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If you’re thinking about downsizing to a tiny house, it can be tempting to try to build your own. However, with complexities like trailer selection, framing, and plumbing to consider, construction of your new house may be best left to the experts.
The best tiny home builders offer a range of floor plans, high-quality building materials, and beautiful interior finishes at a reasonable price. While these characteristics can be hard to find in a single builder, we reviewed over 20 options to find the best tiny home builder to fit your unique needs.
Best Overall: Minimaliste
Why We Chose It: With 14 base models available and the ability for customers to order totally custom tiny homes, Minimaliste is our choice for best overall because of the builder’s beautifully designed homes, sustainable options, and eye for detail.
Fully customizable homes and interactive design process
Experienced with installing alternative energy systems for off-grid living
Can accommodate as many as eight people
Offers financing through Liberty Bank
Prices for base models are higher than other options
Delivery transport is not included in the sales price of the home
Founded in 2015, Minimaliste is a Quebec-based tiny home builder that specializes in beautifully crafted, sustainable tiny houses on wheels. The company offers 14 base models ranging in cost from about $90,000 to $160,000 CAD, but clients can help Minimaliste’s team design a totally custom tiny house that fits their unique needs, style preferences, and budget.
Depending on the model and floor plan, Minimaliste’s tiny house interiors can accommodate between two and eight guests with options for one to three bedrooms. Interior finishes range from transitional to farmhouse, ultra-modern, and beyond, and future tiny house owners can choose from luxury features like a full-sized bathtub, heated floors, and ample storage. Minimaliste makes it even easier to imagine these extensive options by featuring a ton of high-quality images on its website and social media.
And, because Minimaliste specializes in off-grid homes, there is also a great deal of flexibility when choosing utility hookups. Minimaliste’s team of builders is experienced with everything from standard mechanicals to solar systems and 12V appliances. Financing is also available through Liberty Bank, making it even easier to start the building process.
Best Budget-Friendly: Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses
Why We Chose It: Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is our favorite pick for budget-friendly tiny home builders because the company offers totally custom tiny houses starting under $30,000—much lower than most top builders.
Tiny houses start at less than $30,000 for a 12-foot trailer
Totally custom builds let you choose exactly what you want in a tiny house
Straightforward ordering, design, and construction process
Only builds highway-legal tiny houses on wheels
Doesn’t offer in-house financing
October 2021 update: Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses' home page noted that because of increased demand, it cannot take any more orders until 2022.
Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is a popular tiny home builder based in Durango, Colorado. Tiny houses are available in a huge range of sizes and models—ranging from 12-foot trailers to 37-foot goosenecks—and pricing is more accessible than many other top builders. A house on a 12-foot trailer can be as low as $25,000. That said, Rocky Mountain still features high-quality building materials and finishes and a number of customization options.
Pricing is also totally custom, but will likely range from around $37,000 for average finishes to $100,000 or more for a top-of-the-line home. Ultimately, the cost of a Rocky Mountain tiny house depends on considerations like the length of the trailer, complexity of the design, and quality of finishes.
That said, due to the high quality of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, the team can’t accept jobs with ultra-low budgets. However, the builder does offer building plans for those who want to build their own tiny house. DIY plans are available for four models and cost between $79 and $249, depending on the model and plan format.
Best Container Houses: Custom Container Living
Why We Chose It: Custom Container Living is our top builder for tiny container houses because of the company’s dedication to providing customers high-quality, resilient, and eye-catching shipping container homes.
Steel construction is sturdy and can withstand harsh conditions
Houses start as low as $36,900
Fast construction times between eight and 12 weeks
Environmentally friendly due to upcycling of shipping containers
Not movable like some RV-style tiny houses
Requires additional site work, like pouring a foundation
Large windows and doors may require additional engineering
Custom Container Living was founded in 2015 with the goal of creating high-quality, unique, and indestructible container houses. Made from used shipping containers and starting at $36,900, these homes are not only budget-friendly, but they are also uniquely eco-friendly, resilient, and versatile due to their module nature. The builder offers customers 17 floor plans ranging from 160-square foot, single-container tiny homes to 960-square foot residences made from multiple containers.
Smaller studio options are available with or without a sleeping loft, bathroom size can vary based on your preferences, and you can opt out of having a kitchen. There are also a number of available upgrades, including additional windows, cedar siding, and higher-quality interior finishes.
For homebuyers who plan to keep their container house off-grid, Custom Container Living also offers compostable toilets, propane appliances, and wood heating stoves. The online quote builder makes it easy to estimate the cost of a custom container house, and Custom Container Living offers a ton of helpful online resources to answer your questions about the realities of building—and living in—a container home.
Best DIY Options: Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Why We Chose It: We chose Tumbleweed Tiny House Company as the best DIY builder because of its unique option that lets you customize the interior and exterior finishes, or you can build your own house with their building plans.
Offers a user-friendly tool for finding a tiny house RV loan
Provides discounts for educators, first responders, and members of the military
Off-grid options are available
Styles are somewhat limited compared to other top builders
Completed homes start around $80,000
Based in Colorado Springs, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company builds custom tiny houses that are both beautiful and environmentally friendly. In addition to using green building materials, Tumbleweed stands out because it offers customers the option to buy customizable builds or purchase building plans to make their own tiny homes from scratch. This DIY option can lower the cost of buying a professionally built tiny house and gives homeowners the chance to customize their own house.
