Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Living in a Shed?

When it comes to Tiny Houses, they come in all shapes and sizes.  CIMG1168Even the definition of a Tiny House isn’t all that definitive.  People who live in tiny houses live in areas that are urban to the most remote areas of the earth and everything in between.  Diversity of what Tiny is, is in itself, part of what makes it so fascinating to me.   As people take these ideals we share in the Tiny House Movement and manifest itself in so many forms, we find creative ways to live in small homes.

This richness of various forms allows us to rethink traditional housing in so many great ways.  I have toyed with building a Tiny Home a la Jay Schaffer, which I would venture is one of the most popular approaches today.  The other option I have considered is a prefab shed.  Today I was able to go see a model that I have been toying with the idea of purchasing and putting in the middle of a plot of land.

There are issues with this approach of course.  Like all other Tiny Home making this legal and to code is rather difficult by its nature of being Tiny.  One big advantage of the prefab shed option is that these structures will almost always pass code, are easily able to obtain building permits, if you even need one!  Of course officially this would have to be just a shed.  It gets a bit more complicated when you are not placing the shed behind a primary dwelling.  This is where I find myself.

When I was talking with the sales person at the shed store, she told me that they have had several customers live in these sheds.  They call these buildings “sheds” loosely, with models up to 1000+ square feet.CIMG1169

Why a shed though?  Well like I mentioned the ease of getting them legitimized of course helps.  Second they are cheap!  The model I show here is 192 Square Feet. Included are the windows, doors, installations, taxes, anchoring, site leveling and delivery all for the price of $4,200!  Figure adding in permits, running power, insulation and drywall (doing the work myself of course) I am looking at a sweet house for around six grand.  You could then deck it out with Ikea swag for another $500 and have a really really nice place!  The only drawback is there is no loft for a bed, so you have to deal with that, Murphy bed?

The other advantage to these houses is that you can move them!  Not as easily as a house on a trailer, but it’s possible.  The other advantage I see with this is that they offer payment plans of $70 a month, makes it pretty affordable, considering I have friends that pay over $1500 a month in rent.



I wanted to ask you all what do you think of this idea?

Is anyone here doing this?

102 Comments
  1. I would love to read more about the shed possibility. A murphy bed seems like and easy idea. $5000 is a reasonable price. We are looking for a tiny home for a "second" farmstead home while our children are little.

    I could very easily live in 192 sqft. It seems like more than enough.

  2. I tell you: I live in, what we call, an outlet. Like a commercial place for architects, lawyers and such. It has 236 ft2 (22m2) and sometimes I feel like I have more space than I need, considering I have bathroom, shower, bed, kitchenette, fridge, etc!!! All in there!!!
    See:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/album.php?aid=3

  3. Awesome! There is a shed dealer on the freeway access I pass often that has a "barn" unit I have considered many times. The barn is a bit larger, measuring about 20×20, and has a loft with inside stairs. In my mind, I have built a shower bath under the stairs, outfitted it with a tankless water heater, a gas-fired soapstone heat stove, a kitchenette and, as you pointed out in your article, have a turn-key house for less than $8,000 (excluding land). This is a great idea and if you proceed with your plans, I'd love to read more about how you do it, especially where those dreaded building codes are concerned.

  4. I know I've had the same idea over and over again. While I've never looked that hard and I've never found one nearly that nice, they are very affordable options. And yes, they can always be lifted unto a flat bed truck and moved, which is about as often as the average wheeling truck is moving.

    The only real down side to this option, is sealing it. Sheds are very rarely built to keep the are out, and often actually have odd vents everywhere. If your shed is custom built, you can ask them to use a house wrap for very little extra, and explicitly mention the vents, and you're good.

    Of course, you can always build it yourself, and still save even more, but you never need to spend a lot.

  5. I love it. The exterior is very welcoming, would be nice to come home to, and I would be proud to invite friends over. The interior layout is also attractive and looks comfortable – not just a square or rectangle. Can you build a loft into the rafter area? Is it just too low? I also live in 250ish square feet and have all I need. The best thing about tiny living for me is the limit to how much "stuff" will fit in a tiny space. I always have the excuse " I have nowhere to put this! " when considering purchasing an item I really don't need.

    Thanks for sharing this. If I were you I'd go for it!

    PS – I love the idea that you can move a "shed" like this. You never have to waste time, money and effort to sell or rent your existing home so you can move. Great.

  6. I have purchased a 16×30 metal shed with an 8' loft extending from the far side (I am planning to extend the loft for additional storage). The exterior walls are only 80" tall and have 6" cross beams for the loft above. The building has a 11.5' roof at peak (it has the barn style roof). I am attempting to turn it into a family home for myself and three young daughters. My oldest daughter turned 10 last month so I am keeping in mind that she will soon need extra privacy. I am not a carpenter by any definition, just a single mom trying to survive. If anyone has any ideas of layouts/floor plans, etc. that would helf in my struggle- I would be forever grateful.

    • I think what you are doing is wonderful! I too am a single parent and currently reside in a 750 Sq Ft. apt. Recently, I learned about the tinyhouse movement that has apparently been going on for longer than I am aware. I have begun my quest to find land and build a small “shed”/”house” for my children and I to live in. For ideas, type tinyhouse into your browser and tons pops up OR you can go to Tumbleweed, they have lots of plans. Of course the homes are very tiny, but they do have a few that are 700-800 Sq. Footage. I think with children, you need 400-600 Sq. Ft. Living area, gally kitchen or smaller, tiny bath, loft for children and small sleeping are for yourself. Hang in there! We solo parents always find a way to make ends meet. Good Luck!

