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Building your own Hawaii minimal house 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 yearlong 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.”

* Many thanks to Ivan Nanney at Travel Movements for filming Kristie’s story.

  • Olga

    This build is so creative. Nice job.

  • Daryle

    Marry me? Lol