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$19,000 Tiny Cabin on a Trailer and Quality versus Price

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Wanted to show you this $19,000 Tiny Cabin on a Trailer.

Just 128-square-feet in size with RV-style faux wood interior.

The kitchenette has a plugin two-burner stove, microwave, and small refrigerator.

It’s located in Tennessee and does include the all-so-common upstairs sleeping loft to use as a bedroom.

It’s difficult to tell what was used for siding on the exterior from the photos but overall not bad for the price.

I’d prefer to invest a little more money when building for better materials inside like tongue & groove pine, but that’s just me.

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$19,000 Tiny Cabin on a Trailer and Quality vs Price

The idea of a lakeside tiny house on wheels seems really nice.

This one has vaulted style ceilings with a fan that’ll easily circulate the air in here.

Interior of Tiny Cabin on Wheels

Above you can also notice the extra room above the entrance that can be used for decorations or storage. It also looks like there are two little closets on each side of the door.

Looks like faux wood was used for the interior walls much like those found in motorhomes and travel trailers.

Kitchenette in Tiny Cabin on Wheels

You can get a peak at the upstairs sleeping loft below.

Tiny Cabin's Sleeping Loft


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What are your thoughts on using quality materials in tiny houses? Would you go with whatever you can get your hands on that’s reclaimed, whatever is most inexpensive, or would you splurge for the best?


  1. http://tinyhouselistings.com/cozy-cottage-2/


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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!
{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Jennifer
    August 22, 2012, 8:34 am

    You know. I’ll bet the owner uses different materials next go round. That said, this is a lovely little house. Perhaps the intention was just to get’er done… and make improvements later.

    • August 22, 2012, 8:39 am

      Thanks, Jennifer! Well and it’s definitely a good price. Most similar tiny houses with better materials cost quite a bit more. Thanks again!

  • August 22, 2012, 10:25 am

    Currently building our own tiny house I think the idea of cost -vs- quality truly depends on the level of living you intend on doing in your tiny house. Let me explain some. We have budgeted $12,500 for our tiny house. This was reasonable because our trailer was used and we got it almost for a steal. Mix that with our sponsors and their generosity we were able to really do some great things including our custom tiny gourmet kitchen, our cork flooring, our full size granite composite sink, a heat/air system, etc. More than likely we will go over budget and we are okay with that because we are building our HOME. We aren’t building just a tiny house. We are building our HOME; we will be living full time in it for the foreseeable future.

    If a person is building a tiny house to be used as a lakeside retreat or a cabin or even a part-time domicile than certainly some corners can be cut. You can go with a few less “extravagant” materials.

    I do have a fear though. My fear is that builders and just general contractors will soon start to saturate the tiny house community trying to capitalize on what they see as a housing trend. That will drive up costs and inflate the market; a market that prides itself on affordability and debt reduction.

    • deborah
      August 22, 2012, 3:50 pm

      My thoughts exactly of late… 🙁

    • August 22, 2012, 4:06 pm

      Great points, Drew, thank you so much.

  • Andy Hawkins
    August 22, 2012, 10:34 am

    Like any choice of dwelling the question of cost vs quality is down to personal choice. However in Tiny Houses I think the skill level of the owner/builder also plays a big part.

    A plug in two burner stove is an easier option than something that runs back to a propane cylinder, 4×8 sheets of wallboard are cheaper than installing T&G but also much easier to install.

    I think it’s as much a question of taste vs skill as it is quality vs cost.

    I don’t share Drew’s fears of mainstream builders driving up the costs by their involvement, after all car mechanics haven’t driven up the cost do-it-yourself car repairs and after market parts.

    • August 22, 2012, 4:09 pm

      Excellent point, Andy. I didn’t really think of that but it’s true. I have seen a lot of tiny houses built subpar and most of the time it seems that it’s just lack of experience. But I still give it to them for going for it and completing the project.

      I don’t fear mainstream builders either. I think I welcome it. My hope is that instead of it driving costs up that it does the opposite. If a builder is selling lots of homes every year it gives them a chance to make the process more efficient and the price savings should be passed on.

  • Rickles
    August 22, 2012, 10:35 am

    First and foremost – it’s over priced (as are most tiny homes).

    It looks nice enough, but it’s readily apparent that the builder cut some corners.

    The use of “RV-style faux wood” inside rather than TNG is um, well shall we say unique. IMHO it’s no different than a low end park model. I’ve seen a few folks labeling park model housing as tiny housing and there is certainly a difference.

