While the average newly built house in the U.S. has more than 2,400 square feet of living space, some Americans are looking for a lifestyle upgrade by downsizing.
The web is teeming with sites and message boards dedicated to the tiny-house lifestyle, with ambitious DIY-ers trading hints on everything from the best places to find reclaimed wood for flooring to the most efficient way to store a child's toys in small spaces.
But not everyone who wants to downsize into a tiny home knows how to build their own cabinets or install a roof.
If you want a one-of-a-kind tiny home but don't have the know-how to design one from scratch, pre-made tiny home kits may be the solution. These kits come with wall panels, roofing, windows and instructions for assembling them.
They're just the shell -- you'll need to hire a contractor or another professional to help you install the plumbing and wiring and make sure everything's up to code. But they're a relative bargain. The median U.S. home value is currently $188,100 according to Zillow, but these home kits all start at $25,000 or less.
Even though these homes are easy to assemble and easy on the wallet, you can't just build them anywhere. Many towns have minimum building and lot size requirements that make tiny homes illegal. This Vancouver, B.C., resident learned the hard way when the city ordered him to remove the 250-square-foot tiny home he built in his backyard and used as a vacation rental.
It can also be difficult to find trailer parks or RV parks willing to accept tiny homes. The American Tiny House Association offers some information on guidelines for different areas, but you're best off checking directly with the local authorities where you plan to put the house before you build.
But before you take the leap into tiny home ownership, maybe you should give the tiny home life a try on a short-term basis. After all, giving up all the closet space of your current home could be a major adjustment. These tiny-home rentals give you the option of trying out the lifestyle for a few days or weeks before you take the plunge.
Still up for building your own tiny home? Click ahead for six that need little or no construction training.
Bungalow in a Box
These structures, which range in size from an 8-by-8-foot shed (which can be used as a gatehouse or bathhouse) to a 32-by-36-foot barn, come as pre-made panels that are assembled on-site. This model, a 12-by-16-foot bungalow, starts at about $25,000.
Bungalow in a Box
While the smaller buildings can be raised by hand, a crane is recommended or required for some of the bigger homes that have pieces too high or too heavy to handle without some mechanical assistance. You'll also need to do the insulation, plumbing and wiring.
These domes are built from 21 hexagons and pentagons that can be assembled with metal bolts. The smallest dome, which is about 269 square feet, can be put together in a few hours with three people, according to the Easy Domes website. They cost $11,540 each, while the larger sizes cost $12,606 and $19,776 respectively.
The small dome has a loft area large enough for a double bed, freeing up extra space in the main living area.
These cabins don't even require power tools for assembly, according to the website. Prices start at $13,900 and units range from 144 square feet to over 1,500 square feet. The kits come with all the materials you need to build the shell, including trim, hardware and fasteners. Windows and doors can be added to the kit.
A team of two people can assemble one of these cabins in about four days, according to the company's FAQ.
Artisan Tiny Homes
These tiny homes can hit the road! Artisan Tiny Homes offers a version on wheels that can be customized to your tastes. Buyers can pick either a kit or a set of plans to build the homes themselves. Trailers, panels and roofs are picked separately, and the cost of all three starts at $19,000 for an 8-by-16-foot home.
Artisan Tiny Homes
The kits come with a trailer, insulated panels, lumber and fasteners to build the shell. If you'd like some help on the project (and are willing to pay for it, of course), the company can also send construction supervisors to help you out.
This cozy one-room cottage is available in two sizes: 16 feet by 20 feet and 16 feet by 24 feet. It has a small front porch and a loft, and comes with all of the hardware you need to put it together. If you get stuck, a toll-free technical support line is available to help you finish the project.
Kits start at $9,670, and available upgrades and extra features include different roof colors/materials ($50 to $2,228), an insulation package ($8,432) and a hurricane package ($449).
Looking for something a little more rustic? This little log cabin has a loft to help maximize use of the space and comes with all of the materials -- including screws and caulk -- you need to build the shell. It also comes with an insulated roof and the windows and doors.
A 392-square-foot cabin kit starts at $18,800. Additional features available for upgrades include dormer windows and interior walls.