Five Hundred Dollar Tiny House In Iowa

The Des Moines Register reported this week about how a couple of college students built a tiny house for just $489!¬†This is a great demonstration of how ingenuity and tiny house designs can be a path to independence and freedom to people of at all budgets. The house that Amy Adrews and Ethan Van Kooten built clocks in at two-hundred and sixty square feet. I can’t help but remember that this was the same size as my first apartment. Given the ridiculously cheap price, it appears to be a sturdy built home, albeit not the shiniest.

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How They Did It

Here is a breakdown of what Amy and Ethan spent on supplies:

  • Paint: $55
  • Door $13
  • Wood for Ceiling $110
  • Foam $25
  • Bolts $10
  • Door Frame $40
  • Wood Stove Ventilation Material $120
  • Window Weather Proofing $60
  • 500 Hours of Labor

Once a few other incidentals were added, the total amounted to just $489. One of the keys to the students success was a willingness to recycle the “junk” of others. Particularly in the United States, we throw away countless amounts of¬†perfectly good building material and millions of working appliances because they are out of fashion or because it is easier than trying to find a new home for it. If you aren’t afraid of rummaging and know what you are looking for, you can save thousands.

Amy and Ethan originally wanted the house to be a demonstration house on campus, but a similar story arose. They ran into zoning issues. Zoning issues are still a problem for this structure as a city building official said it will need to be a foundation if it is a permanent structure. I wonder if this official would have been more lenient in his dictate if the couple has built their tiny house on a trailer. The house is currently sitting on farm land owned by Ethan’s dad.

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The house doesn’t have any water hookups at the moment. They hope to add a rain barrel system, making this project even greener. A solar electric system with battery backups is on the roadmap for the future.

Despite the zoning and long-term livability issues that still need to be worked out, this is a phenomenal demonstration. I applaud this couples ingenuity and dedication with the greatest sincerity.

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