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Jay Shafer’s Designs and Builds a $5,000 Tiny House

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This is Jay Shafer’s latest tiny house that he built for only $5,000 in material cost.

His new tiny house design is aimed at taking things back to the absolute basics and simplicity in all aspects. That means a home which is simple and pleasant to live in, simple to build and also simple to afford. This new tiny house design costs a remarkably low sum of US $5000!1

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Jay Shafer Designs/Builds a Beautiful $5k Tiny Home

Jay Shafer’s newest tiny house is ultra simplified.

There’s even a desk that doubles as a night stand. You will have to sit on the floor to use it.

Storage on both ends when you walk in. Custom french door.

Jay chooses to use the bathroom outside of his tiny house.

Video Tour of Jay Shafer’s Latest $5,000 Tiny House

Jay Shafer is a man who many know as the Godfather of the modern tiny house movement. It was 20 years ago now that he build his original tiny house on wheels and that moment has since inspired thousands of people all over the world (me included) to construct their own tiny homes.

Learn More

Jay Shafer’s Stunning $5,000 Tiny House | Original Story | Living Big In A Tiny House YouTube Channel | Jay Shafer Tiny Houses

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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!
{ 45 comments… add one }
  • Alex (CA)
    November 9, 2018, 6:16 pm

    Glad to see Jay looking so well. I know that he was having a really hard time of it not long ago.

  • Alison
    November 9, 2018, 7:59 pm

    I’m glad I took the time to look at the video. The interior design is so clean and pleasing. I could see a cluster of these tiny homes on a property with a shared kitchen and bathroom. Some of us want (and can afford) more spacious, luxurious digs, but many would be happy with a home like Jay’s. It is especially sensible for a place like coastal California, with mild climate, but exorbitant property prices.

  • D. Pedersen
    November 10, 2018, 2:35 am

    I have always liked Jay’s design. And this tiny house is yet another on the “likes” list. It is almost Japanese in it’s simplicity. I like the fact, that it is not a “kitchen” on wheels. I see no reason to build a kitchen and bathroom, if you have access to a community kitchen and bathroom. It saves the tiny house from smelling of cooked food all the time. And it saves money in the build. There should be more areas for tiny house without kitchen and bathroom – small communities with kitchen and bathroom facilities.

    • Paul
      May 14, 2020, 3:46 am

      The problem with separate kitchen and bathroom facilities is 1) it is communal which wouldn’t suit a LOT of people, and 2) travelling between your home and facility during inclement weather.

      I’ve experienced that situation while camping in a tent at camping grounds. And that’s for short periods of time… in my case only during summer. That was bad enough and I’d hate to think of what that would be like during winter, especially those areas with snowfalls.

      • Patricia A Ryan
        February 14, 2022, 7:47 pm

        That’s when you have a 5-gal bucket in the house for overnight.

        • Eric
          February 14, 2022, 10:39 pm

          Bwa ha ha haaa! Just so long as it don’t splatter.

    • jerry dycus
      December 19, 2021, 5:34 am

      Most people want their bath, kitchen where they don’t have to fight the weather says you are very wrong.
      While I like most of the interior, not really impressed as a TH, more like a tiny bedroom, part of a TH.
      If I can build a shower, toilet, kitchen in a 4′ wide, 11′ long tuktuk/3wh EV van, certainly they should find or make room for them. For instance where the end table is.
      Nor impressed it cost just $5k since I built a 10-x16′ with bath and kitchen for $4k in materials. Likely $5k now with lumber price increases.
      Why have a roof with 2 planes on such a tiny home?
      To be honest never liked most of his, other busy, needlessly complex especially roofs THs that make them 2x harder, 10-50% more to build.
      So for easy to build low cost, high value, KIS.

      • James D.
        December 19, 2021, 2:55 pm

        @jerry dycus – Well, there’s a difference from people wanting their bath, kitchen where they don’t have to fight the weather from having it all crammed into essentially the same space and still being something they would all want to live in or being given the choice of being on the streets with no shelter versus having one, even if they have to used shared resources…

        So, regardless of what you may be impressed with or not, what matters is what can be consistently be built and scaled to larger production to be applicable to the most number of people possible. Otherwise it’s just a one off build that will never change the status quo for the masses…

        While it also still has to meet the minimum requirements to function as intended regardless of location and be flexible enough to be applied to different situations and changed as needed. So it can be something that can be accepted or at least seriously considered by any and all local municipalities without being outright rejected or even considered dangerous.