  7. Many times sheds are not framed the same way houses are, particularly the corners and the ceiling. This would mean a lot of extra "deadwood" later to allow for sheetrock or paneling. To get adequate ceiling insulation, you'd have to have at least 8" to allow for insulation and air flow. Also need to consider plumbing if you're going to have it. NC Code is more lenient on permit requirements if no one wall is more than 12 feet long. Email me if you have any specific questions- I'd be happy to help out. We're a tiny house building company in Asheville. Cheers! -Barry

    • hi, interested in your company name, address- collecting info about tiny homes and who makes them, might be useful in future

    • Hi Barry, I am interested in possibly building a Tiny house in the asheville area and wuold like some information about your conpany. Thank you Linda

    • Ok I am moving to Florida looking to purchase a 18’x36′ “Shed” and converting this to a ” Tiny House” for my wife and I. I am trying to figure out if I need to pour a foundation or can it be like a trailer and set up on blocks and anchored down. I have a blue print created for the “Tiny House” If you would like to see it.

      • I would be interested in seeing your Tiny House Blue Print. I’m thinking about having my sons build the Home Depot’s 2 story storage building as a 2nd home on my land in VA.

        Thanks!

      • Hey, Joe. I just arrived in FL in hopes of building a tiny house on a vacant bought land and am also wondering about zoning/permit issues in FL. I’m looking in Orlando & Miami. Miami has definitely got some hurricane code issues though. I’d like to know how your tiny home goal is going. Please email me if you get a chance or reply to this post.

      • I have a nice cedar building for sale in ft white fl does have to be moved does have a toilet and sink and drywalled and elec and plumbing already and nice swing in French doors

        • Hi Victoria, I was interested in more info about the cedar cabin you mentioned in FL. I am in NY but my father lives in Orlando. I have been researching for some time now about tiny homes and various options.

        • Victoria – I am interested in ur cabin house located in ft white, fl. I live just south of there and am looking for something I could move to my property.

    • Hello Barry,
      Can you tell me the name of your company?

      I’m in Franklin, NC looking to do similar to the home above… but more like 800 square feet.

    • Barry,

      I do not know if you will get this but I thought I would try. I am thinking about creating a tiny house for my disabled brother. I am thinking about the Summerhill two story (loft) shed that is 16 x 16. My question is what permits do I need to get. I know that I would need a permit for anything with a side more than 12ft, but what kind? A shed permit, then a remodling permit to convert it to a tiny house? The total square footage is 516. Anything I have done I am going to use professionals but I just do not know what to ask for. Please email me at my email address. Thanks,
      Tammy

      • I read further down in another post from OK that possibly a climate controlled storage builing. I will not need water since the land I am looking at has a well and septic take because it was formerly mobile home land. So basically I would need to have electric to the structure. I am just in a quandry as to how to best do this. Since you are in NC, I wanted to know your thoughts.
        Thanks again,
        Tammy

    • Hi Barry we are looking to put a shed on our property to live in and was wondering how we go about getting permits and things of that sort for water and sewer and all that.Please let me know thanks!

      • You don’t need to do anything but run an extension cord socket and a plumber and maybe a shovel just go to your local home depot and hopefully there not dumb fuks

    • I highly recommend living on a sailboat to allay any concerns about insulation and drywall. If your body temperature is not enough, get a friend or a dog, if your body temperature is too much open a window. I DO recommend building your own for less than $2k using good quality scrap wood from lumber yards, boat yards. And never use strandboard. That stuff stinks and off-gasses for years. Use small windows for privacy and functionality ~ egress. If you want sun, go outside. You’ll get a lot of light from small functional wellplaced windows. Build it like a boat. It doesn’t have to look like one. Measure twice, cut once. Get a good Japanese saw. Go look at a wood boat. Drywall, strandboard, and ‘code’ are for tract housing builders shaving YOUR dime. Take the time and build in small sections. Code size restrictions (large) are for land grabbers and real estate ‘moguls’. If you have ‘code’ restrictions build it exactly like a boat (houseboat), and always be ‘working on it,’ like your smart grandpa ~ have fun!

    • Hello Barry……I live in West Asheville and am trying to understand the codes regarding my home. I want to know up to what square footage I could build and still fall into the code guideline.
      Also, would I have to permit it? I am finishing up an apartment that I am building in the lower level of my house and the permit cost was about 500.00 for a declared value of work of 7,700.00. I would love to build a tiny house in my yard.
      Thanks for any information you can help me with regarding Ashevile, NC. Pat

    • Hi Barry, I live in Buncombe county just south of Asheville. Is there some kind of guidebook listing codes and laws concerning tiny structures in our area? or a place to look them up?

      Rachel

    • Hi!

      I live in Asheville and am in the early stages of building a tiny house. I’d love some input on the process. How can I contact you? My email is steeplerun@gmail.com

      Thanks :)

    • we live in sc ,and I wanted to build a storage shed/loft for my father to stay in when he comes to visit, and sc code enforcement said I would have to make a new addresse and septic tank and everything, I am new to this do u have any suggestions?

  8. This is great! It really shows me where to expand my blog. I think that sometime in the future I might try to write a book to go along with my blog, but we will see…Good post with useful tips and ideas

  9. I am looking at an amish built shed to do the same thing. What do I have to look for in the building codes of the county to guide me in this? Obviously I can’t buy a chunk of land anywhere I want and build my shack house. Or can I?

    • You can take it two ways.

      1) Get it all legitimate with a lot of hassle
      2) Get the land, have all the hook ups put it, then add the house, hide it and hope no one cares

      That said, I would talk to the realitor, see what they say about the idea. You will want to look at minimal size restrictions, what is considered a primary residence, egress rules, what is considered a mobile home, a temporary shelter, etc. Also what are the rules on qualifying as habitable.

