Building Your Own Hawaii Tiny Home for a Vacation's Cost

Kristie Wolfe spent $5000 to build herself a tiny home on wheels in her hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. It started off as a year-long experiment in simple living, but she liked it so much she decided to keep living small, not only in Idaho, but she began looking for land to build a tiny vacation home.

She bought a plot of land in Hawaii sight-unseen for $8000. A year later she bought a plane ticket, packed her bags full of tools and with the help of her mother, began to build a bamboo “treehouse” that to fit the surrounding jungle (though rather than using trees for support, she built it on stilts). After two months of building every day “from dawn to dusk” and an $11,000 investment, she had a second home.

For Wolfe, the fact that it’s small — 15′ by 15′ or 225 square feet — is an asset. “My original house was 97 square feet so that was really tiny, so this feels huge. I think small homes are beautiful because it fits with my lifestyle. I think having a lot of stuff mentally weighs you down even in ways that you don’t realize.”

Building her own home meant that Kristie was able to design everything custom: from a toilet-sink to save water (she’s not only off-grid, but she relies on rainwater capture for water) to an indoor/outdoor shower with cork-bark tiling. Whether she ever moves here permanently or simply moves on to building yet another home, she now knows she can build her own shelter.

“I would definitely recommend building your own house. I think it’s the most empowering thing you can do. It’s like the ultimately providing for oneself. If you can build your own house you’ll always be okay.”

10 Responses to Building Your Own Hawaii Tiny Home for a Vacation's Cost

  1. Dave Pence says:

    Way to go Kristie! I love your confidence and go for it attitude to follow your dream.

    Dave Pence
    retired construction trades instructor
    Boulder, CO

  2. Tre Deuce says:

    Coincidentally, I’m currently in the preliminary stages of a design for a client for a house on the Big Island near Hilo. We will build/pre assemble it here in Portland and load it into a 40 ft. container and ship to Hilo. We will then re-assemble it, turn-key, on the property in about 3-4 days after concrete support footings are cured.

    The basic structure will be supported by a structural steel skeleton and the three upper decks and roof attached to the support work. The decks/floors will be in a cruciform pattern with an open partially sheltered upper deck for daytime living and views of the mountain and ocean. Approximately 750 Total square footage.

    Water collection system/passive solar heating and E-panels.Ground floor. storage/parking, and first two floors. will have sliding and lifting security panels/doors. From our previous experiences in Hawaii, you can’t leave anything unsecured.

    • What’s the cost on it? Cheers!

      • Tre Deuce says:

        Hi! Kelly,

        There is a target budget($75,000) for the basic Flat-Pac structure. Transport/shipping/site work and assembly labor/electrical/plumbing/cabinets/fixtures/flooring/water collection-Solar, and building fees will be additional.

  3. Michael Riley says:

    I have to say that is inspiring.That’s what I like about The Shelter Blog,all these good hard-working people who have escaped the rat-wheel.
    Mike Riley

  4. Tre Deuce says:

    Love all the Organic textures and features of the finish design. Effective solutions for little cost, except for the effort applied… Kudos, Kristie.

  5. Barbara says:

    Any concerns about building codes on the Big Island?Any concerns about building codes on the big Island? Any concerns about building codes on the big Island?

    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently, I don’t know how to use this iPad very well. I really only wanted to ask the question once. I’m pretty sure I’m not that emphatic about it. :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    There is no way the state would give you permit for that house. you are in a illegal dwelling!!!.

    • liberalwarrior says:

      There are thousands of ‘illegal dwellings in the US. And hundreds of thousand pre-code houses in the US would not be legal under today’s code, but code enforcement is going to remove residents from those homes. I consider Kristies construct a wooden tent, and there is no code covering that.

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