Custom Tiny Homes
If you’re after something custom, you’ve come to the right place. The following explains our custom design process and gives you an indication of the costs involved. To ensure you love living tiny, it's essential that your priorities influence the tiny house design, its form and its function. Having a set of detailed plans is essential to us being able to calculate accurate pricing for your tiny home. Without plans and detailed material specifications we can only provide loose estimates. The benefit of having an accurate quote for your custom tiny house design is that we offer fixed price agreements, so you'll know exactly what your tiny house will look like, and exactly what it’s going to cost, no surprises.
What to expect from the custom design process
- We’ll send you a copy of our design brief template to get you thinking. You'll need to complete this document and send it back to us prior to our video call. See how writing a comprehensive design brief can save you money in the FAQ section below.
Design discussion video call – approx. 1 hr. We’ll set up a video call and talk through your requirements and the brief.
Colour and material samples - At this time we'll send you a pack of colour and materials samples, these will be handy in the detailed design phase.
2. Preliminary design
Next our designer will go away and begin working on your design.
After some time, you'll be presented with a set of preliminary plans - in these plans we cover the layout of spaces, placement of key features, architectural shape, window placement, levels, etc...
Next you review the plans, and give us your feedback, see tips below in the FAQ on how to give good concise feedback that will save you money.
At the end of this stage, you'll receive an invoice for the preliminary design - See more on pricing below.
3. Detailed Design
- Once we've had time to work through your feedback, you'll then be presented with a set of revised detailed plans. These plans will now include a greater level of detail, including cabinetry details, electrical plan, specifications of fixtures and fittings, window coverings, materials and colours.
- Part of this process involves completing a specification spreadsheet. This notes down all of the items in your tiny home, as well as the exact building materials that we'll be using.
- We'll likely go through one last round of feedback and revisions to make things perfect before moving to the next phase.
- At the end of this stage, you'll receive an invoice for the detailed design - See more on pricing below.
- Now that we know what your tiny house will look like, and exactly whats included, our pricing team will cost up the build, this process can take 3-4 weeks depending on the complexity of the build.
- Next you'll be presented with a fixed quote, so you can be clear about your financial commitment.
- If you're happy to move ahead, we'll issue you with a contract and get ready to start the building process.
Whats the cost of a custom tiny house design?
The designers time is charged out at $50 p/hr. All work included in creating the custom design is charged for, such as design discussions, time spent on the design, drawings and general communication with your designer. It's invoiced in two stages, one after the preliminary design stage, and then again after the detailed design stage.
How many hours it will take for us to complete your design is unknown, and depends a lot on your requirements. You can have an impact on the cost of your design work, so check out the tips below in the FAQ section to see ways you can keep the cost of your design work down.
In order to help with your budgeting, plans for a typical turn-key tiny house design will cost between $2,900-$5,000 NZD
Meet our in-house design team:
FAQ about the design process
Can I provide my own plans?
- If you're a designer or an architect (or have one in the family) yes it is possible to submit your own preliminary plans, however when it comes to the detailed plans, it's our preference that these are drawn by our in-house design team, as this ensures that the plans cover all the information that we need for quoting, and that the plans are drawn in our standard format, making the build process as smooth as possible for our builders.
That said, keep in mind that designing tiny homes is not the same as designing typical structures, you will need to consider weight and size restrictions for transport on the road, weight distribution for safe towing, and other factors that are specific to tiny homes. So if you haven't designed a tiny house on wheels before, we recommend that you consult with our design team.
We do not build using plans that have been drawn by other tiny house builders where they hold copyright over those plans.
All plans provided to us must be drawn to standard NZ architectural conventions.
We're not able to work with plans purchased online from international builders/designers, as such plans don't consider NZ specific design restrictions such as NZTA road regulations and the NZ Building Code. However such plans can be used as a point of inspiration.
What if I already own furniture pieces or appliances I want to include?
No problem! That's the beauty of custom tiny house design, we can design the tiny house to fit in any existing items that are important to you.
How can I keep the cost of the design down?
- The most efficient way to keep your design costs low is to be as specific as you can in your needs, wants, and dreams, and be as clear and concise as possible with your feedback.
- Create a comprehensive brief - Think about all the questions asked and put in as much information as possible. Work through the essentials first that will dictate all other aspects of the design such as the overall size, on-grid/off-grid and whether you want your tiny house to be towed on its own chassis or not (this comes down to weight and can be a very restrictive design constraint, we'll talk to you more about this in your initial video call). Once you're certain about those big issues, then think about the details. It helps if your designer knows a bit about you to - hobbies, what you spend your days doing if stuck at home etc. Inspiration images can also be an effective tool for communicating your ideas.
- Remember, you don’t need to know everything, its more about making sure what you do know and the things that are essential to you are shared with your designer at the beginning. It’s our job to put your puzzle pieces together into a beautiful home.
- Its also important to be upfront and honest about your budget, if the quote for your tiny house exceeds your budget, the design may need to be reworked to keep build costs down, this just adds additional cost to the design work that could have been avoided.
- When providing feedback on your design, collate all your thoughts into an organised list, this ensures that no points are missed, and means that your designer can work though changes quickly and efficiently, ticking things off as they go.
What design restrictions/considerations are there?
Weight and size: Whether or not you want your tiny house to be road legal in terms if dimensions and weight is a big factor, and your decision on this will have a significant impact on the design.
Budget: It’s important we know your budget when designing your tiny house se we can guide you towards design solutions that are affordable to you.
Safety: Tiny homes on wheels that meet the definition of a vehicle under the Land Transport Act are exempt from the Building Act in NZ. Therefore tiny homes on wheels do not need to comply with the building code so long as they remain a vehicle. However, at Build Tiny, we build to the code in so far as possible and practical for a vehicle. Therefore our designs have the safety and health of future occupants as a core consideration.
How can I keep the cost of the build down?
One of the most expensive parts of tiny homes is custom cabinetry - keep the cabinetry to a minimum, and stick to simple cabinets when possible. You can always have additional built-in cabinetry installed in the future as your finances allow.
Alternatively, shop around for affordable off-the-shelf cabinetry/storage solutions, and talk to your designer about ensuring there is adequate space for these items in your design.
If we're making a lightweight road legal tiny home then we are typically forced to use lightweight materials that cost more than comparative heavy materials. So if weight is not an issue on your build, then we can use cheaper/heavier materials. Talk to us about the different transport requirements for non-road-legal overweight tiny homes.
If features like solar power, gas heating, ventilation systems etc are not in you budget currently, talk to your designer about pre-plumbing/pre-wiring for these things so that they can be added in the future with minimal effort.