      • I read about a man who would have had to jump through hoops in Hawaii to build his house so here’s what he did. He drew up plans for a large house and a separate garage. The authorities okayed it. He then proceeded to build the garage and when he was done, lo and behold the garage was the house… funny how things like that happen… ;-D

        That was over 10 years ago and nobody has said anything to him about his “garage.” Te-he-he!!

        • I read the same article about the man in Hawaii. Of course, codes and laws are different in many locations. In my area for instance, trying that tact would have brought some added trouble as inspectors show up periodically during builds to check on progress and make sure things are being done properly. The inspectors would certainly notice that someone was living in the “unfinished” dwelling and that the project had come to an abrupt stop. And that’s where the potential fines start coming into play. I would always recommend checking the law and codes for your individual area.

  10. Something like this has been on my mind for many years. I am 46 and own many rental units. I live in a larger house with my wife and teenage sons.
    I so badly want to simplifiy my life. I also want to explain to everyone that the side of the house is little reflection on the person.
    I wonder about zoning as they have minimum sq ft.
    Also permits and inspections. I read recently about discising it as a trailer by making a metal base. I am sure I can design and build one. When I was a teenager, i tore down an old shed that was on my grandmas property for years. She claims an old man lived there for years. This has alwasy stuck in mind head and now I am 46. I think it woould be smart and every logical benifet will come in to place.

  11. Yes, the home we are in is 100 years old and the roof is beginning to sag. It may hold another 5 years, but anyhow my wife and I can’t afford a new roof. So what I thought up is buying 3 acres for $6000, have a rent to own shed( barn style cabin with loft 12 x 36 for $250 per month. Do the insulating and sheet rock myself, add solar lights, solar kit, wind kit, compost toilet, solar panels to run laptop, cell phone and TV. Add 100 gallon containers in back( rain water) and pipe water into kitchen and bath for shower.
    Winter use bottled water. In some countries they can only use 5 gallons per water per day. Conserve… Buy a coleman stove and a $200 propane heater to warm the cabin in winter. Store extra food so if snows can have plenty( also buy propane from Walmart to store). 20 TO 30 year shingles on the roof. I seen where a guy takes out a battery on a laptop and hooks up solar panels and the computer worked. Need a gas generator for emergencies. But one could like totally off grid( meaning no electric bills). 432 sq ft with a loft.

    • Again very good ideas, I have been kicking around similar ideas. I have been disappointed with the solar light kits, but I know there are some good ones out there. When you insulate yourself, you can use a better quality of insulation. I would suggest the spray foam, more costly, but you are doing a small area.

      To your point of being snowed in. I would strongly encourage you to have a 3 month supply at all times that you use on a rotating basis. Basically you buy what you normally eat, buying only when things are on sale, then rotate them (using the oldest stuff, new stuff in back). This allows you to weather the storms, plus this also save money and means you will always have stuff on hand. I would agree on the generator (solar panels get covered by snow, wind stops blowing etc).

    • Now your talking.

  12. Now in town property, they have codes and regulations to go by, but usually county property is different. County property around Missouri is farmland. A guy built a cordwood log cabin at the Lake of the Ozarks, here in missouri. You could not build it in the city limits. As long as a building permit is gotten, I really don’t see what a county or state could do. Sheds are used as offices too. Some are used as cabins. Our roof on the 100 year old home does not have a over hang but it was built before the law was passed. A propane refridge would be good to buy( runs $450 to $2000) or a 12v cool refridge for $200 until you could afford a propane refridge. But the main thing about living off the grid and using solar and wind energy is to be cost efficient. Propane would cost $200 to $300 per year. Electric free. So your biggest investment would be your food, once paying the shed and property off. Another thing, some sheds come with a roof garanty to withstand winds of 165 mph.. They are actually claiming the shed is stronger than most homes. A 12 x 36 is really a 12 x 30 shed with a 6 ft porch. The porch is the loft.

    • Really good points! I agree that once you have these things paid for and done with energy and food will be your two largest drains on money. How to mitigate those costs will be key to further financial security and sustainability.

    • I am building a 16x16x16 shed like the ones that sit in front of Lowes. Plenty of space for my 19month old son and myself! Here in rural Oklahoma I went and got a building permit it was $25 and was only needed if the “structure” cost more than $1500 to build. Told them it would be a “climate controlled storage unit” if I ran water to it I would have to deal a little more with them, being on the indian reservation the don’t like you digging for one and all water is blackwater there is no greywater dumping out a pan of water is no good but what they dont know wont hurt them. And also it obviously rasies the taxes but our county assesor only comes out every 5 years! What scared me the most is that after the building is up there are no inspections not even to check if the electrical is code!

