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Sun Chaser DIY Tiny House Build for $35K

Meet Erika: When her twin sister and long-time roommate bought a house with her boyfriend, Erika had a choice to make — either she could keep working in the job she hated to afford an apartment alone, or she could move back home and build her very own tiny space.

As you can guess, Erika chose to go tiny, and spent 2 years and 3 months creating her completely unique tiny house on wheels, spending a total of $35,000. She admits now that the $9k she spent on the trailer was far too much, but she was completely new to tiny homes and didn’t know better at the time. Despite spending more than she could have, she is now completely debt-free due to her decision to go tiny!

She documents her tiny life on her blog here, and on Instagram. Right now she’s parked on her parent’s lake-side land in Upstate New York — and what a spot it is!

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Custom DIY THOW on New York Finger Lakes

Here’s Erika, loving her tiny life.

View from the living room.

Check out this storage under the kitchen floor!

You can see her darling vintage-style refrigerator.

Here’s her bedroom loft accessible via ladder.

Here she changed up the bedding. Look at her map ceiling though!

That custom stained glass window is such a lovely feature.

Her couch doubles as table seating and turns into a bed.

Erika, trying her hands at blogging.

The open door letting some sunlight in.

Here’s her secondary loft, which she says she rarely uses despite having such a small home!

It does look like a perfect spot to do some painting.

She’s all ready for her twin sister to visit!

Her oven came from an old Shasta camper.

And here’s her tiny bathroom with composting toilet and shower stall.

The bathroom in the misty morning light.


  • Took 2 Years & 3 Months to Build
  • Spent $35,000 ($9,000 for trailer)
  • 8.5’W x 20’L x 13.5’H
  • 162 Square feet
  • She’s now debt-free!
  • Monthly expenses around $250/month
  • Honeoye Lake, NY on parent’s property at her childhood home

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Our big thanks to Erika 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.
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Pete Wilson
    September 7, 2020, 12:25 pm

    Love the map ceiling, nice touch. Looks like a charming, warming place. Well done!

  • Janet Stone
    September 7, 2020, 1:04 pm

    Smart, smart, smart. I can’t believe how many people think that working 30 years to make large payments simply to live in a house makes anybody happy. I can tell you from experience, it doesn’t. For the last 5 years I have lived in 384 sq feet and have loved every minute. Oh, did I tell you? I live in Hawaii. Where I live don’t need heating or cooling. My home cost about 35,000 for my son and I to build. I stand outside and look up at the most beautiful house and debt free. Just love it. Janet

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 9, 2020, 12:35 pm

      Wow Janet that is so incredible! Good for you. I would love to see it!

  • Katrina Kole
    September 7, 2020, 1:27 pm

    Needs a cat! Ha! This could be me! I love this ! I have a map on my ceiling and we have some of the same vintage travel posters. I’m not this tiny yet. Thank you for sharing your beautiful home

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 9, 2020, 12:34 pm

      Oh how cool! Such an awesome feature.

  • Anion
    September 7, 2020, 2:08 pm

    The map ceiling is just gorgeous! This little home is lovely, and so full of personality!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 9, 2020, 12:34 pm

      I was in love with that ceiling! I need one.

  • Claude
    September 7, 2020, 4:23 pm

    Well done, very cozy, bravo for a no stress life.

  • Linda K Ford
    September 14, 2020, 8:20 pm

    I think smaller homes will become very popular!!! No time spent building, buying and ift uh on b.c.”

  • Julie Bryan
    September 17, 2020, 8:00 pm

    I love everything, down to the changed direction s of your cabinet. Never would’ve thought of that. You put a lot of thought into your home and designing it to invite folks in and make yourself comfortable. Great eye you had. T

  • Julie Bryan
    September 17, 2020, 8:04 pm

    The under he kitchen floor storage is cool. I wonder could a person add depth to that? Depth to be lower then the living room floor? Its a great idea. Lots of great designs great job

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 21, 2020, 2:43 pm

      Hmmm I don’t think so because it would make the bottom too close to the road for towing. But I could be wrong!

