Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

A Guest Post by Ethan – (Send us your tiny living story)

My name is Ethan, and my girlfriend Kelsey and I have been living in 100 square feet for about 6 months so far.

Our journey to tiny house living started last October when I started looking around for a trailer to build my own house on.

By November I had found a great deal ($1500 for the trailer) on craigslist.org and got started on the project immediately.

When December came around I had my shell built and over the next couple of months I worked on the interior. It took me around 6 months total but that was mostly due to my work schedule and only having Tuesdays to build and the weather also rained me out a couple weeks in February.

ethans diy tiny house 001   Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

In total I put in around 20 days of work, and we both seem to love the outcome.

Before everyone starts asking about where the bathroom is, we live on an organic farm in central Texas (also found on craigslist) and when we moved to the farm we were asked if we could build a bathroom for the area now called Tiny Town which currently has a population of 3 but we are looking for 2 more tiny houses to increase our population.

ethans diy tiny house 3   Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

The bathroom currently does not have a shower but will soon. We shower at our city rec center which provides an amazingly affordable year long membership that is actually cheaper than a monthly water bill (who would have thought).

Anyways being nestled in the woods is wonderful, we have no TV and currently no internet, we have learned to really enjoy life without these distractions but have debated on whether or not we should get internet because Kelsey will be going to grad school here soon to study physical therapy.

ethans diy tiny house 2   Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

A lot of our time is spent exploring the surrounding area and working on flushing out the amenities at Tiny Town such as our community bathroom and soon to be community kitchen and cabana area.

While building my tiny house I ran into several road blocks and had always wished there was an easy way to ask or get a hold of someone who had or was living in a tiny house, so I would like to extend the offer to anyone who had questions to email me at tinyhouseask@yahoo.com and I would be more than happy to answer any questions directly.

ethans diy tiny house 5   Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

When building my tiny house my budget was very limited. So I figured I would try and find salvaged materials to help lighten the financial weight building can carry but since the recent interest in salvaged materials has increased it turned out that the price of those materials has also increased.

So the majority of my materials were bought off the shelf at the building supply store in town. I could not afford a lot of the materials I commonly saw in tiny house designs on the internet (such as tongue and groove pine siding or cedar siding) so I had to improvise and work with the most affordable materials possible.

ethans diy tiny house 4   Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

I also did not build with any plans, all of the house came from my imagination directly as I was building it. Sometimes I would go in with an idea but once I began building for the day I would end up with a totally different idea.

By the time the house was complete Kelsey had no idea what it was going to look like because my ideas were always changing.

ethans diy tiny house 6   Couple Build 100 Sq. Ft. DIY Tiny House for $7k

Downsizing was a fun process. Having previously worked for a furniture store I had a lot of nice furniture that I enjoyed. Now my friends have a lot of nice furniture that hopefully they enjoy.

We both knocked out more than half of our clothes in the downsize, our rule was if it hadn’t been worn with in 6 months it probably was not going to be worn again.

I love living tiny because it has brought us closer as a couple and simplification has brought clarity and freedom to both of our lives.

I also loved building the tiny house. So much so that I am currently building my second one (this time with plans I designed) and we plan to sell our current house to someone else who is also looking to live tiny but might not have the time or means to build their own.

We both work in brain rehab and assist veterans who have suffered brain injury, once our house was completed I brought one of our patients out to see it and he responded with, “this is small, but it is yours and that is all that matters.”

Video of Ethan’s DIY Tiny House

Cost to Build this Tiny Home

The total cost for my tiny house build was $7000. I found the trailer for $1500 on craigslist. My windows were a smidge pricier than expected because I had framed the walls for vintage windows but then I decided I wanted  to use the vintage windows for art but turns out they don’t make windows that size anymore as a standard so I had to order customs which ran $425 for the staggered 3 and the other 2 are just standard off the shelf windows.  My electric ran $450 because I was going to do it myself but got scared last moment and called a professional.  And after the build we furnished with IKEA and while we were there we lost our minds and spent $1000. So after all of those expenses are accounted for I spent about $3700 on building materials.  Of the $3700 around $450 was spent on siding. I put some of the purchases on a credit card and the rest came out of pocket. It really aided in allowing me to not directly feel the cost. So tiny house dreamers there is a way. I have also extended my building labor to others for a reasonable rate, my biggest issue with some of the tiny houses I see out there is that they can seem financially unattainable to people on fixed income or low income such as myself. So I would love to help others affordably achieve there dreams.