  13. No, in Misouri( don’t know about other states) but they sale the barn cabin, to sleep in, can have electric if choose, plumbing, ect.. But I chose to do solar and wind power. The only thing that would concern HUD, is if after a few years, one sold it as a home. It is not a home, because it don’t follow HUD guidelines. Now is the gov going to tell you where you can stay. No.. The gov. does not care if one lives on the streets. About the blowing snow, well the roof is not that high( could reach solar panels and lightly remove snow) The Barn Cabin is 16 ft high, solar panels would be 10 ft high. Thus I am 6′ 2″, a broom is 5 ft, so I could reach most solar panels but I would use a ladder to get some too. The solar heater works in cold weather too. The wind turbine could freeze, but generally speaking, the wind blows about 35 to 40 mph in the winter, but mornings it slows up to nothing. That is why I have a propane heater. It gives of light too. Have oil burning lamps just in case. But winter snow, on most years last 2 days and sunny for 5 days. Most snows only put 2 to 5 inches of snow on the ground. Most snow melts within 3 days off cars and off roofs. It gets cold in Missouri, most years we have a week of around 0 temps. Most of the winter will be like 20’s at night and 30’s during the day. Example: 34 degree and sunny for a all day high temp. As long as it is sunny, the solar panels absorb sunlight. When it is cloudy, the solar panels will absorb 50% of the light. Now I have heard of wind power turbines freezing up( say the rain freezes on contact) well it will be on everything. That being the case, well oil lamps( Dollar General item) for light, propane to operate the heater and stove. Might need to disconnect the batteries( Deep Cycle Batteries ruin if they get run down to 20%). But things like this occures often. Being prepared for bad weather, is the key. I listen and watch the new for the weather to be prepared. Now I am sure, if I watched the weather and they said Freezing Rain, that I might cover the solar panels with material and plastic to prevent them from being a sheet of ice in the morning. Sometimes could remove the solar kit and take it inside for the night. You know what I am saying. Even take in the wind turbine and look it over for damage if going to be freezing rain. It does not hurt your equipment to take down for repairs or what could damage them. The solar panels are good through 50 mph hell storms.

  14. This is just the conversation I have been looking for! I want to put up a three season get-away on my lot, as simple as I can make it…except permits and inspections are needed because there will be no main house and I want at least water.

    I have been looking at sheds at Lowes and Home Depot because they will install them for a reasonable price, since I am not handy…maybe could put up some interior paneling. Has anybody bought one from these companies or similar ?>

    • I know there are defiantly people who do this, I was talking with a local place and they showed me some photos of people who had. You are right on with the problems because there isn’t a house on property, this would be a primary residence.

      -Ryan

    • My neighbor has one of those 2-story sheds sold by Home Depot. At one time some of his kids lived in it. It has a window A/C unit, satellite tv antenna, drapes in the windows, etc. I’ll have to go ask him about it.

  15. Hi Ryan! I stumbled on your blog by accident when Googling Tiny House info. I have long been fascinated by the Tiny House Movement and when my aunt decided to buy me a prefab “shed” so I could have a home again (I lost everything in Hurricane Katrina), I was so psyched to have my very own tiny home. I have one of the “barn” style that is 12×30 with two interior lofts front and rear. I live in a very rural area, and Louisiana codes are lax as it is, so we had no problem with actually putting the building on our land. The electric was also no problem. The only thing we had to make sure was to code was the septic. We ended up putting in a lift station to the main septic tank instead of putting in a whole other tank, given the proximity to the main house. I have done most of the interior work myself (with a little help from family and friends) and have found it relatively hassle free and very rewarding to be able to do the work myself and finish my little house exactly as I want it. I put up regular interior insulation between the studs and covered that with 1/4 inch OSB, which is the most economical option and more practical than drywall which would crack should I ever choose to move it. I just continued the insulation right on up to the ceiling from the walls. I did have to cover the vents on the roof peak ends for the winter as they let in a draft, but I did not want to fully close them as it is super hot here in summer and need the venting. I know Louisiana winters are mild compared to the rest of the country, but with the walls insulated and the floor finished (patched and with sheet vinyl) I often have to turn the heater down, even when it’s in the 20s outside. My cabin is better insulated than the circa 1940s main house! Anyway, I know I have run on, but thought you might appreciate hearing from someone who does indeed live in a “shed”, though I found it quite rude when I had a customer refer to it as that. I call it my little house or my little cabin, though I thought it quite funny when I told my co-worker I couldn’t decide what to call it and she suggested that it was my little hut. LOL I’m still giggling over that one. Anyway, good luck! It can be done!

    • Awesome information! Thanks for sharing. I use the word shed because it is the most commonly searched work from people looking to do this. Want people to be able to find the info they need! I would be curious to know what your climate is like there during the summer and winter and how the house holds up temperature wise inside?

    • I have a question with the OSB, I hate drywall, I hate hanging, mudding it, sanding it, painting it, repairing it when someone has a fit and makes a hole! LOL I have bought OSB for my 16x16x16 shed from lowes….and I am wondering have you painted it, left it “in the raw” ,used the smooth side on the interior or facing the insulation (as it says to do).

      In the process of finishing up my tiny home for my toddler and I

    • Fabulous!

  16. I live in Florida out of the city limit. My girlfriend and I were wanting to have a 10×20 wooden shed built from Home Depot so that we could live in it. All we need is a sink, toliet, and some hot plates.No large appliances, We can shower etc at my parents 75-100 ft away. Getting the building and setting it up wouldnt be a problem, I just need to know if this would be legal?

    • Having a prebuilt shed on the back of your parent’s property is not illegal, nor is it if you setting up camp in it. It is illegal for your parents to rent out that space to you because then it has to comply with rental codes. It is also illegal for you to list it as your primary residence because as a shed it is not considered a habitable structure. It can be converted to be a habitable structure but then you would have to research the minimum requirements for what constitutes that type of structure in your area.

    • I just arrived in FL in hopes of building a tiny house on a vacant bought land and am also wondering about zoning/permit issues in FL. I’m looking in Orlando & Miami. Miami has definitely got some hurricane code issues though. I’d like to know how your tiny home goal is going. Please email me if you get a chance or reply to this post.

