TinyHouse43's Building Blog

From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three

Thinking Inside The Box

With the exterior almost complete (though I certainly feel like I’ve been saying that foooorrrr-eeeeev-eeeerrrrr), I’ve been thinking a ton about the inside of our tiny house “box” – you know, since that’s essentially what it is at the moment. Pretty soon we’ll have our wiring and plumbing diagram from Tiny House Systems to start studying, and we’ve also got a trip to Houston in store to go pick up the JetBoards we’ll be using for the interior wall cladding. I’ve also got to nail down a closed cell insulating foam supplier/installer (BASF makes a product called WALLTITE that we’re interested in), and I need to find reputable and willing professional plumbers and electricians to contact to have our work inspected before the foam goes in. All of that is going to start adding up really quickly, and that made me start thinking about some of the big purchases we have coming up.

So far I think we’ve spent about $12,000-15,000 in products and supplies on the tiny house NOT counting the cost of the Barn Raiser itself, which was an additional $15,900 total. Thankfully there’s a good bit of that money spent that included interior products (reclaimed doors, ceiling cladding, copper sink, wine barrel for the tub, various other small fixtures, etc), but there’s also a portion that went to fixing various “Oops-es” (el fuego anyone?!), excess products (like at least 5 different gallons of stain we aren’t using), and things we changed our mind on (such as the ginormous storage shed for the tongue, though we found another use for the base). I’ve also got a 7.4cu-ft refrigerator I can’t return and have to figure out how to sell without taking too big of a loss (shouldn’t be too hard since it’s new-in-box and has never even been opened) so that I can buy the much smaller all-refrigerator we decided to get instead. I can tell we’re going to have a good amount of various leftover building supplies (stain… LOTS of stain…), and for those I think I’ll ask the local DFW tiny house folks if they want any for their own tiny house builds. But I digress…

What I’ve been realizing is just how much some of the specific items we have planned for our house are going to cost. Yes, we could get cheaper versions of several of these that would probably work just as well for us, but when I think about the upfront cost – and balk – I simply remind myself that we are going to be living in this house full-time for several years at least. Do we really want to go cheap now to save and yet run the risk of having to replace lower quality things that may break much sooner? No, we do not. I’ve learned in my lifetime, however brief my almost 35 years may be in the grand scheme of things, that sometimes you have to cough up the big buck$, particularly on items that take special skills to repair. Brandy is exceptionally handy and can build or repair almost anything with the help of a little research and patience, but I wouldn’t even consider letting him tinker on the propane-fired water heater if it broke – WAY too many “moving parts” (as in chances to screw up and blow up the house on accident) for someone untrained to be working with in my opinion.

That’s why we’re getting a top-of-the-line RV water heater (the Precision Temp RV-550NSP) that costs $1,125 vs. the much more affordable yet only mediocrely reveiwed wall-mount water heaters you see quite often on tiny houses. That’s also why we’re getting the Kimberly gasifier (as in not-your-average-single-burn-of-the-fuel) wood stove that costs about $4000 +/- a few install-specific parts vs. a far less efficient yet also less expensive (and much heavier) traditional wood stove. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be taking freezing cold showers in an equally frigid tiny house in the dead of winter. Though their upfront costs are certainly dizzying to think about (I see LOTS of overtime shifts in my future… /le sigh), the reliable output of heat from both of these products makes them worth it to us both in the short and long term. It may be 5+ years before we have built our little cabin in Washington, so the tiny house needs to be 100% operational and functional during that time and well beyond we hope!

