The Cheapest Houses You Can Build

Before signing any contracts or making any deposits, most homebuyers devote significant time and effort to finding or designing “the perfect home.” However, given the current economy and the skyrocketing cost of goods, that may be more difficult than ever.

The initial costs might increase due to location, price, market trends, real estate taxes, homeowners association dues, and property conditions. Additionally, every buyer often compiles a wish list of precise needs (ie, things they absolutely must have) and wants (the features the buyer would like but could do without if necessary). Not every house will have what you want or need; if they do, you will likely pay more for the privilege.

Although there are many critical decisions one must make during the home-buying process, one of the first ones that purchasers must make is whether to look for an existing home or create one from scratch. With the recent rise in costs of home ownership, many are turning to building their own homes instead of outright buying.

What Kind Of Homes Can You Build Yourself?

Container Homes

woman in container home

A shipping container home is a structure made of steel shipping containers organized to create a stunning, one-of-a-kind custom home. These shipping containers are typically used to transport commodities across the globe on trains and boats, and because they are made of steel, they are a sturdy building material for houses.

One of its key advantages is the ability to construct a container home at a reasonable price. You can save a ton of money on your construction because you don’t have to start from zero when building a stick frame as you would with a conventional home.

Additionally, container homes may be built around half the time it takes to create a regular home, saving you both money and anxiety throughout the construction process.

The distinctive design of container homes is another advantage. They’re perfect for home construction because of their boxy, rectangular shape. Mid-century modern design is particularly true if you like mid-century modern design. The containers’ angular, symmetrical shape creates a distinctive silhouette.

Shell Homes

A shell home is a perfect compromise between buying an already finished house that might not suit how you need and wants to live and building your own house from scratch.

A sturdy, watertight, and insulated construction finished outwardly rather than internally is referred to as the shell. To make the house usable, the buyer will typically need to perform non-structural repairs on the interior of the building.

One of the main advantages of a shell home, besides the fact that it costs less than a fully built home, is your ability to make adjustments on the inside. You can build walls where you want them, use the same materials on the floor and ceiling, and even do some unusual treatments.

You’ll have more space than a container home, but you will have to pay more for interior outfitting.

Home Kits

people building home kit

If you aren’t sure how to obtain all the materials you might need to build on your own, or you want to be able to make your home quickly, a kit home might be an excellent option.

Depending on the size of the house, prices vary, but they are often at least 20% less expensive than traditional constructions with a contractor and, in some instances, much less costly if you can handle all the labor yourself.

One of the most significant benefits of a kit home is that many builders, along with internet merchants such as Amazon, will offer kits at far lower prices than traditional homes. Additionally, with certain builders, the building process can be finished in a matter of weeks instead of the standard build’s months-long schedule.

If a home kit appeals to you, be sure to carefully investigate what the kit you buy includes because the blueprints for different kits can differ significantly. You should always double-check the contents of a kit before purchasing it because some don’t include foundation or roofing components.

You’ll also need to account for additional expenditures for subcontractors if you lack skills in areas like plumbing or electrical, and make sure your kit home complies with any local zoning regulations.

Tiny Homes

tiny houses in woods

According to real estate codes, a tiny house is any residence with a floor space of 400 square feet or less, excluding lofts. A tiny house is, more generally speaking, a compact, moveable home with a simple layout.

As a result, these houses frequently make creative use of available space. In an ideal world, they serve as permanent homes and are self-sufficient (or at least primarily so). While some of these dwellings are movable, it is not a must, and not all are.

They typically have a size of about 8×16 feet, and although some are more expensive than others, they can potentially be much cheaper than regular full-sized houses.

A living area, a sleeping loft, a kitchen, and a bathroom are typical features of a tiny house, though some crafty home builders are making the most of every single available inch of space to put in unique features such as extra bedrooms or storage closets.

Many are designed to be independent of the power grid and self-sufficient, producing water and electricity.

What’s the Difference Between a Tiny Home and a Mobile Home?

tiny mobile home

Mobile homes and tiny houses are fantastic downsizing options as either is substantially less expensive than a typical home and can be tailored to almost any necessity or design desire. Another benefit is that both types of homes are typically exempt from property taxes, but that is where the similarities end.

The most significant distinction between the two is their sizes. Tiny houses typically have between 100 and 400 square feet and are designed to support independent living. On the other hand, mobile houses often range between 600 and 1300 square feet, giving for a substantially larger living space.