        Besides, this was never intended to remain just as it is but rather intended to be just the start of a modular system that just allows for a much lower threshold to get started but still allows people to add to it as they can afford to…

        So he actually followed KIS with this… A core unit to get started that can use communal shared resources for those with the fewest resources that otherwise would have no options but still allow them to scale up to eventually provide full independence without needing to make the much bigger jump to traditional housing that causes so many to just fail and repeat the cycle of homelessness…

        While the $5K is just a rough cost for what it cost him to DIY it using the standard of someone of limited skill just using easy to find new materials and getting the tools too. Since, in reality, costs are never limited to just materials, as materials never magically transform themselves into finished homes, or provide you a place to do that work, provide you the time it takes or compensate you for the value of your labor, etc.

        However, if it’s mass produced it would actually be much less… But people can also use reclaimed materials, etc. to get that done at a lower cost. It just wouldn’t be something that other people can all consistently do the same then and consistency is the ideal to actually apply to the most people that is the point he’s striving for here… But as I’m oft to state, there are always trade offs…

  • Anna
    November 10, 2018, 8:47 am

    Congratulations Jay on such a beautiful use of a very tiny space! With a few accommodations for a colder climate and a minimal bathroom for night time visits–this is perfect to park in my son’s or daughter’s backyard! No more fighting with dogs or grandchildren for a sleeping spot on the sofa!
    I also applaud your consideration for the homeless…something like this can change a life! Thanks again for sharing this.

  • James D.
    November 12, 2018, 11:07 am

    Not everything has to fit everyone in the world you know!?

    But this is about as low cost as it gets for what he designed. At least not cheaper that’s still movable, made of commercially available materials that weren’t reclaimed or milled from a forest like a log cabin or isn’t smaller with less room to actually move about…

    Besides, you’re missing the point of providing something that could be a solution for housing homeless in a community set up with shared resources…

    This is very easily movable, being under 2000 lbs and on its own trailer, is insulated enough that it can be heated by just a candle, has plenty of storage for one person, is solar powered to provide power for lights and powering devices and provides the basics for a comfortable space to live…

    While the design cuts down on infrastructure costs that would be required to establish a new temporary housing area and make it much easier to move and establish in a new area as needed or simply to change the number of available units without additional infrastructure costs.

    But the design could also be added to if a more independent solution is needed…

  • Jenn
    November 12, 2018, 2:13 pm

    I really like this one. I love how it’s so tiny but it has so much storage & the right amount of space. Like everyone else said, I can definitely see using this if there is a community or shared bathroom or kitchen facilities. Great job! 🙂

  • D. Pedersen
    November 13, 2018, 6:57 am

    Whatever happened to Jay’s Four Lights Houses Company? Has he started something new?

  • Sparrow
    November 13, 2018, 9:33 am


    • Pat
      November 13, 2018, 12:42 pm

      Always take the high road. A simple “I don’t like it” or “Not my style” would suffice. 🙂 I’ve had those two feelings about a number of designs but refrained from commenting. Friends?

      • Alex
        November 13, 2018, 2:35 pm

        Thanks, Pat, well said.

  • Karen Blackburn
    November 13, 2018, 1:26 pm

    Would be easy to add a porta potty in a cupboard for use when needed plus a couple of gas rings for hot water (washing clothes, you, dishes, hot drinks) and cooking simple meals. This to me is what a tiny house should be like – families obviously need more space – and would be very similar to designs I have drawn up for myself. Everyone has different needs and wants, some find this size and style perfect for their life but others want a smaller version of a bricks and mortar building complete with bathroom, kitchen/living area and storage plus extras. I tend to go more for the above type of tiny home but I realise many want more. However I don’t feel the need to make obnoxious comments about their choice of tiny home even when I think that they have missed the whole point of the concept. Besides all of this, many people would find this to be luxury compared to what they are used to, just ask many of those in California who are homeless after the fires, a tiny home like this beats an impersonal hotel room or splitting up the family because your house has gone belly up in flames.

  • Kurt
    December 17, 2018, 2:34 am

    I saw the video on a YouTube channel. This isn’t a real home. This is more of a place to get away for awhile.

    • Eric
      May 8, 2019, 6:40 pm

      According to a Pommie singer some years ago, wherever you hang your hat, that’s your home.

      So, its not for you. That’s fine. Its definitely not for me either but there’s plenty of people in the world, the States even, who would think its the cats whiskers if someone gave them one of these. Diff’rent strokes fer diff’rent folks I say.

    • e.a.f.
      November 9, 2019, 11:51 pm

      every one has a different view of what a home is. this latest project, is a lovely home. Now some may want more to their homes, but others, this is perfect. For many a home such as this in a rural or community setting, is perfect.

      for me a tiny home is just that, tiny and for some one else, it will be larger. for those of us who do not like cooking, beyond making coffee, this house is about enough.

