Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Want to Save THOUSANDS of $$$ On Your Tiny House Build?

It drives me absolutely NUTS when I read social media posts written by people whining about how tiny houses are sooooo expensive. And, inevitably, the resulting conversation includes harsh comments about tiny house builder’s greed and waste and how fancy tiny houses are “not the point”.

And, while I will fully admit to having a bit of an elitist attitude towards what people refer to as “tiny houses” (a blog post for another day) and will admit that I have seen a $100,000 tiny house that was only 24 feet long and said to myself “What’s the point?”; I will also admit that hearing people complain about how much the movement's popularity (demand) has increased prices sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. It's basic math. It's not as if the movers and shakers in the tiny house world are making money hand over fist. On the contrary; for the most part, they're struggling to keep up.

Building a tiny house is a LOT of work!

So, why all the drama?

I think it's because people don't know what it takes to build a tiny house and/or understand the dynamics at play.  

After receiving a message from someone this morning wherein she asked me if I could build My Tiny Perch for cheaper, I have decided to write this article so I can respond to every future question about this subject with the thoughtfulness that it really requires; rather than the brief offhanded responses I often have time for.

Regardless of the size, or how fancy a house is, there are FIVE things that every tiny house (or any house project, for that matter) has in common. They all need space, tools, materials, labor, and supplies. When I was recently in Georgia I gave a speech about this subject but with a slightly different twist.  The gist, however, is that when you embark on a tiny house build you can pick ONLY two of the following; FAST, CHEAP, OR GOOD. 

Bottom Line:
For each attribute of a tiny house build you have the opportunity to save, or spend, money or time; depending on your motivations and goals.

On my first build, My Empty Nest, I spent just shy of $35,000. However, most of the materials came from sponsors in the form of materials. When, for instance, Rheem sponsored me by providing an on demand hot water heater worth $1,200, then $1,200 was applied to the budget.  Just because I didn’t pay cash for it does not mean the value of the product should be left out of the budget, right?

For My Tiny Perch, however, even though I am collecting sponsors again, the materials are more in line with my more moderate budget of only $20,000. For my Empty Nest, I received almost $2,000 worth of recycled, designer, glass tile from Ann Sacks for my last build.  This time, however, I am using no tile at all.  Is that $2,000 saved or $2,000 avoided?  Is there a difference?

So how do you save money on a tiny house and not sacrifice quality?

I have posted a few ideas lately about utilizing a used trailer, windows, and how to save money on labor by using T1-11 as sheathingand siding.  And I am pretty proud of my cost savings efforts.  But people don't necessarily want to read a dozen blog posts to understand this complex issue.

So, here you go.  

Here in a succinct graphic I designed to help get to the crux of the issue:

As you review this graphic, I hope you will notice the pattern;  Fast = Expensive. And so, since time and money create a trade off, so do the decisions.  And, to clarify, the approach I took with My Tiny Perch is highlighted.

Worth Repeating
For each attribute of a tiny house build you have the opportunity to save, or spend, money or time; depending on your motivations and goals.

Just because you want to save money by building it “yourself” does not mean you cannot hire a pro to do the tough stuff.

Just because you don’t have access to all of the tools you will need to build your tiny house, does not mean you need to spend a small fortune buying new ones.

Maybe, consider saving some money on the build space, and splurging on the labor.

Maybe collect materials for a time, then kick start your build schedule by buying some new materials to complete the next phase of your project.

Tiny House builds are as unique as they are complex.  They are as cheap or as expensive as you want them to be.  They are as palatial or as cozy as you design them to be.

It’s all up to you, and nobody else.

And that’s the best part.

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