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How Much Does it Cost to Build a Tiny House in Australia?



Tiny home living has taken on a life of it’s own in the last few years, as the cost of housing continues to increase in Australia. Tiny homes in various forms have become more popular the world over and building one has become more affordable than buying (and building) a much Custom Designs larger dwelling.

Depending on one’s lifestyle, tiny homes are often a more practical approach to housing and because they can be mobile (Tiny Homes on Wheels, or THOWs), they’re a more flexible option than your standalone home. However, your custom tiny home doesn’t have to be a THOW, if you want to keep your home on the same plot of land, a knockdown rebuild (with a downsized rebuild) might be more to your liking.

If you’re seeking a simplified lifestyle and are considering the switch to a tiny home, understanding the cost to build a tiny house is a great place to start your journey in tiny home living. 

What is a Tiny House?

Tiny houses come in all manner of customisations, however, one thing is constant: their size. By Australian law, tiny homes have yet to really be classified. There’s no fixed dimensions that they must be built to in order to be considered not a tiny home. However, different states, localities and councils have building specifications for tiny homes that must be adhered to for fixed-dwelling tiny homes. Tiny homes on wheels are generally considered to be caravans under state and local legislation.

However, conventional wisdom seems to suggest that a fixed tiny home (that is, not a tiny-home-on-wheels) should be no higher than two stacked 1.8m long shipping containers.

However, when it comes to a tiny home on wheels, there are legal size requirements for transportation purposes. A THOW must be no more than 4.3m in height and 2.5m in length and cannot exceed a 4.5 tonne weight limit.

Typically, a tiny home, whether on wheels or not, will have a square footage of between 11 and 37 square metres. Although the Australian Tiny Home Association defines a tiny home as being less than 50 metres squared. At those sizes, tiny homes embrace the ‘living with less’ philosophy that encapsulates the tiny home movement. Keeping a small footprint helps to keep the average cost to build a tiny home down, while not necessarily having to give up on that all-important principle of less being more. 

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Tiny Home in Australia?

If less is more with tiny home living, just how much does a tiny house cost to build? Are there ways to build a tiny house cheap? In Australia, many are turning to tiny homes as a cheaper option because of the recent increase in the cost of building a regularly-sized home.

When it comes to how much cost to build a tiny house, it really depends on the size of your tiny home, whether it’ll be on wheels or not (as the trailer is an additional cost), labour and construction materials used, as well as the cost of the land you’ll put your tiny home on and all associated fees.

The average cost to build a tiny house varies greatly, but end-of-year 2023 estimates

 put the pricing between $20,000 and $150,000. 

What To Consider Beyond The Initial Cost of a Tiny House in Australia?

However, before you start saving for the tiny home of your dreams, there are a few things to consider beyond the cost to build a tiny house.

The Laws Surrounding Tiny Home Builds

If you’re building a fixed-dwelling tiny home, you must ensure that your tiny home meets all legal requirements set forth by Australian state and local planning and building departments. Be sure to check in with your local and state authorities before setting about a tiny home build.

For example, many Australian state and local legislation considers tiny homes to be ‘caravans’, especially if they’re on wheels, so they do not often require a building permit. This means that your construction timeline could be significantly reduced because you wouldn’t have to wait for permission to start building!

Will It Be on Wheels?

It’s important to consider how putting your tiny home on a trailer will affect it’s classification under your local laws. As previously mentioned, many localities and state entities consider THOWs to be caravans. As such, they have different requirements for things like water and sewage handling and the length of time you can stay on a plot of land.

Another consideration is moving your THOW. Even if you’re just moving it once, you will need to adhere to all road laws and moving regulations. Factor the cost of moving your tiny home (between $500 and $3000+ in some cases) into the overall cost to build a tiny home.

