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$10k DIY Off Grid Solar Tiny House

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This 185 sq. ft. off-grid solar tiny house design was submitted as part of LaMar’s off grid tiny house design contest where you can win up to $500 if you submit a design before 6/30/14.

Jonathan Marcoux’s squared eco house is 12’3″ x 12’3″. It has a water harvesting system, solar heating, solar panels, aquaponics farming system, and more.

Construction will be primarily 2″x4″. Heating will be provided mainly by firewood but a propane system can be integrated as a back up. Water heating in the summer is taken care of by a solar roof water heater. In the winter the wood stove can be used to heat water. And a propane instant hot water heater can also be installed.

DIY Off Grid Solar Tiny House for Only $10K?


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Learn more over at the original post at Simple Solar Homesteading.

Also- see how you can win up to $500 cash for designing & submitting your own off grid tiny house design using SketchUp!

Do You Think It Can Really Be Built for only $10k?

Just curious.. Let me know yes or no and why in the comments (if you want to). Thanks!

If you enjoyed this $10k DIY off grid solar tiny house design Re-Share it using the buttons below, join our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter for more and join the conversation in the comments below!

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • John Braun
    June 12, 2014, 7:08 pm

    I believe it can easily be built for 10K. The limit would be how much work is the person doing themselves and how much are they farming out. Its only 144 sf. plus the loft. If you are buying $2K toilets or $99 ones, what your appliances cost, window costs and such all this enters into the formula.
    Right now the average track house is running at most $25 sf. for the material and that is turn key. I just designed a 866 sf. house I am building next spring that will hit $27.80 sf. for the material but that includes everything as in ready to move in. I used Home Depot on line prices for material. I did not take my discount they will give me for buying everything for a whole house. I had to very carefully figure it out as I wanted a weight on the house as its a float house so its displacement is important. So it was figured down to the last stud, joist and nail.
    While material is not free is nothing compared to labor. Just put a roof on my current house. $2200 for the material and it took me 5 days. The local roofers wanted 10 to 12K. Not bad wages for a old guy.

  • Kevin
    June 12, 2014, 7:10 pm

    It will be awfully close….the building materials will tell the tale….

  • Brook
    June 12, 2014, 7:18 pm

    Putting a fake price is bad for the Tiny House Community. It devalues the real costs of materials, labor, tools and expertise. If you build it for $10k then you should explain how much unpaid labor, borrowed tools etc.

    • jerryd
      June 15, 2014, 4:14 pm

      Brook, I agree with John it can be done for $10k . I have just finished a similar size plain one for $1500 in materials. No reason this design would be over $5k in materials, likely less.

      I’ll be glad to build it for profit at $10k with the equipment shown either turnkey or less depending on what a customer wants or flat packed. And nicely profitable. Just takes good design and selection of materials for good value.

      Tiny homes shouldn’t cost as much as many charge. Like John said materials for a 1500sq’ home doesn’t cost $25-30k if designed well. Labor the same or less in Fla. There are 8 new ticky-tacky subdivisions going in inside of 1 mile of me BTW, costing that for the homes before land, profit tripling it ;^(

      Fact is making them from builder made SIP’s is not just lighter, lower cost, better energy eff but far stronger. Most stick built TH’s will fall apart if used to travel and require a far larger tow vehicle with around 6mpg.

      Vs one so strong, light, aero a mini pickup can tow them with near just the pickup’s regular mileage for aero reasons.

      It’s just good design allows best use of materials with less labor. Many TH designs are needlessly labor, material pigs making them harder, more expensive for no good reason, either profit or for the buyer.

      So speak for yourself as there are many other ways that are lower cost, better if one bothers to learn.


      • Brook
        June 15, 2014, 7:03 pm

        I’m a general contractor who has built a few tiny homes. What’s your background and hourly? Your numbers for a 1500 s.f. House are total BS. You could pay 25k for just your roofing system and insulation. You sound like a young, inexperienced non professional.

        • jerryd
          June 15, 2014, 10:44 pm

          Brook maybe you need to look at why your’s is so costly?

          Again I just built a 144sq’ for $1500 in materials and $1k in labor as I’m handicapped so can’t do much anymore.

          I’ve been a home, commercial roofer, electrician and carpenter along with composites, boat design, build, production for 45 yrs.

          For labor electrician labor for a $1500sq’ house here you only get $500/unit. Carpentry labor only $1k. So where is all this time, labor you speak of?

          2 people can do a new roof in a day, No? They do here.

