What I’ve learned DIYing on my Tiny House


Disclaimer: The statements made in this post are the opinion of the author. They should not be viewed as financial advice. Please consult with a financial specialist before making any financial decisions.
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While I haven’t quite finished the work on my Tiny House, I did promise a few different takes on the experience. I will give you a final break down of the cost soon and a look at how well it performs on income generation after that.

But for now, I’m looking at whether or not I should have done the project AND what my take-aways are so far.

The Benefits of DIY

I’ve found a lot of benefits to building the Tiny House myself. There is something about DIY that is just satisfying. But here are a few of the things that I found beneficial.

1. It has saved me a ton of money

It is hard to estimate exactly how much money I’ve saved by doing the work for myself. But let me give you some examples.

All in for materials, I’m drywalling my tiny house for around $500. I could expect to pay between $2,000-3,000 if I had hired that work out.

All in for plumbing materials I paid maybe $150. Hiring a professional to do the plumbing work would have cost me well over $1,000.

The cost of labor is huge, and using myself for the labor really cuts done on actual dollar costs of the project.

2. It has been an enjoyable hobby

I’ve actually had a lot of fun doing it. My dad is a contractor and he tells me that he has loads of fun everyday. I didn’t believe him and frankly I avoided working for him pretty well growing up.

But now I wish I had worked for him more because I’m learning so much from scratch (read Youtube) and doing a pretty back job of it in some cases…but we’ll get into that).

Having the tiny house to work on has given me something to do that gets my blood flowing, stimulates me as I learn something new, and is a good change of pace from the other work I do.

3. I’ve learned a lot about how my house works

I’ll be honest, I had no idea that plumbing has vent pipes until I started working on plumbing my tiny house. If you aren’t a builder you might not know about them either. But the point is I understand my own house so much better.

So when something isn’t working right I can now think about how the house was made and give a pretty good guess about what might be wrong.

I don’t have the years of experience that my dad does, but just a little bit has gone a long way.

The Drawbacks of DIY

But on the other hand, DIY hasn’t just been fun and saving money. It has also been incredibly frustrating at times and disappointing at others. Here are some things that are drawbacks to doing the work myself.

1. I’ve done some things that I really didn’t enjoy

It turns out that insulation is really not something I like to do. I have now insulated under my house, my attic and my tiny house and I have officially decided never to do it again.

Not that I can’t do it, but it is just a terrible job that I will gladly give to someone else who wants it.

I feel the same way about hanging drywall. Not my favorite.

I was so committed to doing the work myself that I ended up doing work that was just unpleasant and I didn’t do it as well as a professional would have.

In other words, I gave up quality and sanity to save some money. Which might not have been the best choice.

2. I’ve had to buy tools that I might not ever use again

Now buying tools is usually not a problem. I love having another tool in my figurative tool belt. It makes getting things done that much easier.

But, having another tool that I might never use again is just taking up storage space.

I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t you just sell it? But then the voice in the back of my head says, “But what if I need it again?”.

It is a hard trade off.

So for now I have a drywall hanging lift that will be taking up space in my shed and a joint compound mixing paddle and some other things that I really don’t need.

3. It has taken time from my family

This has been the biggest drawback. While I’ve enjoyed the hobby I have felt compelled to finish the tiny house over the summer while I have more free time (I’m a teacher full time, so this is my time off).

While having the time off to get it done has been great, it also means that I haven’t played with my kids as much or spent time with my wife.

Some days it feels like a regular work day because I’m gone so much.

In other words, DIY can take time away from what is truly important if you let it.

Would I Do It Again?

The short answer is yes. I have enjoyed working on this project enough to do it again. Working with your hands is fulfilling and it is a good break from my usual daily work.

I also can’t deny the money saving aspect of it. It will be really hard to pay someone to do a job that I know I can do.

So I think I will take a hybrid approach instead.

I will pick and choose what I want to do and what I want to hire out.

I had a few experiences doing that on the tiny house. I hired an electrician to do the rough in electrical work because I needed him to do some other work as well which I wasn’t qualified to do.

Getting home from work and having work done on the tiny house in my absence was amazing!

It is also just important to get licensed professionals in to work because there is a reason they have to be licensed. Like when I had a septic tank installed.

DIYing my tiny house has been a lot of fun and a lot of work. I can’t wait for the finishing touches to be done so we can move on to the next phase as well.

Would you every consider a DIY building project? Have you done a DIY project? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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