tiny house build timeline

Timeframe to Build a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW)

Alex-Lina-Kenny Now that Isha and I are prepping for first Build Blitz for our Tiny for Two (T42), we get asked all day long about our T42 Build Timeline. I wrote about that a couple days ago, but I wanted to elaborate here in case you've been wondering "How long does it take to build a tiny house?"

Professional Builder

  • If you plan to have a professional build your tiny house, it’s reasonable to expect they’ll have the house built within 2-3 months from the time they begin construction, assuming your house is one of their priorities and they don't have a lot of other projects going on.
  • If your builder is constructing one of their stock models for you, it will go more quickly than if it's a custom design.
  • If you're going for a custom design, anticipate that you'll spend some time upfront before the build begins to refine the design and specify the materials. Keep in mind that this work on the front end will save you time and heartache on the back end. This is a perfect example of "Go slow to go fast!"
  • If someone is promising to have your tiny house built in less than 6 weeks, learn more about their track record by contacting other people who have had the company build for them in the past.

Building Yourself WITH Experience & Time

  • If you plan to build your house yourself AND you have some building skills AND a great network of handy friends AND you’re not working full time you can probably do it in 3-9 months.
  • A good rule of thumb for intermediate builders is that everything will take twice as long as you initially anticipate!
  • The very quickest DIY build I’m personally aware of is the Vagabode, which took 2 months. It was completed using SIPs (structural insulated panels) which go together more quickly than a stick-built tiny house. It was built by a couple who had done lots of planning and were working on the house more than full-time. They also had friends and family in the trades with good construction and project management skills.
  • It took Dee Williams 3 months to build her 84 square foot little house, working on the house full-time. She has a background as an architectural engineer and a lot of handy friends. She's also a badass!
  • I had build and project management experience and it took me six months to build my tiny house, The Lucky Penny, while working ¾ to full time. My tiny house is a little smaller than most out there these days but it's also a little fancier. I have a curved roof with a skylight and a preposterous number of shingles! I hosted work parties most weekends. I took a six-week break after building the shell to travel, work, and play then resumed building.
  • Building Yourself WITHOUT Experience & Time
    • A good rule of thumb for beginners is that everything will take three times twice as long as you initially anticipate!
    • If you plan to build yourself AND have no experience AND have few handy friends AND you’re working at least part time, expect that it may take you 9-12 months or longer to build your tiny house.
    • Many people with no building experience are interested in building their own tiny homes and estimate it will take them 3 months. Many of them take a year or longer to complete their homes.
    • If you saw the films Small is Beautiful and Tiny: The Movie, you'll know that novice builders Ben and Christopher underestimated their tiny house build timelines considerably, but once they realized what they were in for they decided to hunker down and take the time to learn how to do it well. Both of them built themselves lovely homes over the course of about a year.
    • I have several friends, including Angela Ramseyer of Mighty Micro Built and Matt and Laura LaVoie of Life in 120 Square Feet who took three years or more to build their tiny homes. These folks were early adopters of the tiny house movement and there weren't nearly as many resources available as the time they began building, so there was a lot of learning along the way!

So how long will it take you to build your tiny home? Honestly, the best answer is still "It depends." It depends on the weather, lead times, your health, your friend's availability, material sourcing, and the many hiccups that will happen along the way (see Plan F: Take 2). But I highly encourage you to create a good plan and then jump on in and enjoy the journey! (And if you'd like a right hand woman for the adventure, check out The Package Deal!)