Although we’ve been living in our tiny house for over a month now, I’ve been thinking back to the early days of dreaming and scheming. Just what were we thinking?!
Well, we did a great deal of thinking in those days about our current housing, job, and finances and what we wanted to change about all three. Spending hours mentally lounging in cozy windowseats on Pinterest was fun and somewhat informative of our final design. But for us, it was always more about banishing student loan debt and freeing up time and money for family, giving, travel, and the like.
If you’re already at the commitment stage of delving into tiny house construction and living (Lord help you!), it’s time to assess what’s really going on with your housing, job, and money and the real choices you have during this next year or two.
Spending many late nights up with a large pot of tea or coffee discussing, reflecting, researching, crunching numbers, and wrestling with these questions could save your finances, marriage, sanity, and maybe your life…it’s that important.
- What is my housing situation currently?
- Do I anticipate rent, mortgage payments, utilities, or other housing costs increasing within a year?
- Am I under the gun to get the tiny house done so I have a place to live?
- At what stage of the build do I see myself moving in? How will this work with the climate and season?
- How will moving in before completion affect the progress of the build, both positively and negatively?
- What is my job situation currently?
- If full-time or overtime, can I begin the discipline of carving out regular time to diligently focus on tiny house preparation? What does this mean for how long the build will take?
- If part-time or seasonal, how will the increased time but decreased earnings balance out to meet both the funding and schedule of the build?
- If unemployed or on hiatus from a job, how many hours can I conceivably work on the build per day or week without burning out, so that I maximize this time off work and don’t run out of money?
- What are possible build materials and costs?
- Search out several lists from good, thorough tiny house blogs, such as Tiny House Giant Journey, Tiny House Build, and Love Liberty Shelter of course (an ongoing work-in-progress, as the build continues on!).
- Print out, compare, cross off and add materials based on your design needs.
- Price out everything you can. As you do, consider the following:
- What materials and tools do I anticipate . . .
- salvaging, such as pallets from an alley or recycle center, or furniture from curbside?
- buying second-hand, such as through Craigslist or Habitat for Humanity?
- buying new at Home Depot, Lowes, local lumber supply, or a hardware store?
- buying new on Amazon and other online sources?
- buying at a premium, either locally or online, because of aesthetic, green, or other considerations?
- Which aspects of the build will require . . .
- extensive research, practice, training, and/or specialized tools?
- working alongside a pro or knowledgeable friend?
- hiring out?
- examples: welding for trailer modification, framing, electrical, plumbing, wood stove, etc.
- Based on all the above, what is the budget for the build?
- How much do you currently have saved?
- How far do you anticipate this will get you in the build?
- Do you anticipate more income going toward the build in the coming months?
- How much money do you think you should have saved before beginning?
- What is the plan if money runs out before completion?
- What are your backup sources of funding?
- How do you really feel about using these?
- Would it depend on how far in the build you have progressed?
Tiny house building and living could be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. The scope, energy, funds, time, and commitment this kind of complex project requires is immense. At the same time, if an unskilled couple with little kids can do it, so can you! Seek out the right people, resources, and tools, keep the big picture crystal clear, and never stop learning, flexing, and being thankful.