Build your own DIY Tiny House

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Build your own DIY Tiny House

If you are thinking about building your own tiny house in the UK – and let’s face it, one of the main appeals and drivers of the original North American tiny house movement was the Do It Yourself empowerment involved; then let’s take a look at what is really involved.

A properly built tiny house shell (ie. not a garden shed on wheels) will take around 200-300 man hours of work to complete depending on the size and extent of the build and custom furniture etc. How much time can you devote to this given your other commitments?  Even for the experienced builder it is a big project, but for the first time builder or novice craftsman, it can be much more.

In addition few people have the facilities to build under cover and find their careful work exposed to the elements.  The period between finishing a floor pad and having a weathertight roof could easily be a month or three depending on how much time you can dedicate to building each week – so your hard work and materials can be sitting exposed to the weather and absorbing moisture during this time – and believe me, tarpaulins just don’t work!.

Many hopeful do it yourselfers do not realise the extent of experience, tools and machinery required to complete a safe and structurally sound tiny house – of course you can buy or hire but this all adds to the costs and hassle.

Now don’t let this put you off being resourceful and achieving your dreams – it’s just a bit of “food for thought” from a professional!

Then there is the “two out of three rule” – a cautionary note about Building Costs!

You may hear people saying that it’s possible to build a Tiny House for eg. under £5000 or £10,000 and whilst I am sure you could build something for that amount(shed!) , it will not be a NestHouse™ or NestPod™!

Whilst everyone wants affordable buildings there are three basic factors involved and it’s a great truism that you can only have two of the three factors – quick, cheap and good in one build: The two out of Three Rule! – QUICK?  CHEAP?  GOOD?

* you can spend a lot of money on labour and materials and quickly end up with a really good building – but it’s not cheap.

*or you can spend a long time sourcing reclaimed materials and self building and you may end up with a good building if you have the skills, but it won’t be quick.

*or you can build quickly and cheaply, but not end up with the best quality – !

cheap building is possible, but it will cost you time – this is the ‘sweat equity’ of self build. The caveat being that you must acquire sufficient skills to provide a functioning, long term, sustainable solution.

Most people, quite understandably, have no idea of the proper cost of building materials – one of my favourite illustrations is to point out that the NestHouse has over £2000 of insulation alone (at trade cost)!  As a general rule materials are often around 50% of the budget with the balance covering the time input. So you can save money with sweat equity by self building, but do you have the hundreds of hours necessary to accomplish a craftsman-like result?