      This is a very lovely peaceful home!

      • Eric
        February 14, 2022, 4:56 pm

        Sure, but one can’t live on coffee alone… well at least I don’t think one can. 😁

  • Jauna
    June 22, 2019, 6:39 pm

    It is great if all you need is a bedroom. This is just personally but I don’t like the sharing of bathrooms or kitchens with any other than my family, and I sure don’t want to have to go outside to a different room to use either a kitchen or bathroom, especially in the winter months! Who has time to bundle all up to use either?

    • RW
      January 11, 2020, 6:06 pm

      This is where history is your friend. The Victorians had covered porcelain or metal chamber-pots with lids with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom beneath their beds so they didn’t have to leave the warm bedroom for the outhouse when it was raining. The water was to make cleaning the chamber pot next day easier. Many porcelain chamber pots were elaborately decorated, and there were sets which included a basin & pitcher and chamber-pot all in the same pattern; in England where even in WW II not every house had a private bathroom, someone with a sense of humour manufactured chamber pots for bomb shelters with Hitler’s face on the bottom of the pot. . . . 🙂

      • Carolyn Overcash
        February 26, 2020, 10:04 pm

        Chamber pots were in use in North Carolina, USA, at least until 1980. My grandmother’s home didn’t have running water or electricity. Her neighbor let her get water from an outside spigot for household use. She had a wood cookstove for heat and cooking. Dad bought her a kerosene two-or-three-burner one that she used in the summertime. The chamber pot was under her iron-rail full bed. She’d take it to empty at the outhouse.

  • maria
    August 6, 2019, 6:45 am

    I love Jay! I have been a fan of his work since 2004. I would love to get a hold of some of his old building plans. Great job Jay! You are a true craftsman.

  • Sabrina
    November 9, 2019, 6:42 pm

    I love the beauty, “simplicity” and design of this. So it has no kitchen or bathroom… For $5000 build another and join them with a porch. So many “tiny” houses are over the top in terms of price and size. Less is more.

  • ken leigh
    November 9, 2019, 8:37 pm

    Beautiful home, really like the fact it is light weight and the details.
    If you were to sell this home, what’s the price?

  • Darsha StuartDarsha
    November 9, 2019, 10:57 pm

    I love the tiny house movement. I was hoping to see a community in the Ft. Walton Beach, Florida area sometime in the next 3 years. I want to rent or lease something like that for the rest of my days. I don’t want to live with my daughters but I will live close to one. If anyone knows of something like that, please let me know. Thank you.

  • Marsha Cowan
    January 12, 2020, 10:57 am

    Hello, Jay! You were my inspiration to build tiny 8years ago, and I have never regretted it. Thanks so much! I am currently living in a tiny house a little smaller than this one right now, also no bathroom, going on 2 1/2 years, so yes, this could be a full time home placed where there are facilities like a shower house. I am finding that living this small really frees up time and money to invest in other people’s lives or other projects. It’s great! Again, thank you, Jay, and God bless you!

  • Eugenia Briscoe
    February 28, 2020, 9:53 pm

    Hi Alex
    One of the things that makes me wonder is the pricing of many tiny homes. More and more builders are popping up and their homes are incredibly expensive. The home’s prices that really surprise me are the ones that are basically built the same way. And the pattern of the house has few changes other than the outside and the interior finishes. Which begs to question why so much. Especially when a builder has a set design and they’re technically building the same house over and over again.Which means they buy their materials in bulk. And they require or offer very little if any tweaking. Seems many builders have gone overboard or they are price gouging. And to make matters worse a customer has to pay additional for delivery and this can run into the thousands in and of itself. As for delivery some do offer free delivery within a few miles of their factories. I’m sure insurance is a necessity and not free. Hook ups and etc. such as to public utilities or one may also need to already have a septic system and or a cistern tank installed. You have to get permits and you have to pay to park your house if you do not own land. As for moving many ready built homes you may have to pay each county and state you travel through to get to where you want to go. And you have to make prior arrangements with them. Moving a large structure can cause traffic problems. So much for living with out debt. The only way this can happen for MOST people is first the house has to be affordable. Its been proven people can build their own for a lot less. I feel some builders are taking advantage of those who don’t have this ability. I like the idea of living Tiny I plan to spend my last days doing so. With out going into debt. As I have more days behind me than ahead of me. I also find the stories people tell, most interesting. However they’re leaving out the part regarding the initial up front or start up costs and how much its actually costing them live this way on a daily basis. I’m betting there are many extremely interesting stories yet to be told. The advantages are great when you can pick up and go with house in tow. But I think its high time the reality of costs is addressed. I don’t think the Tiny House movement will suffer because, for me knowing is making me better prepared so that when I get out there I can stay out there. Saving money to live like this is relative.

