Wesley Birch wanted a tiny house on wheels, but he was frustrated by the options. By and large, the models offered by companies like Tumbleweed command a high premium on craftsmanship and a correspondingly high price. A ready-made house would’ve cost $30K at least, and even a DIY house with new materials could easily hit $25K… so when Wesley went to build his, he largely avoided the lumber yard and instead did some aggressive scavenging. Total cost: $8000.
In this article on Tiny House Builders, Wesley leads a tour of his new house and offers tips on how you too can save money while building or remodeling. The majority of his advice concerns finding and using secondhand materials, often excess purchases from bigger projects. Among the more useful tips: DIY as much as possible, because labor is always expensive. Use craigslist religiously to find free materials… and consider investing in a used truck to pick them all up. Search for windows early, then build your walls to fit them.
Wesley’s structural shell and floor plan derive from a tiny house called the hOMe, developed by Andrew and Gabriella Morrison (who previously appeared in this blog as leaders in strawbale construction). In contrast to the ultramodern beauty of the original hOMe, I don’t care for the style of Wesley’s house – the outside has a manufactured-home aesthetic and the interior finishes look cobbled together, which of course they are. Nevertheless, it’s a complete standalone house, sleeping six with a fully functional kitchen and bathroom. I find the reliance on scavenged materials particularly inspiring because the practice cuts down on waste and embodied energy, making it a win for the environment along with your pocketbook. (Funny how those two things so often go together.) I’d love to see a shopping list of how that $8000 breaks down.