Resources on building your own tiny home are so abundant that it feels like anyone can build the house of their dreams. But for those who’d rather leave the building to a professional, buying a pre-built model is always a viable option.
So, where do you buy a pre-built tiny house? The websites of builders are a good place to start. General listing sites such as Tiny House Listings is also a great place to find local tiny homes. For a more affordable option, Amazon has lite kits that may not be the exact replica of a quality tiny house, but are good enough for occasional recreational activities.
In this article, we clarify the definition of what a prebuilt home is, and share where you can find prefab tiny homes that deliver anywhere in the U.S.
Aren’t All Tiny Houses Prefabricated?
Don’t let the small frame fool you: not all tiny homes are prefabricated. By definition, prefab homes are properties that are professionally built off-site, such as a factory or a workshop. Stick-built homes, on the other hand, are homes that are constructed on the site where the house would be located.
Prebuilt tiny homes are typically assembled by builders in a factory where environments are more controlled. This makes the build process much easier because the construction period isn’t determined by weather conditions and other environmental factors that would otherwise prolong the build.
How Much Does a Prefab Tiny Home Cost?
In traditional real estate, prefabricated tiny homes do cost significantly less than their stick-built counterparts. For instance, building a stick-built property for a single-family can cost anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000 whereas having a factory-made home delivered to your land will cost about $60,000 to $150,000.
The main reason why these prefabricated homes are more affordable is that they’re built with fewer and cheaper materials. A quicker build also means lower labor costs.
Traditionally, people who buy factory-made homes already have primary dwelling units and only use the prefab home as an accessory dwelling unit. As a result, factory-built homes don’t have to be the same quality as their site-built counterparts.
Why Tiny Homes Are Different
The same is not true for tiny homes. For starters, the only way tiny homes could be built on-site is if you build one yourself. If you want to buy a move-in ready tiny house, you will have to work with a builder who has access to a building site. The price of a prefabricated tiny house won’t be any different because that’s how they are professionally made.
More importantly, the materials involved in building a tiny house aren’t cheaper than their stick-built counterparts. Builders piece together the tiny home part by part as they would in traditional construction.
Even when using ready-made frames and panels, builders still use materials that are up to building codes and can withstand harsh weather conditions.
Ultimately, prefab tiny homes are designed to be a real house - as a permanent residence, builders use the best materials to make it as safe and as functional as possible, just like you would in traditional construction.
Types of Prefabricated Tiny Homes You Can Order
While most designs come in completely move-in ready, there are builders that offer more accessible options:
- Assembly Kits: These are tiny house kits that were prepared by the manufacturer, to be assembled on site. A house kit is typically made from structurally insulated panels (SIPS), which already includes the insulation, framing, and interior wall lining. Measurements and designs are sent to the manufacturer, who then sends you a house kit that you assemble yourself.
- Completed Frame: Completed frames are great for people who want to skip the construction part entirely. Note that not all frames will have plumbing and electrical wiring work in place. Some builders will send completely bare but assembled frames for a lower price.
Benefits of Ordering a Prefab Tiny House
1) RVIA Certification
As a relatively new type of property, tiny houses don’t fall into usual definitions, which is why homeowners are typically limited when it comes to insurance options, loans, and anything that requires an appraisal.
The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) certification is a “seal of approval” that opens up a tiny house to these options. RVIA certification is acquired by working with a certified builder, which means DIY tiny homes are not officially certified.
Having an RVIA certified tiny abode comes with perks. Your traveling abode will be open to parking sites and camping grounds that are exclusive for RVs only. Additionally, insurance companies that already accommodate RVs will use the same plan on your tiny house instead of a customized, more expensive insurance plan.
2) Access to Financing Options
While the idea of taking out a mortgage on a tiny home may sound ironic, it is actually a necessary step for many first-time homeowners.
For interested buyers who need financial aid, working with a builder can make the funding process easier. Certain builders like Tumbleweed Homes offer their own financing options with standard terms including a downpayment and monthly payments.
