Unconventional Tiny Home Building Materials

A tiny home with a yellow door made out of a shipping container.

Tiny homes are a huge craze these days. They have many benefits people are capitalizing on, including a low purchase price, energy efficiency, and the elimination (by necessity!) of clutter. Some of these homes are even mobile, so you can travel without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

The more popularity these tiny homes gain, the more and more creative people are in building them. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill homes built from the ground up out of conventional construction material, that’s for sure. Take a look below to learn about some of the materials that people are building their tiny homes out of, and what the advantages and disadvantages are to each.

Shipping Containers

A tiny home made out of a red shipping container.

Shipping containers are probably the most popular of all the unconventional ways to build a tiny home. There are many benefits to these. First, you can customize the size since you aren’t necessarily limited to using only one storage container; if you are in need of more space, you can put two together for more room. The typical size of a container is either 8'x20′ or 8′x40′, so you’ll have to work within those sizes or in multiples of them. Shipping containers are an economical way to build your own place to live, not to mention a tiny home can be built very quickly from them.

To construct your tiny home with a shipping container, make use of popular plans for these homes on software such as Google SketchUp to get some ideas. After you’ve chosen a design and purchased your shipping containers, you will need to set the foundation for your home. This can be made out of materials like wood or concrete. You will then need to go through further building steps, including: connecting the container to the foundation, building a roof, cutting out window openings, sealing the cracks, adding in windows and doors, insulating the containers, weatherproofing the home, and doing electrical work. While this may seem like a lot, the small amount of space you're working with means it really won't take too long.

One of the cons of building a shipping container home is that they are subject to building codes and frequently require permits, which, as with all homes, can be tricky and time-consuming to acquire. Another disadvantage is that if you are not planning on doing the whole thing yourself and are looking to hire a contractor for part or all of the construction, it can be tough to find one with such specific experience.

Trucks or Automobiles

You’ve probably never considered turning your old truck into a place to live, but with a little work it’s entirely possible to create your dream tiny home from an automobile! Even if the vehicle you choose is technically not mobile any longer, you can certainly use one as the structure to build your tiny home upon.

Build your tiny house on the bed of the truck, leaving the front of the vehicle intact. Typical materials, such as plywood, should be used to build the walls and roof of the house, using the bed of the truck as the base for your home, building upon the frame to shape the structure. On the inside, you have to get creative with your space and utilize every inch. A lofted bed makes the most out of your square footage, and so does built-in storage space.

There are a couple of advantages to building your tiny home on top of the bed of a truck. As mentioned above, it gives you the option to be mobile with your home. This allows for fun and budget-friendly trips wherever your wheels can take you. The other advantage is that the base of your home is already intact and you only have to go up from there.

However, there are some cons that come with utilizing a truck or automobile as a tiny home. You are limited as far as the size goes, especially if you do want to be mobile with it. You also do not want to make the house so heavy that it prohibits the truck from being mobile. Also, these homes are some of the tiniest of the tiny, so they cannot house many people and are probably only suitable for one or two people, max.

Using Reclaimed Materials for Your Tiny Home

A pile of vintage doors with peeling paint.

Regardless of whether you're building your tiny home out of a shipping container, on the bed of a truck, or any other way, you should take advantage of using reclaimed materials to cut costs. There are tons of items you can salvage. For instance, used windows are a great way to save, as new windows can be expensive. After all, you can easily adjust the window sizes of your tiny home to fit what used windows you can find and salvage. You can also find leftover wood from demolished homes to use in building your tiny house. Take advantage of sites like Craigslist to find used materials, or reach out to people in your neighborhood to see if they have anything lying around. You may even want to find recycled items to use inside your finished tiny house. For instance, old crates can be used for storage.

Tiny homes are fun to envision and plan for. They're a great way to utilize DIY skills for a huge impact on your life! While these homes may be incredibly small, they have a lot of character and appeal for anyone who wants to simplify their life and cut living costs.