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DIY Tiny House You Can Build for $3,500 that’s Mobile

Most tiny house builders have simplicity in mind but few take it to the lengths that Jenine Alexander did when she built her 128 square foot home in 2009. Using Craigslist to gather building materials, Jenine built a beautiful, cozy home for less than $3,500!

After three years of traveling on her bike, Jenine dreamed of having a place to call her own. To avoid sky high real estate and land prices, she rolled up her sleeves and got online. Jenine built herself a cozy home with very little impact on her wallet or the environment by using determination, creativity and a Craigslist account.

Yup, Craigslist. Other than screws, hinges and other fasteners, all materials she found free or cheap, used or salvaged, primarily through Craigslist.

Unable to find used plywood for sale, Jenine built her house frame out of fir she salvaged from an old chicken coop. Quaint double-pane windows, found used, let California sunlight stream into her charming home. Refrigerator insulation, salvaged via Craigslist, keeps the house warm. The beams in the house’s ceiling she picked up from a man who, once he heard about the project, offered her flooring as well.

Jenine Alexander's Tiny House Tour with Faircompanies and Kirsten Dirksen

Photo Courtesy of Nicolas Boullosa and Faircompanies on Flickr

Jenine enthuses about waking up in a house she’s built with her own two hands. Every nook and cranny in this DIY tiny house has a story for her – where she got the materials, the people she met along the way, how her plans changed as she built and what she hopes to improve upon in the future.

Picking up pieces here and there, choosing used and salvaged over new, Jenine built a cozy home with simple luxuries for less than the average American spends each year on mortgage payments alone. Her tiny house boasts granite countertops; a wide wall of spices in labeled glass jars; a stove and baking oven; a roof that pops up like a big skylight; and a loft with lots of possibilities.

Inside Jenine Alexanders Tiny House made out of Reclaimed Materials

Photo Courtesy of Nicolas Boullosa and Faircompanies on Flickr

Though not the fanciest of tiny houses, Jenine’s creation feels both comfortable and functional on the inside. The house has comfortably fit nine people, Jenine says, and has two sleeping spaces.

Like most tiny houses made from scratch, Jenine’s home can be altered and designed further. She hopes to tuck mesh racks between the rafters so she can dry her own food and herbs. She wants to make the roof easy to prop open so on warm days she can let the sunlight fully into her home.

Jenine encourages anyone interested to take on building a tiny house, regardless of their budget or construction experience. Diving in is the first step; from there, just stay creative and flexible. All you need is confidence and Craigslist.

2nd Sleeping Area in Jenine's Tiny House

Photo Courtesy of Forge Ahead Puppet Productions

Video Tour of Jenine Alexander’s DIY $3500 Tiny House

This video is available thanks to Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolas Boullosa of Faircompanies.

Length: 6:22

Visit Jenine Alexander at Forge Ahead {BUILDING} Productions.

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Written by Newt Stremple for Tiny House Talk

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Alex is the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. Send in your story and tiny home photos so we can share and inspire others towards simplicity too. Thank you!

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • MaryJ January 5, 2012, 3:02 am

    I got so much pleasure from watching this – Jenine radiates real joy in her achievement in building her own little home and it looks so welcoming and cosy.

  • naser January 5, 2012, 6:16 am

    i like traler home it got all detal
    the woman how build it she is an iron woman

    thak you

  • Angeline January 27, 2012, 7:41 am

    Hey, does anyone know what her blog is called?

  • christie March 12, 2012, 12:01 am

    what an inspiration! i wonder how tall her house is and if it is street legal. i think that the legal limit for trailers is 13′ tall.

  • MsDawn Burton August 21, 2012, 9:19 pm

    I love it, I am just wondering about how she did the roof so it opens and if she has any issues with it leaking.

    • Abigail June 20, 2014, 2:36 pm

      She made sure that there was an overhang on it as well as how she sealed it to prevent water from coming in. All she said she needed to work on was the hinge mechanism as well as the trim on the inside. =)

  • Frieda Gelber May 20, 2013, 4:07 am

    There are many free land giveaways in the USA.

    • Helen October 17, 2013, 2:33 pm

      Please tell us where there are free land giveaways!!


      • Frieda Gelber October 18, 2013, 12:08 pm

        Just google:
        free land giveaways

        So many answers appear, many in Kansas. Good luck!

  • tom michel May 8, 2015, 5:49 pm

    Oklahoma and Kansas have tornados, just yesterday the flying debris was so bad in Kansas I almost got hit by a scarecrow and tin man lol, tiny built things will not hold up try concrete

  • anna May 8, 2015, 8:28 pm

    I have a very old trailer 35 ft I see from your program how you tranfer
    one thing into a great new thing
    I would like for you to do it to my old trailer
    My trailer is in PA an this old gal would be very thankful
    thank you

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