As for builders who don’t offer in-house financing, some will still offer financial assistance by connecting you with their network of financers, provided you meet their financial and credit requirements.
3) Move-In Ready Designs
Not all tiny homeowners are looking forward to the DIY process. Other owners want to skip all the headaches associated with managing your own build and skip straight to living tiny.
Buying a prefabricated tiny house eliminates all the challenges that come with constructing your own home. Instead of spending a year learning about insulation, framing, and wiring, buying a ready-made design means you can join the tiny lifestyle immediately.
In just 3 to 5 weeks, you get a complete home that’s beautifully designed and thoughtfully made. For those who just want a standard model, buying a prefabricated home also simplifies the decision-making process: all you have to do is pick out a design, pay the builder, and wait for your new home in as little as two months.
Having a pre-built tiny home allows for customization to the extent that on-site builds won’t. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Tiny House Nation, you’re likely familiar with the dozens of customized features builders are capable of pulling off.
From retractable decks to disappearing wall-beds, working with a factory-made tiny house allows the builder to construct your tiny from the ground up, and integrate any unique space-saving solutions you may want.
The customizability doesn’t just end with extra features. If you’re concerned about your home’s total weight, you can order specialized frames or lightweight SIPs panels to accommodate these changes, without sacrificing the structure’s integrity.
Where Can You Order Prefab Tiny Houses
1) Tiny House Listings
Tiny House Listings is one of the best marketplaces for all things tiny. This website has hundreds of listings for tiny houses that are on sale or for rent. The users are a mix of professional builders with their own factories and DIY-ers who build one tiny house after another.
Aside from ready-made tiny homes, there are also miscellaneous listings including this partially constructed tiny house in under 300 square feet from Tumbleweed.
Price ranges from $25,000 to $100,000 for complete builds. You can also search by state, which makes it easier to find local options. Aside from tiny houses for sale, users also post rentable parking spaces, payable monthly.
Tumbleweed is a popular tiny house company located in Colorado Springs. They have hundreds of designs to choose from and even offer some customization options for some of the builds. If you want the classic wooden tiny house at standard prices, Tumbleweed is the builder for you.
Tumbleweed is a certified RVIA builder, which means working with them opens up your home to dozens of exclusive perks. This company also offers financing options and special discounts to military personnel, first responders, and educators.
Aside from ready-made tiny houses, they also offer tiny house shells for sale, which includes a trailer, a fully-framed tiny house, and a sheathed exterior. You can have additional work such as electrical, plumbing, and insulation added at an extra cost.
3) New Frontier Tiny Homes
New Frontier Tiny Homes is a luxury tiny house builder based in Tennessee. Currently, they offer four tiny house designs, namely Alpha, Escher, Cornelia, and Orchid. As far as customizability goes, they offer full customization to all their designs except the Luna.
NFTH’s designs are a mix of modern and natural. Heavy wood and metal feature in a lot of their interior design, which makes up just about some of the most elegant tiny homes you’ve ever seen.
One of their more popular designs, the Alpha, has made internet rounds for its unique feature. This tiny home measures 240 square feet and has massive floor-to-ceiling windows and a drop-down deck on one that opens up the entire space into the outdoors. The Alpha starts at $79,000 for the standard build and can reach up to $95,000 if you order one with all the appliances and maximum inclusions.
4) Tiny Heirloom
Tiny Heirloom is another luxury tiny house builder, with designs starting at $50,000. They currently offer five base options - all of which can be further customized to your liking.
The good news is that the base package already comes with luxurious inclusions: granite countertops, stained cabinets and cupboards, engineered wood flooring, mini-split AC, stainless steel appliances, among many others. This company also accommodates special requests, including having your home ready for off-grid living.
