How Much Does A Tiny House Cost: From Someone Who’s Done It

how much does as tiny house cost


If you were like me when I first started, I have one big question: how much does a tiny house cost to build?  Now that I’ve actually built my own tiny house and come out the other side, I wanted to do the full tiny house cost breakdown for others that want to live in a tiny house on wheels.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

When building my own tiny house, I was nervous about how much I was spending. I realized having a good plan would set me up for success and a budget is a plan for your money. Here is everything I learned while building my tiny home.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

There is a lot that goes into the total cost of a tiny house, so I’ll cover the total costs coming up, but I’m going to break down the details too. Keep in mind your cost may vary based on when you’re reading this or where you’re located.

How Much Does A Tiny House Cost?

average price of a tiny house

The average tiny house costs between $10,000 and $30,000 to build yourself, double those numbers if you hire a builder to build it for you.  But that is only part of the picture and depending on options, the price can vary a lot.  Many people are hoping to build their tiny house at a certain price point because of budget constraints or other factor, so the real question becomes, what’s the difference between a $10,000 tiny house and a $50,000 tiny house?

Tiny House Cost Breakdown

tiny house cost breakdown

What’s great about tiny houses is they’re really an approachable size, so it’s pretty easy to think through a cost breakdown for each part of a tiny house.

  • Trailer: $3,500 to $5,500
  • Windows: $500-$6,000
  • Metal roofing: $500 to $2,000
  • Insulation: $500 to $3000
  • Siding: $1,000 to $2,500
  • Lumber: $1,000 to $5,000
  • Interior finishes: $500-$4,000
  • Electrical: $750 to $3,000
  • Shower: $400 to $1,000
  • Water heater: $500 to $1000
  • HVAC: $500 to $1,500
  • Toilet: $20-$800
  • Fixtures: $1,000-$5,000
  • Appliances: $400 to $4,000
  • Interior wall: $500 to $1000
  • Flooring: $300 to $1,000
  • Fasteners/Adhesives: $1,500
  • Paint: $50 to $200

Tiny House Building Materials List:

tiny house materials list

When it comes to getting a true sense of a tiny house cost, you need to understand the different materials that go into your tiny house.  When I first started my build, I had never done anything like it before, but what I realized is if I break down the house into different parts, I could make it even more manageable, that’s how we’ll figure out costs.

The big thing to know is most of your budget will be dedicated to your trailer, doors/windows, roof, and mechanical.  These are things that I wouldn’t skimp on at all, I’d buy the best I could afford.  This will account for 80% of your costs.  For an example my trailer cost me $3,600, my doors and windows were $6,000, roof was $2,600, and HVAC was $1,800.


tiny house trailer

The trailer for your tiny house is one of those places you don’t want to skip and you don’t want to mess around.  I’ve see it now a hundred time, someone trying to save money by getting a used trailer.  Unless you are already handy with metal working and have some experience, you won’t save any money going the used route because fixes, repairs, reinforcements, a new paint job and new tires and wheels will leave you broke.

I have personally watch over 100 people try it and fail to save a dime.  What’s worse, they worry about their trailer not being good enough, which is a nightmare when you home is relying on it.

The next thing I see is people overspending for “tiny house trailers” that are purpose built.  The differences are minor and all you’re really paying for their markup.  None of the tiny house trailer sellers actually make them, so go to the source: Big Tex Trailers, Kaufman Trailers, etc.

Estimated Costs:  20 foot trailer: $2,800, 24 foot trailer: $3,000, 30 foot trailer $4,500

Windows For A Tiny House

tiny house windows

I spent a lot on my windows because they were all custom, but if you buy standard window sides and don’t mind white vinyl windows you can save a ton.  My windows cost me around $6,500 for double pane, argon filled, low-e glass that was tempered glass.  You definitely want tempered glass that are high quality and good efficiency.

Windows are one of those things that it can be tempting to try to save money on by going low quality, but you’ll pay for it in your electric bill month after month for the rest of your life.

