California

Tiny Home Costs: DIY vs. Builders.

We have all seen the pre-built tiny homes, and a lot of people wonder why the cost of a prebuilt house is so much more than a DIY’er house. In some area’s a normal single family home can cost $300-400k, with most tiny homes coming in at less than $70k dollars. In other more rural areas some can purchase a single family home for $70k dollars. That making those living in more rural areas amazed by the costs of building a tiny home.

Location is key to deciding whether a tiny home is right for you, but budget is the driving factor in deciding whether hiring a builder or doing the build yourself is going to be necessary. Let’s take a moment to compare the two to give you an idea how these cost breakdowns will affect your budget.

Just to give you a glimpse into the cost of building a Tiny House, let me provide some quick stats for a “normal” build from a builder.

  • $3000-8000 Cost of a real good trailer
  • $2800 Windows
  • $400 Single Entry Door
  • $1200 French Doors
  • $3000 Custom Archtop Door!
  • $1000-5000  appliances
  • $800 roofing
  • $3000 lumber, sheathing, etc.
  • $2800 insulation
  • $400 Shower
  • $500 electrical bits
  • $500 plumbing bits
  • $500 lights/fans
  • $1000 Composting Toilet
  • $600 flooring
  • $2000-$5000 interior materials
  • $500 finishes
  • $800 cabinets
  • $6 box of screws. Doesn’t sound like much until you have to buy like 30 of them
  • $45/hr typ. rate for a rough or finish carpenter
  • $20/hr typ. rate for helpers
  • $60/hr typ. rate for a plumber or electrician
  • $30/hr general labor, finish work, trim, etc.

These are but a few of the costs associated with building a Tiny House. In addition a builder is typically going to have associated cost from labor, business expenses, and other overhead expenses. A typical tiny home build usually takes 2-3 months if your build is being worked on roughly 40 hours per week in the process.

Here is an idea of some costs you may be incurring if you’re looking to build yourself.

  • $300 research (Tiny house design and construction guide, layout & plans)
  • $5,000-$8,000 Trailer
  • $350-500 Doors & Windows
  • $2,500 Kitchen cabinets, corner seating and storage stairs.
  • $4,000.00 Roofing + cladding
  • $670.00 Insulation

While costs between a builder and DIY’ing it aren’t much different, you have to take into consideration that you’ll be responsible for all the labor. If you’re not a skilled contractor you may end up spending twice the amount of time than a builder would on the project. While it could take longer, you may be able to control costs if you are to complete the build yourself.

While only you can make the decision that’s right for you, it’s a great idea to so as much research as you can to make sure you’re making the best decision for your project and you pocketbook!

Tiny House Tool strives to accomplish the cost of a DIY with the accuracy and planning of a builder.

California

Tiny House Moving & Storage Tips

First and foremost moving into a tiny home requires a lot of downsizing. The things most people focus on when downsizing are furniture, clothing, and kitchen supplies because those are often the things people struggle with when it comes to downsizing. The downsizing however is inevitable and after time, you may even begin to realize you didn’t need those things a much as you thought. 
 
When it comes to furniture this is where you’ll do the most downsizing, and while some furniture may have sentimental value the reality is bringing it all with you is just not possible. If you really want to incorporate your furniture into your new tiny home, try picking pieces that are multifunctional. Can your table function as a desk and an eating area?
 
Our clothes are often thought to be a big piece of who we are and often reflect our personalities and unique traits. What are you supposed to do when you cannot bring all those items with you on your new journey? If you’ve already decided to go tiny, then you have already come to terms with downsizing in some capacity. Just like with everything else you’re going to have to decide what matters the most to you. A lot of time we don’t even realize how little we use something because we easily get attached to tangible items. So first ask yourself, “How often do i wear this?” If you had some time before your tiny home journey, try taking all of your clothes and turn your hangers in the opposite direction with the hanger looping to the rear of your closet. If after the season is completed you haven’t worn an item, you probably won’t. It is said we can get by with only having 14 pieces of clothing. (not including undergarments) That list is said to include:
 
two jackets (one blazer, one casual)
eight tops (a mix of t-shirts, polos, button-ups, and dress shirts)
two pants (one pair of dress pants, one pair of dark wash denim)
one pair of boots
one pair of  sneakers or tennis shoes
Could you get by with only utilizing 14 items in your closet?
 