Tumbleweed customers can also opt for a finished metal roof, installed windows, or other exterior finishes. On the inside, each has sleeping loft customizations as well as insulated subfloors. If you’re not comfortable performing plumbing or electrical work, Tumbleweed can install a breaker box and wiring, an on-demand water heater, and additional plumbing.
Tumbleweed’s completed and fully customizable tiny houses come in four models. Like other builders on our list, Tumbleweed offers an online quoting tool that lets you build a tiny house to get a feel for what the perfect design might cost. Alternatively, if you’re short on time, you may be able to purchase a pre-constructed home—though it can’t be customized.
Best Luxury: New Frontier Tiny Homes
Why We Chose It: New Frontier Tiny Homes stood out as the best builder of luxury tiny houses because of the unique exterior designs, beautiful interior aesthetics, and exceptional finishes.
New Frontier uses top-quality interior and exterior finishes
Features luxury amenities like a full-sized shower and walk-in closet
Homes range from 256 to 375 square feet
High price point, even for the entry-level model
Takes approximately four to five months from deposit to completion
New Frontier is a premium tiny home builder and design firm that offers five high-end and expertly designed tiny house models that can sleep from two to six people. Models start at between $89,000 and $209,000, but customizations are endless and the team works with homebuyers to make sure they have the perfect space.
The luxury builder’s largest model, Escher, has two bedrooms, a walk-in closet, and a chef’s kitchen. What’s more, the flexible, open floor plan makes it easy to entertain. Even New Frontier’s lowest cost option, Luna—which starts at $89,000—features an open floor plan, a lofted king bed, full-sized shower, full kitchen, and a huge glass window wall to let in natural light.
New Frontier’s website is incredibly transparent about the materials used to build each model, as well as interior finishes and appliances. The builder also provides an FAQ section with extensive details about the design and construction process, customization options, and the realities of living in a tiny house. Finally, although New Frontier does not offer financing, the website does provide some helpful guidance on where past customers have found loans.
Best Pre-Owned: Tiny Heirloom
Why We Chose It: Tiny Heirloom is our favorite option for pre-owned tiny houses because, in addition to selling custom-built homes, it offers customers access to high-quality pre-owned options that make tiny house ownership more affordable and eco-friendly.
Pre-owned options make tiny house ownership more affordable
More sustainable than building a new tiny house
Offers several models of new tiny houses and well as custom options
Availability of pre-owned houses is hit or miss
Pre-owned tiny houses can’t be customized
Tiny Heirloom is a family-owned business with over a decade of collective experience in residential construction. The builder specializes in efficient, modern, and fully customizable tiny houses and offers top-of-the-line customer support. In addition to offering eight models of tiny houses and custom options, Tiny Heirloom sells what it calls “Pre-Loved” tiny houses.
Of course, the availability of pre-owned tiny houses varies depending on how many homeowners are currently consigning their houses with Tiny Heirloom. When pre-owned homes are offered, however, they are available at a fraction of the price of new tiny houses. Plus, because these homes were built by Tiny Heirloom, they have all of the unique and high-quality features of the builder’s new tiny houses. This makes Tiny Heirloom’s pre-loved homes a reliable, sustainable, and more affordable alternative to new construction.
Due to the popularity of the tiny house movement, there are a number of excellent tiny home builders to choose from. That said, the best builder ultimately depends on your needs, style preferences, and budget.
Our best overall tiny home builder—Minimaliste—stands out because of its modern and space-efficient floor plans and high-quality finishes. While the base prices of its models are somewhat higher than some options on our list, the houses are sustainable, customizable, and can accommodate up to eight people.
What Is a Tiny Home?
Tiny houses are classified as homes that are less than 400 square feet in size. These homes may be on wheels or built on a foundation—though size and local zoning regulations may restrict where you can park a tiny house. And, while some tiny houses are built to remain totally off-grid—with features like solar panels and compost toilets—many are built to hook up to standard utilities.
Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a Tiny Home?
Generally speaking, it’s cheaper to build a tiny house than it is to buy one from a builder. On average, tiny houses cost between $30,000 and $60,000 when purchased from a builder, but the price can increase to well over $100,000. Alternatively, it usually costs between $12,000 and $35,000 for first-time builders to build a tiny house—and some can be built even more affordably.
Can You Build a Tiny Home for $5,000?
It usually costs at least $10,000 to build a tiny house, but it is possible to build one for less. In fact, there are several tiny house kits, DIY plans, and YouTube videos that make it possible to build a tiny house for around $5,000. What’s more, some DIY tiny home builders opt to save money by converting shed kits into tiny houses.
How We Chose the Best Tiny Home Builders
To identify the best tiny home builders, we compared over 20 companies based on a number of factors, including cost and the availability of various floor plans. We also considered the quality of materials used by each builder, the number of home models, and the extent to which customers can customize their new tiny house. Finally, we evaluated factors related to customer service, such as construction times and the availability of online quoting tools and financing.
Based on this analysis, we chose Minimaliste as our best overall pick because of the builder’s selection of beautiful, high quality, and customizable tiny homes that are available at a range of price points. Likewise, Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is our top choice for budget-conscious buyers because its totally customizable tiny houses make it easy to find a home in an accessible price range.