Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why My Wife And I Are Building A Tiny Home

My wife and I are building a tiny house (12′x20′) in East Texas. We had no desire to be mobile. We wanted a solid foundation and construction that was sturdier than we could justify on a trailer. Size was also an issue. The width constraint on a trailer just felt too restrictive. That said, 240 SF is not very large. We will end up with additional property taxes that some with “mobile” home will not but not at a huge cost. We also wanted ample room for storage and a workshop without the burden of that space being taxed as living space. 

We’ve been building it over the past year with whatever excess funds we had that month. We hope to finish it within a 2 year period of when we started. We’ll have somewhere between $11K-$12K into it. I have slowly moved down in size of dwellings as the first house I purchased years ago was 3000+ SF. We're now living in 1700 SF but on a very small lot. Our new house will be on 12 acres of woods which will provide for much of our entertainment and daily activities. 

I look back at my Grandparent’s house that was a 2BR/1Bath at around 1000 SF. It was plenty for them as they spent much of their time fishing and hunting. For me, the draw to a tiny house are the financial benefits:
1) Building costs – every square foot you add to a plan increases all of your expenses
2) Taxes – straight forward, square footage = taxes. The smaller the better.
3) Utilities – smaller footprint, cheaper to heat and cool.
4) Insurance – for permanent buildings, insurance is based on square footage & value
5) Upkeep – smaller building means easier & cheaper to maintain.

It’s not living in a tiny house that’s appealing, it’s the comparison to what we're spending now that's the huge draw.
Mortgage $1,300/mo vs $0
Utilities $380/mo vs $60
Taxes $3,800/yr vs $930 (house plus 12 acres east of Dallas)
Insurance $2,100/yr vs $390
Upkeep $1,000/yr vs $100

The $25,000 per year difference will allow us to make BIG changes in our lifestyle. If we continue working, we can put an additional $2K per month into our retirement fund. When we’re ready to retire, we’ve now stretched our funds to 2-3 times what they would cover before. That either affords us a lot of indulgences like improvements to the property, travel, or lifestyle, or it allows us to retire with a comfortable spending level nearly 10 years earlier. 

Either way, whatever your priority, it’s a win – all because we are willing to have a living room that converts to a bedroom at night. Everyone has something different that drives them, something that makes them stick out their chest and look around with pride. For some, it’s having a massive status symbol built close to the curb so that everyone that drives by will be envious. For others, it’s the peace and freedom that comes from getting out of the rat race.


  1. Well said. Continued good luck, and happy new year!

    1. Thanks, Barbara! Stay warm and be safe! :)

  2. Until now, I didn't know about the Tiny House revolution. This is a terrific idea to own a place of my own someday. Storage will definitely be my main obstacle because I've amassed a lot over the years that might not fit in this space. It's good to see there are Tiny space owners out there working to solve the storage dilem

    Tracy Mcdaniel @ Carolina Material Handling Inc

    1. Thanks for the comment, Traci! Kim and I weren't interested in moving around a lot since we have lots of family here in the North Texas area so we decided to buy land and build a house on foundation. This allowed us to also build a storage unit on our property. Our house will contain just what we need to live day-to-day, thus reducing our footprint which equates to cost of construction, utilities, taxes, insurance, etc. For those with trailer built houses there are some options: 1) leave your possessions with a relative. Maybe an attic or corner of a garage. 2) Rent a storage unit in the town that you're living in. Still cheaper than paying for all of the square footage on a large house. 3) Free yourself of possessions that end up possessing you. Take picture for memories and give away or sell that which you don't have room for. It's very liberating. :) Best of luck and "Thanks" again!

  3. Love, love, love what you are doing! Congrats on a Happy Life! :):):)

  4. Thanks for the breakdown on mortgage, utilities etc... people often talk about the savings, but this is the first time I've seen them spelt out.

  5. You're welcome, Emily. This can really be life changing. I wish I had started 20 years earlier!!! :)