Just like the name implies, a tiny house is a small residence of only 100–400 sq ft. Such tiny dwellings can be built on a variety of surfaces — foundations, trailers, and even boats!
These petite homes are very popular among millennials, and they have a reputation for being a more sustainable (and budget-friendly!) option than traditional housing.
Let’s see if that’s true.
How Much Is a Tiny House?
On average, a tiny house costs around $45,000 in the US (the prices typically range from $40,000 to $80,000). The aforementioned prices don’t include furnishings, building permits, appliances, or connections to utilities.
Tiny House Prices — What You Should Know
Let’s take a deeper dive into everything that contributes to the price of a tiny house and see whether this accommodation is worth the investment.
1. The price of tiny houses depends on various factors.
Some of the most important factors include:
- The house size
- The house type
- Building materials
2. Size is the deciding factor when it comes to price.
Expectedly, size dictates how much land and material you’ll need, as well as the amount of taxes you’ll have to pay.
4. Prefabricated tiny houses cost $200–$250 per sq ft.
So, if you’re modest when it comes to amenities, size, and other essential features, you can purchase a tiny house for as little as $8,000.
On the other hand, custom-made tiny houses are more expensive and cost $250–$400 per sq ft. So, a custom-made 400 sq ft three-bedroom stationary tiny house would cost anywhere from $60,000 to $160,000.
5. The prices of tiny prefabricated houses can go up to $125,000.
Two-bedroom prefab homes cost between $50,000 and $125,000 (the custom ones sell for a bit higher — $62,500–$200,000). This price range is for tiny houses not larger than 500 sq ft and not smaller than 250 sq ft.
6. Labor constitutes 50%–60% of building costs.
Tiny houses aren’t much easier to build than regular homes. Estimations show that it can take about five months for two people to build an average-sized tiny house — 800 men hours in total. So, one person alone can spend an entire year building a tiny house!
7. DIYing a tiny house can cut $10,000 off your building costs.
If you’re a well-seasoned DIY-er, you may expect to spend $12,000–$35,000 on your tiny home, which is much less than you what you’d spend if you hired experienced builders.
Tiny House Price Estimates per Type
There are two types of small homes:
Movable tiny houses are usually built on trailers and can be moved from one location to another. Permanent tiny homes, on the other hand, are built on foundations, just like regular homes.
Regardless of the type, you’ll save big bucks if you choose a tiny home, especially if you compare the figures with the cost of building an average full-sized house in the US.
Here are the details:
8. Tiny houses on wheels are more affordable than those built on foundations.
Besides a flexible lifestyle, another big advantage of small mobile houses is that they don’t require buying land or building permits (the laws about this vary from state to state, so it doesn’t hurt to check your local laws about permits for building houses on wheels).
Remember, these things alone can spike the price up by thousands of dollars.
A tiny house on wheels costs between $60,000 and $80,000, whereas the average price of tiny homes built on foundations is between $35,000 to $68,000 (land price excluded).
9. Wheels and foundations add up to $9,000 to the cost of a tiny house.
Most owners of tiny houses on wheels pay anywhere from $4,500 to $9,000 for a sturdy trailer for their tiny house. It’s good to know that building a foundation would cost you almost as much, as foundations typically add $5,000 to $8,000 to the final bill.
10. Building materials for a tiny house may cost you roughly $14,000–$55,000.
On average, a tiny house–building kit (which includes all materials needed for you to build your tiny home) will cost you $12,000 to $35,000.
Bear in mind that prefabricated kits are usually cheaper than custom-made ones and that you’ll also need to set aside some money for the tools as well if you don’t already have them.
11. The cost of a tiny house is largely location-dependent.
For tiny stationary houses, location is a big price factor. Paying for utility hookups (e.g., electricity, sewage, etc.) in rural areas won’t cost you as much as in an urban area. Another thing that’s pretty much location-dependent is the price of the land and the cost of labor.
12. Georgia is the most tiny-house-favorable state in the US when it comes to tiny home prices.
The average price of tiny houses in that state amount to about $43,819.
Other states in which you can find cheap tiny homes include Colorado (the prices fall within the national average price range of $40,000 and $60,000) and Texas (where tiny houses cost about $48,120).
Tiny homes typically cost $33,000–$85,000 in Carolina. And if you want to settle down in California, you’ll have to set aside more money — $350 to $450 per sq ft.
13. Frequent repairs add to the tiny home cost.
Maintaining a tiny house on wheels will cost you more than a stationary house due to the frequent damage to moving parts caused by wear and tear. Owners of tiny mobile homes should regularly repair and take care of things like axles, brakes, and wheels.
On the other hand, a tiny stationary house can go 20–30 years with no need for major repairs.
14. Living in a tiny house will enable you to spend 93% less energy than living in a conventional house.
You’ll love your utility bills once you switch to a tiny house lifestyle. Energy savings will be huge, mostly due to the space being smaller, better insulation, and well-thought-through interior design.
Needless to say, both heating and cooling are more budget-friendly. So, it’s no wonder that a whopping 63% of millennials would consider buying a tiny house.
If you don’t mind scaling down on available space and storage, living in a budget-friendly tiny house could leave a hefty sum of cash in your pocket. Tiny houses also take less time to build than conventional houses and enable you to lead a highly flexible lifestyle.
Is it cheaper to build or buy a tiny house?
It’s definitively cheaper to build a tiny house than to purchase one. For those experienced in building projects, the difference can reach up to a whopping $10,000. However, a tiny house isn’t easy to build. It takes a whole year for a single builder to finish building one.
Is living in a tiny house cheaper?
Building, maintaining, and living in tiny houses cost less than living in conventional housing. Therefore, tiny houses are an excellent money-saving option for those that aren’t space-greedy.
According to data from Business Insider, living in a tiny house can cost you less than $1,000 per month.
How long do tiny homes last?
A tiny stationary home can last about 20–30 years with no major problems or needs to repair. The usual lifespan of tiny homes is 30–50 years with regular maintenance.
Movable tiny homes are more delicate due to vibrations during movement.
Are tiny homes worth it?
You can definitely break free from the restraining chains of a mortgage by living in a tiny house. But you have to bear in mind that the resale value of these tiny dwellings is very flimsy. The more space-saving customizations you make, the harder the house will be to sell.
And the value of mobile dwellings depreciates quite fast.
All-in-all, most tiny house owners will be able to save a lot, but they shouldn’t count on returning the investment once they decide to sell.