      • Hey J.,

        Did you receive any answers or have you found out any more information? I too am in Florida north of Jacksonville. We don’t know where to start and who and how to ask the right questions. i am hoping you have sone answers you can share. We are looking to build a 12×24 shed (house) on rural land that has a well, electric and septic (previously a mobile home was there). We do want to connect to the electric and septic. My wife’s demands are clear. She has to have a small bath tub, flushing toilet and electricity. Eventually I would like to transition to alternate power such as wind and solar. Anyone else with information on how to start this process please share. Also, does anyone know how we have to prep the site and or shed if we are going to have and tu /toilet connected to septic. I am sure I can have someone help us connecting them just wondering if the shed builders need to prep anything first or can we have the shed built on site and is it easy to have it added after the shed is built? Sorry for all the questions. Thank you

        • Hi, Matt. Thanks for your reply. I do have lots of answers now and would take too long to type EVERYTHING out. So briefly…”IF” you want to do it legally, you’ll have to call the area’s zoning department which may be recorded so if you want to do this illegally then I suggest you give them an address that is nearby and not your own. Tell them what you want to do and ask them which website has the info you need. You’ll need to find out the setbacks, percentage of open space requirement for the property lot, who is allowed to live in the “accessory dwelling” (aka tiny house but don’t call it that cuz they won’t know what you mean), whether kitchen appliances are allowed, what’s the minimum square footage for the accessory dwelling, etc. So many details, I know. You’ll get a headache!

          Then…there are the off-grid rules (another set of headaches!). If you connect a solar panel alongside the meter, you may need licensed pros to do that and a permit since the city will be paying you for extra energy you create and if you do this illegally, you may get fined so FIND OUT FIRST! Otherwise, don’t connect your solar system to the meter and just do it secretly. You’ll need permits for a water collector, building extra plumbing pipes/wires/etc. to the “tiny house.” Headaches, headaches!

          If you want to do all this illegally, then you can disregard everything I just wrote and hope you stay friends with ALL your neighbors, roommates, tenants, and friends. All it takes is one snitch.

          If you need more details, you’ll have to setup an AIM or Google chat account to reach me, then send me your username. We can audio/video “talk” there.

          • Hi J,
            Would you mind telling me which part of Florida you built? Thanks, D

  17. Hello all, Ive been wanting to do this for about 10yrs now. I’m wanting to go a little bigger then most “1,000sq”. I don’t know if that’s still ” tiny house ” but I plan on having a family of 4 so i thot it would still pertain. Any info I would love to hear. Ive asked around and as long as it is built to the same code as a house your good to go” but I’m not a pro” lol. As for the things I’ve thot of to help to heat the space is a wood stove. google ” wood stove kit ” that’s the best I’ve found so far for me. as for a water heater, tank less for sure. I also seen a crapper that needs no pluming. It burns the waste and vents it outside. the downfall is its 2,000 bucks but septic tanks run about 5,000 buck and then you have to pay every few years to have them drained.

    • 1) Place the shed behind a used mobile home (real old ones go for dirt cheap.) and nobody will be concerned about the codes of your shed conversion.
      2) Look up “Composting toilet [a Lowes Bucket with a toilet seat (very basic)] and methane bio-digester (e.g. Natural gas). These are two cheap options for your solid bodily waste. Dilute your urine and use it directly on your garden (BTW: Plant a garden)
      3) Harvest rain water for household use (2 particulate filters, a pump, a storage tank and an on-demand water heater is all you’ll need.
      4) Save interior space by making bed nooks for the would-be kids instead of bedrooms. The nooks can be used for things like built in hutch, desk, reading corner and when the little ones come along you can put cribs, beds, etc. there.
      5) Also install RV style compact kitchen combo’s, instead of full size stuff.

  18. I really want to buy a “shed-like” home like this, so I can be out of my house, and have my own privacy. I really like the design of this one. I told some of my friends about the idea, yeah it sounds odd, but houses come in all shapes and sizes, right? :) I am in LOVE with the pictures you’ve posted. I absolutely LOVE it.

  19. We have been living in a shed-cabin since last spring. I love my cabin! We survived a South Carolina summer, let’s see how we do during winter. We hope to buy land next spring or summer. Yay!

    We haven’t installed any form of heat. Any suggestions?

    I’m actually starting to blog about our downsizing journey. Our entire current home is the size of our former master bedroom!

    ~Adrian (livingonafootprint.blogspot.com)

  20. Great idea. My wife and I are working on homesteading with a series of 11×14 sheds that can eventually be skidded together and attached to a central pavilion. Eventually the pavilion can be closed in to create a central great room as our budget and lifestyle changes.

    In your situation I wouldn’t stress the rigors of “full on” house insulation. With modest wood heat in 192sq ft you’ll probably be cracking the windows before you go to bed. Good luck.

  21. Living in sheds is not uncommon in Australia, though less common in the major cities. If your shed does not have a loft for sleeping you can use a loft bed. IKEA sells them at reasonable prices.

    I am always dreaming up ways of having a cluster of tiny houses linked together. I want to be able to give our four older children a home through their university years and into adulthood so as to give them a good financial footing. Tiny houses would allow independance whilst being supported by the family. Child number one starts uni in 2012 and child number 5 starts kinder then. Small spaces are familiar in our family as we have raised 5 kids in a 80 year old two bedroom house, but I think to focus on their uni studies they will need greater seperation/personal space.

    I would love to hear from anyone about linking these tiny houses together. As each child leaves home I would like for them to be able to take their house with them.

    • I come from a big Italian family and we’ve always lived close together, albeit in the big city and not in the rural countryside. That experience however has taught me the value of proximity. Closeness forces people to depend on each other. It fosters community. Your kids if they don’t already have that will soon pick it up if you link small houses together around a center court yard or deck with a nice fire pit. And yes they could take their homes with them once they’re finished with school but don’t be surprised if they choose to stay and start their own families there in the little community of little houses you helped create for them.

      • Anthony, these are lovely comments you have left this lady in Australia. They speak a lot about you. Cannot help but feel curious as to how you have so much knowledge of the topics here as you came up in an urban environment.

