homes prior to starting. When I first started the build of my own tiny home, I had never constructed anything outside of a bat house in 8th grade shop class, so I was basically starting from scratch.

How Much Time I Spent Building My Tiny House

How Much Time I Spent Building My Tiny House

how to build a tiny houseEstimate how long you think it will take and double it; that advice rings so true.

During my own build, I would construct only on weekends since I had a full-time job. That process took me about a year of weekends when I factor out time off, waiting on materials, and dealing with burnout.

I was also mostly working alone, so if you have a partner that’s working with you, I’d expect you could reduce the time by about 30% if you are working on it together. I spent a lot of time moving between my saw and putting it all together—if you could get really good at measuring accurately and communicating that, you can have one person always building the house while the other cuts the next piece or fetches the next part.

Time Spent Gathering Materials

Time spent gathering materials to build a tiny house

No matter how well you plan, you’re going to have to make runs to the hardware store to buy more materials, get new tools, or find something you forgot. This really eats into your working time when you have to make an extra run to the store.

For me, the big box hardware store was about 20 minutes away, so all in, I would burn at least an hour for each run I made. What I started doing was purchasing everything I needed for that weekend on Friday night after work. Then I would drop it off at my work site and stage things for the next day so that I could start right away on Saturday morning without having to fuss with materials or shopping.

Building Schedule For Weekend Tiny House Building

Schedule for weekend tiny house building

This schedule is what I found worked best for me as a weekend warrior to maximize my time and learn everything I needed to for the building process. Since I was totally new to building, each week I’d figure out what I needed to do next, then learn how to do it.

This process actually worked out really well because I was able to learn things as I needed to without getting overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of building an entire house all at once. This also let me relax a bit from doing all the manual labor, because a lot of research I could do right from my couch.

Monday Building Schedule
Tuesday Building Schedule
Wednesday Building Schedule
Thursday Building Schedule
Friday Building Schedule
Weekend Building Schedule

Time To Build A Tiny House Breakdown

time to build a tiny house breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the hours it took to build my tiny house for each major task. These are estimates and are based off a first time Do It Yourselfer.

Keep in mind that though these estimates may seem higher than you expected, the trick with tiny homes is that there are a lot of fiddley details. Where normal houses benefit from a lot of long, straight runs, tiny houses have many small details. You’re always having to work around the trailer and build in lots of nooks, plus all the tolerances are so tight that being even 1/8 of an inch off could really mess with your plans.

Building Task Hours
Leveling Trailer 2
Establishing Tie Down Point 5
Building Sub-Floor Framing 5
Insulating Sub-Floor 2
Adding Sub-Floor Decking 3
Framing Exterior Walls 16
Sheathing Exterior Walls 10
Cutting Roof Rafters 16
Installing Roof Rafters 8
Adding Roof Decking 16
Adding Roofing 16
Adding Fascis 6
Installing Windows 4
Installing Doors 4
Installing House Trim 16
Installing Exterior Siding 32
Painting or Staining Exterior 16
Building Task Hours
Rough-In Plumbing 32
Rough-In Electrical 32
Install Shower 8
Install Toilet 8
HVAC Install 16
Insulating 32
Install Interior Wall Material 40
Installing Flooring 16
Constructing Built In Furniture 40
Constructing Kitchen Cabinets 40
Installing Countertops With Sink & Stove 6
Finish Plumbing 8
Finish Electrical 16
Finish Trim 16
Finish Paint Or Stain 8
Final Details 8
Final Cleaning 4

Total amount of time to build the average tiny house: 507 hours


Timing Your Material Orders

timing your material orders

Ordering lead times for certain items will be an important part of your tiny house build schedule. There are some items that you can just pick up, while others are special ordered and have major lead times.

Ideally you want these items to come in right before you need them so you’re not waiting of them to arrive, but you’re also not having to store them where they might get damaged before you install them. If you’re building outside, this can be a big deal—no matter how much I tarped, rain always found a way in!

Lead Time For Materials

Lead Time For Materials

Item Lead Time
Trailer 30 Days
Windows 45 Days
Doors 45 Days
Flooring 20 Days
Shower Insert 30 Days
Appliances 30 Days
Siding 15 Days

Things That Will Slow Your Build Process Down

things that will slow your building process

There are quite a few things that can get in your way outside of material logistics and the learning process. I found this out the hard way, so hopefully these tips can help you spot them ahead of time.

