3 Inexpensive Methods to Construct Your Own Small House on a Budget Below $12K


One of the major concerns surrounding the construction of tiny houses is their cost. I frequently receive inquiries about this topic, and there’s no escaping the truth: building a tiny house requires financial investment. In my case, the total cost of constructing my house, including materials and labor, amounted to approximately $40,000. While some individuals view this as excessively expensive, I, along with others, believe it is a reasonable expenditure considering the high quality and craftsmanship invested in the space. Initially, comments like this used to irritate me:

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However, over time, I have learned to ignore such remarks. Each person has their own threshold for the level of amenities they desire in their home. Although the price per square foot for a tiny house may seem high to newcomers, it fails to account for the long-term cost savings associated with living in a tiny house compared to a larger dwelling.

Macy Miller: A Low-budget Champion

Her Journey

Macy Miller successfully built her tiny house primarily using recycled and donated materials, with her own labor. She initiated the project by acquiring a used trailer, which helped save a considerable amount of money. In the end, her tiny house was completed with an astonishing budget of only $11,416.16.

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Learning from Macy

Macy’s story is featured in my resource, Tiny House Decisions. During a 40-minute conversation, we discussed her unique decision to use a gooseneck trailer instead of a flatbed, as well as her choice to install radiant flooring in her tiny house. For more inspiration, visit Macy’s website to explore additional photos of her house. You’ll discover numerous ingenious ideas for salvaging materials and constructing a tiny house inexpensively. Personally, I am particularly fond of her recycled pallet siding.

How Macy Saved Money:

  • Utilized donated, sponsored, and salvaged materials
  • Undertook the project through self and volunteer labor
  • Purchased a used trailer

Ethan Van Kooten and Amy Andrews: A Sub-$1K Tiny House Budget

According to an article in the Des Moines Register, two college students, Ethan Van Kooten and Amy Andrews, transformed an old farm outbuilding into an incredibly affordable tiny house, costing a mere $489. It’s essential to note that half of their budget was allocated to plywood for the ceiling. The $489 budget is not typical for a tiny house. Further examination of the article reveals that they, along with other volunteering students, dedicated a total of 500 hours of labor to complete the project. Realistically, your tiny house budget will likely be higher. Nevertheless, their achievement serves as an excellent example of how to construct a tiny house independently. It is worth mentioning that their house lacks basic functionalities such as a water source and composting toilet. Nevertheless, it demonstrates what can be accomplished with minimal expenditure when necessary.

How They Saved Money:

  • Converted an existing farm structure instead of starting from scratch
  • Utilized salvaged materials exclusively
  • Leveraged volunteer labor
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The $7K Tiny Vacation Cabin: Affordable and Feature-Rich

I have intentionally saved this example for last as I believe it strikes a fantastic balance between price and features. Compared to its modest budget, the following cabin is truly impressive. Even more astonishing is the fact that it was built within a mere two weeks!

How They Saved Money:

  • Omitted insulation, limiting its usage to the summer season or warmer climates
  • Constructed the cabin without wheels, eliminating the need for a costly trailer ($3K-$5K)

Prioritizing Expenses and Savings

Contrary to popular belief, it is not advisable to salvage every single component of your tiny house solely to save money. Certain materials should be purchased new for safety and convenience purposes. For instance, I would recommend buying a new trailer and framing lumber. To gain a more in-depth understanding of the materials that can be salvaged without compromising quality, take a look at my article “5 Money-Saving Ideas for your Tiny House (and 3 to Avoid!).”

Want More Inspiration?

I encourage you to follow my Pinterest board, “Tiny Houses On the Cheap,” where I frequently share remarkable examples of how to build your own tiny house on a budget. You’ll find inspiration, budget-friendly approaches, and examples of tiny houses that were completed for far less than they might appear.

Share Your Thoughts!

In the comments section, please let me know what your tiny house budget is and how you determined it.

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