    Namely the difference is in construction and quality of materials. I’m not saying you can’t and shouldn’t cut corners, but there’s a right way and a wrong way…

    Reclaimed wood, cabinets, doors, fixtures: YES

    Gaudy $12 sheet ply, laminate counters, Luan door and “rests” cabinet : NO

    I’m almost afraid to see a close up of the exterior! 🙂

    • August 22, 2012, 4:10 pm

      LOL thanks Rickles. I agree.

  • Joe3
    August 22, 2012, 10:44 am

    I also have a ‘almost free’ 8 x 24 tandum axle trailer I’m stripping for a tiny home. I don’t have the sponsors, and it will all come out of my pocket…so this is a very interesting question for me. I’m not going to cut corners and realise it will take the building process a little longer because it’s a pay as I go project. I will shop HfH resale and Craigslist, but basics like siding will be new. I’m more concerned with materials weight, I’d love to use Hardyboard, but it’s very heavy, and when combined with 3/4 T&G Southern yellow pine and conventional house framing I get more concerned. I wish there was an easy way to figure out total weight without weighing every piece that goes into a build. My plan doesn’t include moving the tiny home, so that might be a plus.

    • Joe3
      August 22, 2012, 10:51 am

      Let me add this, I’m currently living in a 1928 ~ 500 ft2 1/1 home on my property and I’m comfortable. This is more of an exercise in theraputic building for me. I have 25 years of building and remodeling skills and am just looking to be creative with no intention of selling. I could use it as a guest house, or an extra room, or just for storage.

    • August 22, 2012, 4:13 pm

      Great plan Joe! Thanks a lot for sharing. All that stuff does add up to be pretty heavy. I guess you can consider aluminum framing to lighten it up quite a bit just have to take extra measure to seal/glue screws so they don’t rattle off if you ever move it. But since you don’t plan on moving it, it might be more fun to use wood. Looking forward to more updates from you on the project. Sounds like it’s going to be fun.

      • Joe3
        August 22, 2012, 6:51 pm

        Thanks Alex, I’m in St. Petersburg ? close to you?

  • Dina
    August 22, 2012, 11:55 am

    For me, this is why (if you have the option to do so) you really should take your time. Plan, study, talk to others, save your money and then build it yourself. That’s what I’m doing. I’d never skimp on quality. Get er done can and most lekely will mean ‘gotta do it over and do it over and do it over’…not my speed at all.

    • August 22, 2012, 4:14 pm

      Excellent point Dina, even though folks do learn from their mistakes, why not take our time and do it as best we can the first time around. Thanks!

    • Jennifer
      August 23, 2012, 3:41 pm

      Budget, timeline, weight… I can think of a dozen reasons why you’d choose a lower end product with the intention to replace it later. Maybe that’s just my perspective because I see Tiny Homes as an intermediate step for young or transitioning homeowners.

      • Dina
        August 23, 2012, 4:01 pm

        I look at the home as a permanent way to live, hence my perspective. That AND the fact that if I were to pass it on to someone else, I would not want to be providing less durable and or less quality material. And, the double work for replacement as single woman at the age of 50 is just not appealing!! LOL! As you said, it’s all in one’s personal perspective.

  • alice h
    August 22, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Let’s not get too snobby here people, maybe this is the look the owner prefers. There is nothing wrong with laminate countertops (just don’t put hot pots on them or use them for cutting boards!) Is that “faux wood” or just plywood? Possibly the real wood veneer back side of some fake wood panelling. It still looks better than the grooved pressboard covered with photos of wood type stuff. Some people have used birch plywood which looks way better to me, but someone may actually prefer this and they may really dislike t&g. “Good quality materials” in my view means they’re very functional, well suited to the purpose and will stand up to use, not necessarily linked to aesthetic decisions. “Higher end” means higher expenses and not everybody is willing and/or able to work that way. I don’t happen to like hollow core doors, or even metal doors but they can serve the purpose. If it means the difference between having a tiny house or not having a tiny house . . . If you want and can afford the expensive stuff, go for it, but as long as the place is structurally sound and functional you can always upgrade a bit at a time. This kitchen, or what I can see of it, isn’t particulary functional for full time living but it would be simple to fix that. The panelling is a bit “loud” but that can be toned down with decorative elements like art, curtains, etc.

