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His 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.

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

He Built A Small House For Under-$20k (in 2007)

Images via Ralph

Now it’s 2021, and who could have predicted lumber prices skyrocketing, and everything else that has ocurred…

But one thing is for sure, if most of us had a crystal ball of some sort, we would’ve gotten busy building long ago.

Related: $20k School Bus Tiny Home

Here’s the framing for this small house.

Metal siding was chosen for the exterior walls.

This is partly, what helped make the build so affordable.

It’s got windows in the front and a nicely built covered porch.

Going inside to the kitchen. Hey, how about those orange cabinets? You don’t see that everyday!

Some built in shelving. It’s always nice to see some of that wall space being utilized.

A cozy red couch.

The bar in the kitchen seems nice.

The sliding glass doors add a nice touch as well.

Images via Ralph


  • 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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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 31 comments… add one }
  • john
    December 29, 2016, 12:45 pm

    strange foundation; not sure that meets code in many states

    • Jamie
      December 29, 2016, 9:30 pm

      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.

      • Ralph humes
        January 18, 2017, 9:18 pm

        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
          January 19, 2017, 6:13 am

          Thanks for responding, Ralph!

        • Tina Cole
          June 16, 2018, 4:25 pm

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

        • Eric
          June 18, 2018, 12:43 am

          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.

        • Jenn Jones
          February 28, 2021, 11:00 pm

          My husband and I are planning on building a home just like this without a concrete slab. Now that it’s 14 yrs later, would you say this home is going to last a long time? I’m worried due to not having a slab underneath. Of course my other half reassures me that it will be ok lol. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated:)

        • Jenn Jones
          February 28, 2021, 11:16 pm

          Only difference btw is we were going to do it pole barn style, but same concept underneath

        • James D.
          June 11, 2021, 1:50 am

          Jenn Jones, most homes built prior to 1960 were pier and beam. So there’s a long history that shows they can work well, and are still pretty common in certain parts of the country, but advances in concrete technology, along with changes in how houses are built, just changed the practicality in terms of economics and architecture in favor of slabs and is why they dominate now but there are still reasons to use pier and beam in certain cases.

          For compliance and peace of mind you can consult an engineer and check to see if there are any pier and beam repair service companies in your area that you can consult for what’s best practice in your area and what to watch out for that may be specific to your area…

  • Janet
    December 29, 2016, 3:00 pm

    Sure wish I could build!

  • Claude
    December 29, 2016, 4:55 pm

    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.

  • Mary
    December 29, 2016, 6:32 pm

    What, no bedroom or bath?

    • Natalie
      January 2, 2017, 10:28 am

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

    • Sam
      April 19, 2017, 8:19 pm

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

      • Mary
        April 19, 2017, 11:00 pm

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

        • June 16, 2018, 8:21 pm

          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.

  • Kim
    December 30, 2016, 12:47 am

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

  • jm
    December 30, 2016, 1:59 am

    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…

  • Gigi
    December 30, 2016, 2:22 am

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

    • Natalie
      January 2, 2017, 10:17 am

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

  • Susanne
    December 31, 2016, 5:59 pm

    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.

  • Eva Marie
    January 15, 2017, 8:17 am

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

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:52 am

      That they can!

  • Nancy
    January 15, 2017, 3:58 pm

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

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:48 am

      Absolutely 🙂

  • Clergylady
    August 3, 2018, 1:59 pm

    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.

  • David
    August 3, 2018, 8:24 pm

    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”.

  • Vicki Frakes
    August 6, 2018, 3:59 am

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

  • Vicki Frakes
    August 6, 2018, 4:04 am

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

  • Barry
    June 9, 2021, 10:18 am

    that type of foundation has been in use for years all over the country, it is a good and solid foundation, many new house were built back in the 70’s and 80’s with this type and even with full basements set with gravel and drainage and they are still there and is an approved building code in most place’s, if you are a carpenter or builder you probably know about this type of foundation if not you just haven’t been around long enough lo’

    • Mark G Hamilton
      September 5, 2021, 12:36 am

      Agreed. The doubters don’t seem to be familiar with the wide variety of proven foundations (and perhaps NZ building officials are not either). In fact, all wood foundations on poles or posts can be engineered to be just as safe as any orthodox concrete stem wall.

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