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This Man’s Under-$20K Small Home


This is Ralph’s Under-$20K Small Home he built back in 2007.

Ralph doesn’t live here anymore, but worked hard to create this wonderful, inexpensive house. In the end, it came in at 960 sq. ft. — definitely more “small” than tiny — and is a great inspiration to us all.

Please enjoy, read more, and re-share below! Thanks!

Related: Couple Build and Live in Tiny House for Less than $20k

This Man’s Under-$20K Small Home

Images via Ralph

Related: $20k School Bus Tiny Home

Images via Ralph

Highlights: 

  • 960 sq. ft.
  • Cost less than $20K to build
  • Built-in shelves
  • Propane heat
  • Lots of storage in the kitchen
  • Used footers from double-wide trailer to build foundation

Related: Couple’s $20k DIY Tiny Home

Our big thanks to Ralph for sharing!

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Avatar john

    strange foundation; not sure that meets code in many states

    • Avatar Jamie

      That was my thought exactly. It looks as though there is a concrete trench underneath; but still a poorly executed foundation. Without the skirt a good wind would blow it over.

      • Avatar Ralph humes

        On the contrary, this house has gone through many high winds with no problems. It was built in Oklahoma on concrete footers that were used previously to level a double wide. The wood foundation is securely bolted to the footers. So, yeah…no problems with wind.

        • Natalie C. McKee Natalie

          Thanks for responding, Ralph!

        • Avatar Tina Cole

          I love this, would you mind sharing the dimensions?
          Thank you for any information.

        • Avatar Eric

          In New Zealand, this would not only be condemned but the local council would order it demolished.

          Yes, maybe it is bolted into concrete footers… but on what look like 4″ x 2″s that is not a strong solid foundation.

          We have to use tanalised posts or concrete foundations sunk 18″ into the ground and then the house has to be fixed with an approved device… usually with multiple metal straps affixing to the subframe and to the pile.

  • Avatar Janet

    Sure wish I could build!

  • Avatar Claude

    It’s a post and beam type construction with a frame to create a skirt to properly finish it and also prevent animals to roam under the house.

  • Avatar Mary

    What, no bedroom or bath?

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie

      I believe there is one, he just didn’t send us pictures of them. — Tiny House Talk Team

    • Avatar Sam

      The first picture of the kitchen gives a little glimpse of the bath- looks to be a tub/shower.

      • Avatar Mary

        If you say so, but I sure don’t see it, can’t see through walls.

        • Mary if you have an Android or tablet you should be able to zoom in on the right side of the kitchen photo. There is a doorway with partial view of the shower curtain over a high tub wall base. I agree more photos would see the interior footprint and give us an idea of how many bedrooms.

  • Avatar Kim

    Love the built ins and kitchen. Would’ve liked yo see bedroom and bath. But looks prdtty overall

  • Avatar jm

    Pretty awesome job for 20k. Nothing about this is post and beam. House is resting on pt studs that look to be 16″ apart. Looks very odd to me but, I assume he pulled a permit…

  • Avatar Gigi

    Cute. $20 K in 2007 would be what today? 30? 35?

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie

      Not sure! More, but not a lot more! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Avatar Susanne

    Wow,under 20,000……:) I would pay a little then since he saved so much to hire a decorator ….:) yes I know he likes it.

  • Avatar Eva Marie

    Very cute and looks very comfortable. Imagination and hard work can save you a lot of money. I love the built in shelves.

  • Avatar Nancy

    Love the colors of the kitchen too! Cozy home. 🙂

  • Avatar Clergylady

    I like the ideas but age and old injuries are catching up at 71. Instead of building I bought a 3 year old repossessed 16×56 one bedroom, one bath mobile home with an open kitchen/ livingroom and a small laundry room at the back door area. We will skirt with recycled metal roofing panels cut to fit-$50 craigslist. I plan to build storage bays into the skirting. We are ready to dig 18″ – 24″ trenches for water, propane, and ceptic system hookups. Full off grid solar will need ground mount stand and 24″ deep trench for connection wire. Taking the well and two out buildings solar but on separate setups. The home has propane forced air heat, water heater, and cook stove.
    I have an antique metal, folding cot that I’ll use like a daybed for in home guests but I also have an overhead camper set on a small trailer and an older motor home that guests use. We are planning to build a shower building with solar heated water, a soaking tub, and sink near the out door cookout area and at the sceptic tank where we can hook up drains. It will be handy for guests and a quick shower when gardening.
    I paid someone at the dealership to tear out the carpet in the livingroom and paid the independant repair crew to replace a broken window before it was moved. Owners leaving the home took the appliances, locked dogs inside then finally broke a window. I bought it as is, before any cleanup or repair for $25,000 + $1,800 to movie 70 miles and set it up on blocks. This home also has cold country insulation and built in storm windows.
    I’m painting most areas simply to get rid of the blah beige throughout. I have birch wood flooring ( a recycled gift) for the livingroom floor. Paint was mostly $10 a gallon on Craigslist. Some was free. I have what I need for the home and to paint the sheds this Fall. Most of my heat will be from a rocket stove that has a pellet hopper attachment. It can burn long sticks, pellets or chips from my woodchipper from yard cleanup. Last Winter I heated with it, cooked on the flat 16″ round surface and heated 3 gallons of water on top. I have an idea for an oven for it. I kept my teakettle on the pipe at the back of the stove so I had hot water all the time easy to pour for tea.
    My, new to me, home, isn’t large but not micro either. For two of us, just right. My 80 year old husband has Alzheimer’s so it up to me to do most of it. I have owned the land for 41 years and drilled two good wells with permits for 3 acre feet of water per year.
    The land and water are important for living unless you plan to stay on the move or haul water all your life.

  • Avatar David

    The axiom, “Horses for Courses” comes to mind. This building suits a purpose, is well built, does not present an eyesore and to revert to the analogy, may come in third but pays.
    Consider first, the position of these builders. They’re probably not looking to leave a fortune to offspring (or anyone) but rather enjoy life in a decent home that gives them pleasure from the fact that they did it themselves and came in at a price not inflated out of sight by contractors; (compare the trailer on the same page for the same money).
    Why all the negativity? How would you compare their foundation with that of a typical double-wide with attached porch? What about ‘codes’? Sure they have purpose and basically protect society—particularly when we build cheek-by-jowl in the city but in wide open spaces, flexibility is reasonable. I live in a county of Kentucky with no building code—possibly because tobacco barns were a part of the landscape but I legally built a 40 x 48 pole barn without any building permit. Am I taxed? Believe it. Did the power company connect me without a permit and inspection? No way. I put in a septic system and was obliged to do the permitting, perking and final inspection. These are all good things. Did the county ask me if my building would blow away in a storm? No—they gave me credit for common sense to spend $50,000 on something that would not blow away.
    These people should be congratulated for NOT subscribing to “one rule applies to all”. Their foundation, indeed their structure will still be there when FEMA has paid their neighbors millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money (our money) for trailers that were “blown away”.

  • Avatar Vicki Frakes

    Love this home. Exactly what I’m looking for. Maybe not as wide. Am wanting at least a 16×50 home

  • Avatar Vicki Frakes

    For clergylady, I would love to see photos your finished home. Sounds like it wil will adorable.

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