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She built a 230-square-foot cabin in Hawaii in 2 months for $11k! (VIDEO)

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This is the story of Kristie Wolfe and how she built her own 230-square-foot tiny cabin in Hawaii in the course of two months for only $11,000! This was after she had built her own 97-square-foot tiny house on wheels in Idaho for just $5,000. But she just couldn’t stop there.

So after a few years, she decided she would buy her own plot of land in Hawaii. She did sight unseen, for $8,000. This would be the location of her second tiny home. Later, she and her mom built the house together using only $11,000 in material cost and two months of labor together. What a cool way to bond, right!

This tiny cabin is 15-ft by 15-ft and sits up on stilts. It’s completely off-grid meaning you even have to rely on rain for water. Don’t worry, she’s got a nice rainwater system set up here. There are even rooftop solar panels for electricity and propane for cooking and heating. Today, the unit is a vacation rental that you can actually book on Airbnb. So what do you think, could you design/build your own tiny house kind of like this?

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VIDEO: She built a 230-square-foot off-grid tiny cabin on stilts in Hawaii with her mom’s help… Here’s how they did it:

She built a 230-square-foot cabin in Hawaii in 2 months for $11k! Image © Faircompanies.com She built a 230-square-foot cabin in Hawaii in 2 months for $11k! Image © Faircompanies.com

Images © Faircompanies


  1. Kristie Wolfe’s website
  2. Rent a night in Kristie’s off-grid cabin in Hawaii
  3. Original story at Faircompanies

Related: Woman Builds Her Second Tiny Home in Hawaii

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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!
{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Robert Olson
    December 22, 2014, 2:54 pm

    This is one of the best tiny house stories I have seen. I love the concept of being in the tree tops and all those floor to ceiling windows. The shower is a winner.

    People will pay good money to stay overnight in novelty “hotel rooms” like this. So it would make a great VRBO property and pay for itself, then cash flow after that.

    This gives me some great ideas. Tree houses.

    • December 23, 2014, 9:48 pm

      Hey Robert,

      I am renting out as a vacation rental when I’m not there. So far 97% of my guests are honeymooners 🙂

  • Cahow
    December 22, 2014, 3:20 pm

    Damn! I only made it to the 5:41 minute mark (not enough time to view the entire 23:13 minute video) but I’d LOVE to see Kristie have her own TV show on building tiny homes. She’s NOT gimmicky, isn’t smirking at the camera (as some other famous tiny builders do), and very easy to follow in her application. Bravo to her and her Mum for building this home: it’s what the world needs: more strong and smart women. It reminds me of last night’s interview on “60 Minutes” with Reese Witherspoon; she created her own production company because strong roles for women didn’t exist.

    My hat off to you, both!

    • December 23, 2014, 9:50 pm

      Thanks Cahow! I’m going to try to film my next build 🙂

      • Cahow
        December 24, 2014, 10:47 am

        KRISTIE!!! Wow, a response from the builder, herself….how cool! I’d love to see more footage of your build-outs and my goal later this evening (after ALL the Christmas preparations today) is to watch the remainder of your video. 😀

        Do you have a youtube channel? Seriously, you’re an inspiration for Women, everywhere! And if you can avoid the aforementioned “winky-winky smarminess” of some other famous tiny house builders, I’ll be following you, for sure. On various web sites such as Alex’s and Off Grid sites I visit, there are 100’s if not 1,000’s of women who could use YOUR inspiration to get themselves out of their grinding poverty and on to the road of self-sufficiency.

        All the BEST to you and your Mum; and Merry Christmas to you both! <3

        • Graham Hooper
          March 1, 2016, 4:01 pm

          i love the Comments from people. When you live a simple Life you Don’t need to Complicate it . Food preparation .you Just need a bench for Preparation,a Sink to wash or Rinse items in. and a Gas Cooker to use for Boiling pots of Water,Soup,Noodles Pasta, and Maybe a Gas Grill to Melt Cheese on Nachos ETC or for Pizza .A full size Oven is not always Needed .I am Sure Simple salads ,and Fruit would be Nice.. It does not say How far the Nearest Shop is or Cafe restaurant is but Many people would probably Go Out for Meals while on Holiday. Collecting Rain water is what we Do on Waiheke Island Auckland New Zealand .Sadly Voted the 4th,5th Most popular Island in the world. sad because it will Attract More People to our Paradise and will push up prices of Land,Houses,..Alot of Older Houses were Un permitted but the City Council of Auckland has Made it Impossible to Build without permits . Mainly for Safety and Re sale Value. But we have some Unique Houses here. Including Mud Brick using local Clay ,rock,and cement mix ..

  • Barbara
    December 22, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I loved watching the video of this tiny house and its features. I think it’s wonderful that she has those building skills. Nice, living in Hawaii saves one from needing to deal with heat at all. I was surprised, though, that she doesn’t have any form of kitchen right now. It didn’t seem like she could actually be living in the house since I didn’t see any food storage (even snacks!) And I didn’t see any stored clothing, either. Is she not actually living in it at present?