Estimated Costs: $120 per window for stock sizes, $250 per window for custom options

Doors For A Tiny House

tiny house doors

I wanted to try my hand at building my own door and this was one thing that I struggled with immensely.  Even with the help of my Grandfather who is quite a skilled woodworker, we had a tough time building the door.  If I had to do it all over again I’d go with a metal or composite door bought from a manufacturer.

The problem you face with doors is they have to be exceedingly accurate and that is compounded by how wood moves, warps, and twists.  We employed a lot of techniques to stabilized the wood within the door, but in the end my door is still far from perfect.  Do yourself a favor, have a door manufacturer build your door for you.

Estimated Costs: $500 for self built door, $800 for basic manufactured door $1,500 good to high-end manufactured door

Roofing Options For A THOW

tiny house roofing options

The roof is a critical part of a tiny house, it keeps your investment safe from water.  It’s not something to do casually, you need to really nail it or it can spell disaster for you.  For a tiny house on wheels that you might want to move, metal roofing is the only practical option.  I opted for standing seam metal, which is amazing, but a ribbed metal or corrugated metal roof can work too.

The tricky parts of doing a metal roof is in bending all the custom bits to fit your edges, valleys, drip edges, and skylights.  That last one, skylights, are notorious for leaks on any roof, so make sure you follow the manufacture directions, most of them sell kits that cost an arm and a leg, but I’d just bite the bullet on that, it’s that important.

If you’re thinking of asphalt shingles, don’t bother.  They are too heavy and they get torn off while driving down the road.

Estimated Costs: $1,000 for ribbed metal, $2,000 for standing seam

Insulating Your Tiny House

tiny house insulation

Much like windows, insulation is one of those things that you spend a little more and you save each month for years.  The return on your investment is huge, so don’t skimp here.

In the early days I’d suggest a few options like standard fiberglass bats, foam board, and even sheep’s wool.  Now that I’ve been working with tiny houses for over a decade, I see how those options have their failings.  I now unilaterally recommend closed cell spray foam.

The benefits of spray foam are many, but ability to seal your thermal envelope, it’s water resistance, and its ability to prevent condensation issues are leaps ahead of any other option.  Not only that, but it has the highest R value per inch out of any other practical option.

So this is an easy one, go with closed cell spray foam.  If you have a contractor that recommends open cell, send them packing.

Estimated Costs: $3 per square foot for 3 inches thick (R 21)

Lumber To Build Your House

tiny house lumber

This can have a wide range of prices depending on what finish quality you go after, but for your standard framing pieces it’s all about the same.  There are two real buckets of lumber that you’ll need: framing and finish.

Framing for a tiny house will be very affordable, a few hundred dollar, up to about $1000 for the whole house depending on it’s size and any specialized beams like Glue-Lams.  There isn’t much price difference here, with the exception of treated vs untreated lumber.

Finish woods are where you can spend some real money, from a few hundred to a few thousand.  At it’s simplest you could build out your interior cabinets and built ins with MDF which runs about $35 a sheet.  My preference is Birch Ply which runs about $50 a sheet because I can stain it or paint it, it’s a much nicer project.  The only non sheet good products you’ll use is timber beams for your accents and loft framing.  For that I spent about $80 per beam and had 5 of them.

Estimated Cost: $500-$4,000

Flooring Options For Your Tiny House

Flooring Options For Your Tiny House

Flooring is one area that you can look for savings on. You can find reclaimed flooring, you can buy short lots of flooring, and you can even go with a cheap option now and upgrade later.  I’ve even seen people do a finished floor with plywood.

So when it comes to flooring you can really run the gamut depending on the price you want to spend.  For me I went with a solid hardwood maple floor that was about $4 a square foot.

Estimated Cost: $0.50-$8 per square foot

Electrical/Plumbing In A Tiny House

Electrical and Plumbing In A Tiny House

Wiring and plumbing your tiny house can be done pretty affordably if you want to do it yourself, if you need to hire a trades person, then it’s going to cost you.  it’s important to note that by law in many places you need a permit and the work needs to be done by a licensed electrician or plumber.

