How to Build a Tiny House: The Complete Tiny House Building Checklist


I’ve been asked time and time again for a definitive step-by-step guide to building a tiny house. As someone who’s been through the tiny house building process and walked others through it many times, I’m happy to share this experience with you. I wanted to include a basic outline to show you the steps I took to build my tiny house. It can be an intimidating process at first, but this list should help eliminate some of your worry and confusion.

If you’re seeking tiny house building plans and other specifics, please visit my in-depth review on tiny house building plans before you buy. If you’re considering building, but don’t know where to start, the tiny house building checklist below will give you a full overview of what planning, construction and set up entails. It’s always nice to have an overview before you jump into a project, especially one this in-depth and important.

Building a tiny house is completely doable! You simply need to plan, be open to understanding the process thoroughly, and prepare to learn from others’ mistakes. Chances are you’ll run into a few roadblocks along the way, especially if you’re new to home construction, but it’s a satisfying learning process with great end results!

For a more comprehensive guide, check out: How to Build a Tiny House.

A detailed guide on how to build your own tiny house using any set of plans or your own design. Learn what tools you’ll need, make the right choice with critical decisions, and understand key building techniques.

But first, please read through this step-by-step tiny house checklist to get the scope of the project. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to build your own tiny house.

TINY HOUSE BUILDING CHECKLIST

This tiny house building checklist is broken down into steps by project and stage. While some stages and phases of construction may overlap, I’ve tried to give them in the optimal order. Where appropriate, I’ve included links to posts that expand on each step.

Phase 1: Before You Build Your Tiny House

The planning and brainstorming phase is vitally important to the building process. Of course, logistics, plumbing, solar and other tiny house construction steps are key too, but in the end, it all comes down to taking the time to plan. Set yourself up for success by creating a strong, research-based construction plan, before you even pick up a hammer.

Planning Your Tiny House

Sourcing Tiny House Components

You’ll need to source the following items. Many you may already have these items on hand or be able to trade and barter with friends and family.

Access & Logistics

tiny house trailerThis is the time to think through how to build a tiny house from start to finish. Think through the process starting with how to get your trailer on to the build site and how you’ll get it out if you ever need to move it.  In your mind, play out each step of the build process and see where problems come up or challenges may arise.

  • Consider your larger items. When will you bring in your mattress, appliances, shower stall, toilet, furniture, and so on, if they won’t fit through your front door?
  • Try to time ordering your building materials so they arrive right when you need them and make sure you have the proper supplies and tools to do the job.

Phase 2: How to Build a Tiny House – Construction

Once the planning and logistics phase is complete, you’ll be ready to start construction. If you’ve gone through each of the planning steps carefully you should feel comfortable that you’ve procured tiny house constructioneverything you need for constructing your tiny house (though no matter what you do, you’ll be making trips to the hardware store for this or that). Work out your gaps in the planning phase before you move forward with building your tiny home.

When I built my tiny house, I used the weeknights to plan and research what I was going to do each weekend when I was building.  Thursday night I wrote down a shopping list take with me to the hardware store. Friday night I’d buy the materials and stage them for building the next day. This way when the weekend came, I could get right to work without feeling rushed to figure out plans or making a lot of trips to the store.

Tiny House Trailer

Tiny House Foundation

Tiny House Wall Framing

Tiny House Sheathing

  • Measure & plan panel layout
  • Cut all pieces
  • Allow for 1/8″ expansion gap between sheets of plywood
  • Test fit the sheets
  • Apply glue to all studs: Tiny House Sheathing
  • Tack the sheets in place with a few nails (note: use screws and nails for treated wood)
  • Screw every 3″ on edges of panels
  • Screw every 6″ into studs covered
  • Anchor the plywood to the foundation after the walls are raised

Windows and Door Rough Openings

  • Double check the window dimensions (note: give a little extra allowance)
  • Cut out the window holes, using a Sawzall or plunge router
  • Apply house wrap (WRB), Tyvek or Typar
  • Cut the house wrap, using inverted “Y”
  • Test fit windows
  • Flash window sills at a 5-degree angle
  • Install the windows and shim
  • Tack with a few screws
  • Test window functionality
  • Secure the windows per manufacture recommendations
  • Flash windows, starting at the bottom and working up
  • Leave the bottom edge unsealed for water drainage

