Exact Cost: Phase 7, Year 6, 2016

Over the past six years I have fully disclosed all building and update costs at Tiny House Ontario.  I believe that I was the first tiny house blogger who chose to do this.  I was able to because I am organized about what I spend so I had all my receipts.  The reason I posted them though, was not just for my own purposes of keeping track.   I also hoped to give a clearer picture to those who are thinking about building tiny, so that you know what, generally, to expect.  For this reason I also include my failures or lost money, I hope by doing this, I might prevent others from making my mistakes.

My other reason for disclosure though, is that a lot of people comment on tiny house pages what show houses that are for sale… “too expensive” (and some are).  But tiny houses cost a lot of money too and many tiny house followers think that keeping the cost of the house at nothing is the whole point.  I call BS on this.  Unless you have endless time and skills to DIY and lots of resources handed to you then you really can’t build a tiny house for next to nothing.  Resources cost money!  Plus as a rule of thumb, when you think about material cost you need to times this by 2.5 to include the labour costs if you are not doing it yourself.  Labour is expensive!

FACT: Tiny houses cost way more per square foot than McMansions because space is cheap to add… but the catch is, those added feet are what cost you for as long as you live in your house.  You have to fill them, update them, heat them, pay taxes on them and deal with the carbon footprint of them… Space might seem cheap, but it is not.  So now you know the secret, the point of tiny houses is to avoid paying year after year for space.

When it comes to my home, I am a cheapskate, who does not need to have the very best of everything to make me happy… Tiny House Ontario is, by design, a rustic little cabin in the woods.  It is off grid, it is humble, and there are quite a few used and or surplus items that went into it.  Plus, the house is nowhere near complete!  Yet here I am in the 6th year, and I have invested over thirty thousand dollars into the place and this does not include the cost of land.  PLUS… I paid very little for labour because I did a lot of the work myself.  I also made $3800 in mistakes*.   It is not done either!  There is no running water (or cistern), so I still have to carry in all the potable water I need, and the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen are not yet finished.

In short, resources and money do not grow on trees.  And despite what my sister thinks of my handiness, I cannot spin straw into gold – as much as I wish I could!

2016 was not a big year for expenditure nor accomplishment.  Still every little step costs something.  This year I picked up a few things late in the season and have not yet had the opportunity to put them to use.  Here is the breakdown.


Materials for corner bench for the cloth porch. $112.

New surplus solar panels (not yet hooked up) $240.

Antique chamber pot for the (temporary bathroom fix) in-house. $50.

Dickinson fireplace heater and extra chimney (not yet hooked up) $1133.

Picture window (not yet installed in the cloth porch)  FREE

2016 Phase 7 $1535

2015 Phase 6 $5354

2014 Phase 5 $0

2013 Phase 4 $2419

2012 Phase 3 $5,124

2011 Phase 2 $8,839

2010-11 Phase 1 $11,740

Total, To date (on building, driveway, homesteading, improvement & taxes) – $35,411

Land – $67,000

Investment in THO and Property $102.411 —–

This year, all that I crossed off my to-do list was building seating for the cloth porch and purchasing a new heating system which will be installed in January.

As for what I wish to work on next year:

  1. Hook up the Dickinson fireplace.
  2. Install picture window in the cloth porch so that in the winter we can see out instead of having the view blocked by the tarp.
  3. Update the bathroom so that it works
  4. Turn the garden into a little green house so that the critters can’t steal everything I grow. Alternately, I thought I might plant just herbs and Helianthus tuberoses. These are native species alternately known as sunroot sunflowers, or Jerusalem artichokes and they should do well in the sunny spot there as well as produce food for me that perhaps won’t all be eaten.
  5. Install the floor on the second level.
  6. Finish the stone work patio and walkways
  7. I would also like to move the shed from my Hamilton house to the land at THO. It would be good to have it there so I could store spare wood, equipment such as maple tree tapping, and outdoor stuff. I think I would also put off season clothes in bins there. We will see if time and energy permit.