        The list you contributed in an earlier post gave me a suggestion that is so helpful to me! It was regarding placing an old mobile home in front of the shed conversion. This is genius to me, so helpful to my situation, and I thank you so much.

        Several of you are offering terribly helpful ideas and information that is so useful, and Im grateful to all of you as well. I have less than a year where I am (I’m currently in FL) until I begin my shed conversion adventure.

        I’m a woman and have 2 dogs who will be with me. This will probably be the only way I will ever be able to have my own house. I can have a lovely, comfortable home for us this way that will be mine.

        I would be willing to go anyplace in the SE US to do this if I can locate the right land. I’m prepared to be entirely off grid if I need to do that. (River/lake access is nice, road access to property, partially cleared if possible, I wish to be fairly close to amenities: veterinarian, shopping, hospital, etc.)

        In my case I’m not seeking to be away from civilization so much as just want my own house. If I could do a shed house within city limits I would prefer that, but it’s not bleeding likely. The super tiny houses (<200sf) on trailers are cute but don't really interest me personally. A fair portion of these folks are trying to stay in town and are seriously struggling to have a place to put their house where various interests arent trying to chase them out. No way, man: I'd rather be a rent slave than deal with that. Seems you just have to get some land.

    • Lovely!

  22. I am in the process of building a 20 x 30 cottage from the Jamaica Cottage Shop out of Jamaica, Vermont. Sometimes I think it is so wise.. a mortgage free house I can leave to my son on private land, gifted to me when my dad passed. And sometimes I am scared that its a crazy idea… it has a loft for a bedroom, v pine interior… and the cost for the kit (not including slab, electric, plumbing, kitchen, etc, builder costs) is about $20,000. Lets hope when my son gets it he realizes how great a gift it is to be mortgage free. Kids rarely understand the dreams their parents have for them.. until the rent comes due.

    • You’re son if he goes to college will most likely want to travel abroad,(most college kids today do) after which he will try to get a job locally only to find out that it might take him longer than he expected and until that time comes that he will have to join the ranks of so many other “Boomerang kids” and live at home with mom and dad. It is at this point that a private pad outside his parents bungalow made from a converted shed for less than what a used car would cost will catch his attention. Just give it time. It has to become real to him; much like the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and he will come.”

  23. Old used mobile homes sell very, very cheap, the older the cheaper (I saw a 1972 Fleetwood on Craig’s list for $500) and if you place them on your land they don’t attract attention (plus they are 100% code approved) Unfortunately they are not as attractive as a shed home but consider the benefits of having one.
    1) It allows your real home (The shed) to exist peacefully without attracting the unnecessary attention it would if it were by itself without the mobile home.
    2) You can rent out the mobile home and bring in extra income.
    3) You can use the mobile home for your In Laws, as a workshop or (dare I say it?) A SHED!
    The reality is once you’ve established legitimacy to the shed by having an accepted structure there with it then it’s no longer a code violation but just another backyard studio conversion and that is just what you want. Isn’t it? As such then don’t you think that 72 Fleetwood is a good $500 investment to add to your $5000 shed conversion? BTW: Yes, I’ve thought this through and I would jump on it today but I’ve got the burden of convincing my family that this is a better Idea than keeping up with the Jones and taking on a 30 year mortgage that will rob me of the rest of my natural life. Godspeed fellow traveler; I pray you meet your dreams fulfilled.

  24. Now there is something to this. At lake of the ozarks, in Missouri, they sale land by two or three acres or by cabin lots 90 ft x 50 ft.. My father bought a piece 90 x 50 land with a cabin on the lot.. He can stay there full time because has a mail box and all. Some lots have camp trailers, mobile homes, shed cabins, ect. No building codes.. They will complain if using toilet and running it on ground, or have no clean water, but I thought compost toilet or camp toilet and clean up twice per week and bring to sanitary place. Water can get Culligan water in 5 gallon containers.

  25. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. your article let me know a lot of things , this article is really good .That is really amazing dear buddy keep it up.

  26. Hello! Super interested in tiny living! Does anyone know if its possible to insulate and live in a galvanized steel barn or shed? Any help is appreciated! Thanks in advance!

  27. There is nothing ethically wrong with living in a shed. What we are talking about here is building shelter with material that is locally and relatively speaking, inexpensively available and trying to develop community around it. That is what humans have done since we climbed down from the trees. What is wrong is the mountain of codes and regulations that are designed to keep housing looking a certain way and being affordable to only a certain class. Let’s face it; class warfare is alive and well. How else are the filthy rich supposed to live their opulent lifestyles unless they have a battery of people working under them in lifetime, life draining careers that they depend on to pay for just getting by? Credit cards, mortgages and factory farming are sustaining a modern society of indentured servants.

  28. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I
    think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me.

    I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  29. Had my 14 x 28 “shed” delivered insulated and wired it and installed a propane direct vent furnace I use it as a workshop -man cave and get a lot of use out of it.

    I run a heavy duty electrical cord from a GFI outlet and a water hose.

    luckily no problem from the town or neighbors so far.

    These prefab sheds are a great deal made better by flying under the radar.

    I liked it so much that I built a 13 x 6 shed out of used glass doors.

    check it out My small space made from recycled materials at Tiny house blog . com

  30. So glad my Husband and I are not the only ones thinking about doing this! So exciting!

  31. I’m glad I found this! I’m in Southern California, it’s rediculous expensive, I envy all the people with huge lot houses because I would love to build a tiny house on it. Lots of space in California outskirts, lots for sale, but not sure if I could get away with a shed house. I’m glad to see a few posts about combining multiple sheds to make a larger house living with many rooms, such a great idea. I would so much rather slowly build a large complex of many sheds to make a large house than having a real house, the process would be so much fun, it’s just too bad we live with so many regulations and laws, making this dream difficult to happen. Especially near Los Angeles. Has anyone done this near Los Angeles with success without having to be on house owned property, rather buying a small lot and doing it? ( without cactus ).