Tiny House Roof Framing

Note: If building the Fencl tiny house design, first install loft collar ties and flooring

  • Construct trusses per plans
  • Ensure height stays under 13.5 feet
  • Build headers for rough opening for skylight

Roof Sheathing

  • Plan layout and dimensions
  • Cut boards
  • Glue truss edges
  • Use “H” clips between sheets
  • Secure with ring shank nails and screws

Install Skylights

  • Build frame if using curb mounted (there’s no need to frame with deck mounted)
  • Test fit skylight
  • Install skylight per directions
  • Flash according to directions

Door(s)

  • Frame in the doorframe
  • Build the door or purchase
  • Test fit the door to the frame
  • Shim and secure the door to the frame
  • Consider a temporary plywood door during construction
  • Install the door hardware

Siding

  • Tape the house wrap seams
  • Install the furring strips
  • Paint BOTH sides of siding before putting up
  • Hang the siding

Outside Trim Work

  • Install fascia boards
  • Install drip edge

Roofing

  • Apply ice & water shield
  • Install reflection barrier (need .5″ gap)
  • Install furring strips
  • Install roof per manufacture’s recommendations

Rough Plumbing

Note: This may be an area to consider hiring a professional.

  • Plan drains, inlets, holes in floor, etc.
  • Check for trailer cross beams under trailer
  • Account for vents if needed
  • Account for “P” traps
  • Account for proper slope so water drains well

Rough Electrical

Note: Hiring a professional is highly recommended.

  • Plan out locations of outlets, lights, fans, sockets, etc.
  • Plan locations for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Consider your power usage

Rough Gas Lines

Note: Hiring a professional is highly recommended.

  • Plan out locations needed

Rough HVAC

Note: Hiring a professional is highly recommended.

  • Plan out locations needed

Insulate

Note: ensure your materials and fasteners that come in contact with foam don’t react

  • Install insulation
  • Foam in edges
  • Install vapor barrier to 6-millimeter thickness
  • Ensure your materials and fasteners that come in contact with foam are okay (some react)

Install Major Appliances

  • Water heater
  • Fridge (you may wish to wait till later)
  • Shower
  • Heater

Flooring

  • Follow directions
  • Cover with durable protection layer

Walls

  • Hang wall panels
  • Trim around lights and edges

Kitchen

  • Plan out locations needed for layout and storage
  • Construct a rough frame for cabinets and countertops
  • Install counter top
  • Drop in the stove and connect
  • Drop in the sink and connect
  • Build and install cabinet doors
  • Build in shelving

Bathroom

  • Plan out locations needed for layout
  • Finish the shower stall connections
  • Finish bathroom walls
  • Finish bathroom storage
  • Connect toilet (or build composting unit)
  • Install vent (consider having on timer for whole house air exchange)

Sleeping Loft

  • Install any additional storage
  • Wire in lights and outlets
  • Take a nap, you deserve it!

Main Room

  • Finish HVAC
  • Wire lights and outlets
  • Build any built-in units
  • Finish storage

Phase 3: Celebrate!

tiny house buildingOnce your tiny house buildout is finished (and it’s a BIG job to build a tiny house), it’s time to move and settle in. Fortunately, once you’ve mastered the logistics of how to build a tiny house and finished the building process, moving into your tiny home should be a piece of cake.

  • Clean up debris and surfaces
  • Move into your new tiny home
  • Invite awesome friends who helped
  • Sit back and enjoy!

In Conclusion: Plan Before You Build

As you can see, building a tiny house is an involved, but manageable process. There are many great resources available, including the ones here on The Tiny Life. As you explore how to build a tiny house, really take time up front to do phase 1, thoroughly. Planning is the most vital step. Of course, you can’t plan for every contingency that comes along, but if you’ve prepared as much as possible, the building process will be much smoother.

Your Turn!:

  • What step of the tiny house building seems the most challenging for you?
  • What skills do you need to build before you start building your tiny house?

A detailed guide on how to build your own tiny house using any set of plans or your own design. Learn what tools you’ll need, make the right choice with critical decisions, and understand key building techniques.


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