Future Expenses

  1. well and pump
  2. kitchen
  3. bathroom
  4. loft (flooring and built-ins)
  5. shed (move or build)
  6. stonework


*MISTAKES – totalling $3,800 (breakdown below)

  1. $2800 I was ripped off by the cement contractor (Phase 1)
  2. $800 Culvert issues (Phase 1 and 2 – still not resolved)
  3. Roughly $200 bathroom materials which had to be removed because of mice.


THO now


Tiny House Ontario 2016

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Exact Cost: Phase 7, Year 6, 2016

  1. Hazel

    I’m so happy that you’re championing tiny houses in Ontario! I’m interested in how you bought land but didn’t have to erect a ‘normal’ house on it within a certain length of time.

    My hubby and I are full time Rvers but would like to have a home base here with just a tiny house on it. Real estate agents have told us that we have to build a house if we buy a lot or land.

    Any info you can give us would be welcomed.

    • Hi Hazel… your real estate agents are good ones and what they advise you is correct. In fact if I put an RV on my land I would have been asked to remove it. Still, even with my tiny house I would be asked to remove an RV. The trick for you, is to buy the cheapest possible property that has a structure that has been approved for living in it, so that you can park your RV on your own land… this must be in a community that allows you to park your RV.
      My tiny house is zoned as an auxiliary building. I built it to “camp” on my land with my tiny dogs. I have a home in Hamilton Ontario, so I was allowed to do this. The municipality is aware of THO, and has actually upped my zoning over time… but I still do not have a dwelling permit. I won’t apply for one of these… because they won’t allow my ladder stairs, my 12 v system, my dickinson stove and also my taxes would skyrocket. I am happy to have things as they are. Anomaly suits me well at the moment.
      ❤ L

  2. So refreshing to see this! We are also tracking all our expenses – down to the screw – and it is surprisingly expensive even with cheap/free labour. Our biggest cost so far was all it took to go off grid. When we’re done, we’ll definitely be following in your footsteps and being crystal clear about how much a tiny house actually costs. So far we’re in about $55,000CAN and I’m sure we’ll be up to 65 by the time we’re done.

  3. Hi can you possibly advise how much land you were able to get around the Kingston area for $67,000? we live up in Ottawa as we both still work but are looking at getting land north of Kingston souith of Ottawa (outside of the expensive lake areas)

    I have a blog which I am horrible at keeping uptodate but my latest blog mentions the cool website I discovered this past august – yours!



    • Hi Monica, I really can’t. I got mine for such a price because of a family connection to this land. It had been owned until the depression by my family who were not able to pay the bills on it… and a neighbour bought it hoping that my ancestor would be able to buy it back. That neighbour’s grandson sold it to me at a significant reduction in price.
      But what I can tell you is that if you go to Realtor.ca, type in that you are looking in Kingston, Ontario… then use the drop down menu to bring to you the vacant land option and put in that you want 10-50 acres. Then when you get to the map, you expand the area and you get a lot of choices.
      I hope this works for you!
      Kind regards and good luck!

  4. Laura, very nice home and thanks for sharing your build/upgrade expenditures. Itemized expenses are helpful to newbies! Your home (no wheels and two stories on owned, not leased land) is outside of what I had expected, and more along the lines of what my wife and I would be interested in. What municipality allowed this, either by rules or by variance? Curious.


    Again, nice of you to take time out of your day to share, and answer questions from the readership.

    • I am near Kingston Ontario, and my place is allowed because it is classed as an auxiliary building on undeveloped farm land. This means that I cannot live there full time, and for now this works for me. This is because my husband’s work keeps him in the Hamilton area and we own a small house there as well.
      Tiny House Ontario though, is winterized and perfectly livable… as long as you don’t mind carrying in your water. This is of course inconvenient and requires some planning. The well expenditure is out of reach for me and something that I need to save long term for. Perhaps by the time I am ready to live there, some of the laws will have changed. This is my hope, anyway.
      Kind regards,

  5. Dan

    Don’t be hard on yourself Laura…those were NOT mistakes. $3000 of the extra costs were due to mice and rats. Beyond your control. You are doing a fabulous job…please keep it up.

  6. Good post. I too think that people underestimate the costs of Tiny Homes due to simply not understanding the fundamentals of building a house. There are definitely ways to reduce expenses, but they generally require much more time, both in tracking down bargains, and in making them work in the space.

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