    • Hills with an awesome tiny cabin and super detailed blog……of course Jay Schafer has done it……I’m in LA County, maybe if it was on wheels tucked away…..Kern Cnty will let you if you have an adequate sewer and water connection, i.e. a well or city water AND sewage, San Bernadino and Riverside probably not, though in San Bernadino there are lots of sites for rent already situated for mobile homes, so good luck finding loopholes there, probably could if you could meet the building req’s.They’re open to alternative septic systems, water is a tricyu one. everyone is concerned stored water can become toxic. I’ve been trying to mastermind a tiny house plan for some time now….this is what i’ve come up with so far…. it may/can be cheaper to buy a semi trailer to build on if you know where to look. then your tiny house is still portable and on wheels, big enough to meeet the min sq. ft req’s, and you can hire a semi owner/op or company to haul the “load” if need be. The only down side I can see is it will be larger than 13’6″ but that’s no biggie. Get a wide load permit. It’s even tall enough to skirt and build a porch :)i’m also looking to have mines built by a shed manufacturer so that i can make payments on it. it’ll have a warranty and they can even run plumbing / electrical for you. all you’d need is a licensed contractor to inspect it upon delivery and pull the permits (or pull them yourself). I’ve looked into buying a piece of scrub land, or land in the middle of no where, probably wont work because you’ll be stuck drilling a well or piping water and electrical and there’s no septic. Of courde you can add those things but the costs are astronomical and you’d be better off buying land with a well and going solar and incinerating septic or a greywater system and some waterless toilet (but dont forget kitchen waste water is still black water). Maybe you can just put it in an RV park…… (sadly I haven’t expended much energy researching that one. not my style)hope this helps! Oh I have a 3d sketchup of my dream for motivation. Please check it out, and then make your own!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvz6qzbNgck

      GOOD LUCK! Please keep us informed on your progress!

  32. And to the OP, if theer’s no primary structure, two ways around itt are to pull the permits for one and slowly ie snail’s pace, build ;) wink wink. Or buy a used mobile home on Craigslist and site it as the primary. Now the shed is secondary/acessory. And get an ikea style sofa bed, they get creative, or a good air mattress! But there should be room in the rafters for atleast a crawl in and lay down situation….maybe you can get it barn style and increase the availabe space up top….

  33. I was wondering how would you get heat and hot water in this dwelling. I thought about propane, but I don’t really trust it. Is there another alternative. I need my hot shower. Lol

  34. 160 square feet? Why would anyone live in a house that size? That is huge!

    But really, I would like a house of no more than 80 square feet. I really don’t know how anyone could fill up TWO story houses. Why do people spend so much time in their house? Houses are for sleeping. You should be out being productive during the day.

  35. The local building code does NOT regulate anything Under 100 Sq ft.
    My “workshop” is 8×12 making it 96 sq ft. No Restrictions !
    That lets me build and put whatever I want into it.

    I had the shed built an put in my backyard. I am adding to it by doing all of the interior finish work.

  36. I am looking for land in either green cove.springs or keystone heights Florida area… Anyone familiar with the laws/codes in those areas

  37. This is so neat! I’m an older woman living a conventional (but lovely) house on just under an acre of beautiful property in Winston-Salem. I would love to rent or sell part of my property to someone who wants to build a tiny house on the far end of it. I’m outside the city limit, so that should make it easier.

    • Kathleen ~ it’s been a year since you posted this but it’s an amazing post for me to see. I have been recently wondering if there might possibly be people out there in your very situation who would consider doing the very thing you suggest.

      I have wondered if there might be people who have a home on some land, maybe multiple acres or maybe just 1 or less, who might be interested in the cash from selling a small portion of their property to someone like myself for the purpose of installing a tiny house.

      I feel I would be a desirable person to have nearby: I’m in my late 40’s, well educated, very quiet, clean and helpful- a great neighbor. The shed conversion I will be doing will be first class: I plan a charming, tiny cottage with lovely flower gardens. It will not look like a “shed”. My little house will be a lovely contribution to any community just as a very nice “normal” house would be.

      Perhaps there are others like myself who aren’t necessarily seeking to be in a rural or isolated environment, who wish to be closer to people and amenities. For me this would be ideal.

      Your post gives me hope that I might be able to advertise for a situation like this. Perhaps you might consider posting on one of the tiny house sites (like this one) with such an arrangement.

      I am convinced that if someone really wants to have their shed house it can be done. The obstacles can be overcome. There are so many clever people on here with ideas on how to get around the traditional problems. It does not need to be a pipe dream. It is within reach of anyone reading this. Just step outside of the box, be a pioneer.

      You do not have to spend $20,000 to have your little house and land to put it on. (I see numbers like that bandied about – that kind of money is entirely unnecessary) it is also a good and right thing to do: people need to see that it’s not necessary to enslave yourself to a 30 yr mortgage/sentence to have safe, comfortable housing in which to live their lives, raise children. Consider the dread one must live with to have the usual arrangement: what if I become ill? What if there is a family emergency? What if I lose my job? Me, my family, all homeless? I could easily lose this house and all I’ve put into it! Is this any way to live? This is insanity. Remove this anxiety and pressure from your life. Live longer, be happier, use your precious life energy on things that really matter.

