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
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:
- Hook up the Dickinson fireplace.
- 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.
- Update the bathroom so that it works
- 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.
- Install the floor on the second level.
- Finish the stone work patio and walkways
- 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.
- well and pump
- loft (flooring and built-ins)
- shed (move or build)
*MISTAKES – totalling $3,800 (breakdown below)
- $2800 I was ripped off by the cement contractor (Phase 1)
- $800 Culvert issues (Phase 1 and 2 – still not resolved)
- Roughly $200 bathroom materials which had to be removed because of mice.