The Terrible Truth About This ‘Viral’ $7K Tiny House on Amazon
Amazon—the mega-retailer delivering everything from books to blenders, at blinding speed—has recently begun hawking a new type of product that’s apparently selling like hotcakes: tiny houses.
The site’s latest tiny house sensation is the Allwood Solvalla—a 172-square-foot abode (shown above) priced at a mere $7,250. The manufacturer claims it can be built by two adults in eight hours, although delivery takes about three to five weeks. But hey, at least shipping is free—all 2,480 pounds of Nordic wood, as well as most of the other components you’ll need to put the place together.
Reports say the Solvalla went viral and sold out instantly. It’s currently back in stock—and in case it sells out again, Allwood has fleshed out its line to include plenty of alternatives.
If you want a bit more leg room, you can buy the Allwood Bella, with 237 square feet of downstairs living space and an upstairs 86-square-foot loft. But it will cost you, at $17,800.
Don’t want to blow the budget? Consider the Allwood Claudia, which boasts 209 feet for $8,250.
Looking for a cabin that sounds like a charming English lake house? Try the Allwood Sommersby. At 174 square feet, this retails for $8,360.
If you’re fine with sacrificing space for a lower price point, check out Allwood’s Lillevilla Escape, which offers you 113 square feet for $4,990.
Or, if a sauna is more your thing, you can buy Allwood’s barrel sauna, which sells for $4,950 and comes complete with a Harvia M3 wood-fired heater made in Finland.
So many choices! Then again, Amazon prides itself on its wide selection.
Still, though: Are these mini abodes really the dreamy bargains that many may hope them to be?
The tiny house boom on Amazon: A reality check
When in doubt, it’s always helpful to read Amazon reviews, right? Well, the Solvalla currently has three, and they’re not encouraging.
An Amazon customer identified as “No” writes, “Screw this. For the price you can have an addition built on your house with AC. And electric. Not to mention you could buy the materials and do this yourself for under $4,000.”
Ouch! That’s harsh, but this same sentiment was echoed by tiny house builders.
“This product is a waste of time and money,” says Andrew Bennett of the Florida-based Trekker Trailers, a leader in tiny home designing and building. “They are playing on the tiny house industry. It would be more cost-effective to start from scratch. This type of product is bad for the industry and misleading. It’s not a dwelling. It’s a shed, or an atrium, or a greenhouse.”
Dan Louche, who founded Tiny Home Builders in 2009, agrees. “This garden house, aka shed, would not be easy to make suitable to live in,” he says.
To be fair, Allwood doesn’t recommend that it be used as a full-time dwelling. Instead, the manufacturer suggests that it can serve as “a wine tasting room, yoga studio, set for outdoor cooking lessons, painter’s studio…”—you get the idea.
What’s missing from this $7,000 house
And although the Solvalla does purportedly come with most of the things you’ll need, it’s missing some crucial components, like a foundation. Allwood estimates that the cost to build such a foundation will run you around $170, but Bennett disagrees. While he acknowledges prices vary by location, he says that in Florida, where he is based, you can expect to spend $5,000.
“And if you’re putting it on a foundation, you’re going to have to pull a permit and pay for that, as well as taxes and fees,” he says. He advises that people always check local zoning codes and restrictions before adding any structure to their property.
Another missing component you’ll really miss? Plumbing. Bennett estimates that adding plumbing could run approximately $3,000, depending on labor costs. Unless you like to shower in the dark, you’ll need to add electricity too, and that could run you up to $2,000.
Also, if you live in a cool climate, you should take note that the walls aren’t insulated, although Allwood claims they are “insulation-ready.”
Louche begs to differ.
“The walls are made of tongue and groove pine, so there is no way to properly insulate them,” he says. “Normally insulation is added to a cavity within a wall, but this wall has only an extremely small cavity. Without insulation, you could only stay in it in the most optimal climate. If you did decide to insulate it, you would have to construct a wall cavity, which would take approximately the same amount of effort to just build a proper shed from scratch.”
Sorry if all this downer news dashes your tiny house dreams … but we thought you’d want to know.
Moral of the story? Amazon may sell many things, but high-quality, fully fledged homes may not be its forte quite yet. So beware!
“Unfortunately, it will fool a lot of people,” Bennett says.