    • August 22, 2012, 4:17 pm

      Thanks, Alice. Not 100% sure if it is faux wood. It could be plywood. I’ve seen stained plywood look pretty darn good before. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  • Rebecca B. A. R.
    August 22, 2012, 5:02 pm

    I agree with Alice H. that people can get pretty snobby with materials used. Whenever I see all that T&G, especially when it is put on horizontally, all I can think of is that they would be a nightmare to keep dust-free–which would be awful for my allergies. I love hardwood floors, but they aren’t always as easy to clean (especially if there are any grooves between boards) or keep from being ruined, when you have messy pets, as say linoleum. I don’t like granite counter tops, and would actually choose laminate instead (if I only had those 2 choices). I am much more into function instead of looks and cost, and many “lower grade” materials work just as well for me as the “higher end” stuff. People have different tastes, and if someone is looking to be truly debt-free, I can understand people going for perfectly functional lower-grade materials (which are usually cheaper) that work for their life that they are going to live in their tiny house.

    • Candide33
      June 14, 2014, 6:19 pm

      I am with you, I kinda like the shabby chic look especially if it is the bright colors like in the 50s and 60s.

      I love the huge wire spool table that was in my grandparent’s yard where we ate watermelon standing up around the table or the shower made out of old metal Coke signs that was in the underneath screened in part of my Aunt’s house on stilts by the river.

      There are a lot of things that are just a matter of taste. Like Swedish furniture, it may be very well built but I don’t like the look of it.

  • LaMar
    August 25, 2012, 12:34 pm

    I spent under $2000 to build my solar cabin and I used some new materials and some recycled and rough sawn materials. Windows and doors were recycled and free.

    Almost all appliances were salvaged from my old camp trailer for free.

    It is all up to the individual and your budget and may also depend on if you pln on living in it for a lifetime, short time residence or resale value.

    Since I do not plan to move or sell my cabin it only has to please me and is built to last my lifetime.

    All houses big or small should use good materials and construction techniques but paying more for a prettier material is just a personal decision.

    • Tiana
      August 30, 2012, 5:33 am

      I have frequently found that reclaimed lumber is better than new. Old-growth vs. production growth I would guess. Same for many things, our “throne” for example. Full flush, never clogs. We keep the gallons in mind, flush only for serious, and hold the paper for the burn barrel. Like our marine head on the sailboat we can afford because our 20×24 cabin is paid for. And for me that IS higher end, the only higher being self-made (as in…”if you want it done your way you have to do it your-self”) with the caveat that you won’t live long enough to make all the mistakes your-self, so learn as much from others (mistakes) as you can!
      High end means longer service life with less maintainence.

  • Mark Kollett
    August 25, 2012, 2:58 pm

    OR they were doing the best they could with the money availible to them…………… Just a thought

    • Martha Federle
      August 25, 2012, 9:11 pm

      Mark you said it perfectly, and I can’t improve on how you said it.

  • Michael
    August 28, 2012, 12:39 pm

    Of course decking the entire interior out in finished mahogany board and real golden trim with ruby windows would be nice, but it definitely isn’t necessary. A structure can still be made strong and inexpensive and be appealing if the designer is creative enough. For myself spending over $20,000 is out of the question, but lowering that price makes my goal more feasible.

  • Angela
    September 15, 2012, 10:25 am

    Everyone’s taste is different so I understand the varing views on the inside and outside of this tiny house. I also would do it differently: I’m not a fan of T&G unless it is real knotty pine as was used in the 1950’s; I like laminate countertops; price is a big consideration for me so I will always try to find a cheaper/less expensive way to do something. Also I am older with no building skills so I will have to have a contractor build my tiny house for me and I have no property except a condo so buying a place to put my house is will cost money also.

  • Pam Opalacz
    August 21, 2016, 12:01 pm

    We have tossed this idea back and forth for quite sometime. We are coming up to retirement years, will have nothing to survive off of except SS. I am already disabled so we struggle now. What our dream is and we would do it now if one, my husband could get a job near by as an electrician. Our dream is to live somewhere in or around the NC or TN mountains, with a tiny house that my husband can build, where our home would be permanent, our grands could visit and enjoy the beauty of the trees changing color, and snow. Not a lot of snow but some to enjoy its peacefulness. Our problem is finding a place that will allow tiny houses in those areas, not spending a ton of money, but have the quality of permanent, and most of all a bedroom downstairs where a disabled person can sleep, a loft where the grands can sleep with stairs, and a good portion of storage, with toilets that you dont have to dump. Some of these may be sacrificed but, does anyone know of an affordable place in the mountain areas of these states that permit tiny permanent homes?

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