The Real Cost of a Metal Tiny Home: Foundation and Plumbing

metal tiny home plumbing

Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the rapidly growing market for tiny homes. We have written here about the benefits and reasons behind choosing to live small and buck the big-home trend. Many people have made the decision to downsize after the housing market crash in 2008. This crisis led people to evaluate their finances and consider how another similar event in the future could deal another devastating blow to the American homeowner.

As a result of all of this, the tiny home market exploded. One attraction for many tiny-home owners became the freedom and sustainability that accompanied this off-the-grid lifestyle. Building with steel is very environmentally-friendly when compared to traditional wooden structures. Steel is the most recycled material in the world, making it incredibly cost-efficient and easy to build with. On the other hand, massive deforestation occurs daily to feed the world’s demand for lumber and paper. While the sustainability aspect of tiny-home living is very attractive and worthy of attention, it is not the only reason to take the plunge.

Paying Small but Living Large

The largest motivator to live small has been the massive financial benefits of foregoing a traditional mortgage. When choosing a metal barn as your tiny home, you are essentially forfeiting the portable and off-the-grid aspects that accompany the tiny home trend. However, what some may consider a loss of freedom is replaced by the plethora of customization options that metal barns offer. You can choose where you want to have windows, garage and walk-in doors placed. There are hundreds of available color combinations to choose from so you can find what’s best for your property. By purchasing a metal barn as the shell of your home, you have total control over the interior layout. The possibility of having three or four times the square footage of a traditional tiny home at a similar price is immensely appealing to those who want to lose their mortgage without losing their space.

Due to the semi-permanent nature of our metal barns (they are permanent, but can be disassembled and moved), we recommend and require a level foundation. If you are thinking about purchasing a metal barn to convert to a tiny home, a well-laid concrete foundation combined with plumbing is well worth considering. While it will increase the cost of your building project, the quality and value it will bring to your structure cannot be understated.

metal tiny home plumbing

Tiny Home Plumbing – Don’t Flush your Money Down the Toilet

Even though the tiny home movement began with people realizing they could go without, it’s hard to imagine they felt that way about indoor plumbing. Many tiny homes use water catchment systems or compost toilets to provide these essential creature comforts. Metal barns and other permanent structures may see greater benefit and functionality by installing in-wall plumbing. Although this can seem costly and even increase the expense of building the foundation, such an investment can provide massive returns and benefits.

In order to get the best estimate for how much it would cost to supply your metal building with indoor plumbing, we recommend calling your local contractor or plumber. Typically, prices are determined by the square footage of work being done and can range from $4-$5 per square foot. In addition to installing these pipes inside the walls, excavation work must be performed to run water lines and drain pipes underground. No two projects ever cost the same, and prices can be determined by hours worked or the number of yards excavated, depending on the contractor. These new pipes will also need to be insulated from the elements, which we will cover in later projects.

Although this can be a large undertaking, this is where the design and functionality of your building come to benefit you. To save costs on installing indoor plumbing, consider running all water to one side of the building. This way, only one wall will house the piping system and the drainage system can be conveniently localized. Our metal barns are perfect for this type of project, where one lean-to has enough space to house both the kitchen and bathroom. The possibilities of price increases exist if permits or inspections are needed. It is best to check your local zoning laws and home owners association rules before planning or beginning any construction.

metal tiny home foundation and plumbing

The Cost and Construction of a Concrete Foundation

While we do not build concrete foundations as a part of our metal barns, the addition of one provides owners with the best product in terms of quality and longevity. The building site must be surveyed to determine the soil conditions and how they may affect the foundation. Proper measurements must be taken to ensure that the slab will be perfectly level and have the correct shape and size. The site must be excavated and footings must be installed into the soil and sealed to protect them from moisture. The foundation itself is then laid and sometimes sealed to keep moisture out.

The cost of a concrete foundation typically depends on the square footage of the slab, but can change due to soil conditions or other mitigating circumstances. Costs typically vary based on where in the country the construction project is located. Materials can cost from $3-$5 per square foot, with an additional $1-$2 per square foot to install footings. In addition to material costs, labor from contractors or concrete specialists can add another $2-$3 per square foot. With an average price tag of $5,000-$8,000 (1,000 square foot foundation slab and footings) and a three to four day timeline for construction, a concrete foundation can be a large but worthwhile expense for any project.

Why Buying Metal is the Best Option

There are many options and choices to consider if you have recently decided to become a part of the tiny home community. Buying metal gives our customers the ability to choose the building best for them instead of settling for a closet-on-wheels. Many prefabricated tiny homes can cost well over $30,000 for a building that is less than 400 square feet. Even after buying the home, you still need to purchase or lease land to park it. Buying plans and building your own tiny home may give you more customization options, but the high cost of materials and the time required do not make this an ideal solution for everyone. Instead of buying or building a traditional wooden tiny home, take a look at what a metal barn from Elephant Barns can offer. For a fraction of the price, we can provide you with a bigger, stronger, safer, and more quality built home than anything that you can tow around behind a truck.


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