          Sorry you have such limited experience and can’t make a good profit at a reasonable price. But it’s your problem, not mine.
          My Family are contractors too.

          Again I have no problem building this example for the $10k price with a good $3k profit in 1 month. I’m just both good and not greedy.
          When I was younger I’d have this structure up in 3 days ready for finishing. What about it you think is hard?

      • Jenn
        December 1, 2014, 3:03 pm

        I am looking for a builder, if you say you would do it for 10k I would like to talk. However, I am extremely skeptical.

  • Glema
    June 13, 2014, 3:20 am

    Hi fellas,
    Look, cost is always going to be estimates which is not an exact science, be realistic. Each state is different, each local can have differing prices. So, I would make a list of materials needed to build my tiny house the way i want it to be, THEN price at all the locations nearest me where I could drive my truck and pick them up myself. That would give me several to choose from. In addition, I would price salvaged materials from as many different places as possible also locally that I could. And in the end would still come up with an overall “estimate” of price. So, when someone gives an estimated cost, one must take into consideration that it could cost more to build and then, add the labor of others in the cost for things you KNOW you cannot do for yourself or will need help doing. Simple. THINK amazing little grey matter called a brain works wonders. Stop fussin. If you need help estimating, ask those whom you KNOW are knowledgeable about the subject. It’s ok to ask for help. God bless and Happy Trails!

    • jerryd
      June 15, 2014, 4:25 pm

      Glema, might I suggest another way?

      Go out and price materials, choose the best at the lowest cost that are easy, low labor to do especially for you or those you hire, then design to them.

      For instance 1/4” ply with 2” foam and 1/4-1/8” inside panel of your choice is very strong, light, low cost/sq’ and great insulation except up north going to 3-4”. good for roof, walls using 1/2” for floors.

      Look at some vids from SIP suppliers, etc on it, how it’s joined, etc , it’s not hard.

  • ben
    June 13, 2014, 12:23 pm

    This house is only doable in certain climates. Either in a temperate zone or the northeast or Canada. The terrace would burn me up here in south Louisiana. Also moisture from the aquaponics system would be of great concern in any climate. I have been living in a tiny house for awhile now and just moisture from a wet towel is a problem. My next project I will be building bigger. Going to buy a farm with an apartment in a barn and dismantle my tiny house and rebuild it in the barn to remodel the apartment. Cool idea though. Just put the aquaponics in a greenhouse outside.

  • MaXx
    June 13, 2014, 1:14 pm

    I think you can build the shell, even have someone build the shell for you for $10k. Finishing it off on the other hand…. that’s gonna depend.
    But it’s important to note that the cost of erecting the shell, even with labor and materials can often seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the other costs such as land, legal and infrastructure.

  • TomLeeM
    June 15, 2014, 8:27 pm

    I think that is really neat, especially the way the roof parts to a place where one can see from above and opens up.

  • Lily de Grey
    June 8, 2015, 8:42 am

    That’s a beautifully designed house, Alex! I love the idea of making the roof out of solar panels. That might be expensive, so I’ll likely have to save up! I wonder how much they’ll cost me. Do you know if there are solar panel kits that you can install yourself?

    Lily de Grey |

  • Eileen Anderson
    June 8, 2015, 1:27 pm

    This is also great..Does someone come and build it ??need to knoe as I cannot build it myself. where is it ??does GROUND have to be perched ?? permits etc ?? Very important.. Pleas get back to me Eileen

  • Susanne
    June 8, 2015, 6:25 pm

    I suppose it depends where you are but the solar panels on the roof are supposedly more fragile that way; so better to be placed on the ground …so why are they normally on the roof?

