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They built a tiny house to avoid ridiculous rent

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This is the story of Michael and Nicolette, the UC Berkeley College couple who built a 300-square-foot tiny house on wheels and are now living in it.

It took them 7 months, $27,000, lots of YouTube tutorials and several books before Nicolette and Michael finished it. With very little (hardly any) construction experience they still built their own home and escaped high rent. Now, Michael can finish his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley University with fewer worries about money. And then it’s off to law school… And guess what? They can take their house with them!

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The story of how this college couple built their tiny house (to avoid high rent) and how they did it with literally no construction experience

This decision has helped them pursue their dreams without accumulating high debt. While Michael continues his education, Nicolette is able to run her blog and share her art with the world through ‘myselflovebox‘, stickers & digital art.

Check out the photos below of their beautiful tiny home. Enjoy!

Michael did an engineering program in high school and ummm that’s the only experience we had lol so no building experience, he just knew how to think of an idea, figure out how to make it happen and then make the product but this was a whole other level.

We decided to build versus buy because we wanted to be hands on. We wanted to not only make every decision but then be the ones that made it happen. I’m a very artsy kind of person and Michael is very practical and logistical kind of person. So together it was the perfect balance to make this all happen.

We learned absolutely everything from YouTube and books! Each day before the build we would ask ourselves, what are we working on tomorrow. Then we’d just watch about an hour of YouTube videos on just that!

And that’s how we built this house! lol

The absolute best thing about living tiny is waking up each morning in your little dream house and just being so extremely thankful for it.

Each scuff mark on the interior siding or each misplaced screw, it all makes us realize the work and love and time that went into this house and that is everything to us.

What’s your least favorite thing about living tiny?

Least favorite…ummmmm lol. Honestly nothing. This is a fairytale for me and every single tiny thing about it brings me so much pure happiness and love.

Find these cute stickers and many more over at NicoletteNotes.com.

Pretty cool way to add some extra space without getting a bigger trailer!

a physical space where you can feel safe. where you can go to on a rainy day and it will help you feel better about yourself, about your life and where you are headed. you are beautiful in every single way and this is my reminder to you about that exact thing.

They’re so smart, aren’t they? I love how they avoided paying rent and instead used $27,000 and their very own sweat equity to build a tiny home of their own. Not only is it much cheaper than paying rent over the long run, but now they also own a tiny house! How cool is that?

Later on, they could use it as a vacation rental if they ever wanted to. Or it could be one of their offices, hobby rooms, guest house, or almost anything else you can think of.


  1. Instagram (@nicolettenotes)
  2. NicoletteNotes.com

Our big thanks to Nicolette and Michael for sharing! 🙏

Please learn more about them over at Nicolette’s blog and Instagram.

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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Marcy
    July 5, 2019, 10:22 pm

    There is literally nothing I don’t love about this house! Build me one?

  • Vivian
    July 6, 2019, 12:17 am

    Finally someone else who has books. I’ve been working out how to incorporate them into a design. I love this layout and would only make some cosmetic changes (a built-in to hide the clothes) and something to use as a kitchen prep area (maybe a fold-up platform. A fantastic job for what they paid for it.

    • Rich
      December 30, 2019, 10:56 am

      I would love for one of these articles to go beyond the design and get into the practicality of making this happen. For example, where are this couple parking this? especially with all the regulations and high cost of land that California has? How are they sorting out their water, waste, etc?

  • D. Pedersen
    July 6, 2019, 1:27 am

    Now I have seen it in many American tiny houses – the television being placed fairly high up – and I am still wondering why it end up this high. It can not be comfortable to have to bend the head back to see the television. Which can lead to herniated cervical discs. If you sit on that couch, you will have to bend the head backwards to see the TV. Or you have to lie down.

    • James D.
      July 6, 2019, 10:53 pm

      Three basic reasons…

      1) TV was an afterthought, or something else had greater priority for the use of the space…

      2) TV will be watched from multiple locations, which includes the loft and kitchen… So position is a compromise to be able to view it from all those locations.

      3) TV wasn’t really wanted and was left where it can be out of the way most of the time… But this sometimes means the TV can be moved and the location is just where it is stored…

      Mind, some people have no use for a TV. While others may prefer to use a tablet or other device for their media consumption. Plus some may prefer to use a projector in a tiny house and thus the TV may be a secondary consideration.

  • Kelly Murphy
    July 6, 2019, 12:58 pm

    I also wondered the rental cost and where you ended up parking your house.

  • Ingrid
    July 10, 2019, 5:01 am

    Great story that I can absolutely relate to…

  • Vickie Gnad
    December 30, 2019, 12:41 am

    Same question.. where is it sitting? and is there a cost or they getting free lot rent?

  • Sheebe
    December 31, 2019, 11:18 am

    Beautiful job! Love everything about this tiny home. May this couple spend many happy years in this perfectly built tiny home.

  • troger
    January 2, 2020, 9:06 am

    Great looking tiny! Avoiding high rent????, but can afford a $100,000 Ford FX4 Diesel dually to pull it. Not so sure money is a factor in this! Very cool though. Tiny homes are great when they are fixed to a property, but moving is not logical in my mind for the cost of the vehicle to pull them.

    • Alex
      January 3, 2020, 8:17 am

      You don’t have to own a vehicle to pull your tiny house with, you can rent one or you can hire a moving company (towing service) that specializes in moving RVs and park models. This is a good option, too, if you are not moving your tiny house very frequently (only when needed).

  • Jeri
    January 2, 2020, 5:44 pm

    Im kinda wondering why many dont just buy a trailer and remod as you go? Im also interested In conventional wisdom, or tips learned such as small stove and oven vs. Plug ins for microwave, air fryer, crockpot, etc. If Im gonna have a tiny home Im more interested in land vs parking it costs. Also what about vehicles…towing versus not. Just alot of questions before I make the financial plunge.

  • Robin Carter
    January 3, 2020, 6:14 am

    Where do you put your tiny house and what about water, electricity and sewer
    I love the tiny house but where to put it baffles me?

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