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He built a debt-free tiny house for only $15k and it even has an elevator bed!

This is the story of Tyler who is an engineering grad and the tiny house that he built for only $15,000 USD thanks to the help of friends, family, and recycled materials. Isn’t it pretty cool that tiny houses on trailers can be an inexpensive and mobile housing option?

Update: Of course, it’s 2021 now, and today, this tiny house would probably cost much more to build because of the rise in lumber prices and other building materials.

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Tyler’s $15k Tiny House Built Debt-free

He was even able to design and build his own lift-bed.

This is really cool because you get the space-saving benefits of a sleeping loft without the cramped feeling of being in a loft when you’re sleeping.

A crank-lift sleeping loft is definitely something I would consider in a tiny house, but here’s the rest of the tiny home…

With today’s lumber prices, it would be even harder to build a tiny house like this for less than $20,000.

But it could still very well be possible with enough patience.

You may be able to find the right reclaimed materials at more affordable rates.

Tyler is an engineering grad who built a budget-friendly DIY tiny house to give himself the gift of a debt-free home, and because he enjoyed the challenge of bringing a project like this to life.

Video Tour: Engineering Grad’s $15k Tiny House

When we first heard about Tyler’s tiny house, we didn’t have many details about his build, so it was a complete surprise when we walked in and learned about the really innovative designs he used for his elevator bed and for his radiant heated-ceiling heat system.

We were also impressed with home much of his build was done with reclaimed materials, resulting in a budget and eco-friendly project that came in at $20,000 CAD (~$15,000 USD).

Learn More

YouTube | Exploring Alternatives | Website

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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!
{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Susanne Boyd
    December 5, 2018, 4:14 pm

    Absolutely amazing ideas!!! I’m super happy for you and your creation!! I have a question for Tyler……is it, or could it be, equipped for solar power (or generator powered) if the electricity ever goes out in the park you live in??
    Thank you in advance for your time😊

    • Alex
      December 8, 2018, 7:09 am

      Hi Susanne, it definitely could be hooked up with a solar system along with a battery bank.

      • Susanne Boyd
        December 8, 2018, 8:30 am

        Thank you so much!! Goals….I have lots of goals 😊

  • Sheila Plourde
    December 5, 2018, 9:20 pm

    Impressive. He had very good taste. Love the heated ceiling idea. The roof and the outside was smart. Very nice inside. The elevator bed. Very cool!

    • Alex
      December 8, 2018, 7:10 am

      That’s the first time I’ve heard of a heated ceiling! Very cool… Especially for a tiny house where you sleep up in the loft.

      • James D.
        December 8, 2018, 6:31 pm

        Radiant can be placed just about anywhere… Just a question of cost and how you want the heat to spread… But it can also be used for cooling and creating thermal mass effect when using hydronic or similar…

        Radiant ceilings are one of the options that can be done during a home retrofit that can help earn points towards LEED certification…

        SSHC, Inc… INDEECO… AERO Tech Manufacturing are examples of commercial manufacturers of radiant ceiling panels…

        Some have even done the floor, walls, and ceiling for a complete envelope but that’s a bit overkill and expensive…

        • Alex
          December 12, 2018, 4:34 am

          Thanks for the good info, James!

  • Sandi B
    December 7, 2018, 10:52 pm

    Very well designed and organized. My favorite part is the bed — it is a great solution for many people who do not want to sleep in a loft. I have seen these beds in toy haulers. To be able to have your “bedroom” up and out of the way and be able to have double use of space without a loft solves a lot of problems for many people.

    The heated ceiling is also a good idea and how he went about designing it — I agree, it is better than a heated floor. However I do like the wood/pellet stoves as well for the ambience they provide and they do a good job of heating as well for minimal cost and you do not have to worry about propane etc.

    I also like the bathroom going across the trailer — I hate bathrooms that are part of the kitchen area — rather have a rear bathroom and a pullman kitchen or whatever. Kudos on this build — super job, well though out!

    • Alex
      December 8, 2018, 6:58 am

      I agree – I love the idea to avoid lofts and still have the space saving benefits of a loft. Even though usually with these bed lifts your bed ends up sitting up higher than usual which can be uncomfortable to access so it wouldn’t work for everyone.