    • December 23, 2014, 9:54 pm

      Hey Barbara,

      Yeah Hawaii’s great no need for heat air conditioning or insulation where I’m at! I’m not really a cook although I do live here for months at a time it doesn’t bother me. I have added a faucet where that gold bowl was and they also under mounted cooler with the wood lid so people can put ice and keep things cool. I don’t have a stove but I have a coffee maker that you can heat water in 🙂

  • Lisa E.
    December 22, 2014, 5:02 pm

    Very interesting and informative. It’s nice to see women out there making a difference and building their own Tiny House(s). This lady is a good role model and an encouragement to the rest of us to “git-er-done!” Thank you for sharing this very excellent video; really enjoyed it.

  • Karon Rapue
    December 22, 2014, 6:36 pm

    Very intelligent and creative young lady. Very fortunate to have been influenced by her mother. She has given me a lot to think about. Love the sink, and the set up set up in the bathroom.

  • Daniel
    December 22, 2014, 10:14 pm

    And all this time, I thought land would be too expensive in Hawaii.

    This is awesome. She mentioned in the video how people plow down all the vegetation but I like what she did and kept it. Adds to the privacy of the lot even though there’s so much exposed.

    Well thought out. I like it.

  • Dawn Owens
    December 22, 2014, 11:38 pm

    I’ve been wondering how her house fared in the typhoons they’ve had lately; her area took a direct hit. Glad things appear to be okay, and it’s a lovely house.

    • Kristie
      December 23, 2014, 9:59 pm

      Hi Dawn,

      I watch the first two hurricanes from my hotel room in Chicago on the weather Channel 24 hour coverage of the storm. My neighbors are hooked up to the grid and they didn’t have power so I couldn’t get in contact with anybody for a few days. When my neighbor did send me pictures of the house was fine there was just a lot of standing water. When I went back to Hawaii just in time for the third tropical storm in three months I had put in a French drain around the whole property and that kept the water away. The house is built really sturdy and lots of hurricane ties things like that but I also have the jungle surrounding me that acts as a windbreak too.

  • jil
    December 23, 2014, 12:53 am

    this is one of my all time favorites. i can easily see a similar one in the mountains or other climates. nice!

  • Dawn
    December 23, 2014, 12:59 am

    She said the water when it is flushes goes up into the sink so that you can wash your hands, etc. How does the water stay clean? I know nothing about plumbing so go easy on me! lol

    • Justin
      December 23, 2014, 6:58 pm

      Inside the tank part of your toilet there is your fill line which operates via a float switch. When you flush the toilet the water is drained from the upper tank area causing the float to go down and turn on the water that fills your toilet. The water filling this come directly from the waterline in your house. She simply diverted the water from directly filling up the tank to to go up the bamboo waterline extension she made. So when she flushes the toilet the float switch is activated to turn on the water which is then fed upto the sink part where you could wash your hands. From there the water drains back into the tank area of the toilet causing the water level to rise. When the float reaches its predefined level to disengaged the switch the water shuts off again.

      The actual water/waste from the toilet bowl is drained into her septic system.

      • Dawn
        December 23, 2014, 9:52 pm

        Thanks Justin for your well thought out and clear response! Now I get it. 🙂

    • Eve
      May 10, 2015, 2:24 pm
  • rich
    December 23, 2014, 6:32 pm

    another great video by faircompanies. Dawn, the water FROM the sink goes into the tank which is then used for the next flush…. it’s a great concept used often by the Japanese slowly reaching our shores 🙂

    • Dawn
      December 23, 2014, 9:54 pm

      It is a great idea, it would be awesome if that were common here as well. Just think of all the water people would save.

  • Norris
    December 23, 2014, 10:08 pm

    Wonderful build. It has everything you need but not much of a kitchen. Lot of building for two women but they got it done. Your ideas can come to fruition.

  • Dominick Bundy
    December 25, 2014, 9:22 am

    What a stupendous young lady. . Her attitude and independence is so inspiring for so many others.. I love everything about that tiny home she built, especially those large windows in the sleeping area.. Bravo to another one of the best stories again on the tiny house talk blog..

  • Daniel perry
    December 27, 2014, 2:41 pm

    I have to say I really this is a cool house. I think using it as a honeymoon rental is a great idea. My worry would be if one decided to make this there permanent home that it wouldn’t be long be for the structure would have to be replaced because of the climate. Personally I would need a place that would last at least 20 years. From the vedio it just didn’t look like material used to hold up the living area would last that long. All in all it’s a beautiful place. Daniel from Franklin, Ohio

  • Brad
    February 17, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Beautiful house, view, and design features ! I am just starting to explore the tiny house thing, so I have detail questions. Here, the question is how the septic tank is drained. Is it in a location where a truck can come in and pump it out? Or, is there some system you have to recycle it? Also, I clicked on it because I was interested in ‘tree houses’; however, this looks more like a house in the trees. But this was also a cool thing to see because the thought never occurred to me, and now its another option to think about. Thanks!

