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October 2023

The Nuts & Bolts Newsletter

A small, rustic tiny house with affordable cost and colorful accents.
Last updated June 14th, 2024

With housing costs rising, more and more Americans are making the transition to tiny housing. Getting financing for your tiny home project can be a restrictive  process, but with Acorn Finance – it doesn’t have to be. Let us sweat the small, or tiny, stuff. We’ve laid the foundation with our network of top national lenders ready to compete for your business. With fast funding, you can start your tiny home lifestyle sooner than expected.

Is the cost of a tiny house worth it? 

Whether you’re thinking of joining the tiny house movement in an effort to live a simpler life, or just to save some cash – it can definitely be worth it. If you’re just beginning your research on tiny homes, and don’t know where to begin, keep reading to learn how much a tiny home might cost and how you can afford it.

How much does it cost to build a tiny house?

Although the average cost per square foot to build a tiny home is roughly double what the national average to build a traditional home may cost, there will be considerably fewer square feet to build. In total, you can expect to spend between $30,000-$60,000 on building an average tiny home. It is possible to build a less expensive tiny home if you forego some amenities – but that “bare minimum” lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Most folks who decide to transition to tiny living try to find a happy balance between comfort and minimalism, without sacrificing much more than just space.

Do you save money living in a tiny home?

While tiny living isn’t for everyone, those who do choose to live tiny are likely to save some money over time. In fact, 68% of tiny home owners live mortgage free. Additionally, more than half of tiny home dwellers have an average of $11,200 more in savings than the rest of us. This could be due to not having a mortgage, lower utility costs, or simply not having the space to spend money on more “stuff”. For many people, that is what draws them to tiny life – financial freedom.

Why can some tiny homes be expensive?

One thing about tiny homes is much like regular homes – they come in different sizes and quality with different appliances and amenities. Some tiny homes may be more expensive due to the highest tech in appliances, HVAC systems, quality insulation, windows, trailer ratings, flooring, etc. Keep in mind that tiny homes are unique in that most all are one-of-a-kind and can be customized to your taste, preferences, and budget.

Another reason some tiny homes may seem more expensive is actually geographically dependent. Some markets are more saturated than others, and some areas may have more people who are looking into tiny living – giving tiny home builders the upper hand in pricing.

Pros & Cons of the Costs of Tiny Homes:

When it comes to the pros and cons of shelling out the cash for your tiny home build, there is alot to consider. Some good and some not so good.

PROS:

  • Investing in your future financials: If you plan to buy tiny so that you can live large, this can potentially eliminate being tied to a mortgage, ultimately saving you in the long-term.
  • Security: With an unpredictable real estate market, there is something to be said about having your own tiny place that you don’t have to worry about. No competing for rentals, no bidding wars.
  • Simple life: With no other choice but to live like Marie Kondo, you may find that your stress levels decline as your life becomes more simple.

CONS:

  • ROI: Except in cases where you’re building a tiny home for the sole intent to resell, buying a tiny home is typically a good money-maker. Tiny homes generally don’t increase in value like a stick built home might with a rising market and tend to depreciate much like a travel trailer or mobile home.
  • Less living space: While this is a given and most learn to appreciate the lack of space, there’s an adjustment phase that comes along with tiny home living. You’ll need to decide if the reduced living costs are worth the reduced amount of living space.

How long does it take to build a tiny house?

The length of time it takes to build a tiny home varies greatly depending on the following. . .

  • Size: While most experts qualify a “tiny home” as 600 square feet or less, builders can market tiny homes ranging in size from 100 square feet on the smaller size to 1000 square feet or more. Although, the latter is bigger than most big-city apartments, so we won’t put too much thought into those “tiny” homes. Either way, the larger your tiny home is, the more work and time will likely go into building it.
  • Regulations: Depending on your area, there may be permits, codes to meet, and zoning laws to figure out. This part of the process can often take much thought, and a bit of time.
  • The builders: If you’re a brave and very capable DIYer, you might be diving into this process solo, or with some friendly helping hands. Most tiny home prospects will be looking towards purchasing their new abode from a tiny home dealer. Depending on your area and how busy your chosen dealer is, a custom tiny home can take months to build. Many builders do have “on the lot” homes to choose from if you’re ready to roll right away.

How much do the costs of tiny homes increase based on square footage? (Include Cost) 

While the standard tiny home is typically anything under 600 square feet, the average square footage in tiny homes that people in the US are actually buying is just 225 square feet. The National average price for a common-sized tiny home is $52,000. While this is still 87% cheaper than the National average for a standard home, tiny home buyers are actually paying an average of 62% more per square foot. These statistics may leave you scratching your head, but there are actually some good reasons for the higher costs per square foot.

  • Customization: Often, materials need to be custom ordered to fit to size. Because many pieces of your tiny home won’t be mass-produced, this can end up being more costly.
  • Complexity: Integration of your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC will all take some skilled labor as it’s often difficult to fit everything in a way that is practical, and easy.

Aside from actual costs of materials and labor, insurance and permit costs may be more with a tiny home versus a traditional one.

How many years do tiny homes last?

Naturally, with the higher costs per square foot, you’ll want the best bang for your buck. That means you’ll want something quality, that’s built to last. A well built tiny home can easily last somewhere between 30-50 years with only regular maintenance.

It’s not uncommon for a tiny home to last just as long as a standard house if built by a reputable and experienced builder. On the other hand, tiny homes built with lesser quality materials can begin to deteriorate in as little as 7 years. Much like with a regular home, the presence of kids, animals, water damage, etc. can all be factors in the longevity of your tiny home. In addition, tiny homes that are built on a foundation rather than a trailer may last longer.

Compared to traditional options, tiny homes can offer a private living space that’s more affordable. As they gain popularity, financing options are growing, but it’s still not a walk in the park to find financing. Some use unsecured personal loans to finance the actual tiny home itself. With no collateral required and high loan amounts, unsecured personal loans can deliver the funds you need to start your tiny home journey. Check offers at Acorn Finance with no credit impact.