  • Michael Harmon
    June 8, 2015, 11:34 pm

    Full disclosure here; I make my living designing and installing solar energy systems, so I will not be un-biased. On the other hand, I don’t stand to make a penny off this post so you can take my advise or ignore it. Makes no difference to me.
    Solar photovoltaic panels have become much more affordable in the last couple years. I usually use 72 cell panels. Each cell produces about .5 of a volt so a 72 cell panel is good for about 36 volts. These panels each produce about 320 watts of power.
    Solar panels are about 16% efficient at converting the Sun’s light energy into electricity. The sun bombards every square meter of this planet with about 1000 watts of energy during peak (midday) hours and therefore these panels can capture and convert about 160 watts per square meter per hour.
    A 72 cell panel happens to be about 2 meters square, or 39.4 inches wide by 79 inches long. In quantities of truck loads they cost about $240 per panel. Smaller panels are easier for a DIYer to handle but cost more per watt. These big ones are about $0.80 per watt and half size, 150 watt panels are more like $1.12 per watt. you will also need an inverter and a charge controller with matching batteries. The total cost of a well designed system will vary with the size; bigger is less per watt just like the solar panels, but a reasonable small system with storage, say 1200 watts of power with 5ooo watt hours of storage, can be had for about $3500 to $4000. About $1800 of that is the batteries. A real lowball system with 900 watts and no storage could be had for around $1000. I don’t recommend combining low cost equipment with battery storage. It will quickly ruin your batteries and they are expensive; almost half the cost of the system.
    They are not what I would call fragile. The ones I use are able to be impacted with 1″ hail stones traveling at 95 MPH. I whacked one with a baseball bat and it didn’t break. The exposed surface is tempered glass, like the side windows of a car.

    • Alex
      June 10, 2015, 9:49 am

      Thanks Michael!

    • Clarke
      June 21, 2015, 2:26 pm

      Could you please recommend what type and what size battery would be best for a 4000 w system. I am very confused when it comes to the batteries. [email protected] thank you

  • Adrienne
    June 9, 2015, 11:27 am

    Sure this could be made for 10k I would use as much reclaimed stuffas possible & mineral wool to insulate the home. That would keep the weight down. If build on piers or any kind of non permanent foundation until I could but the land.
    The solar panels don’t have to be the “standard” there’s a type that mounts to any surface &is very durable.. You could dance on it. (see gone with the wynns on YouTube) this is great!

  • Lisa E.
    June 21, 2015, 1:52 pm

    I’d like to see a lot more articles about solar panels. There seem to be different (designated) types which I didn’t realize. I’d like to know about the different types, their installation (how to,) maintenance and costs according to size. I’d also like to know if they come in different shapes so, say for example, if you have a vardo with a mollycroft or a skylight (like with the Lucky Penny,) you can buy two slim solar panel strips and put one on each side of the mollycroft. I’d also like to know all about solar batteries; like how many you need to run a 20′, 24′, 26′ THOW, and how many you need to have full power (without using propane to boost the utility usage. I would also like to know how to properly (1) buy solar batteries, (2) run the wiring for solar batteries, (3) regular maintenance (like distilled water or something,) (4) costs associated with solar batteries, and (5) different grades or qualities of solar batteries (and how to tell one from another.) I’d also like to see as many creative configurations for solar panels as possible (I’ve even imagined odd shaped solar panels embedded in the exterior walls of a cob house as permanent collection cells.)

  • Christine
    June 21, 2015, 6:51 pm

    I would love to see pics of the real deal!
    It looks amazing and judging from the comments the solar is not included in the price?

    Nice job! I think it will be heavy?

  • stu
    June 22, 2015, 1:56 am

    I feel compelled to weigh in here on the photovoltaic (solar PV) discussion. Like Michael I have designed and installed PV for a living and my main input is regarding safety. There is no one size fits all especially when it comes to battery storage, so start with the load you want to power and work back thru the system to size it properly for your needs. A few important things to consider start with the panels themselves. Once they see the sun they are making electricity! Please respect that fact and size all wiring , GROUNDING!, combiner boxes, series and or parallel connections, racking, DC and AC disconnects, breakers, inverter(s), charge controller(s) if you have batteries and the rest of balance of system components properly to enjoy the benefits of solar electric safely for decades to come.
    If this sounds like a lot to think about you are right. Education is out there for the hands on type. Otherwise, I highly recommend meeting with a professional electrician/PV installer (ideally, one that is NABCEP certified) before proceeding on your own. Often they can purchase components cheaper than you can and if your tiny house is on a fixed location, help you file for rebates offered through utilities as well as state and federal funding programs.
    I love the Tiny House “can do” energy. I think renewables should play a role in helping people realize independence from traditional power sources if possible. Best to all on your journey.

  • Becky
    June 22, 2015, 2:48 am

    I love the idea of the fish tank. Is it for viewing or for bass or tilapia? I am very interested in hydroponic systems… I LOVE this plan 🙂

    • Becky
      June 22, 2015, 2:51 am

      (I meant to say aquaponics… and then lo and behold, looked at the top of the article and it IS, it REALLY IS aquaponics! (Sorry I couldn’t find an edit or delete option for the post, hence the explanation.)

      I still love the concept and would love to see it built. 🙂

  • Pamela Jones
    June 22, 2015, 7:00 pm


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