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high desert. small house.

Final Project Expenses

Since we are now living in the house, it is a good time to publish our ‘final’ spending list.  There are a few minor items outstanding but the bulk of the purchasing is done.

Arched Cabin Related
House kit $6,240.00
Foundation $2,520.00
Floor & Joist $2,400.00
End caps $4,400.00
Insulation $528.00
Loft Beams $160.00
Delivery $1,798.00
Labor $2,000.00
Subtotal $20,046.00
Finishing Expenses
Hardware $616.60
Tools $857.71
Doors/Windows $1,723.49
Raw Materials $3,667.18
Bathroom $1,858.91
Kitchen $727.23
Electrical/Plumbing $2,303.36
Flooring $1,838.45
Outdoor $1,862.29
Fixtures $639.20
Fencing $1,447.43
Misc $1,239.55
Big Appliances $2,119.48
Household Accessories $21.61
Paint/Finish Details $465.71
Subtotal $21,388.20
Total $41,434.20

[Note that certain categories, like ‘outdoor’ and ‘fencing’ include objects like the shed and fence materials.  Considering these are essential for us to be able to live on this property with our dogs and stuff, they were included in the total.]

If you tally the total cost without considering the labor and town-related expenses (listed below), the cost per square foot is $86.32.  I read on Fixr that the national average for a single family home is $125/sq ft.  I’ve seen that number go up to ~$170/sq ft for tiny homes with a lot of custom work.

When we first started out, we heard that the price/sq ft was often higher for tiny houses because the expensive items are all still in it (i.e. appliances, electrical components, etc) plus special design items (i.e. stairs that double as shelves that can also babysit your cat) but the divisor is now much smaller.  Thus, the resulting cost per square foot is higher.  However, even with labor included, we didn’t find that to be the case with our home.

Labor & Other Expenses
Driveway Excavation & Building Pad $1,063.65
Plumbing Excavation & Extension $1,278.00
French Drain Excavation & Material $1,010.00
Tile (labor only) $1,650.00
Survey for electrical and driveway easement $400.00
Insulation (estimating at half the total price of $1028) $514.00
Mini-split line service $120.00
Permits $150
Town fees:

Impact fee & water extension from neighbor ($4,265)

Sewer extension from Cheyenne St, cost share ($2,942)

Total $13,392.65

Including the cost of labor and town-related expenses, our living space total is $54,826.85 or $114.22/sq ft.  We paid $16,000 for our 4.669 acres.  Total paid for this project – $70,826.85.


We expect to spend a few hundred on the gate and probably ~$150 on more fence-related stuff (barbed wire, fence stays, etc).  We still need more trim ($80), shelves ($50) and some home goods ($50).

We funded this project by selling our previous home, selling lots of stuff and by saving for 3 years (and living frugally).  After next month, our credit card will be paid off and we will truly own our home outright.  Could we have done this if we hired someone else to do all the work?  Sure – but to do it without a great deal of debt, we would have had to save up for a longer period of time.  Or perhaps work more jobs.

The exterior footprint of the house is 480 square feet (inside is ~450).  The 8×10 shed allows us to store outdoor objects in a safe place and we don’t have to reduce our living space for bike storage.  The high ceilings and big windows create a spaciousness that I think will make this a perfect long-term living space.

As Fred would say, it’s “a good'”.

2016-08-09 09.20.37


  1. Well done, folks! Thanks for your awesome transparency. The book is, as Fred would say, “good”…stayed up all night to finish it.

  2. Just found your blog, thank you! We are starting the process of moving and downsizing, while I like the concept f these arched cabins, the website and “loosey-goosey” nature of their contracts make me very nervous.

    A few questinsnif you don’t mind,

    1. Plumbing/heating/electricity – did they do the work or did you find your own contractors? Did the company help with the necessary permits, or did you do that all on your own?

    2. I know the company website states a wood stove is enough, but we are looking at the mountains, and I beleive I would like a better heat source. Inhave been reseachng solar panels also. Do you feel like the regular heating source or solar could be installed? I understand simply a guestimate, just curious.

    3. No side windows, does that bother you? Or do you feel as if you get enough natural light?

    Thanks for posting this, and think I will now be following ypur blog!

    • 1. We did all of this ourselves. If you look at the Table of Contents, there are several posts about electricity and plumbing (start around Day 143).

      2. We live in the high desert (elevation ~6100 feet) and we installed a heat pump mini split. Highly recommended. With regards to solar – as long as you can orient the panels correctly it should be business as usual.

      3. The side windows are not a problem since the depth of our house is not great. You could put a higher window on the endcaps to create more glazing. We chose not to do this because we wanted our total glazing to be within the scope of passive solar principles. We have not found it to be an issue. Brian adds: After experiencing a summer of E & W sun in our heavily-windowed coffee shack, I was entirely enthusiastic about not having east or west windows, and instead having the highly reflective surface of a galvalume roof; take that sun!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with the cabin. Their website is completely confusing to me and I wondered what it would cost to do a finished cabin you don’t know how much I appreciate having this knowledge. Thank you!

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