We’ve also thought about the quality and longevity of all the major components of our house, both the ones already installed and the ones we’ve yet to purchase, and below is a list of the next big component purchases we have to make with their estimated cost included. Yes, there are definitely less expensive versions (and even a few DIY ones) of some of the items I’ll list, but we took several factors into account that ultimately led to these being our top choices. Without further ado, here are the big ticket items we’ll be getting soon plus our reasons for each selection. Also, all product names are links directly to the product manufacturer’s site (when possible):

1) Nature’s Head Composting toilet – $960ish – chosen because there are 3 of us, including a toddler, and this seems less disaster-prone than the bucket-&-sawdust version

2) Precision Temp RV-550NSP water heater – $1125 – chosen because of superior BTU output in a heater designed specifically for traveling + a “tail pipe” vent means 1 less hole in the house

3) Kimberly gasifier stove – $3995ish – chosen for the small size & weight, high heat output, & overall design + options for cooking on top + dehumidifying the air

4) WALLTITE Closed-cell foam insulation – quoted $1500/2in thick on similar brand, price will vary – chosen for added rigidity to walls/roof while traveling,  superior R-value, water/air-leak proof

5) JetBoard 1/4″ magnesium oxide boards – $400ish – chosen because it is flame/pest/water/mildew/rot resistant yet slightly lighter than 1/4″ plywood and both people & planet friendly

6) Danby 4.4cu-ft all-refrigerator – $289 – chosen because it’ll pull less energey than a fridge/freezer combo & gives us an excuse to change our eating habits to fresh-only (cost ofset when we sell the Avanti 7.4cu-ft model we initially bought)

7) Origo 3000 alcohol stove or Origo 6000 stove/oven – $360 or $1560 – chosen to avoid need for propane piping in/around the house for cooking, still deciding if we want an oven or not

8) Pottery Barn Cushy Lounge Loveseat – $650 – chosen because we want a real, comfy sofa (vs. cushions on a bench) that’s still flexible enough to convert to a bed but not be huge

9) GoalZero portable solar kit – $99 to $1800 – chosen (exact model TBD) to provide back-up solar power for our gadgets & fridge because it’s plug-&-play and portable

Wow. Yeah, just little green at the gills looking at all that cost, but like I said…. worth it! I’m certain there will be something I’ve forgotten, and the solar system is still in flux since we *may* find a way to have built-in solar from the get-go. Still, this covers the bulk of the bigger stuff anyway. Oi! And that’s not counting the wiring, and the plumbing (yup – already forgot the fresh & gray water tanks and the 12v pump – DUH!), and the nails/screw/fasteners/etc, and the light fixtures, and faucet, and the…… well, you see what I mean.

Yeah. LOTS of overtime in my future. Lots.


3 comments on “Thinking Inside The Box

  1. Ron
    April 16, 2015

    Hi Meg, I love this post and would like to re-blog it over here at Shiny Tiny Mansion. It’s really telling for all the sites that talk about building a Tiny for under10K. Maybe with all used materials and TONS of time to collect all of them. I think your experience is much more thought out and realistic. Would you have time for a couple more questions?

    Thanks, Ron


    • meg & brandy - TH43
      April 16, 2015

      Hey, Ron, thanks for stopping by! I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have, and you are welcome to share any of our content anytime. I agree that $10K tiny houses are a lovely thought but certainly not a realistic one for the vast majority of us. Anyway, Email me directly at tinyhouse43@gmail.com for the fastest reply – it goes straight to my phone. 🙂 -Meg

  2. Shiny Tiny Mansion
    April 18, 2015

    Reblogged this on Shiny Tiny Mansion and commented:
    This is Part One of a Re-Post from a fellow Tiny Couple who bought the shell of a Tiny Home on Wheels and are finishing all the rest themselves. Meg breaks down just some of the costs in this post. It’s eye opening and that’s why I think it’s so important to contribute into the conversation of the REAL cost of going Tiny if you still want quality.

    I will post Part Two in a few days. I asked Meg 3 seemingly simple questions, but they will take some thought and give us more insight into some wonderful folks who are going through the reality of downsizing and moving into a Tiny Home On Wheels (TWOH) and headed out on a journey across the country once they finish!
    Enjoy and watch for Part 2! Ron

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