I know there are a lot of people out there looking to build their own tiny houses. Having built a tiny house myself, I have a few lessons learned I thought I’d share.
I’m Craig, and if you’re new to my channel I live in a tiny house in Washington state. I make videos about setting up a permaculture homestead, and the tinker projects I find interesting and useful.
Today I’m going to talk about the 4 most difficult parts about making a tiny house. So let’s get into it.
1. Getting started. With so much to learn. It can feel overwhelming. The learning curve is steep, especially if you haven’t built something like this before. While it’s a small house, it’s a big project. I found it helpful to break the project down into smaller chunks and work on each of them one at a time. Start by looking through other tiny houses that you like, and then commit to a design. There will always be other things you want to do or change, but until you pick one and go with it, you’ll be stuck. The key is to have an end goal in mind so that you can get started and have a clear vision of what you want the project to look like. Keep in mind you don’t have to have all the details figured out, like what type of cabinets, or which windows in order to get started. But you should know the layout of where you want the doors and windows, and other main components so that you’ll be able to frame them out with your materials.
2. Funding the project. With traditional financing options being off the table, finding the money for your build can be a little tricky. I’m a fan of saving up cash, and paying as you build. The benefit of this strategy is that it makes the budget more flexible. The downside is that it only allows you to build on your weekends, which can make the build take significantly longer.
You really have to think about how fancy and expensive of a house you want to build. For me the end goal was to build my house as cheap as possible, without sacrificing function and comfort. My intent was to make a house I’d be happy to live in, without it eating up too much of my savings. For me the house was only part of the expense, because I’m setting up an entire homestead, so I needed funding for that as well.
As a former financial coach, I have some tips and tricks for saving money on my other channel. I’ll link to that in the description below.
3. Running Plumbing and electrical. Building a tiny house can be deceptive. I thought the smaller space would make it easier to do the plumbing and electrical, but it actually made it more difficult. In a traditional house you can spread out the appliances and can cheat things over in the design if there isn’t enough room. In a tiny house you have the same amount of appliances as a larger house, with a fraction of the space to fit them in. This means the lines for your electrical and plumbing can end up getting a little crowded in your walls. Because of this I found it necessary to run them simultaneously so that I could ensure they all fit. I had no experience with plumbing or with running electrical wire so this delayed my build quite a bit. I didn’t want to make a mistake that would potentially burn my house down or cause massive water damage. I spent a lot of time on YouTube trying to learn from other people until I finally felt comfortable giving it a shot. Luckily I had my fathers help and we were able to complete both tasks without too much trouble, however this was by far my least favorite part of the project.
4. Keeping momentum. Stuff goes wrong on big projects like this. When it does, it is easy to feel like you want to quit and just burn the place down. I messed up so many things during this build. We had leaks with the plumbing. The shower doors that got delivered were the wrong size. One day my saw bucked and I nearly cut off my hand. And those are just a few of the bad things that happened. It can start to feel frustrating and daunting. Setbacks like this drastically set back my build. I was constantly disappointed with myself that my tiny house wasn’t complete yet. The internet makes it look like these things get built in a week, but unless it is a team of experienced builders, that is definitely not realistic. Keeping momentum was the key. I shifted my attitude and started focusing on getting one simple task done per day. Sometimes that meant breaking it down to something really easy, like, “If I can install these door handles today, it will be a successful day.” Setting more realistic daily expectations of myself helped me keep a better momentum going and helped me push through the setbacks.
It also helps to remember that when something breaks during your build and you have to learn to fix it, that isn’t wasted time. Instead see it as an opportunity to acquire more skills. If that ever happens again, you’ll feel confident you can fix it, because you’ve done it before.
Hopefully you’ve found this information helpful, and if you’re doing a build of your own I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for watching. Please like this video and subscribe to my channel for more content like this.