If you’re thinking $45,000 for a tiny house in Hawaii is a good deal, well you’re ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! Here’s the thing, we didn’t snag this deal because we live in an affordable state, It’s actually quite the opposite. Oh, you want one avocado, $5 dollars please. Okay, that’s a teeny tiny exaggeration but you get where I’m going. How we worked out that sweet deal was putting in ALL the work ourselves. The $45K covers all the materials, even the PV, batteries, and water catchment system.

Our building cost break down *with some extra details*

  • Trailer $7,500 (Fabricated ourselves)
  • Framing $5,400 (Includes siding which we got for free from an old construction job)
  • Windows $1,300 (Alpine windows + we found 2 windows under my husbands parents house that we added to ours)
  • Plumbing $3,100 (Copper pipes + composting toilet)
  • Electrical $1,400
  • Drywall & Insulation $1,600 (We did smooth walls and yes we have a few cracks, but it’s an easy fix)
  • Doors & Trim $1,080 (5′ full-lite french door + pocket door)
  • Cabinets $2,000
  • Countertops $470 (We installed formica. Affordable and light weight)
  • Paint $1,000 (This includes stain for our exterior. Our house originally had a log cabin vibe)
  • Flooring $2,250 (Vinyl planks and carpet)
  • Appliances $5,200 (Range, refrigerator, tankless water heater, washer/dryer)
  • Roofing & Gutters $650 (Metal roofing was free)
  • Driveway $540
  • Water Catchment $4,800 (Tank, liner, cover, drain, pump, filters, pressure tank and misc. parts)
  • PV System $5,900 (4 panels, 8 batteries + equipment)
  • Miscellaneous $850

TOTAL $45,000

Building Site

To make this dream come alive and keep our budget within the “how affordable can we make this” goal, we started with a big sacrifice. As newlyweds, we moved into one of the 3 free bedrooms in my husband’s parents’ multi-story home. The perks were cheap rent and our tiny home building site on the same property. It was weird, don’t get me wrong, but it helped us stay focused on our goal of completing this home.

The Biggest Surprise

There were definitely a few single items that were shocking when those quotes came in…like our toilet. $1200 dollars for a toilet! I’d hope at that price range it would sing, flush and, clean itself, but no. Who would’ve known that a composting toilet would be so pricey? The real shocker was how long it took us to build this 360 square foot home. We thought 6-8 months max. In reality, it took us 2.5 years. YEARS! How did we miss the mark? We really didn’t have as much gusto as we thought after working our 8-hour shifts each day. Which left the bulk of the work for weekends. In hindsight via my optimistic lens, the drawn-out building process gave us extra time to hone in on some details we wanted to add that wasn’t included in our original plans.

Tips moving forward

Before starting the building stage, get as clear as possible on the details of your design. Establish a realistic budget(for your area) and know from the get-go that if you’re DIY-ing your build it will probably take you a bit longer than you’d like.