Tiny Tricia

My journey to a tinier me.

The 10 Commandments for Tiny House Building Volunteers

I've been helping build a tiny house for a few weeks now, and one of the main things I've learned is how difficult volunteers can be. But if you're the kind of person who works hard and is nice to people, you'll be more likely to get invited back to the build site.

Here's a basic etiquette guide for all building volunteers:

1. Thou shalt not bring pets or kids under the age of 10.

This is a construction site, which has inherent dangers. Anyone age 10-17 should be supervised by a parent/guardian at all times, no exceptions.

2. Thou shalt not wear flip-flops or other attire inappropriate for a construction site.

This is a site of amateur builders, so we all need to take reasonable precautions like closed-toed shoes. Decent work gloves are highly encouraged.

3. Thou shalt not exhibit an ego or otherwise annoying attitude.

You will not be living in this home so you don't get to make the decisions. Respect the owner and know that everyone builds their home a little differently.

4. Thou shalt not be reckless or otherwise inconsiderate.

The build site should be a positive environment where safety and helpfulness are the top priorities.

5. Thou shalt not show up without warning.

It's also poor form to cancel an RSVP at the last minute—be respectful of everyone's time.

6. Thou shalt not dominate the home owner's time with questions during build time.

Ask questions about their plans during down time; you're here to help.

7. Thou shalt not proceed when uncertain. 

Ask the owner to check and confirm anything you're not sure about before you do something you can't undo.

8. Thou shalt not waste. 

Materials cost money (and/or took considerable time and effort to get), so be careful and conscious when using them.

9. Thou shalt not litter.

Follow campsite rules and leave the area better than how you found it.

10. Thou shalt not talk about tech.

This one is kinda specific to the Bay Area and totally a personal annoyance. But seriously. Can we not talk about tech for one day? (Tesla battery fascinations excepted.)


When it comes time for me to build, I hope I'll have enough capable friends to help out. But even so, I'd probably ask volunteers to sign a waiver—probably a variation of Habitat for Humanity's waiver—since injuries are a real possibility and I couldn't afford to be sued.

Hopefully everything here is common sense to most people, but sometimes we all need a little reminder. Build on, tiny people!