BY: JESSICA BEUKER
One of the perks of tiny house living, besides lower carbon footprint and environmental impact, is lower cost. In 2016, the average housing cost in Canada was a whopping $481,000, and that doesn’t even take into account the high interest rates that many have to pay when taking out a loan to purchase said house. For comparison, the average cost to build a tiny house clocks in at only $23,000.
While tiny homes are substantially more attainable financially, those looking to build their own small house can still follow a number of steps to ensure that they are getting the lowest possible cost. Here are five tips for building your tiny house on a budget.
Build yourself (but don’t be afraid to ask for help)
In terms of saving money, building is always better than buying. Not only that, but it allows you to customize and design your house the way that you want. Since you won’t have a ton of space, it’s important that you love and feel comfortable in every bit that you do have.
Building yourself will cut down completely on one of the biggest costs – labour. There is no point in paying someone loads of money to do what you could easily do yourself. If you don’t know how to do something, there are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube that can help you out. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If asked nicely, friends and family will likely help out where they can in exchange for a beer and a slice of pizza. You can also easily borrow all of the tools you will need from friends, family and even people around your neighbourhood.
Doing most of the labour yourself means you can save your money for the things that you might feel less comfortable doing, like plumbing and electrical.
Using salvaged materials is a great way to cut costs and also create less waste. Of course this takes a bit more time than if you were to just go to the store and buy everything you need in one place – salvaging requires a bit of digging. For instance, you can find most of your basic building materials such as wood at scrapyards, dumpsters behind construction sites and even on the side of the road. One person’s scraps is another person’s tiny home.
Another place to check is the free section on Craigslist or Kijiji. Many people will throw out old furniture that you could easily deconstruct for supplies. You’re not going to get enough wood in one haul to build your entire house, but after some time collecting you’ll start to see how it really adds up. Even things like windows and doors are easy to find if you do enough searching.
Once again, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family. That old dresser and headboard sitting in your parents’ garage collecting dust could finally come in handy.
Salvaging will also come in handy when it comes to the interior design of your tiny house. Everything from countertops to curtains can be done for very cheap. Things like bedding, cushions and curtains can even be sewn together by you (or your really craft aunt) using recycled fabrics.
Make Craigslist your best friend
Besides finding a treasure trove of free or insanely cheap building supplies and housing items, Craigslist is also the perfect way to network and get in contact with people who can help you out.
If you do end up needing to hire a couple extra sets of hands, Craigslist could help you find people willing to work for a very reasonable fee.
Sell your belongings
Chances are if you’re making the move to a tiny house, you will also be downsizing your belongings. Excess furniture, home decor and technology can all sell for a very decent price. Hold a yard sale or sell to your friends and family.
You can also sell your stuff on Craigslist, Kijiji and eBay, or research what apps and programs are available around your city. For example in Toronto, apps like Letgo and Varagesale will let you sell your belongings to people in your neighbourhood, while apps like Bunz act as a trading platform, where you could potentially trade your stuff for building supplies, labour or even gift cards to hardware stores.
Selling your belongings is not just an easy way to fund your new project, but also a great way to cut back on the amount of stuff you will be taking to your new house. It eliminates the stresses of packing and downsizing – plus a fresh start feels pretty damn good.
Promote your project
Don’t be shy about your tiny house project. The more you talk about it, the more likely you are to receive help. You’d be surprised how many strangers would be willing to lend a hand for nothing but a small favour in return. The old saying rings true here – what goes around comes around.
Don’t forget to talk about your project online – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit or your own personal blog are all tools you can use to reach more people. At the very least these platforms are a hub of information. Need a plumber, but have no idea where to even look? Post a question on a Facebook group or a tiny house subreddit. You will almost always get an overwhelming amount of responses from people who will recommend you plumbers based on things like price, availability, customer service and quality of work. The internet is your most valuable tool and it is right at your fingertips.