9 Fabulous Tiny Homes, All Built for Under $20K

Tiny House bedroom of Kristie Wolfe
Julie Fitts

During the last few years, tiny houses have been catching on in a big way: there are now television shows devoted to them, scads of blogs about them, and even efforts afoot to get them written into the international residential code. But all that attention has also translated into an uptick of high-end tiny homes with price tags to match -- running contrary to the idea that tiny homes are supposed to be an antidote to unaffordable, monster-sized homes.

But tiny homes don't need to be expensive, and building an affordable home doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing comfort, beauty and functionality either. Price is only a function of one's level of creativity in finding recycled materials, and willingness to put in your own elbow grease (though the price of land upon which to park your home may be another obstacle to overcome). That said, here's a roundup of some of our favourite tiny homes, all built for under twenty grand.

Off-Grid Hawaii Vacation Home

Dressmaker Kristie Wolfe of Boise, Idaho, is one great example of how living tiny can save you money. Wolfe saved so much money from building and living in her first tiny home, that she parlayed those savings into building a second vacation home on a plot of land she purchased in Hawaii -- which she now rents out for extra income via Airbnb. More: Woman builds Hawaii tiny off-grid vacation home for $11,000 (Video)

Modern Tiny House in New Zealand

Using salvaged materials or leftover inventory found cheap at his local hardware store, Brett Sutherland of New Zealand was inspired by his years as a sailor building his own catamarans to construct his own affordable tiny home, which he lives and uses as an artist's studio. More: Brilliant off-grid 161 sq. ft. debt-free tiny home built for less than $18K (Video)

Romantic Forest Hideaway

Herrle Custom Carpentry tiny cabin
Herrle Custom Carpentry

All right, this is not a tiny house on wheels (THOW) but more of a cabin, but it's hand-built with love by a carpenter and his fiancée. Lots of lovely details to admire. More: Romantic tiny forest home built in 6 weeks for $4,000

Tiny Island Treehouse

Tiny tree house
Geoff de Ruiter

In yet another example of how using salvaged materials and your own labour can save you a lot of cash when building your own home, graduate student Geoff de Ruiter explains the reasons behind creating his own tiny treehouse home:

One of the original reasonings for this was place stability. So if everything goes wrong in my life, all I have to do is basically pay my property taxes and I own everything outright. Stability to me is also sustainability. Because it means we are not needing to forever chase resources.

More: Man builds 165 sq. ft. tiny treehouse on island for $8,200 (Video)

Under-$10,000 Texas Trailer

Online classified websites like Craigslist are a boon to DIYers looking to build their own home. Ethan and Kelsey, both physical therapists who work with veterans, constructed their tiny home with a used trailer base found online. Since they were working full-time, it took them 20 days over six months to complete, designing and building it as they went. More: Texas couple builds 100 sq. ft. tiny home for $7,000.

New Zealand Tiny House Made of Recycled Materials

In beautiful New Zealand, the recent earthquakes are prompting people to turn to alternative options in their rebuilding efforts. Since they are cheaper and mobile, tiny homes are the perfect compromise for those looking to restart their lives quickly and in a more flexible way.

American couple Patrick and Cori recently emigrated here, and decided to create their own tiny home together. Thanks to their own labour, and the generous use of salvaged materials, the couple were able to build their dwelling for USD $10,000. More: Resourceful tiny housers build home with 80% recycled materials (Video)

Off-Grid Cordwood Roundhouse

Who says your tiny house has to be on wheels? TreeHugger Sami writes:

Here's a great video on how to build your own tiny, cordwood, off-grid roundhouse—including some detailed tips and ideas on both the drawbacks and strengths of this particular approach.

More: How to Build a Tiny, Off-Grid House for $2500 (Video)

Pre-Fab Tiny House Prototype

Tiny home sitting area with wall cubbies
Pin Up Houses

This intriguing prototype for a prefabicated tiny house comes from Czech company Pin Up Houses. At 74 square feet, it is small, even for a tiny house, but can be assembled in a mere three hours and costs pretty darn cheap for an insulated house -- no toilet included though. More: Pre-fab tiny house prototype costs $1200, can be built in 3 hours

No-Frills Miniature Cabin

Probably the cheapest one out of the bunch ($500), this 83-square-foot, no-frills mini-cabin was built by Scott Brooks. Though there are no fancy bells and whistles, there are quite a few nice design features here, from the multifunctional counter to the flip-up sleeping and sitting area.