≡ Menu

Couple Build 100-sq.-ft. Tiny House for $7,000

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 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 of weeks in February.

Don’t miss other super cool tiny homes kind of like this – join our FREE Tiny House Newsletter for more!

Couple’s $7,000 Tiny House, And How They Built It

Ethans DIY Tiny House

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.

Windows in Ethan's Tiny Home

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.

Interior of Ethan's DIY Tiny House

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 a community kitchen and cabana area.

While building my tiny house I ran into several roadblocks 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 [email protected] and I would be more than happy to answer any questions directly.

Office Area in Ethan's Tiny Home

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.

Desk in Ethan's Tiny House

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.

Ethan's DIY Tiny House Lifestyle

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 within 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.”

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 the 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 a fixed income or low income such as myself. So I would love to help others affordably achieve their dreams.

Our big thanks to Ethan for sharing!🙏

You can share this using the e-mail and social media re-share buttons below. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this you’ll LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more!

You can also join our Small House Newsletter!

Also, try our Tiny Houses For Sale Newsletter! Thank you!

More Like This: Tiny Houses | DIY

See The Latest: Go Back Home to See Our Latest Tiny Houses

The following two tabs change content below.


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!
{ 33 comments… add one }
  • 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.

  • 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

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

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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).

    • 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 [email protected]

  • 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.

    • 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 🙂

  • 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.

    • 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 🙂

      • Alex
        February 20, 2014, 9:27 am

        Thanks for the update Ethan!

        • 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.

  • vstanley
    February 28, 2014, 8:32 am

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

  • 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.

    The One Who Writes As Fast As She Talks

  • 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.

  • liam
    August 10, 2014, 8:49 am

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

  • 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.

  • Alex
    January 30, 2015, 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement, Ethan. I have been watching the tiny house movement closely for a few months now. I’m an unmarried 60 year old woman on a very small income (less than $13,000 a year) with no building skills. I saved up for a year to finance a trip to Brazil next month and when I get back “A Tiny House For Me” is the next project. Your story is one of the first that has given me a glimmer of hope that a “poor” person can also have a tiny home. Thanks.

  • Ruby Cyr
    July 21, 2015, 8:28 pm

    I am on a very limited income but in the process of selling my 1700 sq ft home. I am very interested in building a Tiny Home and have friends who can help me being as I am disabled. I am looking towards a 140 – 150 sq ft home. Your offer to help and your ideas are very encouraging thank you.

  • Dug
    April 1, 2017, 6:47 pm

    Just a shame it’s really NOT possible to full-time it like this in the UK.
    I have been researching the “Only” options any UK resident has, which is very few let me tell you, in the USA your very lucky in that most US areas allow TH of some sort or other and often supply areas for them to park.
    If only this were the case in the UK it would be so much easier, the only real way that’s safe, without issue in the UK is to drive at night and sleep daytime, when folk would see you otherwise, I know someone who does exactly that, and who is currently over touring France/Spain over our winter, after which he will return, take back up his a rented taxi and work flat out till our winter starts to take hold and he would be off again
    My idea work/life balance but really not feasible in or around major towns as I am.
    A simple check of the local area building regs will very rapidly expose what we UK residents face day in day out the regs are quite clear it’s basically NOT allowed nor able to.
    If I have missed something or you know better than I do, by all means tell me. I’m a friendly likeminded TH enthusiast from the UK at the research stage of a custom build and require help, advice and guidance throughout so if you have already carried that this is your way of life now? It used to

    • Dug
      April 1, 2017, 7:02 pm

      ## Note continuation of above post ## or used to be your way of life in the UK (only please) then I most certainly want to speak to you, to essentially pick yout brains to gain relative knowledge and the “tricks of the sector” if you like, as I know some are living like this I just don’t know how ? Can you help ?
      I am a registered LT disabled claimant who has no limit on where I go, how I essentially live and where etc hold little ties thus I am open to mostly any suggestion, ideas, communes, communities or single unit occupancies, landlords with suitable land, please contact me at [email protected] as soon as possible please and allow my decades old wish to live sustainably in the open countryside preferably in beautiful Highland Scotland but it’s not ruling out many rural areas of Engkand too.
      I duly look forward to hearing from anyone who can help in anyway however large or small mostly in reference to sighting but also in building a reclaimed material unit, likes of where to Best Buy materials? That type of thing, many thanks in advance of all replies

      Yours “Keep On Living The Dream”

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 3, 2017, 8:22 am

      Hi Dug, Have you looked into RV parks? If you could find one (or two) that you could park in during the year? I know when I researched one you could only live there for 6 months, but if you have freedom of movement you might be able to move halfway through the year and just keep going back and forth with little to no issue.

      • Dug
        April 3, 2017, 10:54 am

        @Natalie – Many thx but our caravan sites even in general are NOT open through the entire 12m of a year, many in actual fact taking from Christmas break > Easter off when they close their sites down making it at best a 9 month season not much use to a TH or a resident tiny homes owner is it 🙂 🙂 Let me say that both Scotland & The UK are superb for many thinks but sunshine & year round camping have yet to reach here

        • Natalie C. McKee
          April 4, 2017, 5:31 am

          Haha that’s the truth! I was just thinking it might be worth calling around and seeing if ANY would let you stay for those winter months (summer months are easy to find). Also: People with farmland. It wouldn’t be legal, but maybe someone owns enough farmland that you could park an off-grid THOW without being noticed? I see a lot of beautiful rolling hills. Maybe just sneak in a corner behind some trees, haha?

        • Karen Blackburn
          November 15, 2018, 5:04 am

          There used to be a campsite/caravan ground in Lingfield, Sussex?, on a farm which was open all year and had a number of full time residents living in large caravans all year round. We were there for 18mths when my husband was working in Crawley. This was 1994 so have no idea if it’s still there. Here in Ireland there are a number of mobile home sites open to residents all year round, there was one in Birr, Offaly, and there is another near Drogheda in Meath. My aunt and Uncle had a caravan on a site in Eastbourne which was open all year round as well. They retired there in their 80s, no idea if it’s still there. I currently live in a 38ft mobile in someone’s back garden here in Ireland. This is very common and there are a lot of gardens around with a mobile in them and someone living there. This could be another option, you need planning permission here so guessing you would there as well. Failing that, advertise on Facebook or Craigslist, we will be as our landlady is selling up reluctantly due to early onset (she is 43) Alzheimers but we are hoping to rent our own land and put a mobile on it this time, at least we would own the mobile. Also tasljbto your local councillors and TD/MP as they should know either where there are sites in the area or the best places to enquire further. Another one would be the caravanning groups who will know of sites allowing all year round residence. Also search Facebook for groups of mobile home/caravan owners who are also likely to know of sites.

    April 2, 2017, 6:08 pm

    Well it’s Tiny any way….!

  • Sheila Plourde
    November 14, 2018, 9:14 pm

    This is adorable. Love the windows. Very clever and I can see how it would bring a couple closer together. When you finish you’re other Tiny Home. I hope to see it. Real clever concept.

  • Alex Bub
    November 20, 2018, 11:27 am

    Regarding internet access: I use a Verizon Hot Spot when traveling so I don’t need to rely on unprotected routers at hotels/motels. It works even when at a cabin in the deep woods in upper Wisconsin. Or get a smart phone with internet access. But the Hot Spot works great when I’m in my truck camper.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.