If you enjoyed Ethan’s story and his DIY home you’ll love our free daily tiny house newsletter!

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Alex

Alex has been living in small spaces for more than 7 years, he's the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter, and has 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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{ 26 comments }

  • LaMar Alexander LaMar November 6, 2013, 8:38 am

    Nice place guys!
    Getting a membership to a gym or rec center is actually a smart way to go. I have a shower in my cabin but I use the shower at the gym and get my exercise the in winter and that is also a good social environment for people like me that live in the boonies.

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  • mark November 6, 2013, 10:07 am

    if you are going to build a shower room then looks like this unit would be ideal ,just need a gas bottle and water supply piped to it .
    Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater and Outdoor Shower

    good luck

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    • Alex Pino November 6, 2013, 5:10 pm

      The EcoTemp is a great recommendation from what I hear from many people. Thanks Mark!

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  • Ralph Sly November 6, 2013, 11:21 am

    Now, “this is something” and age appropriate to get started. No flies on you young man. (by the way, anyone under 50 is young to me) Just recently a fellow told me we have a similar deal at our community center (many gypsy types around here) and my butt is heading up there today to check it out now I have been reminded again. I do have a shower, two of them, one of the Colman propane and a gravity fed I built myself, both work great but I just love getting into a truly real shower with lots of pressure.
    Six months and you’re looking to expand and did it the right way. This did not put you out a bunch of money (LOL, although when you don’t have much, any is a bunch) and you know what you need to build in your new project. You certainly have my admiration and Ethan, if you don’t mind, I now live vicariously through you and Kelsey as I do people like LaMar who has his lifestyle really nailed down and would certainly love to follow any blog you put up and watch your progress. Have fun and thanks for the post.

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    • Ralph Sly November 9, 2013, 8:22 am

      I went to our community center that day and most communities have this service, it went up by 50 cents from what I was told. LOL, Lamar, what a great social environment, they have everything there plus a seniors club. I peeked through the window of that area and first thought was, “damn their old” and instantly caught a reflection of myself in the window, looked back and they all seemed much younger, I fit in just fine and the ladies outnumber the men by at least double. Ok, I can live with this. I may have to leave the area for a few months so just bought a quarter year membership. What a fantastic shower they have. Thanks guys.

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  • terri November 8, 2013, 6:24 am

    Inspiring! Makes me want to go through every room of my house and donate all the stuff I don’t use for someone who might need it! Great ideas that make good sense. Thanks for sharing this story and the cool photos and video.

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  • deek February 6, 2014, 10:17 am

    Would LOVE to find away to talk to Ethan about this place- an interview, and featuring it in a book…. so damn funky, fun, and colorful! Which is exactly the kind of stuff I’m focusing on. Congrats on a job well done! _Deek

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  • Kenny February 11, 2014, 1:47 pm

    I love this! Curious, what kind of siding is in and outside the space? It appears to be some kind of paneling inside? Is there insulation, what kind? What did you use for roofing? Brand of the 3 over $400 windows (guessing they were custom double panes).

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    • Ethan February 20, 2014, 9:17 am

      Funny you ask the outside is just metal roofing and it is the same for the roof. The interior is just 1/4″ plywood. Almost all material was straight off the shelf from a hardware store. We wanted to select material that anyone could easily find because sometimes people do not have time or money to wait or buy reclaimed material which at least in my area is kind of pricey these days. If you have any other questions feel free to email me at tinyhouseask@yahoo.com

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  • Sandy Rowley February 19, 2014, 1:27 pm

    Where can we find Tiny Town “RV?” parks to rent space for our Tiny Homes?

    thanks so much for the great article!

