To Build Or Buy A Tiny House – Experts Share Their Advice

I sat down with the top tiny house experts to ask them a bunch of questions, today I am sharing their responses to the question: “What advice would you give to someone trying to figure out weather to build a tiny house or buy from a builder?” The question weather to strap on a tool belt and build your own tiny house or hire a tiny house builder is a tough one. Hopefully thoughts from those who’ve been there can help.


Can you afford to buy? If not I’m certain you can acquire the skills to build!


Focus your due diligence around money and time. Building yourself will cost less money and LOTS of time. Having one built for you will cost more money and much less time. Which is more important to you? Where does your gumption lean towards, spending time or money, saving time or money?


If building, ask for help and hire help for stuff like the electrical work at the very least. If buying, really do your homework on the builder you choose. There are so many new builders popping up each day and many are in it for the money and nothing else. Make sure you really get to know your builder and talk to people who they have built for in the past. If there are any red flags, find someone else.


It really functions on budget and time.  I’m convinced that almost anyone can build a tiny house themselves with enough time and hard work.  A tiny house that is built by someone else is going to cost 2 to 3 times more than a DIY tiny house. Understand that when you hire a builder, they have to pay the wages of staff, tools, overhead, insurance etc.  If you do go with a builder, make sure you have a very solid contract in place.


I would say, look at your reasons for doing this, and what kind of tiny house market is in your area. If it’s about simplifying your life and reconnecting, it could go either way, you could build or buy. If you are in a location like NC, where several tiny house companies provide some pretty great options, and you have the budget, then buy. If it’s about financial freedom, independence, self-reliance…I absolutely recommend you take on the build!


IF you have the time, the space, and the knowledge that you WILL make mistakes along the way, and that the build will take AT LEAST twice as long as you think it will, do the DIY route- you’ll then have a chance to craft the house to your specific needs, and will addition know you home inside and out, when it comes to future fixes, tweaks, or needs.


Building one takes FOREVER. Like way longer than you think. And then longer than that. No, really (mine took me 13 months). But it is also extremely gratifying. Buying is of course more expensive and you typically get less opportunity to make changes along the way if you come up with new ideas, but it is faster and the logistics are someone else’s responsibility. If you’re physically unable (or unwilling), don’t have the time, or are the kind of person who has trouble finishing projects, buying is a great option.


Decide if you have 800+ hours to devote to building your own tiny house, and also decide whether your body can handle 800 hours of hard labor.


Time is money. If you don’t currently have employment and have a lot of free time and the desire to DYI, then a self build is a no-brainer. The decision becomes murkier if you do have a paying job because your time away from your work will obviously mean a decrease in pay assuming all other aspects remain the same.


Consider the time, money and resources it takes to build a Tiny House versus buy one. It’s a commitment, and you need to be passionate.


Make sure everyone is on board before you start. If you have a partner who is uncertain about tiny living, you need to have a longer conversation about it. If you think you can “convince” someone to live tiny, you can’t.


DIY, you are capable even though you may not feel that way. You can learn the things you don’t know. You don’t have to know how to do everything, just know how to find answers.


Take a class or work with someone to get an idea of what construction is all about. This is a house and it needs to be built correctly and if you don’t have the skills it is better to hire someone who has them.


Would you put your mom in a house that you built? Would it be safe enough for even your mother? If not, buy one that is.


A very special thanks to the folks who participated:

Your Turn!

  • What tipped you in favor or building or buying?
  1. So am still wondering if there are any established tiny house communities where one can build or buy in North Carolina or New York / New England?

  2. Oh boy- second correction!!!

  3. Saving money was my main motivation for DIY building. It is also great fun to watch the progress and take pictures!!

  4. I’d love to build it myself but how can that happen if I am working a full time job that sometimes goes through late evening? That is my issue. Also, the paranoia that the house I built might collapse on me is terrifying. I’d like to go the route of paying a company to build the frame and i finish the interior.

  5. I work in a heavy metal construction where we remodel Storage Containers into Mobile Showrooms for Fortune 500 companies. I have the skills to build and would love to go the Storage Container route, however, I am much too busy with work to even fathom something like this at this time. I have even come up with some pretty cool designs and have all of the Sub-Contractors for the things I am not as knowledgeable about. I just can’t come up with the time or the space to put such a project. My Tiny House design is not so Tiny though. I am thinking more along the lines of around 400-600 square feet. Another problem I have faced is where to build. I would prefer something in the country, however, building permits and all of the legalities regarding such a home have put the road block on as well.

  6. I think the best advice given on here is Deeks when he says “You will make mistakes” and it will take TWICE as long. I lucked out with Tiny House Nation building mine but even before it got to that I made plenty of mistakes early on. I was also able to tell early on my timeline was WAY OFF and much more time would have been needed if I completed it myself. great article.

  7. Since I have a lot of knowledge (and a lot of what I don’t know will be covered by family members) and I plan on living at my dad’s house with my girlfriend while we make it happen, the DIY route seems obvious to me.
    We are taking our time, planning everything ahead, down to how many PMP we will be needing to build the structure.
    I think building it yourself makes a lot of sense when going down that route. Simplifying your lifestyle, growing your knowledge.
    It is much easier than you might think, yet don’t take it lightly.

  8. The worst thing about tiny houses is no head room in
    the sleeping loft !

    To remedy that – the roof of the loft should be built
    so it can expand up when needed – just like the walls
    of some trailers can expand out .

    You’re welcome !

    • Yep low headroom is a problem, but making the roof so that it’s able to lift is almost not feasible

      Making the loft so that it can lower is feasible though
      Here is one way to do that:


  9. I really wanted a hand in building my tiny house. I love a project! But I also know that I can get overwhelmed by so much information and that I have physical limitations. After agonizing over the decision for a few years, I found the workshop At Incredible Tiny Homes. They used my design to frame and wrap the house. Then I spent a week, with the help of some lovely people, finishing the house. You can decide how much help you will need and the price reflects that. It’s hard work but I don’t regret my decision at all. We all stayed in the bunkhouse together, sweated together in the warehouse, and soaked our aching feet together in the kiddie pool! It was a life-changing experience.

    • Cheryl, I am so happy you wrote such a glowing review of ITH! I decided about a year ago that I liked them the best and I’d like them to build my tiny home. With any builder there will be satisfied and unsatisfied customers so I do get push back about ITH, wood vs. metal framing bumper pull vs. gooseneck and the list goes on. I too would have my home built for me at the very least to a dried in shell with power and plumbing. The rest I could do with the help of my family.
      Thanks again!

  10. Weather vs. Whether

  11. lol

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