America is swept up in tiny-house fever - here's how much it'll actually cost to build one of your own

Tiny houseLowphoto/Shutterstock

Tiny houses are having a moment.

They're minimalist, portable, and environmentally friendly - and people are jumping on the lifestyle.

If you want a tiny house of your own, you can either buy one - the median cost for one in the US is $59,884, according to The Spruce - or you can build one, which is typically cheaper.

Read more: Here's what living in a tiny house is really like, according to people who traded their homes for minimalism

So how much does it cost to build a tiny house? Well, that depends. Some tiny-house dwellers built their abode for less than $10,000, while others spend upwards of $30,000.

It really all comes down to location, housing materials, and labor. Here are the general rules of thumb when it comes to setting a realistic budget for your tiny house.

Read more: Moving into a tiny house helped one 35-year-old increase his income and save $100,000 in 5 years - here's how he did it

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The cost of building a tiny house is about $300 per square foot, Zack Giffin, host of Tiny House Nation, told Apartment Therapy in 2016.

The cost of building a tiny house is about $300 per square foot, Zack Giffin, host of Tiny House Nation, told Apartment Therapy in 2016.

That's more expensive than the median price per square foot of a house in the US — $101.72 in 2016, per Apartment Therapy.

Source: Apartment Therapy

Ryan Fitzgerald, owner of Raleigh Realty, told Reader's Digest you should budget at least $65,000 to build a tiny house — but others have spent way less than that.

Ryan Fitzgerald, owner of Raleigh Realty, told Reader's Digest you should budget at least $65,000 to build a tiny house — but others have spent way less than that.

Source: Reader's Digest

Deirdre Sullivan of the home-living website The Spruce interviewed seven first-time tiny-house builders. Their costs ranged from $12,000 to $35,000.

Deirdre Sullivan of the home-living website The Spruce interviewed seven first-time tiny-house builders. Their costs ranged from $12,000 to $35,000.

Of course, the higher end of that range can go way up if you opt to live the tiny life in luxury.

Source: The Spruce

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life previously told Business Insider it cost about $30,000 to build his 150-square-foot tiny house, including solar panels. "Even after accounting for the cost of the house, I've saved over $100,000 going tiny," he said.

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life previously told Business Insider it cost about $30,000 to build his 150-square-foot tiny house, including solar panels. "Even after accounting for the cost of the house, I've saved over $100,000 going tiny," he said.

Source: Business Insider

But it's possible to build a tiny house for less than $10,000: One couple told Tiny House Build they shelled out just $8,000 to build their 24-foot-long, 8-foot-wide, 13-foot-tall tiny house.

But it's possible to build a tiny house for less than $10,000: One couple told Tiny House Build they shelled out just $8,000 to build their 24-foot-long, 8-foot-wide, 13-foot-tall tiny house.

Source: Tiny House Build

And Teri Page of Homestead Honey says she built her 348-square-foot tiny house for $8,270, although her neighbor's 120-square-foot tiny house cost $21,200 to build. The key difference was that her neighbor hired out labor.

And Teri Page of Homestead Honey says she built her 348-square-foot tiny house for $8,270, although her neighbor's 120-square-foot tiny house cost $21,200 to build. The key difference was that her neighbor hired out labor.

Source: Homestead Honey, Realtor.com

Ultimately, the cost to build a tiny house depends on several factors, from building plans and materials to location and labor. Here's what to expect.

Ultimately, the cost to build a tiny house depends on several factors, from building plans and materials to location and labor. Here's what to expect.

Permits: Fees for local building permits depend on where you're building, but can cost as little as a few hundred to as much as thousands of dollars.

Permits: Fees for local building permits depend on where you're building, but can cost as little as a few hundred to as much as thousands of dollars.

"Rural areas usually have more lenient laws, so choosing rural areas may save you money," Rachel Preston Prinz, who runs an architectural firm, told Reader's Digest. "But what you save here might get eaten up on connecting to the utilities' grid."

Source: Realtor.com, Reader's Digest

Materials: Building materials involve everything from lumber and roofing to doors and windows. Mitchell wrote in his blog, The Tiny Life, that materials comprise 80% of building costs.

Materials: Building materials involve everything from lumber and roofing to doors and windows. Mitchell wrote in his blog, The Tiny Life, that materials comprise 80% of building costs.

Fitzgerald said you might be spending $25,000 on building materials, but Page only spent $7,800.

Every tiny house begins with a trailer, which can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $9,000. Mitchell's trailer cost $3,600, but Fitzgerald said it can cost as much as $35,000.

Here's a breakdown of some key estimated costs of the actual home itself, according to combined estimates by The Spruce and The Tiny Life:

  • Windows and doors: $1,000 to $6,000
  • Lumber: $1,000 to $10,000
  • Roofing: $500 to $2,000
  • Flooring: $300 to $2,000

Source: Reader's Digest, The Spruce, The Tiny Life, Realtor.com

Insulation: Mitchell recommends closed cell spray foam for insulation, which costs about $3 per square foot for three inches thick. Costs overall can range from $500 to $3,000.

Insulation: Mitchell recommends closed cell spray foam for insulation, which costs about $3 per square foot for three inches thick. Costs overall can range from $500 to $3,000.

One tiny-house owner told Realtor.com he spent $1,500 to insulate 200 square feet.

Source: Realtor.com, The Tiny Life

Electricity and plumbing: The cost of electricity and plumbing depends on whether your tiny house is on or off the grid. It also depends on whether you hire out labor, which is often required by law in many locations.

Electricity and plumbing: The cost of electricity and plumbing depends on whether your tiny house is on or off the grid. It also depends on whether you hire out labor, which is often required by law in many locations.

Owners of tiny houses may spend around $1,000 on plumbing and $300 on wiring, while solar panels can cost around $3,500 to install.

However, Mitchell estimates the total cost of both to range from $750 to $3,000.

Source: Realtor.com, The Tiny Life

Labor: Building costs really come down to who's behind the labor. According to Mitchell, the average tiny house costs between $10,000 and $30,000 to build it yourself, and twice that if you hire someone to build it for you.

Labor: Building costs really come down to who's behind the labor. According to Mitchell, the average tiny house costs between $10,000 and $30,000 to build it yourself, and twice that if you hire someone to build it for you.

Page told Realtor.com that her husband built the house, but her neighbor hired out labor for $15 an hour, which cost the neighbor a total of $7,000.

Source: Realtor.com, The Tiny Life

But you can also compromise, buying a tiny house shell — a finished exterior with an unfinished interior — and personalizing it yourself. A standard shell at Tiny Home Builders ranges from $17,000 for a 12-foot tiny house to $37,000 for a 28-foot tiny house.

But you can also compromise, buying a tiny house shell — a finished exterior with an unfinished interior — and personalizing it yourself. A standard shell at Tiny Home Builders ranges from $17,000 for a 12-foot tiny house to $37,000 for a 28-foot tiny house.

That's without previously mentioned add-ons such as electrical, plumbing, and dormers (sloped roofs that create extra space).

Source: Tiny Home Builders

And don't forget to check Amazon, which also sells tiny-home build kits ranging from $5,000 to $19,000. These can take anywhere from eight hours to two days to build.

And don't forget to check Amazon, which also sells tiny-home build kits ranging from $5,000 to $19,000. These can take anywhere from eight hours to two days to build.

Source: Business Insider

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