    • Sheila Goodwin
      April 3, 2020, 12:40 pm

      I stated the same thing – NOT as nicely as you have. You can buy very well built small single wide as well as some double wide mobile homes for a whole lot less and if your not going to run the roads these home are great.
      I bought a single wide 55 ft long 12 wide fixer upper and have enjoyed immensely doing the major part of the work myself & turning it into my idea of home. Most likely one that I will be in until I die.
      I live in a 55 and older park and at 74 it’s comforting having neighbors that are more like family than just neighbors. Tiny homes are nothing new at all.Many people lived in small log cabins with a passel of kids and sometimes grand parents too! It seems to me that it has now become a preppy or mod style and the more it cost the higher the prestige. Just as you say seems to beat out the whole purpose of gong tiny!

      • Eric
        February 14, 2022, 5:09 pm

        You can indeed build for a whole lot less… but you are not charging labour. And as for mobile homes, well they are notorious for their lack of quality and most especially their insulation properties.

        I do agree with you however on the fact that it is now preppy/mod style resulting in higher prestige for those people… and I wonder just how they’ll impress all those people in the graveyard?

        • Sheila Goodwin
          February 14, 2022, 11:37 pm

          People assume that mobile homes are poorly constructed but take into consideration that if you put the majority of homes that have been built on site on a trailer and run it down the road at 50/60 miles an hour you most likely will have a major mess on your hands when you get to your destination. Mobile homes have improved over the years and depending what State you live in insulation requirements differ. My highest Electric heating bill was $60.00 dollars this year.
          We in NC have had some below zero temps
          Homes no matter what kind they are need TLC and someone living in them or they fall apart.
          Mine like me is old but I have with DIY made it a very sweet lovely place to live.
          Keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
          12 wide 55 long is plenty of room for me, my cat and company that visit.
          There are onsite built homes that are money pits just as much as lemon mobile homes.

      • James D.
        February 15, 2022, 12:25 am

        Well, there is a distinction to be aware of in that what they built today are technically not called Mobile Homes anymore but Manufactured Houses, which is what everything built after HUD was enacted in 1976 are actually called.

        Mobile Homes are what came before that weren’t regulated and where known for poor construction, which is why they enacted HUD.

        People just tend to still call them Mobile Homes, especially the parks that you can place them, but that confuses them with what came before HUD established official building code standards for them. So modern Manufactured Houses have much more in common with residential house construction now, despite what people may call them.

        They may still be built minimally, as they are still intended to be more affordable option, but they will not be below the standards required by HUD, which is basically just the federal regulated version of the residential building codes, and can also be made to meet local building codes if they are ever modified, renovated, remodeled, etc. as that can void the HUD certification and it then falls under local rules and regulations.

        While factory built, there are companies that can offer custom built options, albeit they stop being a more affordable option at that point, but you can go up to over 3000 Sq Ft and make it indistinguishable from any regular site built home and there is a process to establish them as regular real estate.

        Another factor is max tow speed can vary by state, while 60-70 MPH can be a max, there are states where you are not allowed to exceed 45 MPH…

        Manufactured Houses are also built to meet regional requirements and splits up the country into basically 3 zones, adjusting for climate, etc. that they should be optimized for, which means you can run into problems if you move them into a different zone but as they are rarely ever moved and it can be very expensive to move them over a great distance means that is rarely a issue.

        There are still Mobile Homes that were built before 1976 and there is overlap with the RV Market for products like Park Model RV’s, which don’t fall under HUD but are built to ANSI, similar to regular RV’s, which often the same manufacturers that make HUD certified Manufactured Houses can also produce.

        So there’s understandably some reasons why people may confuse products and associate pros and cons of actually different products to all that appear to be similar.

        This can also include Tiny Houses, as they share many aspects of Manufactured Houses but they too don’t fall under HUD and that usually leaves them in a gray area of the rules and regulations that weren’t designed to account for them. Aside from those municipalities that have at least adopted Appendix Q to update their building codes for those Tiny Houses that are either built on a foundation or can be placed on one… Otherwise, most builders who place them on wheels are limited to just building them as if they would be meeting or exceeding local building codes but officially only have to meet the same standards as those who build RV’s and get certified as such, despite being built well above those standards.

