Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Build a Tiny house on wheels, BAD Credit and Hardly any Savings

I received this Question in my inbox Yesterday:


"I don't own any land but I just wanted to ask how it is living in a lil cabin? Does it cost a lot just to have it hooked up gas sewer or water and cost for renting land? I'm looking to live cheaply, did it cost a lot to but that cabin? Thanks :)"







My Answer:



Hi There,

First of all, I love living in our tiny home. For my family it is super comfortable, and we are constantly finding new ways to save space. Everyday I see more of the benefits to living small.Our cabin is 85 sq ft with a loft. 

By Not renting an apartment, and only renting a piece of land for $200 a month, we save $9,300 per year. But that savings doesn't start until you have a dry structure to move into. To build your structure plan to save about $4,000. Then your first step should be finding a suitable Tandem Axel trailer, if you can keep the cost of the trailer down, It makes starting a whole lot easier.


If you know a friend or relative that will let you store your big finds as you collect them, you can cut prices by shopping around and waiting for the best deals.

Getting Started:

We payed:
$1800 for the Big Tex Trailer.
$1200 labor for the shell to be put up.
$800 supplies. [wood bought new, windows and original door were craigslist steals]


We finished the house to this point, and let it sit for about 6 months until June arrived. We moved the Tinyhouse to a piece of property out here in Chugiak, and moved in.

It was literally a shed on wheels. But it had a roof and walls and kept us dry so we could move out of our apartment and save up the capital to continue working on it. 

Minimum needed to be Winter ready:


Before winter it is essential to have power to your house, at least some insulation [but you should aim to have your house insulated completely for comfort and cost effectiveness], and a good reliable heat source. our first year we bit off more than we could chew and ended up having to insulate with cardboard. Yikes!

We payed:

$1800 for Electric [The contractors never returned to finish the DC installation, price should be less for just Electric]
$1400 for our Toyo Laser 30
$65 for our barrel
$35 estimated in other parts and fixing leaks.

We have lived in our home for over a year now, and have put in about $12,000. This summer we will be putting in another $1000 or so. and then this December we will be investing in an Incinolet Toilet, with shipping this costs about $2,300.

I cannot tell you how amazing it will be when we have a toilet. So many of the discomforts of the tinyhouse come from not having one.


We still use the whores bath routine for showering, and go to a place up the road when we need the feeling of a real shower. When we first started living in the Tinyhouse, we hadn't anticipated how long it would actually take to get some of these pretty basic things.


We anticipate being finished with total spend $25,000.


Ways of keeping the cost down:

Design your structure with simple dimensions. The gable roofs in some fancy tinyhouses are awesome, but expensive. If you are trying to build your home on a budget, simplicity is your Friend. Every detail costs you.

Buy stock items. Doors, windows [and if you can find these on craigslist even better], Anything custom is going to drive up your price. 

We used all stock cupboards and counter tops in our home. We love having all the counter space, and don't miss any space that we would have had from shallow counters. Lowe's has a small but decent array of unfinished cabinets, they are light weight and super versatile.

Whenever possible, build it yourself. If you don't already own tools, this may seem easier said than done. But we only had a pesky cordless drill when we started, and now we have the tools to do the job. The tools can be costly, but labor cost more in the long run.

Depending what you decide you need to live will dictate how inexpensive your small home could be. 

Saving on Fuel/Electric:

My moms 24X24 cabin uses about 400-500 gallons of Diesel a season to heat there cabin. Our Tiny house wasn't fully insulated and it only used 90  Gallons last winter. There is a 10X10 [interior measurement] cabin in Fairbanks, that only uses 40 gallons of diesel a season! So our heating bill is less than what it could be in a larger home.

We pay $18 a month for Electric, which is much less than our apartment [even with me being an energy Nazi]

We have a Propane converted oven that I use everyday, we bought it at Lowe's its a 21 inch 4 burner Holiday Range. It uses a 15 lb tank of Propane every 1.5-2 months. Super affordable to run and we love it. It did cost about $500 for the oven, and another $150 to have everything for conversion to propane.

My Tips:


My advice to you, is save what you can. Take your time preparing for the transition. Build up a supply of tools and friends that can assist you. Start simple, and once you have a livable space improve upon it. 


Explore your options. Look at tiny homes that other people live in, and decide what you like and don't like. How are you going to heat? Maybe you have access to wood and wood burning is a better option for you. There are many ways to go about it. Just be realistic with yourself, but be daring! Sometimes you just need a little push. 

Here are some helpful links to more of my blogs on this topic: