The $64,000 Tiny House Question

Pocket Shelter - Exterior

I ran across a note written by Aaron Maret, who recently built a tiny house (pictured above). He’s selling the house and asking $64,000 for it. On his blog he says that he’s received some criticism for that price and makes a very good case for why he’s priced it at that amount.

I don’t want to comment directly on Aaron’s house, but take a moment and speak more generally about the controversial topic of price – The $64,000 Tiny House Question.

But first it’s probably important to understand that while I’m a very frugal guy, and typically prefer to find low-cost and free solutions for things, I’m also a big believer in quality & value over an apparent low up-front price.  In other words, I’m so frugal I’d rather pay for quality once than to get a good deal on something that won’t hold-up over daily use.

Also on the topic of price, you might have also noticed that I offer free tiny house plans and what might be the lowest priced tiny house plans on the Internet. I personally think my plans are worth a lot more than I charge, but I also recognize that I’ll eventually recoup my investment over time. So I keep them priced low so that everyone can afford them.

So you might think I look at tiny houses like this and think they are overpriced.

I think an enormous amount of effort goes into building some tiny houses and often it shows. Having spent some time working with reclaimed materials myself, I know that what you save in retail prices you often pay for tenfold in time & sweat. So in terms of effort, time, and financial investment, I suspect one would need to ask something like $64,000 to recoup the investment on a house like this.

I’ve also heard the same thing said about Tumbleweed tiny houses, which are typically built using all new premium materials. So while they may be expensive, they are also probably worth every penny when you factor in all the expenses and professional quality.

So no, I don’t think they are necessarily overpriced. I just think they are usually priced high for good reasons.

Can someone build tiny houses as nice on a lower budget?

Yes, I think it could be done – but the project would need to begin with that intention. I don’t think everyone who builds tiny houses is intending to make them competitively priced. I suspect most people do it for a blend of different reasons, and that’s why we see so much attention to detail and the selection of high quality materials. I think many tiny house projects are approached by owner-builders like artists approach their artwork – and that’s what makes the end result so unique.

Would I pay $64,000 for a tiny house?

No, I’d prefer to build my own house – not to get a better deal necessarily, but because I’m a creative guy that likes to make things.

How much should a tiny house cost?

On average I see people spending between $15,000 and $25,000 on their tiny houses. But I’ve also seen people build tiny houses for as little as a few thousand dollars. Those homes often have just the bare basics, like one layer of sheathing/siding and a thin layer of hardboard or plywood on the interior. So if you’re looking for a super low cost way to build a tiny house, it can be done.

Some suggestions for those who criticize others online over price.

  1. You are free to think something is priced too high. If you’re serious about buying a tiny house from someone else, make the seller an offer, then negotiate.
  2. Remember that there’s a real person behind the project, not some corporate product development department.
  3. Remember that it was made by hand to the level of craftsmanship the creator was capable of accomplishing. This can be good and bad.
  4. Tiny houses are not commodities that come off a conveyor belt so no standard pricing is possible.
  5. It might be priced just right for someone else – or the seller may learn there is no demand for the house at that price.

If you think this is an important topic to you want to discuss, please leave a comment below.

Visit Aaron’s website to see more photos of The $64,000 Tiny House.

Pocket Shelter - Interior Pocket Shelter - Evening Pocket Shelter - Seating Pocket Shelter - Sink

26 thoughts on “The $64,000 Tiny House Question

  1. Suzi says:

    You can price things however you want…but i seriously doubt there will be takers at $64,000….It’s cute enough, but one of the biggest draws of tiny houses is a price that you don’t have to get a mortgage to afford…Yes, a lot of effort goes into building one, as does ANY job..if your time is worth THAT much, perhaps you should rethink spending that much time building a tiny home, get a regular job paying that much & pay someone ELSE $25K to build you one of these…

  2. Michelle says:

    Few things make me angrier than seeing a craftsman/artisan post something about their Work and it’s Price and then see complaints about the price charged in the comments. A) If you don’t want to pay that much, make it yourself or live without it. B) It’s completely RUDE and PRESUMPTUOUS to tell an artisan what their work is worth. It’s worth as much as they determine it to be, regardless of what you may believe it’s “market value”. And finally C.) There are many Tiny and Small House start-ups struggling to serve a small but growing market. There is room in that market for everyone – not just the lowest common denominator of CHEAP.

    • Ralph Sly says:

      I should not have bothered writing, I could just have agreed with Michelle and Eva but I wrote off line and didn’t see your posts.

      Can’t agree more with either of you. On new or manufactured there is an entirely different story.

      There is a mural on the front of my building painted by a local artisan of history and that is the only reason this place is not coming down and being rebuilt, at least util we know for sure. I have put on thousands of gallons of paint on but only wiped it off the floor, I have no idea how we will uncover this. We now do know it was there through archive photos.

      http://www.basininstitute.org/home/image.html?zn=2&id=3fc42a125d4b9ca3721ffe995e731421

      so if anyone has any ideas they would be greatly appreciated. I for one will not ruin his work.

  3. Eva says:

    I think you have to see these things in person to really value them appropriately. In looking at the pictures, there are many more windows and cabinets than you usually see in most of the tiny houses. The windows that open like that are usually more expensive. Those countertops did not just come off the shelf at Lowe’s. A lot of craftsmanship went into making those. There’s a pocket door too. The wood floors appear to be high quality.

    I have no true idea – it could all be flimsy, but you can’t really judge a house by its photo. If I invested in a tiny house I planned to live in for 10+ years, I’d want it to be made well and with really nice material. You have to factor in what you need, what you want and how long you plan to live there. It’s all personal choice though.

  4. john bradley says:

    I wouldn’t pay that much. But I’d probably spend that much over the whole life of the house. I’m a cheapskate! I’m going to follow my late Mother’s idea. Build the house from the bathroom outwards!

  5. mary says:

    In my area, a small house only costs $30-50k on a foundation, so I wouldn’t pay this. But someone living in a different area might see this as a steal compared to housing in their area. And if its on wheels and already licensed, that counts for something, too. Then, there is the fact that some tiny houses are works of art. If the price is too high it will come down or it won’t sell, but I see no reason to complain.

  6. Ralph Sly says:

    Wow, you caught me at the right time for this subject. (Mellow) A few years or even a couple I was very vocal about the prices I seen on some of these units and on some garden type and weekend units. Blown away as a matter of fact and did not hold back from saying so if I felt it was ridiculous. These were new manufactured units.

    Pre owned, It all boils down to buyer beware and know what you are getting into. There are many prices on a product, 3 are, what the seller wants, what the buyer wants to pay and what they agree on I guess is the value. It’s a nice place though. I would check out the builder. This seller may be great, have someone really in the know check out any unit in this price range. I, like the writer of this article would build or have it built but for instant possession, purchasing could be your answer. And it very well might be worth every penny to you but for the life of me can’t really see any marketable appreciation in these homes after they have been used a while in a nomad style or being moved around often.

    I have a long history of rebuilt mobile or as we started to call them Manufactured Homes from the 80s and 90s written about in my blog if I ever get it up and running. I probably won’t live long enough. LOL, hope so.

  7. Leigh says:

    Just because it’s a “tiny” house there’s a set price? Not all houses are equal. What may take one builder a day, may take another a week — and not because it involves greater quality than the other. The $64,000 house “in question” does not even come close to MANY houses of the same size and (assumed) quality which are being sold for half the price.

    I find this to be a ludicrous argument. The guy’s house (at least on the outside) is quite unattractive. If he can get half of what he asks — he’d be lucky!

    • Ralph Sly says:

      I am not knocking what you said at all I really don’t like the style or outside exterior but am reminded of a bus selling at Barrett Jackson. The seller in his wildest dreams could not seeing it going for %500,000 and it went for millions. I think 3 but that was a while ago and can’t quite remember. I wouldn’t give it parking space. But you know what they say in a transaction, a fool and his money… I am a fool but the money, eh, not so.

  8. Jo Green says:

    I don’t like the exterior either, but the interior is incredible. I’m not paying that much because it defeats the purpose of why I want one in the first place. At 50 I’m going to learn to build, and the prospect that the house is designed by me – for me is 90% of the attraction in my case. I’m only 4’11” tall and I can make things “vertically challanged accessible”. Fortunately with my Uncle and son-in-law I’ll have some serious help/advice and professional consultation for cheap or free, depending on their mood. 😉

    Jo

  9. Aaron says:

    The only valid reason I can see that people will get upset over the price of this home is fear that they will never be able to afford a tiny house. Otherwise, why lift a finger to comment that something is too expensive? If there is a sufficient supply of comparable homes on the market for less money, then there’s nothing to complain about. But if the home is attractive, but the price is more than someone can afford, the advertised price calls attention to the fact that they can’t have something they want.

    The key here is the fact that globalization has caused a tremendous mix-up in supply and demand of labor and materials. Here’s a funny thing: a two-day plumbing job in my house, using the labor of two plumbers, and about $300 in materials, cost me $4,000. Two blue-collar guys with high-school educations laying pipe. On the other hand, I can get an exquisitely crafted Ipad, shipped halfway around the world, hand-made in many ways, for $500.00.

    If you want to make good money, go somewhere that there aren’t many people doing what you do. Had those plumbers lived in China, with the same education, they’d have earned $80 a week instead of $80 an hour.

    Likewise, if you want to get low-cost products that are well-crafted, buy them off an assembly line (but choose carefully). If you want someone to build what YOU want, as opposed to just buying something that was built by a huge global system, you’re going to pay tons more.

    The reason this house is so expensive is that it’s one of a kind, built of materials made here (not in China) by someone who’s also a very rare breed of craftsman. If you want an assembly-line product, it’ll be a lot cheaper. For now. Until your salary drops to $80 per week.

    • Ralph Sly says:

      Arron, you sure knocked plumbers off of your fan list. It reminds me of the joke –

      A surgeon had some work done and when handed the bill he told the plumber that he doesn’t even make that kind of money and the plumber laughed and said yes, ridiculous isn’t it, that’s why I left medicine and took the trade. I do a lot of DIY plumbing on my projects but they don’t require permits.

      There are things you need to know about plumbers,
      1. never shake their hand, you don’t know where it is has been.
      2. Don;t look when they are wearing genes and T shirts while bent over your drain because the smile you see is where you can kiss if you don’t like the bill.

      To many people, they are an essential service when things go wrong but many repairs can be DIY if one just has a good look at the situation and half a clue. And believe me, they have a “God all of their own” that causes most of my problems to happen when I am out of town on the weekend, never through the week and a tenant or
      someone at the house has to call one on double time.

  10. Emme says:

    There are people who want their house to be more than just a place to live in; they want it to make a statement, or to be a work of art. Then there are people who want as much reclaimed material as possible in their home to avoid supporting the production of new materials. This is true whether the home is tiny or not.

    If someone wanted to have a home that was a work of art, or made totally with reclaimed materials, they could easily be priced out of a larger home, but a tiny one would work for them.

    I know it takes an incredible amount of time to find reclaimed materials, and more time to properly take them apart and reuse them. Even if the builder is only charging $15 an hour for their time, it will add up fast.

    I am glad there is a large variety of tiny homes because there are so many different wants and needs in the people. If money is the biggest priority to you, then no this would not be the home for you, but not everyone has the same priorities. That’s why we need variety.

  11. alice h says:

    I can’t afford anything over $10,000 or so (and even that only when I save up some more money)and would prefer to build my own place exactly the way I want it anyway. It will start as a weatherproof shell with basic (cheap) windows and doors and the interior will be built in stages as I can afford it and made so I can upgrade components as money becomes available. It will be very basic but still livable right from the beginning. Once built I don’t intend to sell it but if I ever had to the price would depend a lot on what the materials cost plus what price I put on my labour, minus the quality of work.

    The labour part of the price is what seems to be at issue most of the time. People look at a place and think of whatever the value of the materials comes to then seem to stop thinking. Somewhere in there is an “I could make that myself way cheaper.” If you broke down the labour price to an hourly rate I doubt it would ever come out to something spectacular. People are willing to work on their own place as long as it takes for no wages but balk at paying someone else very much to do that same work and somehow expect it to take a lot less time as well.

    I don’t know what the “usual” proportions are of materials vs labour but I doubt labour is ever going to be a whole lot less than materials unless you’re using some seriously expensive stuff. That kind of stuff usually requires more skill to work with so you might even have increased labour costs there as well.

    So, is something worth the price? Maybe. Maybe not. Regional and personal circumstances vary so something that seems reasonable to one person will seem like insanity to someone else. If you like it and are willing to pay that price then it’s worth it to you. If not, keep looking or build something yourself. Those are the only choices you get.

  12. bob adams says:

    No thanks. One can a a top of the AirStream trailer for that kind of money. And ten years later you could probably get 75 percent of your money back if you decided to sell it. The whole purpose of the tiny house movement is living in-expensively in a dream house that you yourself crafted. If you don’t have the skills to build that house then acquire them. There are courses at community colleges about basic carpentry skills. Join in on a Habitat for Humanity build and ask questions and make carpenter friends. They will give advice. You will also need the help of like-minded individuals. Look around you. There are many people going through the same things in life and have a need for inexpensive housing. Start a local tiny house group/community. Bootstrap each other into homes by sharing labor. Our ancestors called it a barn raising. It will be much more fulfilling that overpaying for someone else’s dream tiny house.

    • Emme says:

      There is no ONE purpose to the tiny house movement. Everyone has different needs and priorities. I cannot speak for what other people’s priorities in life are; no one can. Your definition of fulfillment is not the same for everyone.

      There are so many examples on the web of people happily living tiny who are not doing it the way you say they should be. That doesn’t mean they aren’t living tiny or in a tiny house.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    He built the house-he should be able to put HIS price on it! Looks like quality work all the way to me NOT including his sweat and time.

  14. Dore says:

    I live in California, where it’s not unusual to see a two-bedroom, one bath house go for a half million just because it’s in a very desirable area (e.g. San Francisco, Malibu, West Hollywood). That said, I would not pay $64,000 for this particular tiny house. I don’t like the exterior, and as another commenter said, I can buy a used Airstream Sport for half that price. If you’re going to argue that this is a work of art and is priced according to the craftsmanship and materials that went into it, that’s fine. But this tiny house is still competing in the market against similar tiny houses, and most of them are not going for that high a price. I’ve worked with a number of real estate agents, and they’ve all told me that in the end, your house, no matter if you have Italian marble floors and gold chandeliers, is only as expensive as the market will bear. Perhaps there’s a buyer out there who will appreciate the amount of work the seller put into this tiny house. But most people in the market for a similar home are downsizing or are trying to avoid taking a mortgage. Not many of us have $64K in cash, and if I did, I would not be putting it into that particular home.

  15. jerrellann says:

    This house is my favorite!!! I look online every single day because it’s my dream to own one. I would sooo buy it if I had $64,000. I’ve even gone so far as to research Asheville, NC. It’s lovely there! What a dream come true, to live in a home of this quality in such a beautiful area. Nice job, Aaron!

  16. Beth W says:

    You have excellent timing- I’ve been debating with my mom over how much it would cost to build a tiny house (we’re hoping around 800 square feet). She thinks over $100,000, and I’ve been saying closer to $50,000. You’ve shed some light on this for us….thanks!

  17. Eva says:

    There’s no reason to be nasty about it and presume the guy has ill motives.

    When I finally get my tiny house, I’m going to have someone build it for me. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy. It’s just my preference to have an expert build it better and in less time than it would take me, a complete novice.

    And, I because I’m going to live in it a long while, I want to spend more money on quality craftsmanship and materials. Will it be overpriced if I had to sell and wanted to get my investment back? Probably, but that’s my choice.

    It’s like you’re telling me not to buy a Mercedes because I could pick up a wrench and make my own car.

  18. Sarah says:

    hey y’all! it’s been a few years since I commented 🙂 I thought I’d weigh in.

    I think the price for this house is absolutely fair. I’d buy it myself if I could. the craftsmanship seems to be very high quality and you can see the dedication and… emotion? that went into building this. in our hurry to buy cheap, we’ve forgotten what fair compensation means unless we’re buying fair trade at the grocery store.

    not only that but this tiny house, like all tiny rolling homes, is a functional, one of a kind piece of art. the artist deserves to be paid accordingly.

  19. Cortni says:

    I love the spread of opinions on this house price issue.

    As a carpenter, I’m weighing in on the side of the builder. Small can take more time than big, or just as much. Tiny house crafting is just that -crafting. This little place is sweet. Just because it’s rustic outside doesn’t mean it’s not nicely made or well made. Some folks, myself included, might prefer a weathered exterior to something shiny and painted and gussied up.

    Also, he has the right to ask the price he is, he needs a starting point from which to (possibly) bargain. And if he doesn’t get his price it’s not necessarily a wrong price, he hasn’t had the time to wait for the buyer that’ll pay it.

    I hope the new owner finds this opportunity and pays the price the seller and he/she agree this house is worth.

    In other words, I believe the buyers for all works of art are out there, wandering toward the art, and eventually they may unite.

  20. Eddy Mills says:

    Hello all, I see this is a post from a few years back but thought it was worth a reply. First off I am a Journeyman Carpenter (Red Seal) since 1988 and have seen a lot of construction. I currently own a Deck, Fence and Renovation company in Edmonton , Alberta, Canada. http://www.firepitfundamentals.ca

    Over the past couple years we have grown a ecommerce store that sells energy producing and energy saving products. This brings me to the Tiny Home. I have seen a rise in interest for them in Canada over the past couple years and we have spread our wings, so to speak, to include custom Tiny Home construction.

    The 64K question is very relevant to us in the northern climates as it gives us some challenges to build year round Tiny Homes and keep it affordable. I recently priced out a 8.5 foot by 24 foot home to a couple and it came out at $71,000.00 Canadian dollars. So about $55K usd.

    The home has infloor heating with custom water tanks (130 gallons) and is off-grid capable or can be grid tied. The solar system is a 1.25 KWh system with AGM batteries for the cold climate. I designed the mechanical room that contains all the above to sit on the front of the home on the tongue. This is all included within the heated envelope of the Tiny Home.

    The windows are not “cheap” and are dual pane low-E. This is a minimum if you are going to live through a winter. I have a meeting with my clients and I suspect we will be trimming the fat to get the cost down to $65,000 CAD.

    As far as pricing, like many have said, it is what you feel you need to make it worth while to build it. Although, at the end of the day, it is about what the market will bear.

    We are hoping that the Tiny Home is received well with our regulators at the various levels and the trend continues.

    Hope everyone enjoys a great 2017!

    Eddy

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