When it comes to kitchen supplies we have been taught that there is a tool or gadget for everything, and in reality we hardly use 20% of the items we hold on to in our kitchen. If you’re struggling with pairing down get a shoe box and place it in your kitchen, for a week straight every time you use a utensil put it in the shoe box. After a week you’ll know what utensils you actually use, versus those that are not worth joining you on your new adventure. If there are larger kitchen appliances you cannot part with a try to find ones that have multiple purposes to make the most of your space.
At the end of the day, whatever you don’t take with you can be sold in a yard sale or online. While you may not have the item to take with you, you might have a little extra cash in your pocket, and isn’t that what tiny living is really all about?
California

Creating a Hand Drawn Tiny House Floor plan

If you’ve gotten to a point where you are ready to scale and draw your tiny house floor plan, you are about to embark on another wonderful piece in your tiny house journey. Before you can move forward in hand drawing your plans you’ll need a few tools to help you through the process. To ensure everything is to scale you’ll want to use an  “architectural scale” , which is a specialized ruler used in creating floor plans accurately. The most commonly used scale dimension with architects in the United States is 1/4” = 1’,  so for every 1/4” on a line it represents 1’ in the real world. If you choose to scale your drawing of your tiny house floor plan different, it’s important to note it so that you use the same one during future edits. Another important tool is a high quality mechanical pencil when creating a clean floor plan.

Now we get to the actual work of drawing your plans. You want to start by drawing your exterior walls in your design. this includes the thickness of the interior walls. If you are framing your home with 2×4’s you’ll need to add exterior sheathing which as an extra 1/2” inch on average, and exterior siding which is 3/4” inch on average and an interior wall finish which is 1/2” inch on average. This will add an additional 5 1/4″ inch thickness to your interior walls. Factoring in these dimensions will ensure you’re not exceeding the 8’6″ maximum road width highway standard, which require additional permitting. 

Using your architectural scale and your pencil, and ensure your lines are light enough to be erased if needed. Also, keep in mind how you plan in towing your new tiny home. Are the rear wheel wells exposed on the interior? The more axles you have, the more of your interior you’re at risk of losing due to the wheel wells protruding inside. Also,  if you want to tow your tiny house on wheels will that require any special-use permits for the potential wide-load? Tiny homes and motorhomes are restricted to a total exterior width of 8’ 6″ at the widest point in most states but  gutters, exterior lights, and roof overhangs do count in this measurement.

TinyHouseBasics.com, has shared a tip when accounting for your wheel wells.

“We have a few different formulas to determine the location of the wheels wells. For a 28′ tiny house for example, take the deck length of 28′, divide it in half (= 14′) then add 1 inch for every foot of total deck length (14′ + 28″ = 16′-4″). A triple axle is approximately 9′ long, so the front of the fender is approximately 11′-1o” back from the tongue end, and ends at approximately 20′-10″ from the trailer front. We can modify the location of the fenders to suit any build, but that is the approximate default location, assuming there aren’t unusually heavy items that need to be placed in the tiny house.”
The next step is drawing your interior partition walls, just like exterior walls you’ll need to adjust for thickness of the material you’re using. If you’re building in stairs to a loft you’ll also want to keep that in consideration when drawing out your interior walls. This is important because as you begin to add in the doors and windows you’ll need to ensure your placement won’t be affected by the loft or the staircase. Keep in mind you’ll need to account for gaps in your doors and windows. If the doors are not pocket doors you’ll need to account for the rough space they will take up when opening and closing. for the windows consider the height and the placement you’ll need for your preferred view as well as overall design.

Once your windows and doors have their permanent homes you can begin to think about cabinetry and how to position your appliances in your space. By now you should have done all the research on the dimensions for your appliances. Utilize those dimensions to accurately depict the placement. For some additional help you can create scaled cut outs of your appliances and place them in the space to help with a more realistic feel of what your space would look like. You can also use this same process for your furniture to see how it all lays out in your space. When you get to a place where you feel comfortable you can draw you exterior lines with darker pencil to make them more solid if you don’t intend on making any other changes. At this point you can also account for any electrical that needs to be added. Are you adding in a heater, a water filtration system, or even basic electrical? That needs to be laid out in advance. You’ll need to create a light fixture plan and add those details into your layout.

