Women build tiny homes for less than $4,000

For two California women, a shipping container and a flatbed trailer were the beginning of creative abodes they built themselves from salvaged materials.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 12, 2012 12:53PM

Courtesy of Tiny House Blog (tinyhouseblog.com) We've brought you a few stories about people who have built great tiny homes at not so small prices. But in California, two women built their own tiny homes for less than $4,000 each, using salvaged materials and a lot of ingenuity.


Website Fair Companies recently posted a video about a Sonoma-area woman named Lulu who says she built a home for herself and her daughter from a shipping container she got free. When she decided the 8-by-20-foot space was too small, she says, she built a bedroom "wing" on a trailer with a bedroom for herself and a loft bed for her daughter.


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Now she's planning a second bedroom, plus a greenhouse to join the space so it won't be so cold going from bedroom to bath in winter.

"When you don't have money, you just get creative, you know, and I had to go to the junkyard many times and be like, 'OK, what am I going to do' and be like, 'OK, I'll pick that' and ‘How can I convert that into a closet?’ and ‘How can I make that a sink?’ and ‘How am I going to make that fit?’" Lulu said in the video on Fair Companies, which showcases innovative small homes and other aspects of sustainable living.

Lulu's shipping-container pod includes a living room, kitchen and bath – as well as a sheet-turned-trapeze for her daughter. The walls, floor and roof are insulated. She cooks on a camp stove hooked to a propane tank. The propane also fuels an on-demand water heater, made for camping, that she bought for $135. The 4-by-8-foot bathroom includes a deep claw-foot tub. The video didn't mention how she handles sewage.


The bedroom pod is 8 by 16 feet, giving her a total 228 square feet of living space so far.

According to Kent Griswold at the "Tiny House Blog," Lulu worked with Jenine Alexander, who had built her own tiny house on a trailer a few years previously for about $3,500 and then built a second, 128-square-foot home for sale on an 8-by-16-foot flatbed trailer. Her building adventures are chronicled, with photos, on her blog.

Like many people who live in small spaces, Lulu made her decision for lifestyle reasons and a desire to spend her time doing something besides working to pay rent. She decided boxes of pink toys and a conventional pink bedroom weren't necessary for her daughter's happiness.


"How many hours do we have to our life and how do I want to spend those hours and really about do I want to go and work more than 10, 20, 30 hours a week so that I can pay rent to have a big house so that I can be a healthy normal mom," she says in the video. "So this was my choice and she's definitely complained at times, but I also know that we have spent way more hours than I would have if I had to pay rent.”

Feb 4, 2012 2:40PM
great. wonderful idea. hey there is nothing wrong living within your means
Feb 4, 2012 2:19PM
so what happens in a power outage or an act of nature? Can you even put up the recommend 3 day supply for each family member? Are these homes even insurable is so who and how much is it more or less is it considered higher risk as land never lived on is treated?
Feb 4, 2012 7:11AM
Incredible things people can do when they decide to. Necessity is the mother of invention, and if more of us thought in this manner, perhaps things in our world would change for the better.
Feb 4, 2012 2:25AM
Feb 4, 2012 12:19AM
Cheaper still if you just buy a tent or dig a hole in the ground!
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