The Incredible $8,000 Tiny House: Saving Strategies

The Incredible $8,000 Tiny House: Serious Savings Strategies For a Tiny House

We recently posted a story written by Wesley called “The Incredible $8,000 Tiny House“. This post quickly became one of our most popular articles ever. Wesley has even developed a bit of a fan club because after all, who wouldn’t love someone that built a hOMe inspired tiny house for just $8,000!? If you haven’t read it yet, jump over now before reading this follow up. Also, when you are done with this article, hop over to his new website and say a big “Hello” to Wesley! He is one of the kindest and most generous people and is really thrilled about being able to inspire others on a strict budget to go tiny. Below is a follow up to the question of how he was able to afford to build his tiny house on a $13/hr income.


I would like to start off by saying thank you to everyone for all of the wonderful comments on my last article. It is because of your comments and interest that I started a website to help everyone get motivated to start their tiny adventure! The website is Come check it out!

Now, on to the real reason for this follow up article. A lot of people may be wondering how it is possible to pay for a tiny house build, their current rent, and all their current bills with a low income job. My answer to this is to knock down current bills, and rent as little as possible so that the majority of your income is focused on your home. My wife and I had a $600/per month rent, a phone bill over $100/month, electric bill of about $160/month, and car insurance of about $100/month.

Building our dream tiny house was absolutely not going to happen with all of those bills towering over us (and I realize that these bills are low comparatively). Our solution to this problem was to build a very inexpensive tiny house to live in temporarily while we built our dream house. I bought a used travel trailer frame for $500 and got to work. Our first tiny home was 24′ long, with a 7-8 foot ceiling. There were no lofts, no appliances, and no hot water. We had a 5 gallon bucket compost toilet with Pete moss, and one small sink. We used a convection cook top, a mini fridge, and we did our laundry at my mother-in-law’s house (which was quite simple seeing as though we were parked in her driveway).

With this transitional tiny house we were able to cut our rent down to $0/month, and electric bill down to $40/month. I got rid of my Verizon smartphone plan and started using an old flip phone that I had in storage. We also sold one of our cars which gave us extra cash and a lower car insurance bill. After we tackled all of our bills, we were able to focus the majority of my income on our dream tiny house.

I understand that this is an individualized circumstance, but I thought an example like this might encourage people to get creative and realize that nothing can get in the way of a tiny house dream. Well nothing except for excuses.


Want to learn more about tiny house living and how to build a tiny house? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 7 Day Tiny House eCourse! Find out more HERE.

58 Responses to The Incredible $8,000 Tiny House: Saving Strategies

  1. Alexa September 29, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    I love this!! I am at a place where I would much rather be saving towards building our tiny home rather than spending every dollar on rent and bills. I think it’s time to get creative and make our dreams come true faster 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    • Wesley September 30, 2015 at 12:10 am #

      It felt so much better when we were able to put our money towards something that belongs to us instead of giving it away to borrow a place to live.
      Good luck,

    • Heidi September 30, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Really like how many people are downsizing their stuff either by choice or because of circumtances…
      I dod notice the tiolet…hope you do get to upgrade to an eco-friendly bio degradable toilet. I think you’ll find the all nateral fragrance to be less then more on the air quality…just saying.
      I dd like how eberything you needed had its place. Thats all we really need..
      Less os better

      • Wesley September 30, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

        Hi Heidi,
        This house was just a stepping stone for us while we built our permanent tiny home. If you would like to see pictures of our new house (complete with a $1,400 composting toilet) come check out my website and click on “Gallery”. The websit is

      • Erin October 4, 2015 at 8:09 am #

        Hey now! I’ve been using my homemade $50 bucket toilet in my tiny home for over 2 months now, and I love it. No intentions to upgrade here! 😀

  2. Maggie September 30, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    Thanks so much Wesley! I’m researching now. Every useful piece of information is welcome!

