How We Kept Track of Our Building Expenses

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

To be fully transparent, keeping track of building expenses was quite challenging. Especially for novices like us. We were working as we went, to afford our time and building materials. We made runs to the hardware store usually everyday. Sometimes emergency runs to Ace Hardware happened in the middle of the work day. We ordered items off Amazon. We bought doors and windows off Craigslist. We built over a 2 year time span. For these reasons, it definitely took intention and work to keep track of all the numbers. Lets just say I got very acquainted with being the squeaky wheel at stores, always asking for recipients.

For me, I felt it was important to keep track of our building expenses for a variety of different reasons. One being this exact blog post. I wanted to have the ability to share our expenses for this home and help others gather an idea of what they are getting themselves into. Edwin and I scoured the internet when we first started, in hopes to find a blog like this. We would have really appreciated an expense breakdown when we were first starting out. Second, if we were ever going to sell our home, we would have an idea on what to sell it for. Third, one of the main questions we get asked is, "How much did it cost you to build?" Because I kept track of our receipts all those months of building, I have a rough estimate on what we spent.

Okay, now lets talk organization.

Although it is hard to see from this screenshot, I have split up the sheet into Interior & Exterior. In hindsight I realize this doesn't actually work seamlessly, since some items are categorized as both. I have then made categories for all the different aspects of the home. Some examples include Frame, Plumbing, Roof, Windows/Doors, Miscellaneous etc. Having a miscellaneous group is very important. Sometimes you literally need to buy eye glasses, ear plugs, plastic bags or gloves etc. They get used for every aspect of the home. Because of this, it's handy to have an "everything" category.

So basically, we would leave to work on the tiny home. On the way to the build site we would stop at Ace Hardware and pick up the materials we needed for that day. I would hold onto the receipts till we got home and could organize them into this Google Docs. Honestly, most days I would shove them into a plastic bag labeled "Receipts for Tiny Home". I would input them usually at the end of the week. We were tired and we were doing hardware store runs ALOT.

Honestly, the way we kept track of expenses felt a bit archaic. It was what I knew how to do at the time, so I just stuck with it. I'm sure there are apps these days that can literally create spreadsheets for you. However, one benefit to doing it this way, is keeping track of obscure materials. Sometimes, even the day of the purchase, you cannot tell what the heck a certain item is on a receipt (let alone an app). It's listed under a weird couple of numbers or a name that has nothing to do with the item. Because I was both building and inputting all receipts by hand, I was able to decipher and remember what we bought that day. This helped with the accuracy of the records.

If you are going into debt on a credit card, make sure you will be gaining the most from your purchases.

We spent along time researching credit lines we could open for the Tiny Home credit card. We looked at different perks of each card and decided on an Alaska Airlines Credit Card. Our thought was to rack up points we would be able to trade in for miles. My family is in Alaska, so this incentive made sense for us.

I would highly recommend taking the time to looking at your expenses and finding a card that can give back in other ways such as groceries, bills etc. .

Originally, I was going to share our expenses in this blog post. But since this blog is already a full novel, I will start a whole new post. Stay Tuned!

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