Shawn Bronson, a film art director from Pennsylvania, recently built his tiny home. His work takes him around the country, so a home on wheels seemed practical. He also has substantial student loan debt, originally $180,000, now down to $130,000. “[A tiny home] was my answer to having a home while paying off those crazy graduate design school debts,” he said.
Finally, he hated the idea of a mortgage — more debt — and didn’t want a cookie-cutter home. His home is anything but cookie-cutter, but it did run over budget, he said, costing $38,000. He said he could have built it for less if he didn’t use some of the special materials he selected. But his eye for design got the better of him.
Bronson talked about his biggest tiny home surprise expenses, and shared some tips on how potential tiny home builders can avoid them. Read on to see what he said.
1. The Cost of Windows and Doors
Bronson wanted his tiny home to be unique. That meant straying from standard windows and doors. His floor plan called for windows and doors where he wanted them, as opposed to where standard framing dictated. He also wanted a lot of them to open up the confined space.
The surprise: “If I wanted standard windows, I could have gone to Home Depot, spent $2,000 and been done in a day,” Bronson said. Instead, he had to custom-order his modern style casement/awning windows and doors, wait a month and cough up $7,000.
Tiny house tip: Although Bronson is happy with his choice, if you are on any sort of budget, he said going with standard windows would save a lot. If you want to get creative, plan well in advance so you don’t lose time and can get a few bids.
For a period of time, Bronson’s tiny home suffered from an infestation of flies and spiders, thanks to his outdoor location and having to work much of the time with the windows open, he said. “It was really unpleasant, especially when I had family or friends visit the site,” he said.
The surprise: Aside from it being incredibly unpleasant to work while a swarm of flies buzzed around him, Bronson said it also lost him time and money. In the end, he had to spend nearly $50 on products to fumigate his worksite.
Tiny house tip: Make sure you seal up all drains or holes in your structure every time you leave it. If you’ll be away from it for any length of time, set preventive measures, such as insect traps. If possible, build your tiny home in an indoor structure. Finally, budget for a good fumigation before moving in.