If you want to conceptualize your tiny house from scratch, they also offer full-customization for completely new projects, which start at $89,000. They don’t charge shipping fees for all orders as long as you’re located within the U.S. Like Tumbleweed, Tiny Heirloom offers financing options to its buyers.
Wheelhaus has been making modular homes since 2006 and has now expanded into prefabricated tiny houses. If you’re looking for a builder with a lot of experience, Wheelhaus definitely has all the years to back it up. They are located in Wyoming but offer shipping options to clients within Canada and the U.S.
Wheelhaus’ most affordable design, the Roadhaus Wedge RV, is a scaled-down version of their full-sized model, the Wedge. This 250 square feet tiny house starts at $87,000 and offers tons of natural lighting and enough space for two.
The price already comes with appliances and hardware and is 100% move-in ready. All you have to do is move in your furniture and you’re good to go.
Amazon is usually a one-stop-shop for buyers. As it turns out, the same may be true for tiny homes. For just $6,995, you can build your own cabin kit from Allwood Solvalla. The cabin kit includes the floor plans for the tiny house, as well as the frame needed to construct the home.
Keep in mind that not all kits you see on Amazon will be 100% complete. As in the case of Allwood’s cabin kit, this doesn’t include insulation, wiring, or anything else apart from the wooden frames.
While it’s tempting to purchase a model for a fraction of the usual cost, keep in mind that not all do-it-yourself kits will be 100% suitable for permanent living. At most, these sheds will be perfect for barbecues, gardening, and even other recreational activities.
For a durable cabin kit or tiny house frame, order from a trusted tiny house builder instead.
To Build Or to Buy: Pros and Cons
Building or buying your tiny house comes with its own set of risks and benefits. Naturally, the more cost-effective option is to build your own tiny home. But the lower costs are traded off with a new set of challenges.
Building a tiny house is a laborious, time-consuming endeavor. For those who have little to no experience with carpentry, building your own house might not be a risk you’re willing to take.
Still not sure what’s best for you? Check out the pros and cons of building or buying a tiny house.
Building Your Own Tiny Home
- Complete control over materials used. You can reduce costs even further by incorporating reclaimed material in your build.
- Option to convert your home into an on-grid, off-grid or hybrid tiny house at any point.
- Tiny house square feet can be freely determined.
- The build moves at your own pace. If you experience financial shortcomings, you can stop and start the project as needed.
- No need to worry about shipping logistics and costs.
- Sourcing contractors with experience working on tiny homes to complete jobs you’re not sure of can be difficult and risky.
- Difficulty creating a design and constructing a blueprint.
- You run the risk of building a home that isn’t up to building codes and policies.
- Your tiny home won’t be RVIA certified
- It can be difficult to find a place to build a tiny house.
- You may have to invest in expensive building materials that you currently don’t have.
Buying Your Tiny Home
- The home is ready to move into.
- You get the support of an entire team. Your builder can help you throughout the process.
- Some builders can connect you with reputable insurance and lending companies.
- In-house financing is available.
- Resell value is higher, especially if its RVIA certified.
- You run the risk of working with an inexperienced or indifferent builder who doesn’t care about your personal requests.
- Most builders don’t live in tiny homes, which means their designs might not be suitable for long-term to permanent living
- Double or triple the price of building your own tiny home.
- It’s difficult to bring your personality to the design. There will be other people in the world with the exact same design as yours.
- Abrupt adjustments are difficult to implement because the home has been constructed from the ground-up; making alterations to the wiring, plumbing, etc. would be challenging.
- Ludicrous shipping costs if you are having your home built elsewhere.
When deciding whether to build or buy, it really comes down to one thing. If you’re willing to exchange costs for time, go for a prebuilt model. But if you have the means to purchase a home right now, then spend your hard-earned cash in your new (little) home.
Do your research, ask different sellers (or look around for reliable contractors if you’re going the DIY route) and just make a decision. At the end of the day, you’re investing in a new house and a new future. Follow your instincts and you’ll be one step closer to owning your own property.
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.