    • Wesley September 30, 2015 at 11:45 am #

      I was a total glutton for information during my build! You can’t have too much knowledge!
      Good luck,

  3. Cyn Raper September 30, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    I am in love! Another couple who built on a stripped-down camper! After nearly two years of research, attending open houses and building seminars, and reading til the sun comes up, we have decided to use Sing Core Panels to construct our THOW. Would you please contact me regarding this product and how to secure the building to the trailer? Be most happy to pay you for your time. Please email me at CyndiRaper at yahoo. Thank you! And fabulous job, not only with the build, but showing that nearly anything can be accomplished if you want it bad enough.

    • Wesley September 30, 2015 at 11:53 am #

      I sent you an email.

    • Barbara October 23, 2015 at 11:17 am #

      I’m impressed with what I have read about the Sing Core panels, too, and would like to learn more, such as, how does wiring happen in a cored panel? Peter Sing offers some extremely tempting options to TH builders on a budget! The prices are phenominal!

  4. mick September 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    This is what the tiny house movement is, was, should be, all about. Larger, more fancy, and more expensive seems to have overtaken the original tiny house idea. Like anything, its called progress. But it is a breath of fresh air to see the real tiny house ideas have not been forgotten.

    • Wesley September 30, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      I have seen some tiny houses going for over $100,000 dollars. I could buy a small home WITH property for that price. We love our frugally built tiny!

  5. Cassidy September 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    This is so inspiring! My fiancé and I have been toying with the idea of a tiny house and it’s awesome to see that we can do it within a budget. I appreciate the showing of a transition phase, we are currently living in a 5th wheel and well adjusted to tiny living but do not quite have the tiny lifestyle we desire! We were saving towards “big house” but we just cannot shake all of the freedom and opportunities that something like this would bring us. Our savings is going to go towards a tiny house build in the near future! I love the hOMe design and all of this reference information! 🙂

    • Wesley September 30, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

      My wife and I fell in love with the hOMe design. We research hundreds of tiny home designs, but we always came back to the hOMe layout. We definitely don’t regret our decision!

  6. Anne Paris October 1, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    Wesley, I’ve been thinking a lot about how zoning laws restrict our ability to move toward more economical and community minded living conditions. (e.g. Some mutual friends of ours had to demolish a second dwelling on their 10 acre property). What kind is zoning restrictions apply to tiny homes, and are people in Oregon working toward better legislation?

    • Wesley October 1, 2015 at 4:58 am #

      People in Oregon are in fact working towards better legislation. While it is not quite geared towards tiny houses on wheels yet, portland’s rules are changing to make ADUs (additional dwelling units) easier to build onto one’s own property to rent out. I believe it is only a matter of time that tiny houses become more “legal”. When it does though, that will mean more code enforcement and inspections during builds.

  7. Aaron October 1, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    Good stuff! I look forward to waking up to new emails every morning as my wife and I get closer and closer to starting our build! Coming from (very) little construction background, all of the information I’ve already gotten from posts like this have helped tremendously. We have already found doors, a stove top, drains, and a sink for free.. And they look almost new.. I’m like you and don’t have a ton of disposable income and this has been a huge inspiration to my wife and I so thank you!! Look forward to documenting and sharing our experiences and progress!

    • Wesley October 1, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

      I’d love to check in on your progress when you start building! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email address is [email protected]. You can also find my email address by going to my website and clicking on the “contact us” link.

  8. Alberto October 1, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Hey Wesley,
    I’m on the verge of doing the exact same thing, but came across a wall, as to how, to build so the structure is safe and sound. Any ideas as to who can help me? Contractor? Or is a friend who works construction enough?

    • Wesley October 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Andrew and Gabriella sell an AMAZING video tutorial on how to build a tiny house. That will help tremendously! I watched those multiple times. That plus lots of other research, plus a friend in construction, plus Yotube videos would be plenty.