In my area an electrician costs between $75 and $150 an hour, plumbers are about the same.  For me, what I did was have the electrician do the main breaker panel connection and setup, then I did the rest of the work.  For the plumber, I had everything done and just had him come in and do all my crimps for me and check over my work.

The thing with electrical and plumbing most of the money and the variability in the price is in the labor, the parts are what they are, you’re not going to be able to shop for better prices because they are such a commoditization type of goods.  The copper, brass, etc that makes up the raw materials are what they are.  Figure about $300-$500 in electrical stuff and $300-$500 in plumbing items.  This doesn’t include finished stuff like faucet, shower, etc, just the actual connections.

Estimated Cost: $750-$3,000


I’m lumping in things like your lights, bathtubs, shower stalls, sinks, mounted fans, etc.  You can do this very cheaply outside of the shower, I’ve found that you can only get so low with a simple 32″x32″ shower stall for around $400.  You could technically do it cheaper, but I’ve found they often fail and lead to massive water damage.

Sinks can cost $50 or cost $500, my sink cost me about $225 for a nice stainless steel under mounted sink.  My light fixtures were pretty cheap, a bunch of $10 puck lights and a $80 ceiling fan.

Estimated Cost: $1,000-$5,000

Fasteners And Adhesives

tiny house fasteners and adhesives

This is one category that people always forget to budget for and it’s something you can’t reuse or find second hand.  You need quality fasteners and glues that are new because you need to know exactly what you’re getting for safety sake.  Code also has very specific rules around this.

For me I spend around $1500 for all my nails, screws, metal strapping, glues, and various metal ties.

Estimated Cost: $1,500

Tiny House Costs: Build Vs. Buying From A Builder

build vs buy a tiny house

Here’s the truth, if you want someone to build you a tiny house, it’s going to cost you big time.  Tiny houses came into being because you could save yourself so much money because of two things:  They’re smaller in sized and you could build it yourself.  There is no way around it, having a tiny house builder build you a tiny house will cost more money.

The rule of thumb I tell people is take the cost of the materials and then double it.  About 50%-60% of the cost of a home (tiny or traditional) is in the labor.  So a tiny house that costs $10,000 in materials, will cost about $20,000-$25,000 from a builder.  A tiny house that is $30k in materials, will cost around $60,000-$75,000 for a builder to build it for you.  If you use a builder, make sure to get a contract!

This leads me to the big take away, tiny houses only really make sense if you can build it yourself and the really good news is that I believe literally anyone can build their own tiny house, even if you’ve never build something before.  It’s totally doable and if you want to live in a tiny house, you shouldn’t pay a builder in my opinion, you should build it yourself.

You’ll save a ton of money, learn valuable skills and you know your house will be built right because you did it, not some builder who’s trying to turn out a house each month to earn a profit.

The good news is anyone, yes even you, can build a tiny house.  If you’ve never used a tool in your life, never built anything, if you aren’t that strong or don’t know how… You can build a tiny house.  I put all the info together for you in my book:  How To Build A Tiny House.

Tiny Houses Cost Money, But It’s Worth It

tiny houses worth the effort

When I made the leap to living in a tiny house I was concerned due to how much it was costing me.  But I knew if I could live in my tiny house for 2 years, it would be the same amount as me having paid rent in an apartment in my city.  Now looking back, it’s been over 5 years of living in my tiny house full time and I couldn’t be happier.  With more money in the bank than ever while working less hours, it’s a winning combination.

Since going tiny, I’ve left my corporate job for a better self employment path, I work way less hours, make more money and spend more time with friends, family and traveling.  It’s an amazing lifestyle and it all starts by taking charge of your life and going tiny.

Your Turn!

  • What costs are you considering when it comes to your tiny house?
  • What budget are you working with for a tiny house?
  1. We want to build a tiny house in our backyard. Can we build one without using a trailer ?

