Could this not be a classroom as well?

Category: Free Inquiry

The Cost of Tiny Living (A Rant)

I have hit a bit of a lull when it comes to my tiny house project.  The idea is still something that excites me, and it is a project I would like to work towards, but as a student it currently seems unobtainable.  My issue is I don’t want to start the project, and have it sit around not going anywhere for a number of years.  If I’m going to build a tiny house, I want to do it right and I want to make sure it gets done.

Here is the problem, tiny houses have and will most likely continue to be quoted as sustainable, environmentally friendly and “affordable”.  This is where my issue comes in.  While on paper tiny houses do appear to be affordable, they may not be as affordable at first glance.  A Tiny house is described as anything between 100 square feet – 400 square feet.  Assuming the Tiny house I would like to build is about 200 square feet and building it myself ends up being around 30000$ I’m paying about 150$ per square foot.  Which is slightly more then the average house price by square foot in America, which is around 120$ right now.

This is not the only issue.  While it’s nice to research and find articles such as Business Insider, that break down the price of a tiny house using a number of different methods.  Professionally built being between 45000$-150000$, while build by the owners is usually between 10000$-45000$ in USD.  This doesn’t consider things like building permits, which in Victoria are currently 100$ to apply alone.  This isn’t including the actual permit cost being 1.5% the cost of the work (again not including plumbing or electrical) adding all things considered let’s say I’m now at 31000$ to build my 200square foot tiny house.  I now must get it insured.  Which is currently impossible unless I am the landowner in the Greater Victoria Area and premiums being at most 250$.  Next my choice is to either rent land (which is not currently legal) or buy land which range wildly in the GVA.  Adding this all up we end up with around 230000$ if I was to buy land or 32000$ Renting plus monthly feeds before I have even built the thing.

For most people with a sustainable job or established lifestyle this may not seem to far out of reach, but for a university student it currently is not feasibly doable.  The cost is currently just to high, I can continue to research and plan out the tiny house, maybe even come up with a more comprehensive budget but as of right now.  Therefore, this project will have to remain a dream for my future self to pursue.  I am also attaching a few resources that help explain the budgeting of a tiny house a little bit better.


Readers Digest:  The Hidden Costs of a Tiny House

Tinyhouse Blog: The Cost of a Tiny House

Business Insider


Tiny house Development

Tiny house popularity has been such that a simple google search of “Tiny House + design”  several good results.

  • This website offers a clear and simple list that helps potential tiny house builders on everything they need to know about tiny living.
  • It starts by describing the needs someone may have for living tiny.
  • Then Continues to talk about the actual tools materials and processes that are needed to build a tiny house.
  • Some exploration of the site will offer alternatives for tinyhouses, such as shipping container homes or trailers and other information potential tiny people may find interesting.

  • A brief article that discusses the steps for designing a tiny house from the beginning to the end and what things to consider carefully.

  • Discusses steps from inception to creation.


For me personally the next steps in my design process will be to lay out a practice design either in tape or string to get an idea of the space that a tiny house occupies and how much space I might have on the interior.  This exploration led to lots of discussions of layouts.  I feel my partner and I have a better idea of space and potential layouts.  I have also begun to record a list of educational websites and handbooks that will assist with the production process.


Tiny house legality

“In Victoria movable tiny homes are not allowed but garden suites are, meaning any one with a single-family dwelling can build a suite in their backyard – excluding duplexes or homes with secondary suites.”

As of right now tiny houses are technically not illegal in Victoria however the way zoning works it is impossible to park a tiny house on a property without breaking the law unless you own that property and it is the only building on it.  Which makes living in a tiny house very difficult and requires actual ownership over the land.  Though this might be something that changes in the near future

“I think what we’ll see over the next three years, hopefully, is a really solid policy that makes it easier for people to build all forms of housing including tiny homes and movable tiny homes in backyards,” says Helps

This leaves me hopeful.  As a university student I never expected to be a landowner until well after my educational years.  Though If what is stated above proves to be true the possibility of building a tiny house and parking it may come before the ability to own the land privately.  Hopefully this promised “Solid policy” described by Lisa Helps materialises in that time frame, but until it does my efforts will have to remain focused on land ownership or alternate locations for a tiny house.

That being said the advantage with some tiny house designs is that they are movable, and I may very well be able to build one to move to an actual plot of land.  Granted the ability to move tiny houses is also one of the biggest warnings to tiny house owners but it is still a valid option.

There are also a large number of courses and information to be found online, tiny house construction is unique and therefore certain building codes can be an issue but the community is pushing forward.  Tiny house living has a large following that continues to grow and will hopefully allow people to start living tiny in the near future. To do this and to further my learning I will continue to research Tiny house construction, Design and hopefully legality of them.  A website recommended to me is attached and while the course currently described as already passed there is an opportunity for one to happen in the future.


The Tiny House Project

brown wooden house miniature on red carpet

For the past several years I have followed the tiny house movement that has blown up around the world.  I have been fascinated by the idea of living small.  Not only for the environmental benefits the perceived social benefits as well.  Tiny house owners claim to have a lowered stress level and more financial stability.  Since discovering the movement, I have wanted to get involved, the issue is it has never seemed accessible to me, financially or timing wise the bar was just to high to invest.  Energy efficient living can also come with a high price tag, the technology not being mainstream enough to drive prices down.  Another major issue is that Victoria’s zoning doesn’t currently allow for tiny housing in the Greater Victoria Area.  However, my excitement to get involved and my passion for the movement hasn’t been diminished and I am hoping this year to start making significant steps to eventually living tiny.  Finalizing research, coming up with a financial plan, designing and prototyping a tiny house are my main goals.

Research is honestly the first step of any project.  I hope to learn about the totally financial investment required.  This could include building a house, insurance, parking fees or land ownership and any other costs that may arise.  As well a better understanding of building processes and building code in British Columbia.  As well as the debate of either DIY or professionally built houses.  Looking for potential downsides and ways to deal with the problems that arise from living tiny.

During the financial planning phase I hope to design a reasonable and achievable plan for funding a tiny house project as well as any other major changes that may occur around the time as making the transition to tiny living.  Figuring out environmental plans and downsizing requirements.  The material cost and living costs that incur with living in a tiny house. I hope to have an easy to follow goal that I can put into effect shortly after this semester.

Finally, a design, probably the most exciting part of my goals for this semester is to have a relatively thought out design.  Solving some of the issues with space management and storage that may arise as well as having a lay out that I find interesting and accepting of my lifestyle.  This will be a battle between which areas of my house I find important and how to fit those aspects into a tiny space.  What parts of regular housing can I live without?  In an ideal world I will have something close to a technical design or with access to a 3D printer a 3D model I can manipulate and use as an example for the final project.

I do not expect to get to a final build in this time frame but I hope to take several steps in the right direction and will do my best to document my progress as I go!woman sitting on bed watching by the window during winter