  • Julie Bryan
    September 17, 2020, 8:22 pm

    What do you use for heating in your home? Or what do you use to cool your home, despite the ceiling fan?

  • Diana
    September 17, 2020, 8:54 pm

    Aloha Janet! I am with you! Living in Hawaii in a 10×14 tiny house with 8×10 loft and loving it. My son also living here….good for you, love to hear of others living this dream. We are working on our raised beds. We have no utility bills due to solar. Spend maybe $20 every couple of months on propane but we are installing solar hot water heater and then we will only have propane for stove, plus I have a sun oven if I really want to save more…isn’t it great? Oh, I recently discovered the ex just bought a 7500 sf home for $1.4 million for him and his wife with dementia…and the 22 year old gf. LOL My mom was a real estate agent and she always said the three rules of real estate are location, location, location. I will take the tiny in Hawaii over the $1.4 m in Memphis….hahahaha, laughing everyday on this one!!!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 21, 2020, 2:41 pm

      Oh my goodness, Diana! You made the right choice haha.

  • TTehranie
    September 19, 2020, 12:32 am

    The key here is that she is living in her parent’s paid for property by the lake.
    Would it have been easier to just buy and live in a small yet regular-sized trailer? Even double wide trailers can be gorgeous!

    Being steps from your parents is nice and I don’t think a tiny house in her case is even necessary. If she really needed to save money she could have lived in one of their spare bedrooms—probably commensurate with the size of the tiny house anyway!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 21, 2020, 2:30 pm

      It’s true, but living in a spare bedroom is quite different than having her own space/kitchen/bathroom and entrance. Also if she ever wants to move she can take it with her!

    • Zac D
      October 26, 2020, 5:22 am

      Shame on her for her initiative and wanting to retain some independence! She should just live with her parents until they pass away; by far the most cost-effective decision… -_-
      Sorry, but it’s her decision to live this way and if she’s paid for it and can figure out where to get her own land next then she’s making much better choices than a lot of people who just move out to live in rented accommodation for years on end…
      Also doesn’t actually say that her parents live on that land, just that it belongs to them.

      • Natalie C. McKee
        October 26, 2020, 8:11 am

        I agree, Zac. I think it was wise of her to make her own space!

  • Shast
    October 18, 2020, 8:33 pm

    $9000 for a trailer? You can buy a decent travel trailer for that and save the rest she spent

  • Zac D
    October 26, 2020, 5:15 am

    Pity that first photo is a bi dark; the roof structure is quite interesting judging by the shape of her loft.

  • Fran Marie
    May 7, 2021, 5:03 pm

    Another ‘What more do you need?’ space. Beautiful. I adore the bathroom sink.

  • Rosa Espinal
    May 7, 2021, 5:29 pm

    I’ve been saving up to buy a piece of land somewhere and since I get up in NYC and have children still living there, I’ve often thought upstate NY would be a great place to buy but holy cow, land has gotten so expensive there! I just about had a heart attack when my broker sent me listings some for less than an acre and prices ranging from $29,000 all the way to mid $60s for an acre and a half, like whatever happened to 5 acres for less that $13,000 like it was just a few yrs ago? I’m in Fl and love it here but do miss NY especially in the fall. Oh well, maybe soon….

    • James D.
      May 7, 2021, 7:49 pm

      Costs tends to follow population density and a lot of people have moved away from the cities in the last few years and have been buying up a lot of properties upstate and that trend has only accelerated since the pandemic started… Though, lower cost land can still be found but it may not be a desirable location, may be undeveloped, or may be bigger than you’re looking for…

      But keep an eye out, occasionally a property may sell below the going rate. Seller may be time constrained and need it sold quickly, Foreclosed properties, etc. and you may be able to get a better deal if you can jump on it quickly enough. Though, competition for what’s available can be fierce when the better deals shows up…

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 10, 2021, 2:38 pm

      Everything is definitely getting pricier!

  • Marsha Cowan
    May 7, 2021, 5:29 pm

    This house is just too cute! So much attention to detail and style. It’s absolutely beautifully built and decorated. Looks so cozy and comfortable. Great home, great job!

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