  • Andrea Hardy
    May 10, 2015, 9:20 pm

    Go woman, go! That’s how you live life on your own terms–you have my admiration and respect for all that hard work you and your mom did! And the house is absolutely gorgeous and looks like so much fun to be in! Well done!!

  • Susanne
    May 10, 2015, 11:09 pm

    How lovely! She certainly is blessed to beable to stay there occasionally, rent it out, and live elsewhere!

  • rick l
    May 16, 2015, 6:12 am

    A very cool house and location. Same goes for the builder. Love your pioneering spirit and can do attitude. Hope to follow in your footsteps.

  • gohawaiian
    May 19, 2015, 4:45 am

    I love the tiny home concept. Just a few worries about the build in Hawaii. I’m a Architect draftsmen here on the Big Island here for the last 20 years. I just want to make sure that she will be safe. I recommend that she look into shearing up the shear wall corners that are holding up the upper level. It’s not just the Hurricanes that we have to worry about, it’s the earth quakes! There should be some Carrie beams right above the pier blocks with studs on it and a beam at the top. Or at lease put in some 4×4 knee bracing.
    Also yes it’s nice not to be looking at railings, but it services a purpose! Might want to atlease look into natural waivi branches.
    Awesome design!!

  • Desiree Moana
    May 19, 2015, 2:09 pm

    Aloha. Very cool house. Very cool mom and daughter. Sensible and beautiful. Please know that the tree house is located in the Hawaiian Rainforest and not “the jungle.”

  • Bridget from Cali
    May 19, 2015, 8:53 pm

    Impressive tiny tree house and video. Thanks for sharing all the details (including all those fun finishes that added such special flair to your Hawaiian hut) Love your sink/toilet combo hack. Had heard that they are selling such a unit in Japan, but I am sure it costs more than your delightfully rustic version. Plus, it’s not as stylish as your final design. Living in a locale with repetitive drought cycles makes me very interested in learning more about AFFORDABLE gray water systems. (I swear if any builder says something is GREEN in my state, the price is immediately quadrupled!) The bottom line is that you’re very blessed to have a mom who not only empowered you in this life to tackle such large scale projects, but who actually was there helping you with the build itself. Lovely to discover all about your successful endeavor too!

  • Nalani Kahele
    May 20, 2015, 2:57 pm

    Aloha! Awesome video and such an amazing creation! I am from Kona, living in North Dakota now. How does one rent your home for a night? I think it would be a awesome get away for my newly married husband and i, for when we come back to Hawaii to visit 🙂

  • Donna Pascual
    May 20, 2015, 8:21 pm

    Wow!!!! What a beautiful place!!! I just recently remodeled my parents old house where the bathroom is completely new, two bedroom ceilings that needed patching due fr om a rainleak, a kitchen floor replacement (tile) @ new front door patio for $10400!!! They were all standard features nothing up graded!, Now, that I shared my expenses with friends they said,I have been ripped,off!!!! Anyhow, do,you built tiny houses for anyone willing to hire you to built theirs?

  • Brian Wong
    May 21, 2015, 8:44 pm

    I saw you mentioned that you rent it out to people when you are away. How would we get a hold of you for something like that? I would love to take my wife there for our anniversary.

  • rupert
    May 22, 2015, 6:51 pm

    incredible! nice work 🙂

  • Kaleo Malina
    May 25, 2015, 4:32 pm

    I love the build that you did, thanks for sharing!

  • milica
    June 1, 2015, 4:13 am

    Lovely house! How is it withstanding mold? I live on Oahu in a lot sunnier location and still mold is a huge problem. PS – Do you actually live there since there are so few jobs on Big Island…?

  • J C Cox
    December 23, 2015, 1:39 am

    I love being proven wrong when I deserve to be. When I saw your picture I thought “just another pretty face”, boy was I wrong! You skills, your imagination, you are amazing. Being pretty is a bonus.

  • Michael
    February 13, 2016, 6:36 pm

    Wow, what a great design and details. Kristie, well thought and done. Love it.

  • Lance
    February 15, 2016, 5:43 pm

    Hi Kristie,
    Your tiny home build is an inspiration and empowerment to anyone who can break through the societal barriers of conformity. What is the property tax on the land in Hawaii in regards to your tiny home build ?Keep up the courageous work !

  • Saturday Sportsman
    May 10, 2016, 11:39 pm

    Yes, please!

  • Lorrie Hess
    May 11, 2016, 10:12 am

    Kristie – Your work is remarkable and inspiring! You have such creative and practical ideas. Thanks so much for sharing how you built your treehouse and came up with creative attractive solutions to everyday needs.
    I’ve just begun my tiny house research and now am inspired to invite my daughter and son to join me, at least for some of it!

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