Dealing With Burn Out

Dealing With Burn Out

Burn out is a major deal when it comes to building a tiny house. I didn’t account for this when I first started and there was a period when I just couldn’t make myself do anything, so I ended up taking about two months off during the summer.

Professional builders are used to the long days of construction, but for most DIYers, the work can take its toll. Even if you’re able to keep up with it, I find that working a full-time job during the week and building on the weekend really added up to be too much.

At the time of me building my own tiny home, I was working in a corporate desk job that I’d classify as a knowledge worker. The contrast of cerebral and digital work when compared to the very tactile work of building a house was a great, but it also meant I was running full steam in every type of work, all the time, which can very easily lead to total exhaustion.

Dealing With Weather

Dealing With Weather

If I could change one thing about how I built my tiny house, it would be to build it in an enclosed space—ideally climate controlled, but just having a solid roof would be a game changer. The biggest challenge for me was the heat because living in North Carolina meant that there was a good chunk of the year that was very hot and humid.

dealing with weather when building outsideThe tipping point for me during my burn out was installing floors during June in the South. I distinctly remember dreading the work because I’d have to be on my hands and knees so much and it was going to be hot. I showed up that day with a dozen 24-ounce bottles of water, and to make sure I drank enough, I would set an alarm on my phone for every 30 minutes. That day I drank all 12 of those 24-ounce bottles, and that night when I got home, I realized I had only peed once the entire day—the rest I sweated out. That night I was so sick, having never experienced heatstroke, it was awful. I ended up laying on the couch for two whole days. That’s when I decided I was taking the rest of the summer off.

Setting Up And Breaking Down

Setting Up And Breaking Down

I never factored this in, but since I was building outside in an open field, every morning I had to setup my cut station, my air compressor, and more. Then at night I had to lock it all back up so nothing would get stolen or rained on.

I got to the point where I could do it pretty quickly, but it still took me about 30 minutes on either end of the day. That was an entire hour per work day I could have been building. If I had a shop or building to work in, I could just have all my tools laid out so I didn’t have to put it away each night.

Another thing I did each night was cleaning up the job site. I was building was in view of my neighbors, so to be a good neighbor I wanted to make things as tidy as I could.

Things You Can Do To Save Time On Your Build

Things you can do to save time on your build

When you’re building an entire house, you want to do everything you can to save time. In addition to following the weekly plan above, there are a few things you can do to cut down on time in your build.

Have The Right Tools

Have The Right Tools

Having the right tools can make all the difference, and making sure you spend your dollars in the right places will have a big impact. You’ll be using your miter saw and impact driver a lot, so make sure you get high-quality ones.

tiny house tools

Use Pneumatic Nail Guns And A Compressor

Use Pneumatic Nail Guns And A Compressor

I’ve seen some people shy away from nail guns and other pneumatic tools, but this is a big mistake. The labor savings of air tools is huge and the time it saves really adds up. The big thing to realize is that these nail guns mean you don’t have to hammer, which saves a lot of energy, meaning you can work longer with less fatigue.

Meal Prep

Meal Prep

simple eating for while you build your tiny homeHaving food made ahead of time for lunch and snacks on the job site will stop you from having to go and get food. You also want to make sure you’re eating the right foods that will give you plenty of energy, replenish your electrolytes, and not cause any after lunch energy slumps.

For me, that meant I showed up with coffee in hand and would have eggs for breakfast before. Then during the day I’d keep protein bars, jerky, and trail mix in my car ready to snack on. At lunch I’d have a sandwich, an apple, and lots of water to drink. I’d also keep a lot of electrolyte drinks on hand to replace what I would sweat out during the day.

In a given build day, I’d drink 32 ounces of water before I left the house, a half a gallon of water/sports drinks during the day, and then another 32 ounces of water when I got home.

Finally, it was a big help to have dinner already prepped when I got home. I’d put it in the oven while I showered and changed, then relax all night, drinking plenty of water.

Start With A Tiny House Shell

Start With A Tiny House Shell

A great way to short cut the build process is to buy a tiny house shell, then build from there. This is a good approach to save some money, but also save some time.

Tiny House Shells


Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have to save time during your tiny house build?
4 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing! We are planning to build one within a year! Great article.

  2. Time we stopped all this

  3. How do you start the sub floor? I’m going around my trailer with 2×4 then putting plywood on top of that would that work

  4. Hi Ryan, thank you for again sharing your considerable knowledge and expertise with us! I also really appreciate how you deliver it all with a healthy dose of reality, and a sense of humor. 😉

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