You aren’t alone if you are dreaming about a tiny home. One part of the attraction is living a more minimalist lifestyle that has less impact on the environment. But an even bigger allure for some is the affordability factor.
At the end of 2015, the average sales price on a new home in the U.S. was nearly $375K. With the census showing the average American family income declining for the past three years, it’s no wonder tiny homes are becoming more appealing. As Americans continue to look for ways to shrink their environmental footprint and fill up their piggy banks, we thought we would put together a quick 101 on how to build a tiny home on a tiny budget.
Don’t Skimp on the Important Stuff
To be clear, this is not meant as a guide for how to cut corners. Any seasoned tiny home builder will tell you that it’s critical not to go cheap on certain aspects, because compromising the safety and structural integrity of your home will not be worth it in the long term. For a safe, happy home for you and your family, here are a few places not to be tight-fisted.
Tiny home builder, Portland Alternative Dwellings, emphasizes to its customers not to buy a used trailer. “We strongly recommend starting with a new trailer that’s designed for a tiny house. Although a used trailer will be cheaper upfront, a new trailer often ends up being the better bargain in the end both economically and psychologically.”
Window Panes: The Department of Energy says that windows can account for ten to 25 percent of one’s heating bill by allowing heat to escape. That’s why aspiring tiny home builders shouldn’t pinch pennies on second-hand single window panes, as this will end up costing you more on cooling and heating bills. New energy efficient storm windows or double pane windows with high performance glass will prove to be a better return on investment in the long run. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when shopping for windows.
Framing: Making sure the foundation and framework of your tiny home is structurally sound is of the utmost important. As much as it may pain you to buy new materials for that phase of construction, just bite the bullet on this one. You can use that beautiful piece of salvaged lumber you have for other parts of your tiny home that are more aesthetic and won’t have you worrying whether the whole thing will come crashing down.
Do It Yourself
Labor is hands down the biggest expense. So the most obvious way to save money on a tiny home is by building it yourself, rather than paying a builder to do it for you. The DIY approach means you’ve got to get comfortable asking for help. Family and close friends are the best place to start.
Trade for Services
If you feel weird just asking for help without offering anything in return, offer to barter with people for services on your tiny home. Plus, let’s face it, we aren’t all cut out to be carpenters, electricians or plumbers. Put your resourceful “networking” cap on and think about folks in your community, group of friends, family or co-workers with whom you might be able to trade services.
Perhaps you have some fancy web design skills and can do a few hours of web design for your pal in exchange for a few hours of manual labor on your tiny home. You could also offer your skills online at Task Rabbit to earn some extra cash, or search for a decently priced handyman there to do any of the odd jobs on your tiny home that you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself.