We’ve compiled some essential first steps for you DIY-ers to help you along the way.
There are two stages to building a tiny house: 1. before you build, and 2. construction. Let’s take a closer look.
Stage 1-Before you Build a Tiny House
This is a very crucial part of the building process. You wouldn’t buy a truckload of lumber, invite some friends over on a Sunday afternoon and start to build a 3-bedroom rancher. Ideally, you would have a plan and some blueprints (or equivalent). When it comes to building a tiny house we recommend these same action steps, that way you can avoid pitfalls and have a fairly smooth ride as you embark on this very important task, one that could take you more than one thousand hours to complete, and requires a financial investment as well.
First and foremost you need to consider your budget. Your budget will determine whether you choose to DIY, consult with a builder, or customize a pre-made model or shell. It will help you make informed decisions about appliances, features and the like.
From there ask yourself- what you will be using your tiny house for? This makes all the difference when choosing the right plans. Will your family be expanding? Are you using it for senior living? Will it be on wheels? Will it be off-grid? Knowing the answers to these questions could save you a lot of extra work and money in the long-run and ensure that once you move into your tiny house you won’t need to move out.
Isabella Mori of North Vancouver, British Columbia was tired of rent increases and decided to build a tiny house. She chose to hire a builder to custom build her 186 sq. ft. house on wheels. It took eight months and $39,000 and includes multifunctional spaces and collapsible furnishings. By hiring a builder, she avoided the risks involved in figuring it all out herself and perhaps learning some lessons the hard way. We think that hiring a builder is a great option.
For those who choose to work from tiny house building plans (with or without a builder), it’s important to know what to look for in tiny house plans.
And if you’re opting to work with a builder- the same applies: Choose a reputable company to purchase plans from, or a builder who has experience with tiny houses. Make sure you get testimonials or references. Make sure your builder is licensed. If your purchasing plans you should do so from a company that offers support, whether it be through additional resources or email or phone assistance. Finally, builders or building plans should be able to accommodate your needs. After all, this is your tiny house. You should feel free to customize your space without push-back from your builder and without costly changes to your plans. Always make sure the plans you purchase are flexible enough to welcome change.
Now that you have the budget and the building part figured out (smartie pants!), you want to ask yourself some more questions. The next one we suggest is- do you have a site for your tiny house? The site will help determine what type of appliances and hook-ups you will need for your tiny house.
Also, have you researched the zoning laws in the area you’re thinking of? Are you considering a friends place, a land share or an RV park, or do you own a property already?
These are all important questions to answer.
Brittany Yunker had a dream to build a house for herself. She attended a workshop where she met experts, learned the ins and outs of building a tiny house and five months later she had her own tiny house on wheels.
This is the second stage in the tiny house building process and applies to those of you who have decided to do-it-yourself. We suggest that you refer to The Tiny Life for their checklist of construction steps that range from foundation to skylight installation.
Are you still on the fence about your decision to dust off your hammer and take a swing at building your own tiny house? For that extra nudge we’ve highlighted the cost benefits below in a comparison of how much it would cost to build your own tiny house using Tumbleweed plans versus ordering the same tiny house ready-made from Tumbleweed.
The cost of building your own tiny house doesn’t have to be fixed. Feel free to get creative and use reclaimed or repurposed materials.
Remember that the tiny house community is an open community of people who value the tiny house lifestyle and want to share their experiences to make your build as easy as it can be. Connect with as many tiny house people you can through online forums, conventions, or workshops.