  9. Jessica October 1, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Dear Wesley,
    Thank you for being so honest. While I know all situations are different, it is reassuring to learn that this was not simply a decision to build a tiny house and “voila!”-a tiny house. I currently live in a (600 foot) one-bedroom condo with my spouse (a downsize from 3 bedrooms) and have been loving it. We would love to have a family, but there is no way we could afford a traditional home (rather we choose to live within our means). Downsizing has taught us that we love the freedom of owning less and being able to fully clean our home in a few hours-the house took days! Our plans are to build a foundation house with 3 bedrooms, but we want to keep it under 800 square feet so that we maintain the emotional gain of living small. We found ourselves “stuck” in the mindset that we cannot afford to pay our current bills and also build our dream house. Reading your follow-up rejuvenates me. I think for the first time in a year, I can see a path that will lead us home! Thank you!!

    • Wesley October 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

      I’m so happy to hear that you have some new momentum! We love the freedom that the tiny house gives us!
      Good luck to you and your family!

  10. W.J.R. Halyn October 2, 2015 at 3:21 am #

    Great article, and helpfully informative!

    Can I make one suggestion to the author, though? You refer to “Pete moss” (who is definitely not Stirling Moss’ brother). That moss is not named after somebody named Pete. It comes from the term “peat moss”, also called bog moss, especially of the genus Sphagnum, from which peat may form.
    If you look it up, you’ll find that peat is a highly organic material found in marshy or damp regions, composed of partially decayed vegetable matter: it is cut and dried for use as fuel or fertilizer, and can be used in some designs of composting toilets.

    You may want to edit that typo just a bit…… (wait for it) …for “Pete’s” sake…… 😉

    • Wesley October 2, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      Thank you for letting me know. I will make the change.

  11. Linda October 4, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    Being someone who believes that less is more, I love the tiny house concept.

  12. Barbara October 9, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    Wow – I would really love to read so many things on your blog, but even on my big (10.5 x 7″) tablet, the font is so so light and small it is a real strain, and it keeps me from even trying to read it. Many seniors I speak to about TH’s want more information, but our senior eyes find fonts like this just too difficult. I just thought you should know. I’m truely, sincerely disappointed because I need all the info I can get. Is it possible you might fix this? Pretty please?

    • Gabriella October 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

      Hi Barbara! Thank you for the suggestion! For some reason this article’s formatting was totally wonky! I have fixed it now. Is it easier to read yet?

      • Shawnette October 17, 2015 at 6:02 am #

        I’m not Barbara, but no; it’s still difficult to read and I’m not a senior, either. I would suggest at least changing your font color to black to be seen easier on the white background.

        Love the articles, though!

  13. Barbara October 18, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Now that Gabriella has so graciously increased the font size and improved the readability so much (thank you!) I’ve read so much more here and elsewhere, and become more determined than ever to find a way to own a tiny house. Please don’t make this some kind of competition, belittling those who have a different idea of “home”. Some seem to believe that there is more “honor” or greater achievement in having the smallest and cheapest house. Some of us simply have needs that require something larger that usually costs more. My hubs and I are in our 70s and a loft bed is just totally out of the question, so we have to have a longer house to accomodate a bedroom, thus size and expense necessarily increase. After 4 eye surgeries, I learned a year ago that my optic nerves are dying and I will gradually lose my sight, so again, a loft would be a dangerous place for me to climb to even if my knees didn’t balk. One slip off the stairs and my hole-y bones (severe osteoporosis) are likely to crack like a potato chip. Last year Hubs had a heart attack, a triple bypass, and 3 months later had brain surgery, so tasks requiring a lot of physical agility or strength are beyond us. The over 55 community we live in raises fees every year and we can no longer afford to live here, so Hubs still has to work, and we need a new place to live, but we don’t need welfare and want to be independent by going mostly off-grid. We would like to travel around our state a bit while I can still see. We don’t have the skills or physical resources to build our own from scratch, but we hope to purchase a shell home that has the plumbing and electrical done, with a functional bathroom in place. The rest we can handle with just a little help. We want to walk on a beach and relish sunrises and sunsets, smell the salty air, and enjoy what’s left of our time together (we just celebrated 49 years of marriage), and when the time comes, leave behind cozy, comfortable home that the survivor can maintain alone. When one of us dies, the other will be able to live on one Social Security income ONLY IF we own an off-grid tiny home, but not otherwise. There are tens of thousands of seniors like us being priced out of our homes who can live sustainably without help if we could just own a tiny house. Mobile home communities charge lot rent that increases Every. Single. Year. Social Security doesn’t always increase, and in 2016, there will be no COLA increase although inflation is continuing. Eventually, it becomes too expensive for us all. There are dozens of us just in our community alone who would benefit and thrive by living a tiny home life, and who may otherwise become homeless. Is anyone aware of a group like Habitat For Humanity that would consider building a shell tiny home for a couples like us?

