How Much Does It Cost to Build a Small House?

Did you know that the average house size has not just increased by 16% in the last 35 years, but the price has also skyrocketed during this period by at least 89%?

Seems crazy, right?

This is the reason why many people are now opting to build their own small houses. Small houses are usually less than 400 square feet, but will still serve all the purposes of an average house, with a kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and living rooms included in this tiny space.

But how much does it cost to build such small houses?

Well, we’ll break down everything you need to know, from the different costs involved, and a few tips on how to keep the costs down.

What is the cost of building a tiny house?

On average, building a small house will cost at least $50,000.

When you compare this to the average selling price of a house in the United States ($297,500), you realize how much you will save in the long run.

However, the cost of building a small house will vary depending on factors like size, and features of the house that you would wish to integrate.

Breaking down the different costs involved

Before you get down to business, there are a few costs you should expect, regardless of where you want to build the house:

Land purchase

Depending on your location of choice, expect to pay between $2,500 to $14,000 per acre of land.

This cost will increase way higher based on other factors such as proximity to cities, access to major amenities, and more.

You should also expect to pay property taxes after purchasing the land since your small house will be built on a permanent foundation.

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Permits and fees

Whether this will be a DIY project, or you’re working with a contractor, depending on the state you are in, expect to pay certain building permits before commencing the project.

If it’s a DIY project, make sure to visit your local government office and inquire about the needed permits.

You will be much advantaged when you work with professional contractors because they will do all the work by helping you obtain all the necessary permits.

Expect to pay hundreds of dollars to thousands when it comes to this.

The house’s foundation

Even a small house needs a perfect foundation if you want it to last long in the years to come.

You don’t need to bypass anything here but get everything right to make sure your house’s weight is well supported.

If you have opted for DIY, a good foundation will require digging at least 6 feet under ground level.

By doing this, you can be sure that water won’t seep through the cracks or between the bricks into your house.

Add concrete into place and install rebar rods to strengthen any cracks that could form later down the road.

If you have opted to work with a contractor, a basic foundation for a small house will cost you at least $8,500.

Structural framing

In simple words, structural framings are the walls, floors, and ceilings of your house. The most common types of structural framings are wood, steel, and concrete blocks. 

Wood framings can be built on top of concrete slab foundations, but since they are more labor-intensive than the other framing types, they tend to cost more.

You will need to hire an experienced carpenter to ensure the woods are perfectly aligned before nailing them.

Steel framing uses steel beams in place of wood as part of the framing structure. The good thing about this type of framing is that they are better conductors of heat, which means better energy efficiency through lower heating bills.

On average, expect to pay $7-$16 per square foot for structural framing, depending on the structural material you choose.

Interior finishings and appliances

Interior finishings include windows and doors, ceilings and wall treatments, flooring, and the appliances you will need to be included.

The cost of windows will vary based on the size of your home, and the designs you are going with.

While this may cost anywhere between $650 and $750 for each unit, the whole project for windows and doors for a small house may cost between $6,500 and $7,500, depending on the amount, size, and design.

For the ceilings and wall treatments, the cost also varies depending on your location. On average, a ceiling installation for small houses costs around $1,650.

Complete wall and ceiling, that involves labor, framing, drywall, and paint application will cost at least $1,700 to $11,000.

When it comes to flooring, there are several types to choose from. Today, you can go with carpeting, hardwood, vinyl tiles, ceramic tiles, and much more.

This depends on your personal preferences, and how you want your house to appear. Your choice will not only affect the price, but the durability.

So, while you have factored cost in mind, don’t forget about the durability aspect.

For hardwood floors, the average cost of installation costs around $5 to $10 per square foot.

For tiled floors, the cost averages $1.75 to $4.75 per square foot.

There are several types of floors, a better way to get an idea of what to budget for is to involve a contractor or a vendor.

In general, installing new appliances will cost you at least $3000, with this figure expected to rise higher depending on what appliances you will want to install.

How to save money when building a small house

Since you are working with a limited amount of space and budget, it is only natural to want to save money while still being able to build an outstanding house.

Here are some tips to keep the costs down without foregoing quality:

Look for bulk discounts

Walk into your local stores and shop for sales and promotions they offer for materials you will need.

Several businesses offer discounts and promotions during special times of the year. Also, check their websites and social media for online deals and coupons.

Buy from salvaged companies

Salvaged companies offer used building materials that can still be great for building your small house.

Besides, you can find an extensive inventory of building materials; from flooring to windows, doors, lighting, and plumbing fixtures at an affordable cost.

Buying from them is a useful approach to keeping down costs without sacrificing quality and performance.

Avoid luxury items

In most cases, luxury items are unnecessary and tend to increase the cost of building a house.

Don’t shop for an item for its status, instead, opt for the items that are a must-have in your home.

That is a better way of keeping the costs down, while still getting your house to be fully functional with much-needed features.

Get Free Stuff

When furnishing a new home, costs can quickly add up. But did you know there are savvy ways to deck out your space without breaking the bank?

That’s right—by tapping into resources and opportunities, it’s possible to snag some fantastic freebies.

Check out how you can acquire free furniture, get free appliances, and even laptops free of charge.

And if you’re in the construction phase, don’t overlook the potential to get free tree removal services, which can be a game-changer in site preparation.

Final Thoughts

The cost of building a small house can vary depending on different factors.

Factors like your location, size, material types, and designs will affect most of the costs.