    • Great question, we’re thinking the same thing.
      Ryan what are your thoughts?

    • You certainly can, but will need to talk with code enforcement, since it’s a permanent fixed structure.

    • good question michalle

    • I’m sure you could, however a few considerations; would neighbors complain to your city/county building inspectors?
      Could be not so fun…
      If a TH is movable, or even a non-movable temporary structure like a yurt, or it is under 10’x 12’it is legal, 1′
      from lot lines here in the unincorporated area of the CA county I live in. Unless building codes (which change here every 3 years) won’t allow. I am still researching *!*
      Good Luck & Go Small or Not at All

  2. If we buy DIY tiny house kit, where do we find a land for it? Never done RV or Mobile home before, so don’t know where we should put up our house and how to get utilities for it. If we dont want to buy land then what else options are there? We are currently in California. Later if move to lets say some colder region, will we need to do any modifications to Tiny House? Thank you

  3. One of the best articles I have read on tiny house building. I appreciate it. Even if I never get to this point, such good info!! Thank you!

  4. For anyone planning on building a tiny house in a permanent location, I recommend finding a foreclosure on a derelict house and lot, and/or a site that used to have a home but which has been torn down. The utilities are then available without substantial permitting, and the price is often hard to beat.

    • Im glad that I came across this article because I found this great recommendation! Never too old to learn. Thanks ET.

  5. Just what I was looking for!!!! Thank you!!!

  6. Great article. As a senior, a tiny home would be ideal. If I decided to build home myself, where would I find the DIY kits?

  7. This was probably one for he most honest and perfectly broke down try house articles I’ve encountered. Much respect to the author. You clearly know your stuff.

  8. Can I use my veterans benefits for a tiny home? I want to put it in my daughter’s back yard, but I don’t where to begin.

  9. Planning on building a tiny home next year !
    Great article – valuable information.

  10. I’m still reearching.I just bought the trailer with some minimal construction already done to save a little. The guy that was building it out changed his mind.This is good info. I would suggest anyone building whether on a foundation or trailer, find out about building coded regarding your city and county ordinances. Some communities do not allow tiny homes. Seattle is learning some work-around loopholes in their laws if you want to get inspired!

  11. I think would be great forr homeless problem here in fort worth. Tchc think about taking on a project like this but we have to deal with city on this matter but i that this be great if we get to do it and the city would support it

  12. Do you take the wheels off and put on blocks once it’s parked? Just curious if that makes it a “permanent” structure in the eyes of code enforcement even if it’s only going to be there a few months.

  13. Where can I see pics of your house?

  14. Thank so much for rounding out all the cost for building a home. In my search for a total cost. no one talks about where they build and how much it cost to buy land or where they are building it.

  15. Thank you so much for the breakdown of costs to build a tiny home. I’ve dreamt of living

    I currently own a 1997 Sierra 33ft double axle travel trailer. Its fully equipped & ALL work. Hydraulic Slide outs, electrical, LP, plumbing, but a lot of the wood around the edges of the floor, roof & windows is rot.

    I really don’t want to sell it but I’m by myself and have no skills to rebuild & many friends say “dont waist anymore time. Just get rid of it. But I fight with that decision.

    I was able to demo the inside and assess its rotten wood issues but now I am unable physically to do the rebuild repairs.
    But, I am curious

    What could it “really” be worth? Since all the fundamental equipment for a tiny house already exist.

    Wouldn’t it add value to buying just a trailer or having to start fro. Scratch?

    Hoping for some feed back
    Thanks again.

  16. Thank you so much for the breakdown of costs to build a tiny home. I’ve dreamt of living in one for years.

    I currently own a 1997 Sierra 33ft double axle travel trailer. Its fully equipped & every fundamental component works.

    Excellent condition Trailer frame, Hydraulic Slide outs, breaker box & electrical wiring throughout, LP gas, all plumbing, holding tanks,

    But a lot of the wood around the edges of the floor, roof & windows is rot.

