7 Ways To Save Money Building A Tiny House

  • by John Smith
  • Oct 15,2020

Building a Tiny HousePhoto Credit: FairCompanies / Flickr

Just because it’s a tiny house doesn’t mean building one won’t come with a considerable price tag. While they’re definitely a lot more affordable than their more sizable compatriots, tiny houses are still homes and building them is never cheap. However, if you know what you’re doing, it’s not difficult to find a number of ways you can save money building a tiny house.

1. Measure Twice, Cut Once

Although the advice below will certainly help, it’s no substitute for poor planning. Building a tiny house is going to be a lot of work, meaning you want to have every step planned, in detail, long before you begin. This includes the money you’ll need, when you’ll need it by, the tools involved, the materials you’ll use and more.

2. Look for Recycled Materials

Recycled materials are a great place to start when you’re looking for items to build a tiny house with. Though a green lifestyle isn’t always part of the reason people get into tiny houses, minimalism and the idea of cutting down on waste usually are. Using recycled objects, then, makes a lot of sense.

On top of that, by their very nature, they don’t cost a thing. The more recycled materials you use to make your tiny house, then, the better off you’ll be as far as your budget is concerned.

The Habitat ReStore

The other great benefit that comes with using recycled materials is that there are countless ways to find them. Common places you can find recycled materials for your tiny house include:

  • The Habitat ReStore (run by Habitat for Humanity)
  • Junkyards
  • Rummage Sales
  • Flea Markets
  • Any Structure Due for Demolition
  • People You Know

Don’t discount this last option either. People you know may have all sorts of materials you could recycle by using them on your home. Thanks to social media, it should also be fairly easy to get a hold of friends and family all at once.

3. Try Craigslist and Freecycle

Along the same lines, never forget about Craigslist. People are constantly selling everything from materials to tools to anything else you could need at far less than what they originally cost. There’s also a section on Craigslist where people are giving away items for free.


The Freecycle Network functions much the same way, however everything offered on here is free. You can even put a “wanted” ad and inquire if anybody in your area has what you’re looking for, and is willing to give it away at no cost.

You may need to be patient before an especially generous deal is offered, but so long as you’re planning early enough, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. Also, make sure you look for the things you need in other cities as well. Considering how much you can save, it may definitely be worth driving an hour or two in order to gain necessary materials.

4. Rent the Tools You Need

Obviously, to build a tiny house, you’re going to need an assortment of tools. While it’s good to have a number on hand, in case you need to do repairs or basic maintenance in the future, many of the tools you need to build your house will become obsolete once the project is over.

If this is the case for you, then you can save money by renting the ones you’ll no longer need when it’s all over. Big box stores and other operations will have everything you need and will rent them to you at a fraction of the amount it would cost to buy these soon-to-be-unnecessary items.

5. Handle the Designs on Your Own

Many people have a professional design their tiny house for them. They hire an architect or someone else who has experience in this industry. However, this also means a lot of extra overhead you may not be able to afford.

Fortunately, many people have built their own homes without the help of professionals. Software like Google Sketchup, ProArchitect, and others can all make the process of designing your dream tiny house extremely easy. There are also a number of online tutorials to assist you in using the software too, making the whole process easier still.

After you think you’ve completed your blueprint, you can always have a professional architect look them over for you, just in case. Their expertise in this scenario will cost you far less as well.

6. Build Some of the House Yourself

Tiny House Construction
photo credit

If you felt intimidated by the prospect of designing your own tiny house, the idea of building even part of it yourself may seem impossible. However, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this now and then pulling it off later.

In 2013, a documentary called “TINY: A Story About Living Small” followed a man named Christopher Smith as he built his own tiny house. Like many of you perhaps, Smith had never built anything in his entire life. Again, Smith is just one of a number of people who built at least part of the tiny house they now live in. Aside from saving money, taking on part of the build will also help you maintain the structure as you gain a better understanding of how it works and what certain repairs will take.

While the documentary will definitely serve as inspiration, you can find workshops, meetups and all kinds of online resources dedicated to helping you gain the knowledge you’ll actually need to complete your house. There are also countless other videos and books that detail non-tiny house specifics like wiring, plumbing, installing floors, etc.

7. Shop Around

Whether you’ve decided on hiring someone else for the build or you know you’ll need some help along the way, be sure you shop around for the people you hire. One of the luxuries of many tiny houses is that they sit on a trailer and are easily made mobile. If this is the kind of home you plan on owning, there’s no limit to where you could go to have yours built. Drive to wherever the most affordable builder is and have them get to work on the trailer, instead of simply assuming a local professional is your only option.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your tiny house will come with an equally tiny bill. While it will certainly save you money in the long run, you’re going to need a sizable budget to actually build the thing. However, with enough planning and the above advice, most people will be able to afford their own tiny house.

Related Articles