      • James D.
        December 8, 2018, 6:58 pm

        Could actually design it to lower all the way, just depends what you have under it…

        For an example of a more flexible design, check out Houses Built Tiny Youtube channel and watch the “The Biggest 200ft Tiny House Ever” video… At the 12 minute 20 second mark he shows how the elevator bed can be lowered to normal bed height…

        But everything has its trade offs and there’s other reasons why an elevator bed won’t be for everyone…

        • kelly wright
          May 15, 2020, 1:39 pm

          Boy, you SAID it!! The theme of my life this week has been “Everyhthing has its trade off!” I’m making the leap to realize full time RV life to roam for about a year… and… well – trade offs and more trade offs! Lol! You say, ok this is PERFECT! But… then the weight is more than u wanna tow, ok, fine… then you find a better weight, and… hmmm what happened to the abundant storage?? Anyway…love this guys’ build and neat tricks for space saving… and big props for the savvy repurposing and up cycling 👍🏻👍🏻

  • >>>==James===>
    June 1, 2019, 8:10 pm

    Just wondering why I haven’t seen anyone using hammocks as a sleeping option in tiny homes? When not in use they can be tucked away anywhere taking up no more space than two grapefruit. They can easily be hung at whatever height is convenient and who can deny a hammock is about the most comfortable thing this side of heaven?! I’m 50 years old and have slept in a hammock for the last five years and mine is adjusted so I can get in and out of it easily even with my legs, which are feeling the degenerative effect of 32 years of diabetes. Plus the total cost is less than $100! The weight is negligible too. They can fit easily even in narrow homes as well.

    • Donna Millermcnutt
      June 2, 2019, 10:00 pm

      I cannot imagine sleeping in a hammock!! I have a Pauley’s Island 🌴 (S.C.) very high quality with authentic hand tied and knotted rope, I’ve had it for 20+ years. I can sit in it for a while, I’ve TRIED to sleep in it but it is not comfortable at all. Maybe it’s just me…..

    • Eric
      March 12, 2022, 5:27 am

      I can tell you that in New Zealand there are a fair number of tiny homes that are hammock friendly. I’ve seen some of THT as well.

  • keepyourpower
    June 1, 2019, 8:50 pm

    Now you need Simpli Safe to protect your home. Do you pay home insurance? RV insurance? How much?

  • Donna Millermcnutt
    June 2, 2019, 10:07 pm

    I love, love, love to hear stories like this one. The young man is REALLY LIVING “MORTGAGE FREE”. I hate to hear how people are “living mortgage free” when the tiny house cost them UPWARDS OF $70-80-90 thousand dollars!!!! Seriously! If someone has that much cash laying around, then WHY are they building a TINY house?? And if they borrowed the money 💰 then they are NOT MORTGAGE FREE, now are they?

    • Eric
      April 4, 2020, 5:15 am

      Donna, I think that you’ll find that a mortgage is a loan on real estate, i.e. land, or land and building(s)

      While they may have borrowed money to build their tiny home it wouldn’t qualify for a mortgage because it isn’t, for want of a better term, tied to the land via foundation.

      And, not being American, I understand that to buy a house there, and I realise “that” varies considerably depending on location, costs considerably more than the cost of the “average” tiny home.

      • Rene Klein
        March 3, 2021, 7:35 am

        It really depends on where in America you are–in California, a small 2-bedroom 1-bath is over $250K. In Seattle, prices are similarly high. In Florida, that same home is still $200K. At that point, a $60K or even 100K tiny home is still cheaper than a traditional house.

        On the other hand, there are a couple of 2-bedroom 1-baths on the market here in central Arkansas for just under $25K, so the only reason even a $60K tiny home would make sense is if you want it for a mobile lifestyle. I could see a travel nurse or industrial construction worker having a great reason to take their home on the road with them; it avoids the issue of having to support two households that way.

  • Deb Berkebile
    March 23, 2020, 12:41 pm

    Wow alot of great ideas here! I have been wanting to build one for a few years now. Was waiting on retirement? The way the world is of of now, that might come sooner than later. I would love to hear about your resources for your reclamined items. Do hire out!? I would love to collaborate on ideas and the systems that you have put in place! Alot of great ideas that you have come up with. I may need a hired hand when I get ready. For 15K I could almost start anytime!
    How heavy is the home once you finished it?

  • Kathy
    January 27, 2022, 4:12 pm

    Very nice -well thought out and executed! Question – is there any reason that a “garage” couldn’t be added on the kitchen/bath end to accommodate your utility room? No criticism, I am just wondering….it would free up some of the valuable floor and wall space for various type of storage needed inside. I do like this house a lot! And love your price tag, even if paying some one to build, pipe and wire it would at least double it, the end price would still be OK. Recyclying and reusing has to be embraced if one wants to save. And you have done a great job! Congratulations and good wishes!

  • Linda K Howell
    January 10, 2023, 3:04 am

    Hello: I wanted to know do you people ever build a regular small tiny house?
    Because all I’ve ever seen was some bus, camper, or RV’s and very small trailers.
    And every one of them has some kinda stairs with the bedrooms on the loft.
    I’M not so much into those types of tiny homes. They are somewhat cute but they are not for me.
    I would love to see a beautiful family real tiny 2 or 3 bedrooms with 1 or 2 bathrooms. Home with everything on one floor and in it’s own place not my kitchen right in my bedroom or my bathroom right through my kitchen. I need room to move forward and around my house.

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