Fixed Dwelling Costs

If you don’t put your tiny home on wheels and instead choose to build a permanent dwelling, you’ll need to factor in fixed dwelling costs, like waste management, surveying fees, building permits and other costs. Beware of these hidden costs when calculating the cost to build a tiny house.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Tiny Homes

Many factors influence the cost to build a tiny home, including:

Size & Shape

Tiny homes can come in all shapes and sizes, with the upper limit generally being 50 square metres. However, the bigger you go, the higher your costs will be. Similarly, regarding the shape you choose to make your tiny home, a small square or rectangular home will be less expensive than building an A-frame tiny home. However, there are different weight distribution considerations when building an A-frame style tiny home, particularly when moving the tiny home around.

While the flexibility of living with less is fantastic, everything comes at a price! Beware of this before you start your building and encounter unexpected issues which drive the cost higher than you anticipated. 

Building Materials You Choose

Just like building a regular house, much of the cost of building a new home can be associated with what materials you choose. Tiny homes offer slightly more flexibility in this regard as their footprint means that they can be made out of unique things like stacked shipping containers, or indeed a fixed-dwelling shipping container home. Or, a small THOW made with a simple square or rectangular wood frame on a trailer.

THOW or No?

If you’re considering a tiny home, then it may make more economical sense (depending on your particular circumstances) to build a tiny home on wheels. These may be more expensive to move around, because of the cost of the trailer (~$10,000-$15,000), but because they’re classified as caravans, THOWs can be cheaper to upkeep in the long run.  

Are Tiny Homes Worth It?

Housing prices in Australia are certainly not cheap – it almost doesn’t matter where you are! Whilst you may find a good deal buying land and building on an acreage, you’re still looking at an eyewatering $750,000 on average. Meanwhile, a tiny home’s price (at it’s highest) is around $150,000. That is undeniably a massive disparity. If you calculate how much does a tiny house cost to build yourself, then the savings are probably even greater!

Whether or not a tiny home build is worth it will depend on your lifestyle and circumstances. If you have a family or two or more children, it will be difficult to fit those kids and yourselves into a tiny home dwelling, regardless of your tiny home design. However, a tiny home might make perfect sense if you’re single or a couple with a single child and are looking to enter the housing market for the first time. Or are a digital nomad of sorts, looking for a way to be mobile and move around, but still have a place to call, then a tiny home on wheels might be just what you need.

Final Thoughts

Tiny homes have exploded in popularity in recent years as the housing market increases have meant that many are priced out of traditional home purchases and that ‘living well with less’ principle becomes less of a desire and more of a necessity. The humble (or lavish) tiny home is often the perfect solution for many newcomers to the property ladder, or those who don’t require a whole lot of space and are looking to simplify their lives as they get older.

If you’ve been looking for a tiny solution to your housing problem, or are looking to save money in your quest for a gorgeous fixed tiny home, or indeed are looking for a way to go out and explore with the creature comforts of your home at your back, then our custom home builders at Provincial Homes should be your first call. As home builders, we offer the flexibility to meet your project’s desires, while sticking within your ‘tiny’ budget; we promise to deliver the beautiful tiny home of your dreams, whether you’re staying in one place, or moving it around!

Frequently Asked Questions

As custom home builders, we at Provincial Homes get a lot of different about tiny living and tiny home build options, here are some of the most popular.

Are there significant variations in tiny house prices across different regions of Australia?

Depending on where you shop, you can find a great deal of variation in tiny home prices across Australia. For example, at TinyRealEstate, the house price varies by around $10,000-$20,000 on three properties between 20 and 37 square metres. While not necessarily a significant variation, if you’re looking to build in a specific region, it’s worth checking out the average price in that region as a basis for your building budget.

Can you provide examples of typical features or amenities that may affect the cost of a tiny home?

There are a few typical features that affect the cost of a tiny home. For example, whether or not your tiny home is on wheels. Another amenity or feature that could affect the overall cost of a tiny house is whether or not it includes an exterior or front-facing, or wrap-around balcony (these are generally small lounging areas that are open to the elements). Another typical feature of a fixed-dwelling tiny home that affects the cost is its hook-up to power, water and sewage – which is required by law – but different from a THOW, which may only require a minimum electrical connection from the local power company. 

What is the cheapest price for a tiny house?

Your mileage may vary, but the cheapest price you could expect to pay for a barebones, nothing fancy time home is around $20,000