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  • Marcia@Frugal Healthy Simple February 19, 2014, 1:57 pm

    This house is adorable! I’m impressed

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  • Anthony McCarthy February 19, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Very nice, very simple but it could have been built for a lot less with recycled materials. I especially like the minimum of built in stuff. Most tiny houses have way too much of that for my taste.

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    • Ethan February 20, 2014, 9:19 am

      Yeah recycled material is sometimes more of fordable but in my area the trendfactor of them has caused the price of them to sky rocket and I also was on a time frame and ccouldn’t wait for the Craig list deals. No worries I do know of the reclaimed aspect :)

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  • Rob Gray February 19, 2014, 6:31 pm

    I like it well enough but I don’t see anywhere to sit except a single chair at a desk.

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    • Ethan February 20, 2014, 9:22 am

      We also have 2 red benches attached to the wall in one of the pictures there is a box fan sitting on one of them. Once we had 8 people all sitting it was kind of crazy that we fit that haha but mostly those seats are bare tiny house parties have been far between since winter hit :)

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      • Alex February 20, 2014, 9:27 am

        Thanks for the update Ethan!

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        • Rishia March 2, 2014, 7:44 pm

          Works for you, love the windows, guess I better huh? hehehe Truly, the windows DO it for YOUR small space. They are so graceful the way you set them. Bang up job.

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  • vstanley February 28, 2014, 8:32 am

    Well done and on a low budget too.Nice job.

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  • Rishia March 2, 2014, 7:41 pm

    Sir Derek and Madame Kelsey, ….oh so bravo! There are many things I like about your 100 sq ft, no bathroom, Tiny House. Being young is fabulous, and when in your age range, there are SO many great things in life to experience, and luxury is one that can wait! Kelsey still pursuing academic goals,you mentioned art, I recall? Both of you seem not inclined to follow the well beaten path of materialism, ‘bird baths’ are JUST fine and dandy. Been there, kinda, so long go. Your home, your Tiny Home, is just that, YOURS. It works for the two of you, and that is all that counts. Your arrangement with the local recreation center is fantastic. I imagine they will prove to be an invaluable resource as long s your are in the area, even after Bath House built. Free ‘Show and Tell’ day for Tiny House? Then maybe some other local like minded persons might engage you for a ‘workshop’, along the lines of “I did it, so can you!’ Check out ALL the great Tiny House sites, gain from their knowledge, some have free E books, new one out for only $20 here, all about the electric issues. Do your legal homework too, with signed waivers of responsibility (they build, they are responsible). Then get at least one of the top all time Tiny House build books. Art and building, sounds good to me.

    What really thrills me about your Tiny House, is the experience as whole, and where you landed to start! An Organic Farm?! Yahoo! Other like minded persons, plans to build some community buildings, well ….sounds like a budding community to me! That is what I really love about your journey, how everything came together, and there you are. Keep it going, don’t give up, choose people as well as you choose a life partner. Have some rules, and meetings regular enough no one gets pissy about small stuff, usually up to them anyway. Do not suffer fools lightly, they can be dangerous to the ‘community’.
    I truly hope you do go for this, build the shared facilities, to me, this IS what the Tiny House movement is all about. NOT 80K Tiny Houses. They are nice, and if you can afford that, great. Yet as you so well put it, not everyone can. Yet many need/want to live simply and want to live in a small space they OWN.
    I am so proud. Sounds weird I know, but I am. Proud to see you post your Tiny House, make the video, and tell your story. Proudest of the outcome.

    Please keep us informed through this site as you progress, and grow….I wish you all of the wonders of life and the joy of today, everyday.

    Sincerly,
    Rishia
    The One Who Writes As Fast As She Talks

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  • hunter May 5, 2014, 1:05 pm

    for all the rain water catchers out there. a company called harbor freight sells pressure boosting pumps. add a tank for the house and I think you could make a pretty good pressure shower. just saying.

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  • liam August 10, 2014, 8:49 am

    Saw you guys on tv in england! Now i have to give this ago myself! :) great job

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  • Lisa E. August 26, 2014, 3:43 pm

    This place looks SO much bigger on the inside than one thinks it is looking at it from the outside. Great job; all bases covered with forthcoming shower.

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