10 Tips for Building a Small House on a Budget

9 Tips for Building a Small House on a Budget

In Design by Jeff BarfieldLeave a Comment

So you’re interest in living the tiny life? If you are we bet one of the attracting factors is price. It has become well known within the tiny home community that tiny living comes with a far smaller financial burden than the typical home.

In our previous post covering budget tiny homes for beginners, we outlined six great kits that can help just about anyone build a small house. Even with an affordable kit serving as a starting point, if you’re not careful you may find your project’s cost gets out of hand quickly.

This week we’re taking the concept of building a tiny home on a budget to the next level and sharing nine tips that can save you a small (pun intended) fortune. Keep scrolling to check out nine tips for building a small house on a budget.

Before we dive into the list, we want to be clear that this is not meant to be a guide on where to cut corners. First and foremost you should allow be aware of safety; DO NOT buy material, hardware, or appliances that could put yourself (or your family in danger). Remember nothing is more valuable than your well being, so don’t sacrifice it for a few hundred dollars.

1. Keep Labor Costs Low

Now we are not necessarily saying don’t ask for help, but unless people are offering to help for free, consider doing as much of the work as possible on your own. Skilled labor from a carpenter can get expensive quickly and as the majority of a small home build is straight forward you can save a lot of money here.

If you find yourself unsure of something, hop onto any of the tiny home blogs online and you’ll find a community that is happy to help. You can checkout YouTube for some great how to videos. With all that said there are two areas you’ll probably want some support; electrical wiring and the plumbing.

2. Find Beauty In Second Hand Material

tiny home second hand material

One of the best kept secrets in home building is that second is often just as good (in some cases even better) than new. Talk to contractors in your community to find out if they know any good spots for second hand materials.  Most importantly use your imagination, who knows what that beaten up door or old sink might look like with a little hard work.

3. Classifieds should become one of your best friends.

When contractors order materials for full size homes there is a tendency to over order, meaning that when a project comes to a close there’s often leftover lumber and hardware that’s perfect for your own tiny home build.

The free section on many classified sites are a great resource to track down these extra resources and scoop them up for the best price of all… FREE. Take the time to check back daily and you’ll be amazed at what people are willing to give away.

4. Invest In a Truck

used truck tiny homes

If you don’t already have one you’re definitely going to want to invest in a truck. You’ll quickly come to realize that free material is scooped up quickly and having to wait on a friend or colleague is a frustrating position to be in. Plus if you’re building a THOW (Tiny Home On Wheels) you can use the truck to tow you newly built creation.

If a buying a pickup truck isn’t an option for you a good alternative is a simple flatbed trailer. These will allow you to haul just about anything and can often be resold for about the same price you paid as long you keep them in reasonable shape.

5. Start gathering materials before you begin building

There’s no point in waiting to last minute to get something for your home. The truth is if you see something you like jump on it. If you hold off buying something odds are it’s not going to be there when you want it.

This is especially true for used items, there’s nothing worse than seeing that perfect item pass you by and then being forced to buy new to get something comparable. So you start busting out the tools take a couple minutes and write out a list. Once you’ve checked off every item you can get started on the build..

6. Build a Small House for Your Windows – Not the other Way Around

used windows for a tiny home

A common mistake for home builders is to build the structure then shop around for windows. The problem with this is, windows are expensive and the odds of find a set that perfectly matches your tiny home are slim.

Instead pick out a set of well maintained used windows and plan your structure around them. This way you can avoid buying very expensive custom windows.

7. You can purchase your trailer used

used trailer for tiny home

Spending just a few minutes on line you’ll realize that trailers are constantly changing hands, just keep in mind what we mentioned earlier; Prioritize safety over savings. If you do decide to go the new route and opt for a custom built option, leverage your personal network (family and friends) to find a trustworthy metal fabricator. If you’re lucky you just might get the friends discount.

8. Do not be shy Let Your Friends Know About Your Project.

99% of people love a good project and you’d be surprised how many people are interested in seeing (and helping) a tiny home come together. Including friends in family in the project can be a great way to get a little free labor and often makes the project feel a little more fun.

9. Barter Barter Barter! The Price Can Always Go A Little Lower

Tiny Home Bartering

Bartering can sometimes feel a bit embarrassing but the truth is, it’s the best way to save a little (sometimes a lot) of cash. Always try to bring the price down and don’t be afraid to shop around before committing. Trust us, the more you practice bartering the more you’ll start to like it and it might even come in handy the next time you try to sell something.

So there you have it! Nine simple ways you can bring down the cost of and tiny house build. If you liked this article be sure to check out 6 Budget Tiny Home Designs For Beginners that provides a great starting point for project ideas.

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