    I really don’t want to sell it but I’m by myself and have no skills to rebuild & many friends say “dont waist anymore time. Just get rid of it. But I fight with that decision.

    I was able to demo the inside and assess its rotten wood issues but now I am unable physically to do the rebuild repairs.

    Now I’m curious

    What could it “really” be worth? Since all the fundamental components & utility equipment already exist.

    Wouldn’t it add value to buying just a trailer or having to start fro. Scratch?

    Hoping for some feed back
    Thanks again.

  17. Looking for a builder for tiny house

  18. I am starting a build from an enclosed 52’ trailer. Wondering if I need additional roofing or if the original roofing would work? Any resources you know of for this type of project? Everything I find refers to builds on a flat trailer, not an enclosed one.

  19. I was wondering how much it would cost to do the inside of about 289 sf barn? The shed/barn is already built and it has 2 lofts along with some electrical work done already. It’s basically just the building with no insulation. I’m wanting to turn it into a tiny house but I am trying to figure out about how much the rest will cost. I would like to have a small living area, bathroom and small kitchen

  20. This must have been written befoore covid, double those material numbers and that will be a bit more accurate, now anyhow…hopefully not forever!! Also, depending on where you are, my area, as long as its 200 sq ft or smaller, no permits needed.

  21. I want to buy my own used materials and still have a builder redo my fifthwheel. With the idea that all utilities will be put on my existing utilities. Any reliable builder you know in the state of Maine? Please send any info.

  22. I want to buy my own used materials and still have a builder redo my fifthwheel. With the idea that all utilities will be put on my existing utilities. Any reliable builder you know in the state of Maine? Please send any info.

  23. Hi and thanks for the great article. I’m considering buying property with a home in poor condition on the worst location of a 1.7 acre lot. How far from existing well and septic can I put a tiny house? Thanks for any ideas.

  24. Looking for someone to build us a tiny home in az near flagstaff

  25. A toy hauler RV. Has more room, better quality, more storage, more bathrooms and is designed to travel.

  26. Closed cell foam will work great if you dont mind your teeth rattling and your ears ringing, just from a heavy rain. There is no need to waste money on closed cell. It is twice as expensive as open cell. Open cell prevents condensation but it is not a vapor barrier. So basically as long as you are not using the house as a grow house, or something similar that has constant high humidity, then paying for closed cell is literally throwing your money away for no reason.

  27. Just looking for someone to build me a tiny house now. i sold my home and just down sizing. my husband just passed away and Im starting over. I rent in Littleton,co and have land in Penrose Co but plan to maybe move to Texas to be with family. I just want to buy one (a really nice one with all the bells and whistles) but dont know where to buy a finished one. I need help

  28. Hey Jodi,

    Are you still looking for a builder? My wife and I are Colorado based as well. Email me at if you would like to follow up. Thank you!


  29. I think you did an Excellent job at explaining the breakdown and costs of everything, but you left out the Estimated Costs and materials for the HVAC UNIT? Please get back to me ASAP. I wrote ALL THE INFORMATION down here, but I need the Estimated cost to buy a HVAC and what the estimated cost it will be to install the HVAC UNIT. Thank you very much, Sincerely, Cliff Rowe. I can also be reached at 518-376-0482

  30. I plan on building my own full size single-family home, but I want something we can temporarily live in that we can build faster (like a mother-in-law suite, or tiny house). I came here looking for tips. Some of this don’t apply, like the trailer or metal roofing, because I plan on building it on a foundation and not transport it.

  31. After adding up all rhe cost involved to build a tiny house, I found out that If a person was not skillful or a contractor it would taje one to construct the home a person desired. It would cost a person an average of at least $50,000 to get a tiny home built provided they already had land to put a home on.

  32. I would like to build a tiny house.

  33. Hello, my wife and I are both retired and in our late 60’s on a fixed income. We are looking for a builder of tiny homes that can work with us in building a 400 / 500 S.F. Tiny Home. We do not want it built on a trailer. We are looking for land right now to buy but having no luck so far. Please if there are any tiny house builders in the upstate N.Y. area (Albany) Please drop us an e-mail.