If you have decided to add a loft to your tiny home you can put a piece of tracing paper to lay over the bottom half of you tiny home, or you can create a new layout on paper. You may have already taken into account clearance or your loft stairs or ladder, but it’s good to ensure those stairs meet building code or building standards before moving forward.

Remember not to get too hung up on the details and give yourself space from drawing your plans if you are having a hard time. Some time away from you plans can help you see them from a different perspective the next time around. Once you have something you feel comfortable with and are ready to move forward you’ll need to find someone to turn it into digital form, or find a software you can use to create your own digital copy.  Just remember to take your time and enjoy the process!

California

Creating a Tiny House Floor Plan

Designing your perfect tiny home can be the most exciting part of starting your tiny home journey. As exciting as the design process is, it will still take a lot of planning and execution to make sure your space is functional for you and your family. Functionality can sometimes outweigh the actual design as living in half the square footage you once did requires lots of creativity. We have learned a lot and during the process we have learned to make adjustments and be quick on our toes! Our hope is to help you start the process of creating the layout for your future tiny house.

The beginning of any great tiny house design is to start with your tiny house floor plan. Creating your tiny house floor plan by hand can be a really rewarding and creative process. This will be  the stage when you get to finally transform all your wishes and dreams into an actual visual representation of your dream tiny house. You’ll need focus on creating a tiny house interior that really fits all your families needs.

The first step is to write down all your wants and needs, and sort through what you can live without. Tiny home living takes compromise, so you may decide a full size fridge is essential but you can live with a smaller bathroom. Take the list you made of must have items and or uses and group them together. For example, you may have designated a workspace and an eating area are important to you, and you may be able to utilize the same counter space to allow you to do both. Can your guest room and your lounge area use the same space for better functionality? Next draw out the layout of your tiny home, and on post its write down your grouped must haves together and place them within the layout. Start playing around with their location in relationship with each other. Are you comfortable with your kitchen next to your bathroom? Visualize yourself walking through each proposed scenario and focus on making the flow as efficient and comfortable as possible. Are you able to easily move from area to area? Once you feel comfortable with the overall layout of what area will go where, you’re ready to convert some of these findings into answering the question of what size is best for you. 

Before you can move forward with creating a tiny house floor plan design, you’ll need to figure out what dimensions you’ll  be working with. Keep in mind these dimensions can change so to be flexible here, but this is the time to choose a dimension and explore the functionality of the space. When deciding on what dimensions will work for you, there are some additional things to conder. Larger tiny houses cost more to build, are harder to tow, and require larger vehicles to pull them. It’s key to remember bigger is most certainly not better in a tiny house so we recommend it be thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of yourself and the people who will be living in the space.

Once you have an idea of your ideal layout, you can utilize online sites to gather dimensions and weights on all if your dream appliances. Places like Home Depot, and Ikea are great places to start. Keep in mind you’ll want to get the weight and dimensions of the cabinetry pieces, bathroom components, and possible furniture you may want to add into your tiny home.  Floor plans are meant to provide a visual representation of the interior of the house from a bird’s eye vantage point and should always be drawn to “scale” or as proportionally accurate as possible. The easiest way to produce a house interior design floor plan to scale is by using an “architectural scale” which is a specialized ruler. The most commonly used scale dimension in American architecture is 1/4” = 1’, meaning that every 1/4” on a line represents 1’ in the real world. Whatever scale you draw your tiny house floor plan to, be sure to note it down so that you use the same one during future edits. A high quality mechanical pencil is also recommended for creating a clean floor plan as well.

Your tiny house floor plan design will serve as the foundation for your entire tiny house interior design so the time you invest into this process will reward you with a reduction in headaches and questions down the line. Once it’s all done, if you want, you can hire someone to turn it into digital form or do it yourself with some of the software that’s out there. Take your time with this process and remember that the more detailed information you have before going into creating your interior design floor plan, the easier time you’ll have in creating your floor plan.