Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cost to Build a Tiny House - Tracking Expenses and Budget

The cost to build a tiny house ranges broadly depending on who you talk to or whose blog you read. Some say $5,000 and some say $30,000. It really does depend on your budget, time frame, and doggedness at finding great deals. Obviously if you are under pressure to finish something, costs will increase. So how do you know just how much it cost to build your tiny house? Tracking costs is key to answering that question.

When I first began this adventure I purchased, via a Boorum & Pease ledger book to track every penny I spend on building this tiny house just so I could have a dollar amount when I am done. I chose the Boorum & Pease book because it is thread sewn which means it will stay bound with lots of use. It has a hard cover of blue-green canvas printed with an Art Deco style pattern, and the word Journal across it. It has a very neat vintage flair about it. I wanted an attractive book as well as a practical one, and this fits the bill. I also like the size as it is more tall than wide. I have several other Boorum & Pease books similar to this in journal in form and color that I use to track weather and use as a diary, so combined they will look nice on a bookshelf or desk since storage in a tiny house is an issue. There are lots of accounting style books you can choose from or you can just use lined paper or a computer program so lets just move on to tracking your expenses.

There are a couple of ways you can track your expenses with regards to building your tiny house. I record any item I buy that I am going to use exclusively for the tiny house. That includes everything from water tanks to faucets, to roofing material to items such as bedding and furniture. When I am finished building I can quite easily go back and pull out specific items for a true cost. For example, I could just add up building supplies for the roofing, or the shower, etc. But for now, every penny I spend that is on something exclusively for use in the Tiny House gets recorded. I write in pencil and I use a calculator so that I can  make corrections and am accurate. I also hold onto receipts in an envelope I keep stashed in the back of the book. This will come in handy if I have an issue with something and need to call in the warranty.

Many will wonder why I don't just use a program like Microsoft Excel on my computer. Well, it's simple, I don't want to be dependent on technology. I like the feeling of sitting down and putting pencil to paper. There is a certain satisfaction in tracking things by hand. By sitting down and sifting through the expenses I have a better handle on where my money is going. Writing things to track them somehow makes them more tangible for me. By the time my homestead is up and running, I will have a true cost analysis of building my Tiny House in addition to important data for insurance companies as well. Purchasing coverage will not be based on guesses, but concrete data.

So what happens if you have to make a return? If I over-purchase an item or I have to return something, I make that a next entry on the ledger and subtract the amount, I don't go back and erase the prior entry, I just cancel it out with the current entry. Then I go back to the original purchase and make a note beside it in the margin. Simple.

Tracking your expenses from day one is the best way to go about knowing the true cost of building a tiny house. Even if you have already started it is not too late to go back and document each purchase. If you discover you left something off just add it to the next line and record the correct date.

When you are finished building, come back and let us know what it cost to build your Tiny House in the comments below. Happy building!