    • Gabriella October 18, 2015 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Barbara! I’m really glad you reached out and shared your situation and perspective. I just wanted to reach out to say that an excellent resource where you may find a lot of others in a similar position is on the Facebook group: Tiny House People. There are over 23,000 people in that group and I find it’s such an opportunity to interact with that many tiny housers. Please keep us posted on it all for you!

  14. ermanno October 31, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    Ciao Gabriella if i had understood you live in south of OR .I have 80 Acre in curry county and i would like to build 15 or 20 mini-home in it . Do you know the rules in the county to do this project? . At the moment i live in Italy bat in the next year will like to start this project . i would like to take your expertise with a compensation for advance my project .
    I’m sorry for my poor English we may be able to talk by phone ? let me know.
    Ciao Ermanno

  15. Kelsey November 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    Thanks for your posts – I’m beginning my down sizing process to eventually build a tiny house on wheel I want to get started now, but alas will hope to begin building in about a year. I’ll want to build in Sonoma County (CA) and will be attending a workshop in a couple of weeks put on by Tumbleweed.

    Other than trying to hook up with Jay Shafer in Sonoma County, do you know of any others I could network with – I suspect I’ll be doing some battering and trade to get some of the work and supplies done.

    But I have already scored 4 windows and a door (trying to get a cool cast iron sink too) and had my first downsizing sale this weekend. Selling crap is almost as hard (if not harder) to get rid of than to get! HA HA!!!

    Looking to Network so any suggestions would be fantastic and keep these post coming, I’m learning so much!!!
    Kelsey Escoto
    Pacific Grove, CA

  16. BEATRIZ February 8, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    I need one of this tiny house, planning to move Paris Texas and its my husband and me

  17. Robert February 9, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    I have done something similar. I was forced by the housing crash to move into a 21-foot, Chevy Sprint Mallard Mobile home($4500). in 2011 and have been living well in it ever since. My rent is zero, and my living expenses(in San Diego, where I work for 10.75 an hour) range from about $500 to $650 per month. I am able thereby to put just about every other paycheck into savings and am looking to buy some acreage on which to build a tiny/small house. Texas and Walsenburg are my two preferred destinations at the moment.

  18. Buck August 14, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    Hello Gabriella.. The last time we met was at the 2017 Tiny Home Conference, last April at the Holiday Inn. It was a pleasure to meet you! Please help me to locate the video (part 2) or the most recent and updated one of Wesley Birch’s tiny home. Wesley had mentioned that he would have it on his new website, “” however the website is no longer active. Thank you so much!!! Note to Wesley: I hope that everything is going well for you and your family and nothing serious happened that caused you to close your website. I did send you an email.

    Best regards,
    Boring, OR

    • Gabriella August 19, 2017 at 8:14 am #

      Hi there Buck! Nice to hear from you! I’m so sorry but I don’t have the video either 🙁 I’ll send him an email and see if he was it available.

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