Exterior of a cost effective Tiny Home produced by Wind River Tiny Homes

How much should my tiny home cost?

How much should my tiny home cost?

When searching for a tiny home builder, it’s a great idea to shop around. But when you start gathering information and quotes, how do you compare pricing? How much should a tiny home cost? The answer to this question is many-sided. This post will discuss the price range you’ll encounter when researching tiny home builders and what you can expect at different investment levels. We’ll also discuss other factors to consider to ensure you’re making an well-informed decision for your investment.

DIY

We’ve all seen the articles. They usually play to the tune of “Tiny home for 10K!” How can someone achieve this? First, to achieve a tiny home at the lowest cost possible, you’ll have to be willing and able to build it yourself. Labor costs are significant, especially if the home is hand-built. By taking on a DIY project, you remove this cost but replace it with a significant investment of your own time. Second, check the date of the article. If the publish date is from 10 years ago, the article should be disregarded altogether. Material costs have changed dramatically since the beginning of the tiny home movement. Furthermore, the materials being used in your most economical tiny homes are certainly not the best or most durable quality. What may seem like a budget-conscious decision in the beginning could end up costing you a lot more in the long run should you need to make repairs or even replace the home.  

If you are comfortable making compromises and taking on the full scope of the build yourself, you may be able to achieve a low-budget build. In today’s climate (2021), a budget of $30K might do the trick for a basic DIY build. 

Hiring a builder

If you decide to look for a builder for your tiny home, you’ll find a wide range of pricing. This is because there are different classes of builders, and it’s good to familiarize yourself with these. The smallest built-to-order tiny homes start at around $60K. A home at this price point will likely require limiting labor hours and making compromises in materials. At the highest price points—$150k and beyond—you’ll find high-end, fully custom builders. These homes will have expensive, one-of-a-kind finishes, but will also require a premium price for labor. 

You may be wondering about the seemingly high square footage price of your average tiny home. Why is it so high in comparison to a foundation home? Remember that square footage price varies from room to room. Large rooms and open spaces will have a cheaper square foot price, while kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms will be much higher. When you downsize into a tiny home, the home still contains all the major systems (which are the most expensive parts of your home). Naturally, the average square foot price increases because the proportion of functional, system-utilized space to open living/bedroom space also increases, dramatically. In addition, it’s no secret that we have experienced unprecedented inflation in lumber prices. Pricing for many other materials—such as electrical components, insulation, and steel—continue to rise as well. Many builders have disclaimers regarding the abnormal pricing climate, and some are erring on the side of caution by building in a pricing buffer to anticipate further increases. Building in the COVID era is expensive, not just for tiny homes, but for all construction. (See this release from the Associated General Contractors of America regarding the continued rise in material costs, as well as issues with supply and transportation.) 

At Wind River, we believe that luxury should be affordable, and that quality should not have to be sacrificed to budget. Our set model offerings allow for customization of color palettes and finishes so that even the budget-conscious can create a home that feels uniquely fit for them. Furthermore, our base models include quality, high-grade materials and finishes—such as spray foam insulation, hand-built interiors, brand-name appliances and fixtures, high-quality composite windows, solid hardwood floors, and custom-built cabinetry—so that you can be confident in the function and longevity of your home. We also offer a collaborative design service for those who want a more custom and hands-on approach. Our standard homes range from $70K for our smaller models to $130K for our larger 38′ models with multiple sleeper areas and 1.5 baths. As we continue to contend with fluctuating material prices, we evaluate cost on a regular basis and offer real-time pricing as the climate modulates.  

How to compare quotes

If you’ve googled tiny home builders near you, you’ve likely discovered that there are dozens of builders in the United States. How do you choose? How do you know that you’re getting a good home at a fair price? When researching builders, make sure you understand what is included in their advertised pricing. Ask for a full list of specs. Any competent builder should have this on hand if it’s not already on their website. Pay attention to whether appliances are included or not and make sure you adjust accordingly for your comparisons. 

Also, understand the quality of the materials in the home. Is it linoleum flooring or hardwood? Particle board or real plywood cabinetry? What does the heating and cooling look like? What kind of hot water heater would you be getting? There are some things we believe should never be compromised. With safety in mind above all, pay special attention to the trailer itself. What are the axles rated for? What gauge is the steel? A high-quality 24’ trailer is several thousand dollars on its own. Beyond that, how is the home insulated? Batt or spray foam insulation? What is the exterior siding material? Interior skins? The bones of your home are important for longevity and durability, and creating an airtight envelope can make a world of difference in comfort and efficiency. For example, having high-grade sheathing and siding paired with closed-cell spray foam insulation and premium double-paned windows all help create an airtight envelope for the home that pays off in more ways than one.

Most importantly, is the home RV certified? The answer to this last question can make a huge difference in being able to park your home where you want. It also lets you know that your new home meets standard safety requirements. 

Finally, research the builder themselves. It’s in your best interest to understand the history of the company you want to build your home. How long have they been in business? How many homes have they built? Are there testimonials available from past customers? If possible, see if you can schedule a tour of their facility to see some of their homes in progress. Perhaps there may even be a build of theirs available for nightly rental in your area. It’s fairly easy to take pretty pictures, but you can feel the quality of a build when you step inside. A tour will also give you the opportunity to meet more of the crew and get a feel for the culture and communication you can expect during the build process. 

Remember that Tiny Homes on Wheels are mobile, so you don’t have to limit your search to builders in your geographical area. We have shipped all across the country and even to Hawaii and Japan. The days your home will spend traveling the highway are few. The days you will spend living in it making memories are what matter, so invest in quality over proximity. Unless you’re in Tennessee, then just click below to get in touch! 😉

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One of our legacy tiny homes, The Pacific Drift, was exported to Japan! Read our post about some of the challenges of shipping a house to another country.

This post features the Penobscot, one of Wind River's legacy builds. Named after the river in Maine, this tiny home is reminiscent of the coastal cottages of Maine.

5 models, 100's of configurations. Your perfect tiny home awaits.

5 models, 100's of configurations. Your perfect tiny home awaits.