The Internet Is Abuzz About Amazon’s DIY Tiny Houses For As Little As $5,400
With Duluth discussing ordinance changes to accomodate tiny homes, a portion of the population might be getting excited about the idea of living a more minimalistic lifestyle with a smaller and simpler home footprint. Capitalizing on the tiny homes buzz driven by TV shows and blogs, some companies have started selling ready-to-assemble tiny home kits on Amazon for only a few thousand dollars, rather than the $100,000+ you can easily expect to pay for regular old houses.
These do-it-yourself tiny home kits can allegedly make even the most unskilled craftsperson look like a home-building pro, with claims that they can be fully-assembled by a team of two people in as little as 2-3 days. While they look nice, there are a couple of big caveats. More on that in a bit.
The kits, which start at $5,350 for a 1-room, 113-square foot cabin (seen above) go up quite a ways to homes like a $64,650, 1,336 square foot multi-level home (technically not a "tiny home" at that point). While there is a wide span of sizes and price points, there are some in the happy medium category that aim to balance budget and size.
Among them are:
An $18,800 "getaway cabin kit", which has a main level 292 square feet with 3 rooms, with an additional loft/attic bedroom and a front deck.
This "Allwood Ranger Cabin Kit" for $19,990 that offers three main floor rooms, "259 square foot main floor + spacious 168 square foot loft".
And this "Allwood Timberline" cabin kit, with an inside floor area of 354 square feet with a 129 Square foot loft for $34,900.
The kits are shipped on a couple of palates, and the seller says that only "minimal tools are needed" to assemble the cabin and "easy to follow instructions" are included. Hopefully they're easier than Ikea's "easy to follow" instructions. Word is that shipping is free too (which, if it wasn't...yikes).
So, they look pretty nice for pre-fab houses, and you can allegedly walk away feeling like Bob The Builder after slapping one of these bad boys together, but before you get excited about buying one of these kits for yourself, there are a few big things to know.
The first thing is that you'll need to figure out the foundation on your own. Whether it be blocks, cement, or some other material, you'll need to figure out your own way to make sure this tiny house has a solid place to sit. Shingles are also on you to figure out. There also doesn't appear to be any included materials for plumbing or electrical, so if you want lights, outlets, a sink or toilet, again you're on your own.
The biggest one for me is that beside whatever level of insulation the wood walls offer, there is no extra insulation. Most normal homes have walls that are made up of layers, with the middle part being some form of insulation. In most cases, house wall thicknesses are at least 4 inches (the width of a 2X4), which gives you room for some kind of insulating (as well as embedded plumbing and electrical) For all of these kits listed, the walls are basically just boards. Wall thicknesses vary from 1 3/4 inches to 2 3/4 inches, and are solid wood. Probably fine for a (summer) weekend getaway, but not ideal to live in by any means.
If you're just looking for a minimalist cabin getaway (which is how most of these are marketed), they might not necessarily be a bad choice. If you're looking for something to live in, or something to use in winter months, you might want to consider just building your own custom tiny house (or having an expert do it for you). I don't know how the prices would compare, but you'll have a much more energy-efficient tiny home that would also afford you the option to have electric or plumbing properly installed if you so choose.