So, you’ve done your homework, you’ve made the decision to go tiny, you are ready to hire a builder to build it for you. Where do you go from here?
The first two steps, if you haven’t already, are to 1. either fill out the questionaire form OR email me directly with any pertinent information you would like to share about your dream tiny house, and then 2. pick up the phone and give me a call. All this information can be found on the contact page.
If, after the phone call, RMTH seems like the kind of company you would like to work with, we will sign one of three contracts depending on the situation and the waitlist. They are as follows:
This is a brief letter stating your intent to hire us when the time is right. In periods of a long waitlist, such as summer, this is the way to secure a build slot come fall or winter. When we get about two months away from starting your build it will be time to sign a construction agreement and remit the full deposit so we can go ahead and nail down the design, order the trailer/other long lead time items, and start prepping for the build. There is a $1,200 non-refundable deposit that accompanies this letter. Enough to convey your commitment and cover my initial time, but not so much to bankrupt you should conditions change and you need to withdraw. Also, it is a huge inconvenience for us when customers back out their slot with 1 month to go and we are scrambling to fill that slot.
This contract is designed for people who know for sure they want to hire me to complete the design of their tiny house, but aren’t 100% sure they want us to build it. Some folks really want to build the house themselves but have some stuff to figure out to determine whether they will have the resources to do so. Should you decide to hire us for the build, a portion of the design fee is credited towards the build.
For those of you who are 100% certain we are the company to build your tiny house and you needed it yesterday, this is the document you will be signing. It outlines the parties, scope of work, consideration, schedule, delivery, and some simple legal stipulations. There is a deposit that accompanies this contract, depending on the projected cost of the house. For most projects, this deposit is $8,000. This covers the cost of the trailer and initial shell materials be it 2×4’s and sheathing or SIP’s. Smaller, simpler projects would be $5-6k, and the largest most complex projects might be $10-12k.
The Design Process
While I don’t have a “set in stone” procedure for each project since each house and inhabitant is so unique, I do follow a general workflow and if you have a feel for this ahead of time it will simplify the process immensely.
The first step is all in your hands. Prior to contacting me, you should at least have a grasp of the general design parameters of your tiny house, i.e. width, length, bumper pull vs gooseneck, shed roof vs gable vs something else, budget, space requirements for the # of inhabitants and daily tasks, modern vs traditional, etc. The more information you can collect and put together for me prior to us talking, the better. If you are really uncertain about some things, I can help organize your thoughts to make a decision. Things can always change right up until we put the sheathing on too, so keep this in mind.
After you have your ducks in a row, get in touch. After the contract is signed I will give you some homework, if you haven’t done it up to that point. I ask all my customers seeking a custom design to provide me with the following:
1. Visual sketches, plans, or other 2d drawings. These can be by hand, drafting software, or even home planning software available online. If you are horrible at drawing, perhaps try to find someone else’s plans as a basepoint.
2. A written spreadsheet broken into rows and columns. Rows are divided into spaces of the house, i.e. kitchen, living, bath, entry, loft, etc. Columns are divided into 3 categories: “Absolutely must have”, “Really really like but could compromise”, “This is cool if we can make it work but no big deal if not”.
3. Written list of random thoughts and wants. they don’t have to be organized in any way. Some might call this “specifications”. If you actually have the means to research, select, and specify all the products/materials you want included in your tiny house, excellent! The more info, the better. If you are unsure, we can help walk you through the options.
4. A Pinterest board that you pin images of ideas or components you really like and would like to see incorporated into your house. They don’t have to be from another tiny house at all. It could be a picture of a clever storage solution in a kitchen or bathroom of a giant house. It could be a picture of a suave ultra modern Manhattan apartment. Just as long as it conveys an idea you like. Bonus points if you use the comment section to leave a note why that image appeals to you.
I take all this information and begin organizing priorities and putting these thoughts in drawings. I come up with a prelim design that I feel is close and run it by you. After everything is scaled out in Autocad, you will likely realize things didn’t quite mesh the way you thought they would. You request some revisions. Sometimes, I’m not as close to your vision as I thought I would be and you request a restart. This process happens about 3-5 times until we refine the design to your liking. This is fluid, evolving process. Nothing is set in stone until we’ve actually transcribed those lines on paper into a built 3d object.
After we agree on a solid plan and set of specifications, I plug this into my estimate spreadsheet and see what comes out. WE DO NOT PROVIDE HARD QUOTES, unless you are totally ok paying 20% more than what we think it will cost to build. Instead, we work off of a Time and Material basis. We believe this to be the most fair method for both parties. Materials are going to cost what they cost, and we are going to get a fair price for our time and expertise. If you want to make some changes along the way, there’s no silly change order process to go through, just a simple email. If you are wanting an extremely complex component in your tiny house that perhaps we haven’t done before but feel completely confident in executing, we’ll do our best to estimate it accurately, but if it ends it up consuming more expense than originally thought, we expect to be compensated for it. If the estimate looks good, then we can proceed to a contract
So it’s your time in line! If we haven’t signed a construction agreement and collected a deposit, that is the first step. After this, we will order the trailer, windows, doors, roofing ,and other long lead time items. Once we receive the trailer, construction starts right away! Most projects will have two payment draws during construction