    Sincerely, Cliff R.

  34. Xcellent informative writing skills…. Great sales person Dale Carnegie would be proud of!!!!

  35. I am thinking about buying a 12×34 foot shed. I live in hot Florida what type insulation should I get for ceiling. In LA. you must have a board that starts with t. Sorry saw it several months ago and can’t remember name. It blocks the hest from the sun. Can you help me? How long does it take to build as I have sold my home.

  36. I’m wanting to build a tiny home ,can it be done with a older mobile home frame

  37. I would pay anywhere between $75,000 to $100,000. That’s because look at the savings you will be getting for a tiny house. Save on electric, taxes, heat etc.

  38. Loved the clarity and completeness of this article. My hubby and I are considering a move to Vermont and a tiny house. We are older and I m recovering from a 5-year spate of illnesses, so we will probably have to have most of it built for us, but my husband loves building things.

    Thanks for the gift of your hard work.

  39. Interested in starting a tiny house community for people who suffer from Drug addiction and mental health. Please give me a call. 804 304-3021

  40. Can a tiny home be constructed by connecting two storage using the other methods to make it a functions home. Using your other suggestions to make it safe ?

  41. Hey I’m Jason from Canada.. this web site is amazing. Can you help me with anyone near Okanagan near Kelowna BC or Vancouver BC. On how to do all the things you speak of. I was looking at this place called summit tiny homes in 2018. But the prices are like 159,000-$179,000 it’s insane. My mom passed away in December 2019.. a scammer took her money and she went to get help but the government took her off her medication antidepressants so she jumped 8 stories hotel… My only brother died twice and came back to life.. go figure.. I had my grandmother die in my arms my mom’s mom. Her sons died of cancer. And there dad a stroke. Other side Gramps died and gramma too. No cuzs. Small family.. wife left me because of covid and recession… She turned to bumble.. now lives with some guy… I need a place to live I have the money to build but need help I know a electric person and plumber..I work at a hardware store and could get discount on products… Man I guess all try and ask my owner.. ?? Help if you the web site super intuitive.

  42. Best state to buy 1 acre of land to build tiny house or can i move place to place?

  43. Hi,
    I am interested in building a tiny cabin on my forest property. There is no access to water or electricity. It will be built on an incline in hunting country. Very basic with a small porch and no more than 3 windows, a structure no larger than 200 sq. ft.
    May I ask for your recommendation on what company might provide the best plans for a basic structure like this? I am looking to spend no more than $5000 to $10,000 on materials.
    Thank you,

  44. I am developing a plan for a tiny house community for homeless or under served veterans in Montana. Would appreciate ideas or input.

  45. Update 2023
    Your price predictions are very outdated. Trailers new cost anywhere from $8000 to $22,000. Don’t kid yourself if you think you can do it for under $50000 if buying the trailer new plus the cost of materials have skyrocketed.

  46. Love tiny homes. Trying to find builders is tough in Rhode Island. It is over whelming. Where do I start first. Have the land. Thanks , Diane

  47. Thank you for this great information!! I’m just starting out on my tiny home, off grid life, and this article is packed with the information I needed.

  48. How do you obtain land to place a tiny home on? And, do you offer 3 bedroom tiny homes on one level, meaning no lofts? We live in Maryland, but are interested in living in Virginia.

  49. Hello. Can you tell me what the difference in price might be if I were to have the tiny house on a foundation, as opposed to a trailer? Realistically, I am not going to take the tiny house anywhere, so it does not need to be on wheels. Also, if I did by “prefab”, would that company build the foundation or is that some thing I would have to hire someone to do? Would having a foundation make getting connected to water or sewer or other utilities any different than if it were on a trailer? Thanks so much,

  50. This is a great blog post! I’m considering doing a tiny house and this was really helpful.

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