Additionally, while tiny homes are small enough to fly under the radar regarding some zoning and housing rules, mobile homes are subject to state and federal restrictions because of their bigger size.

Finally, even with modest mobile houses, mobility is not a primary feature, despite the term suggesting otherwise. A tiny house is a better choice if you need or want to relocate to a new place because you can tow it almost anywhere with the right car and trailer hitch.

Should You Build or Buy a Tiny Home?


The most crucial factor to consider is how much you have to invest in your tiny house. In situations like this, finances are clear-cut; you have a set number, be it $10,000, $50,000, or whatever amount you spend on the job. So keep that in mind when considering whether to build or buy your tiny home.

Because you must pay for the builder’s overhead, materials, labor, and other costs, purchasing a home through them will always be more expensive than if you were to build the house yourself.

Be truthful about your financial situation and make decisions based on facts rather than desires. If you have a little bit more money (and a little less confidence in building on your own), it may be worth buying a tiny home rather than making one yourself.


Time is another significant factor in building your tiny home. For even the smallest house, depending on how skilled you are at building and finishing your home, you could be looking at anywhere from six months to a year on average.

You will have to factor in time going to work, time sourcing materials, and even time that you cannot work on the building as the weather or other working conditions can keep you away. If you have the time to devote to building your tiny home, then it may be in your best interest.


Prior building experience is a major plus if you choose that path. However, it is not absolutely necessary, especially with all the courses, blueprints, and other support available online. But bear in mind that it’s not simple and requires effort, especially if you’re not used to working physically demanding jobs.

Asking friends, family, or neighbors who have the necessary abilities to come over and grab a hammer might be a good idea if you don’t feel ready to complete the task all by yourself. Recognize that you will still have a lot of work to do even if you have a lot of helpers. In some instances, having helpers causes you to work more slowly.

Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a Tiny Home?

tiny home in beautiful yard

While a typical home costs $150 per square foot on average across the country vs. $300 per square foot for small homes, tiny homes are often less expensive to buy or build. A tiny house can cost as little as $8,000 or run you over $100,000, depending on your choices.

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up on the exact numbers, though. Building a tiny house is often less expensive than purchasing one already completed. But always keep in mind hidden costs and unknown factors.

If you decide to create something yourself, you could underestimate the work involved because even a slight error might cost more time and money to rectify.

A used tiny house may be purchased for as little as $30,000, making it a more affordable option if you don’t want to buy new or build your own tiny home. However, purchasing used implies giving up some of your influence over how customized your home is.

Since tiny homes are frequently heavily personalized, making them suitable for your purposes could cost more in the long run.

What Is the Most Expensive Part of Building a Tiny Home Yourself?

tiny home in shady yard

The most expensive part of building a tiny home will vary slightly, depending on how mobile you want the home to be. If you are looking for extreme mobility, then you will likely want to build your tiny home on a trailer, allowing you to hitch it up and drive away at the drop of a hat.

Doing so will also make buying (or making) a road-ready trailer your top expense. A road-ready trailer can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000, depending on location and if you are buying something new or used.

If you are settling down and don’t need to focus on mobility, then your next significant cost is going to come in the form of electricity and wiring. The cost of this also goes far beyond a monetary amount.

If you are an electrician, then great! You’ve already got most if not all of the experience you need. However, if you are new to this and have never wired a home, this will be a steep learning curve, and the costs could climb quickly.

First and foremost, all new materials should be used when wiring a house. This might cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on the size of your construction and the amount of activity within. You can do the entire electrical installation by yourself.

You only need to observe and read through enough materials to comprehend what you are doing in order to finish the work safely. It’s not as challenging as it seems.

But if you still lack the confidence to handle electrical work despite using all the materials at your disposal, this can indicate that you need to contact an electrician. You should plan on spending at least two to three times the cost of the materials if you intend to hire an electrician, as you will be paying for their time on top of the materials.

What Is the Hardest Part of Building a Tiny Home Yourself?

It might be a surprise, but the most challenging part of building a tiny home might not actually be the building part itself. Building regulations and the ability to build could be the deciding factors.

Creating a tiny house can be difficult due to some locations’ strict building laws and zoning regulations. Due to their size and height, tiny houses on foundations frequently fall short of the criteria, while tiny houses on wheels are sometimes regarded as recreational vehicles (RVs) and, as such, do not comply with residential zoning.

In conclusion, the future of contemporary, ecological living will likely involve tiny living, be it in a tiny home, a container, or a shell. Even though our world is large, it’s not necessarily our responsibility as people to fill it with stuff.