It’s entirely reasonable to spend 800 or more hours to build a tiny house. That’s without counting overtime when things don’t go as smoothly as expected—which is inevitable for any building project.
Buying a tiny house kit is a way to be involved in the construction process if you don’t as many hours, patience or experience required to build your house from the ground up.
Houses with some of the work done already come in two categories: kits and shells.
Tiny House Kits vs. Tiny House Shells
Tiny House Kit
Minimal building experience required.
Comes with everything you need for assembling your tiny house, including every screw and window. You put your house together like a puzzle.
Tiny House Shell
No building experience required.
You’ll get walls, roofing, flooring, windows and doors, all in place, delivered to your site. You’re left with just the interior finishing and decorating.
Tiny House Kits For Sale
“A kit simplifies the entire process because it actually teaches someone to build. We tell folks if they know which end of a hammer to hold, they can assemble a project.” —Domenic Mangano, founder of Jamaica Cottage Shop
If ordering a pre-assembled shell sounds too easy for you and constructing from the ground up sounds like too much, go with a tiny house kit. Kits include all the materials and instructions you need to put your house together like a puzzle.
Jamaica Cottage Shop
Included: complete fastening hardware, windows, doors, and step-by-step plans for assembly
Assembly: 40 hours for two people.
Skills/Tools Needed: Beginner carpentry skills and basic construction experience. No special tools.
Included: All hardware, framing, sheathing, flooring, roofing and trim. Windows, larger wall studs, rafters, and doors are optional.
Assembly: 5 to 25 days for two people.
Skills/Tools Needed: Some construction experience; a small amount of siding must be cut at site.
Included: All walls, framing, flooring, roofing, trim, windows, and doors.
Assembly: 8 hours for two people.
Skills/Tools Needed: “A DIY project for everyone.” No experience required and only basic tools.
Bungalow In A Box
Included: Depends on the kits, but all come with with prefabricated insulated wall paneling, timbers and joists.
Assembly: “Relatively easy to assemble.”
Skills/Tools Needed: A crane is recommended, but not necessary, to have on site to help with assembly.
Tiny House Shells For Sale
“We build the first half, you finish the second half.”— Monarch Tiny Homes
Instead of building your tiny house from the ground up you can order a pre-made tiny house shell. It will be delivered to your site ready to live in. Some shells even come with gas and electric hookups already in place. All you need to do is personalize the interior and make it your home.
Tiny House Basics
Included: Trailer, exterior walls, exterior siding, flooring, metal roofing, front door and windows.
Included: Full-finished exterior walls and roof, all windows and doors, stud-wall interiors, IKEA brand kitchen cabinets, a water-conserving toilet and the option for an engineering seal on building plans.
Cornerstone Tiny Homes
Included: Interior walls, flooring, and roof framing included, as well as other desired components. Also, a custom built trailer for each specific design.
Tiny House Plans
If you want complete control over the cost and type of materials you use, consider buying a tiny house plan. Some of the leading tiny house builders, who sell finished homes for $60,000 and more, sell the complete plans for those homes for $500 and less.
If you don’t have construction experience, you’ll have a lot to learn as you go, but these plans are designed for DIYers. Some are available—from reputable builders—for as little as $79.
If you choose the wrong trailer, your house could collapse. Be sure you find the right design and company for your house. We recommend buying from a company that specializes in trailers for tiny houses.
In the Tiny House Design and Style post we’ve highlighted a few of the important things to consider before purchasing a trailer for your tiny house.
Tumbleweed Houses Trailers
Designed for tiny houses by this tiny house building company. Come with special trailer radial tires designed for better handling on heavy loads.
Tiny Home Builders Trailers
Designed with safety in mind, these trailers have the maximum number of connection points between your house and the trailer, making sure the two are securely bonded together. Make sure you check out their cool interactive trailer builder.
PJ Trailers has a great customer service department and provides a series of visual guides to help you understand some of the options available, like trailer tongue lengths and deck heights. They ship all over the U.S. and Canada
These trailers are built from the ground up for the purpose of being the foundation for tiny houses. Designed in collaboration with the tiny house experts at PAD (Portland Alternative Dwellings).
Trailer Made Custom Trailers
Trailer Made’s custom tiny house trailers are available in lengths from 12′ to 44′. With tandem and triple axel foundations, these trailers come in standard or wide configurations.
These trailers are designed with safety in mind and feature a tube steel construction and electric brakes on every wheel. Trailer Made has also stopped using scissor jacks due to their failure rate.