Home ownership has always been the American dream. But as the cost of a traditional home has become unobtainable for many due to rising prices, people have started turning to smaller and smaller dwelling spaces to keep prices palatable. Enter, the tiny home. This micro-dwelling has seen an almost meteoric rise in popularity over the last decade, thanks not only to lower prices, but a more sustainable mindset.
How Much Does a Tiny House Cost?
Despite across-the-board lower prices, you’ll still find a wide variety of price tags when researching how much a tiny house costs. The cost you’ll end up paying for tiny homes depends on the size, quality and the details of the house you choose. A basic cabin kit can cost as low as $6,000 to $8,000, while a custom tiny house with all the bells and whistles can easily cost upwards of $100,000 or more.
But HomeAdvisor estimates the average tiny home cost is about $45,000. Comparing that against the average sale price of a home in the US, which was nearly $298,000 (in 2021), it’s easy to see that a tiny house can be significant cost savings.
That said, you’ll have to be prepared to pare your lifestyle down quite a bit if you decide to opt for a tiny house. Most tiny homes are 400 square feet or less, and while there are ways to maximize storage in a tiny home, it’s definitely a different lifestyle than that afforded by a larger, more traditional home.
The largest factor when it comes to the price of a tiny house is whether you purchase a prefabricated/premade home from a kit, or hire a professional to custom design a home for you. Of course, a custom home will always cost more, and there are tons of add-ons you could include as well, which we’ll discuss below.
Tiny Home Costs to Consider
So you’ve decided to test the waters and downsize your life. A tiny home looks like the perfect, affordable option. But as you work the cost of the home into your budget, be sure to include lesser-known things like permits, land and other extras as well.
Building Permits and Taxes
Especially if you’re building a tiny house as a DIY project, you’ll need to ensure you’ve got all the necessary permits in place. Contact your local city hall if you’re unsure; they’ll be able to point you in the right direction if they can’t help you. If you plan to have your tiny house professionally built, you may not have to worry about permitting, since most companies will handle this on their own (but you’ll still pay for it). Permitting can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, depending on location and the exact rules of your locale.
It’s no secret that the cost of land can vary dramatically depending on where you live in the U.S. So it’s a top consideration you should have when asking yourself; how much does a tiny house cost?
In Alabama, for instance, the cost of one acre of land is around $2,000, while the same can’t be had in New Jersey or New York without shelling out $13,000. Be sure to consider this if your tiny house will be on a permanent foundation; not only will you have to purchase land, but you’ll have to pay property taxes as well.
The cost of a tiny house per square foot will vary, but in general, you can expect to pay about $150 per square foot. Remember that this amount is just for the structure alone, not land or any extras. The table below shows the approximate tiny house cost for homes with different square footage.
Today’s tiny homes range from minimalist wooden cabins to fully upgraded, state-of-the-art micro-dwellings. It’s not unheard of to find walls adorned with reclaimed barn wood, upgraded appliances (though small, of course), granite countertops and hand-scraped wood flooring in tiny houses.
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Of course, you’ll pay more for these things, but many consider it an acceptable trade-off for a home that’s far less expensive than a traditional home. Our advice is to go into it knowing what you want out of your tiny home, and including any desired amenities in the tiny house cost you’re willing to pay.
Before you determine how much it costs to build a tiny house, you’ve got to factor in the foundation. Building a tiny house on foundation costs between $52,000 and $55,000. A tiny house foundation costs between $5 and $7 per square foot, and you can expect $5,000 to $8,000 to be added onto the project price.
Of course, if you’re planning on building your tiny house on a foundation, you’ll also have to pay for land (discussed above), so be sure to factor this in as well. On the bright side, you won’t need much land since your home is on the small side. If you need a surveyor, expect to pay about $510 for those services.
Not interested in putting down roots? The average cost for a tiny home on wheels is typically $60,000 to $80,000. And if it’s a trailer you’re seeking, know that the cost of a trailer is similar to the cost of laying foundation (anywhere from $4,500 to $9,000). But it’s important to remember that if you plan on moving your tiny house from place to place, you’ll also need a vehicle that can tow it.