You’ve been hearing about the Tiny house movement for a while now! At first they seemed like a fad, but with the housing market rising with no immediate end in sight, it can be hard to find a place to live when you’re dedicating 1/3 to ½ of your income to putting a roof over your head. Especially for new home buyers! Suddenly, dedicating 15 years of your life to pay for the place you live in doesn’t sound so appealing when 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
One solution is to live smaller, more simply. While Tiny living may not be for everyone, there are lessons that can be learned by living in one helping the average American to escape the cycle of debt in which almost 70% of us are trapped in. With the Tiny Home movement, the concept of living a debt free life is growing thanks to CNN, Huffington Post, Oprah, NBC and PBS to name a few networks that have featured people focusing on another way for people to live their lives. And with sites dedicated to tiny living (like THETINYLIFE.COM) or living The Tiny Life, thousands and thousands of people are flooding to these sites to learn more about Tiny Houses, Life Simplification, Environmental Consciousness, Self Sufficiency, Sound Fiscal Plans, and Life Adventures! Tiny Houses encompasses all of these things!
If these things sound appealing to you, then make sure to add the following things to your list when researching what it will take to build your Tiny House from people who’ve had some experience:
1. Your Time: Building a Tiny House can take the time of a full time job. Many people don’t have the money it takes to build a home all at once, so they build it themselves and spend time sourcing reclaimed materials etc. Time isn’t free and it is valuable, so if you’re spending your time building a house and finding all the materials to do that, other things won’t have your time, so build that into your time frame when planning out how long it will take to complete. Figure around 1000 hours if you hire out help to build, and approximately 3000 hours if you’re going to be reclaiming your materials yourself. Tip: Attend some auctions, you can buy lots from companies that are closing down, keep what you want and sell the rest to pay for other things like a lot or other materials needed. Look for old campers, they have accessories you can re-use like maybe cabinetry, fridge, solar panel batteries etc.
2. 2. Labor Costs: Can be between 40%-60%. There are builders who charge $50K when it only costs $25k in materials. If you break down what it really costs to hire workers, insurance, rent a build site, tools, utilities and a million other things.
3. 3. Consumables: Average costs of the following consumables, $900 on nails, screws, bolts, glue, fasteners, brackets, etc. There’s no way you can get around to buying these things because you can’t really reuse nails, screws or glue. Sometimes you can reclaim bolts for tie downs but you need something sturdy for adequately anchoring your house to the trailers.
4. 4. Tools: Building a house requires more tools than the average set that most people own. If you’re a bargain hunter like the writer of THETINYLIFE.COM blog; you may be able to get them all for around $1,900.00 but, if you’re going to be doing your own welding and metal cutting, you will need the equipment which will add another $400-$800 to your costs.
5. 5. Trailer: You can find used trailers for free or cheap but if you go that route, you’ll want to reinforce it, put a new coat of paint on it, replace the axles and get new tires/wheels. Otherwise you’ll want to build in the budget for a new trailer that can carry between 5,000-10,000 lbs.
6. 6. Appliances: You are going to want to price out different types of kitchens, for example are you going to have a basic kitchen with a container of water and a camp stop on top of a counter, or are you going to have a working sink, hot water tank, and a built in stove with concealed gas lines. Also, are you going to include a heating and cooling system? Some people add a space heater or a window air conditioner to their Tiny House. A mini split system can cost around $1,400 while the budget route solution can cost you between $300-$400.
7. 7. Build Site: Wherever you are going to build whether it be a rented space, or land that you own, you will need either a power hookup (pricey) or a generator that uses gas.
Tiny homes are on trend and seem to pair nicely with the age of Apple minimalism, and the new Denmark way of life (meaning hygge or cozy living). The word “cozy” is no longer an unconventional euphemism but a catchy and desirable phrase, especially in recent Real Estate listings. While “living cozy” seems to be desirable to all those couples seen on HGTV’s Tiny Houses, if you’re not environmentally mindful and are not a restrained consumer there are some not so tiny consequences to living this way and people should be informed when seriously considering building or buying one. So, I feel it only fair to list some of the maybe not so obvious consequences here in this article.
1. Size Matters:
Some of the mainstream shopping locations for household items, such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart and the like, cater to “normal” more spacious living. Why would this be a problem? Well for example, the typical laundry basket sold while it may fit nicely into a closet that you can just close the door and not have to see until laundry day, becomes a very large, space consuming monster when it’s taking up 1-2 feet out of the 500 square ft. or under that you’re now trying to live in (Wikipedia’s definition of a “tiny home”). The most average things visually seem much larger when taking up 0.4% of that space. The average floor lamp towers over your queen size mattress now on the floor, and the average poster now seems more like a wall mural, so make sure you love it! Basic towel holders one might find hanging in a standard sized bathroom, now consumes the entire wall, so you might need to get creative on new ways to hang your towels to dry.
2. Wear and Tear:
Everything that you currently use on a regular basis wears out faster. This is because they are getting used more often because you don’t have other options. What do I mean by this? Well, when you only have a love seat to sit on because you no longer have room for extra chairs, your couch begins to show wear much quicker, or you only have one way to get from your couch to your bathroom, to your coffee maker, so your carpet or flooring now shows a definite used pathway to get to those spaces. Your dishes also get more use, and that means chip and cracks are going to happen. So, I wouldn’t recommend choosing dishes that cost a lot to replace, or using your grandmothers old china that probably can’t be replaced once broken if that matters to you.
3. Smells are magnified:
For example, if you were to burn toast one morning, or if you were to make onion soup from scratch, the actual smell of burnt toast, or onions takes up its own space and you literally can not get away from it, for hours, sometimes weeks! That huge laundry basket we talked about above, now produces its own smells that will cause you to be doing your laundry more often just because the smell of stinky socks, is now taking on a life of its own. And we haven’t even talked about the lovely aroma’s your trash can is generating. You better get use to taking out the trash on a daily basis, so factor that into your daily routine.
4. Resale Value:
Even though the cost to purchase a Tiny Home is substantially much less than a conventional home, reselling your investment at a later time may have a significantly limited re-sale market. If the goal is to save money (-Sue Goodhart, The Goodhart Group at McEnearney Associates), tiny home investors would need to go to areas where land prices are low, which means not located near major commuter routes. It may also require a cash purchase in which case lenders may be more reluctant to lend on a home that small, especially if it is on wheels, says Mike Arman, a retired Florida mortgage broker and real estate agent. Some good news is the demand for smaller homes is rising and those under 500 square feet are appreciating twice as fast as the overall market according to realtor.com which tracks nationwide sales of condos and single family homes. Realtor.com reports that residences under 500 square feet are twice as expensive as other homes nationwide, with the median list per square foot reaching $281 versus $126 for all other homes. The hotter the area, the more expensive the tiny home.
5. Unforeseen Fees:
Your utility installation fees will be exactly the same as for a larger house, and so are your cable and internet fees. The only thing that will most likely be cheaper is your power bill. Property taxes probably could be slightly less as well. Rent for the land you have your tiny home on will have its own fees. Looking into RV lots can give you a good idea of what your monthly rent would be for example, in Lake Guinevere at Washington State’s Skookum Resort, you can get amenities like a lodge with kitchen facilities, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, an indoor pool and private boat launch all included in your monthly rent. Large lot rentals at Lake Pleasant Mobil Home and RV Park in Beaver Washington, can be rented for about $235 per month.
Despite their over glamorized way of living and niche appeal, tiny homes are selling. Last spring was a particularly hot season. According to realtor.com, the median days on market in April reached an all-time low of 110, down 18% from the previous year. That's pretty impressive!