        So it’s good to keep in mind there can be a difference between what they are called, from how they’re built, and what standards they actually have to meet… and different people may not all be referring to the same thing because of this… Among other reasons people can be confused on the details and can have difficulty knowing what product they should actually be looking for and in which situation that one or the other may become the best option…

        That said, you are quite right that all homes require TLC and are often what we make of them…

  • Jackson
    April 2, 2020, 7:02 pm

    Are there any blueprints for this design? I want to build a tiny house and this one seems perfect!!

  • Rydaartisr
    April 3, 2020, 2:16 pm

    Like his work but the Father of the Tiny House Movement (?!?) and he build his first only 20 years ago? Gee I am confused. I have a book by Jane Lidz titled “Rolling Homes, Handmade Houses on Wheels, published 1979. Also another book, “The Craftsman Builder” authored by Art Boekicke and Barry Shapiro (authors of “Handmade Houses, A Guide to the Woodbutcher’s Art) was published in 1977. Your Researchers didn’t do their job very well did they. Please give credit to another generator guys…you didn’t invent them…someone else did.

    • Sheila
      March 1, 2021, 11:54 am

      I can’t speak to the history you cite, but I can say your assumption about Jay taking credit for being the creator of something that others have already done is mistaken. I’ve met Jay. He’s one of the most humble, unassuming, authentic, and generous human beings I’ve ever encountered. Jay didn’t assign himself that title (or any other that I’m aware of). Someone else did. He doesn’t introduce himself with it or use it in any other way I’ve heard. He’s just this nice guy, out there using his talents to promote an idea that he is passionate about – making affordable housing available to a full range of folks – and helping anyone else who wants to come along for the ride. If you met him, I think you’d probably like him, too. Best wishes in your tiny house pursuits, whatever form and direction they take!

    • Eric
      February 14, 2022, 5:16 pm

      Jay popularised the movement, reaching masses of people… including me, myself and I. He’s never, ever, taken credit for being Father of the movement. He has just used technology of today (internet) to reach a larger audience. And for that we should be eternally grateful. I for one would never have known without that because I live in New Zealand.

  • Michael L
    April 9, 2020, 8:05 pm

    Thanks Jay for sharing. Glad to see you doing well and creating again. You’re a real inspiration! So many of us these days are a pay check or two away from homeless.

    I love this little house.

  • B
    August 26, 2020, 7:59 am

    Please give me the plans if you have them…. Thanks!

  • Sheila
    August 26, 2020, 11:39 am

    To small but he did a beautiful job on this. Not sure about a outside bathroom. This is very nice!

  • Mike Gaffey
    March 1, 2021, 7:19 pm

    I remember when Jay had a tiny house in Iowa City, IA … at least I think that was him … it was my “ahh ha” moment when I realized all the hours I spent at work not really enjoying my life could be redirected if I went tiny … it took me a while to get my kids to adulthood, but I structured my life at that point toward the concept, and now I have a big piece of property in the country with a lake full of fish and woods full of game and a tiny house that has everything the wife and I need for comfort … he literally changed my life! I’m glad to see he is making an appearance with a new design! God bless.

  • Ben
    December 19, 2021, 12:45 pm

    This is nice for ideas. You could add a bathroom and kitchen in keeping with the same minimalist ideas.

    • James D.
      December 19, 2021, 1:33 pm

      Yes, it’s intended to be modular and scalable. Lowering the threshold to get started but allowing you to add more as you can afford more…

  • jjzack
    August 28, 2023, 4:43 pm

    I am a huge fan of Jay Shafer and his design/art projects! This is brilliant. People don’t need as much as they think they do, though I doubt everyone could live as simply as this. I do love this layout as it is all I would need (other than a kitchen/bathroom). If you have more clothes than will fit into those storage cabinets, you really have too many. Our world is so full of too much junk, you mind will not rest until you are able to declutter your stuff. I think if we could build rooms like this for homeless people with a “bath house” nearby, not unlike a camp ground where one might pitch a tent and walk to the bathroom, only in a city with nearby washing facilities, our world would have much fewer homeless people. To build individual tiny houses, I don’t believe would be as practical as building one huge long one with doors going down the sides and having an 8′ x 8′ or 8′ x 10′ box for each person where they can lock up what precious few belonging they have.

    The biggest problem I see to this, not being from the Northwest part of the united states, is that it is extremely hard to find a place where you can park one of these. You can’t just park these anywhere and many towns will not allow for them. In my part of the country we have terrible weather with tornadoes. There are regulations related to tiny houses all the way up through and including “mobile” homes.

    I still love the integrated storage walls and the lack of too much over-building on this latest tiny model Jay has built. You are 100% correct, it’s not a matter of square footage, it’s all in the cubic inches!

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