AND the ACTUAL retail price IS…..

…. $30,206.38.

Earlier on in this process I posted my budget for this tiny house construction project. As I’ve gone along I keep updating what I actually spend and monitor where I thought I’d be to where I actually landed.


Here is a high-level breakdown:

Totals Budget Actual % +/-
Total House  $  27,996.07  $    30,206.38 -8%
Structure  $  17,411.17  $    20,873.08 -20%
Kitchen  $    2,688.57  $          582.62 78%
Bathroom  $    2,792.50  $          668.01 76%
Fixtures  $    1,773.78  $      1,018.45 43%
Deck  $        330.05  $          287.99 13%
Contingency  $    3,000.00  $      6,776.23 -126%

I’m actually pretty pleased with only being 8% over and never having done this before! Don’t let what looks like a lot of savings in the Kitchen and Bathroom fool you…a lot of those costs are in the Contingency.

So. What have I learned?

My mentor was right: construction projects always take more time and cost more than you plan. It’s annoying, but true.

 Total construction time = 14 months (planned for 12 months)

Total cost = about $30K (planned about $28K)

If this was a project that I had for work and you were sitting with me at my desk, you might hear my boss ask, “Why is this project overbudget?”

Let’s look at the list…

Mostly this is due to things I didn’t budget for. It’s probably a function of never doing this before and not having any idea what to expect, but in all, there are about $7,200 of costs that weren’t in the original budget.

Things like:

Tools  $          807.00
Electric install  $       1,600.00
Plumbing install  $          800.00
Water Line  $             75.00
Tool rentals  $          245.00
Food for helpers  $          100.00
Trailer pickup  $          421.00
Misc Building supplies  $       3,161.00
TOTAL  $       7,209.00

If I had put all those things in the original budget, I’d be 14% under budget. UNDER! I like that concept…it feels like winning. But anyway.


A few items I purchased because I thought they looked awesome (like a shower drain or sink drain) and neither one I could use…they were the wrong thing. There is apparently a difference in stuff like that and you have to be specific. This is stuff you learn when you hire someone who knows what they’re doing to install technical things. In my defense, they still look awesome.

Some things I could have gone cheaper (like closet rods or shelves), but I liked the look of the galvanized pipe so much I just went with it. It’s quite a bit more expensive to go that route.

More expensive than plan:

Spray-in Insulation

Cabinet hardware

All things having to do with solar power

LESS expensive than plan:

Homemade light fixtures

Vinyl flooring

Reselling tools I won’t use again

Reselling left over materials

In looking at this budget, I’d estimate there are probably $500 or so of costs that aren’t represented. Random trips to Lowe’s, trim board, building furniture, etc… it adds up!


How Much Does This Thing Cost…?

I’ve gotten a few questions about what I’m planning to spend on this Tiny House.   Because I stare at spreadsheets all day as my job, this part was easy!  I have everything listed out by line item.  Below is the summary of what I’m planning to spend per area of the house.

The Structure section includes the materials, trailer, etc.  It also includes the solar panels, electric breaker, and plumbing stuff.  That’s why it’s so high.

Unfortunately, I was so focused on the materials, that I didn’t put a line in for actual tools to put the materials together.  Hence the Contingency and why that is already in use…

Totals Budget Actual
Total House $   26,536.75 $       7,292.23
Structure $   17,180.89 $       6,552.72
Kitchen $     2,189.53 $                   –
Bathroom $     2,062.50 $           210.93
Fixtures $     1,773.78 $                   –
Deck $         330.05 $                   –
Contingency $     3,000.00 $           528.58

This is what I’ve spent so far:

Trailer/Delivery/Jacks: $   5,723.47
Tools: $       595.07
Workshop/Videos/Manuals/Books: $       618.20
Materials for Subfloor: $       402.54

Materials are actually pretty cheap when you get right down to it.  I did spend a lot on the trailer itself; I wanted to make sure  my foundation was solid.  There were several options of used trailers on Craigslist, but I decided it was better to go with a trailer that was built for tiny houses, and is all ready to start construction.

I bought the trailer from Carson trailers in So Cal:

I’m thinking I’ll hire someone to frame the house…after two weekends of drilling, taping, and cutting, I feel like I’ve got arthritis in my hands.  It’s worth it to me to let someone else do this part!  Also, I know I’ll have to hire an Electrician.  In order to get insurance, I have to have a licensed electrician sign off on all the installation and connections in the wiring.  That means:  the cost for those people will have to come out of the Contingency.