Since the very early stages in our relationship, we shared the crazy dream of one day owning a tiny house. We watched all the tiny house shows and drew up countless hypothetical floor plans. As much as we were in love with the whole concept, we never actually considered it a real possibility – something we could actually achieve in the near future.
That was until a small spark ignited in our thoughts while having dinner at Long Horn Steak House. It was a casual Friday evening, and we were once again discussing our future tiny house ideas – imagining how amazing it would be to build and then live in such a cool small space – when it hit us!
Wait a minute, why are we talking about this like it’s something extremely unrealistic, or completely out of reach dream? Well, we decided right then and there to put some SERIOUS thought in to it and make it happen! And that is exactly what we did.
How Did We Afford To Build A Tiny House?
We were at the time paying $500/month to rent a <400sqft 1 bedroom apartment (and that amount didn’t include any utilities, internet, etc.). After a lot of number crunching, we realized that if we got a loan to build the tiny house of our dreams, the payment would be <$300 per month for a 5-year term.
The best part was that the money would go towards something we own vs paying rent. No arguing with that! So, we decided that we were willing to take the risk! We took out a personal loan with our vehicle, a Toyota 4Runner, as collateral – which gave us $18,000 to work with!
Since, we were estimating the build cost to be anywhere from $18k up to $23k – we knew that if we were careful, the $18k would get us very close to a finished house. And we could easy penny pinch in our daily life to make up the rest (and get lucky with some monetary birthday presents!)
So, this was how our amazing (and crazy!) journey started.
Ordering The Tiny House Trailer
After lots of research, design sketches, brainstorming, and planning, we decided on a 28ft flat bed trailer by Kaufmann Trailers. Since this is the foundation of our new home, we knew right from the start that we wanted a brand new trailer.
The great thing about Kaufmann, was that they had experience with Tiny House trailers, and could build it custom-tailored to our needs. For example, the rear was kept flat vs diving down into a dove tail. The ramps were eliminated. The sides were extended all the way to the outer edge of the wheel wells, giving us the most floorspace to start our framing.
In the approximately four weeks of waiting for the trailer to be built, we discovered another adventure stewing (or should I say baking in the oven?). We were going to have a baby!!
This was very shocking, but also exciting, news for us. Mainly, it meant that we had to go back to the drawing board and make some big design changes to our little home.
Building A Tiny House:
The build took much longer than we expected (who would have guessed?). We initially anticipated a build period of 3 months, maybe 4, but it ended up taking almost 6 months. In the last few weeks of the build, we were rushing to finish up the final details. There was a time towards the end that we weren’t sure what was coming first – our baby or the first night in the tiny house lol.
At the end of November, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, we finally pulled our tiny house to its first home. A beautiful park in Holden Beach, NC. Even though we still had some of painting to do on the inside and a few loose ends to tie, the first night in the Tiny House felt completely surreal.
When we first started the process we talked a lot about that (holy crap – here we are, sleeping in our own tiny house) moment that would happen before we knew it. And it was every bit as amazing and satisfying as we thought it would be.
All in all, the house did end up pushing the top end of our estimate and cost around $23k to have it fully ready and furnished. With all the rushing and craziness towards the end, we lost track of some receipts, and therefore we don’t have an exact number.
Finished Tiny House
The Pros and Cons of Building and Living in a Tiny House:
- Simple living
- Owning your home
- Moving your home where you desire
- The satisfaction of building it yourself
- Lower living costs
- Lower energy consumption
- Finding places to park it
- Dealing with the grey areas on the “legal” side
- Keeping it clean! Even a small messes are big messes when it’s in a tiny house.
A short-lived dream – We sold the Tiny House!
Living in the Tiny House was an absolutely amazing experience, and a long time dream come true. But plans change and new opportunities arise.
After our son, Bo, was born, we decided to spend time in South Africa. Not only could Shay can be closer to her family, but the lure of low living costs meant we could live fully off of our blogs. The original plan was to keep the tiny house in the USA and have it as a home base on that side of the pond, but after a couple of months in SA, we weren’t sure what the future was going to bring and couldn’t bear having our tiny house sit dormant for such a long period of time. It seemed like such a waste to have such a beautiful home gathering dust and cobwebs! Homes are meant to be lived in and we knew that our home deserved to be loved by similar minded people.
It was an extremely tough decision, but in the end, we both agreed that selling it would be the best option for us.
Even though it originally felt like we were selling the dream that we both had for so long, we came to the realization that it was not all that bad. We will always have the memories of the long hard hours building it, the blood, sweat, and tears that went into every detail, and the timeless memories of living in it, especially since it was also the first days, weeks and months with our firstborn son.
Most important of all, we learned that anything is possible. We had a dream and we made it a reality. WE BUILT A TINY HOUSE!
After putting it for sale on tinyhouselisting.com we were flooded with emails, it was overwhelming how much interest there was. It sold almost as fast as we listed it! We always knew that our home was something special and loved that it will now be enjoyed by a family for hopefully many years to come.