      Whether you’re a young person just starting your life or an older person, 70, 80 – this is a wonderful way to have great housing that is all yours, that is manageable, do-able, that is good for the Earth, that you don’t need to sell your soul to have. It won’t fall in your lap, nothing worthwhile does, but it’s a whole lot easier than trying to come up with $100,000 for some very modest housing that will continuously cost a fortune to maintain, to insure, in taxes, and will probably never really be yours anyway.

      I don’t know about you but I’m getting off this crazy ride.

  38. Just found this site – what a great community you’ve got here! I’m currently (and reluctantly) in L.A. county. Here, structures 120 sq ft or less don’t require building permits, though you’re still *supposed* to pull plumbing/electrical permits. I’ve got a preexisting Tuff Shed (8×10) that I’d like to make into the Kitchen + Bathroom, and I’m looking into SIP construction for a 10×12 bedroom/office, connecting the two structures with a trellis. I see people mentioning Google SketchUp, but another free (and amazing) tool is Autodesk’s Homestyler. Completely free, easy to use, and can create photorealistic 360-degree panoramas to share with friends/family for your dream home!

    • Every habitable structure needs a building permit. In LA Cnty, if you turn a shed into a habitable structure you will get fined and probably have to remove the structure. Your tiny house will be considered an efficiency unit. The code defines habitable as having a place for sleeping, cooking, bathroom, and something else, I don’t remember exactly, so use a portable stove so that there isn’t a place to “cook”, and argue it’s a nice office or shed. And yes, I have a tiny house. It’s an rv park model. Contrary to popular belief, just because it’s on wheels doesn’t exempt a tiny house from ALL building codes. Only the local municipality that you’re parked in. RVs have their own set of building codes, and are governed by the Department of Transportation. You can get pulled over and your house can be impounded.

      • I live in L.A. County, Santa Clarita to be exact. At my current home of 1,100 sqft I have an area off the side of the house deemed RV access. Could I put a Tiny House here, and use it to shower in and cook a light meal. I’ve been thiinking about renting out my house, buying a Tiny and parking it along the side of the garage. On that particular side of the house is a small office, 1/2 of a two car garage. I could sleep in the office, but I would need the Tiny for a shower, etc. Doable? Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Dara

        • Ever come up with solution? Im trying to figure out where i can buy a small lot and put up a tiny adobe house legally in danta clarita

  39. any body close to forney tx.and diy companies to get me started in the right direction? after the project me and my wife plan to travel in a van and have a tiny house to come home to time to time.

  40. I’ve been wanting a home of my own forever, after having been married and a nasty divorce, I settled in a smaller rented apartment, had to move again and it was an even samller apartment, with all the mice I rather not ever see and people around me that think under my bedroom window is the place to chat, or park their cars. I finally had enough when I was working so many hours of a baddly paying Job that I love and I was looking into the tiny house they were still way out of my price range with what I have to pay for rent now and horriable credit. :( what has me worried is that I keep hearing about zoning codes and so forth an again I can’t afford a piece of land. I came across a Out of service ambulance, it’s not running (yet)but It was the right price and tons of space inside I have a few more months where I’m at so I have a chance to get things in order and I’m in it a few months from Now. It’s sad that so many folks want to live in smaller homes (that are affordable)and are given such a tough time by the cities and town’s. Wish everyone good luck !!! and for your single parents Way to go Your awesome !!!!!

  41. I took $1600 out of my retirement fund to build a 12×24 home on my parents’ property. I just can’t figure out how to get a bathroom and in it…or water running…FREE GAS! You can find photos of my cabin and how it was built in photos, under ALBUMS, cabin building…

  42. I’m looking into turning an Amish built 12×24 shed with a loft into a tiny home. I’ve read that spray foam insulation is the best way to go but I’m curious how much it would cost. Also, if I did decided to use filling foam/vapor retarder/plywood how much would I need? I’m looking to get property around the Myrtle Beach area and found an acre for $16,000 off the highway so I’m not sure how I am going to deal with the building codes there yet. I had a friend who lives in a rural area try and build a livable space next to their trailor and they had to remove it even before they could put the insulation in, I guess it all depends on where you live. A list of good locations for us tiny house pioneers would be awesome!

    • If the land is zoned for agricultural, they might just require building permits, and legit plumbing/electrical/sewer. Or maybe you can start with a smaller home on wheels, and expand the building….

      I’m hoping to eventually get solar panels, some land with a well or river, and installing a leech pit for septic. Good luck!

  43. I was curious as to know what are the ways authorities catch you if you’re not legit?

  44. This sounds awesome. The idea struck me when I was at work today. I am currently living in an apartment at $450/month, and while it’s a nice place, I’ll never get to call it my own, no matter how many times I pay. $70/month sounds pretty amazing. I already have a lot of ideas on how I would decorate one of these if I managed to get my hands on one. I’m wanting to start a minimalist lifestyle, and this seems like a good step because it would open up a lot of opportunities.

  45. I have a nice shed in my back yard minus the windows it is very similar to the one pictured above. I’ve been eyeing it for awhile now thinking about moving my son out there. Now I’m going to start looking into how to materialize this dream. Thanks!

  46. Finally! I have been looking for someone doing a tiny/small house from a shed. This is the direction I am researching now. I have been planning my downsize for some time and have quite a bit of info on newer manufactured homes, older mobile homes, park models and actual cabin kits. Now I am researching sheds turned into homes. I live in Northern Vermont. I own a large farm. Well, the bank and I own a large farm. And I am drowning from the large mortgage. I will be putting the big old farm house, with some of the acerage, on the market next year after I finish some updating. The remaining land I will own free and clear. I want to put up a large barn, for stuff, not willing to give up my stuff, and a small house to live in, clean, repair, and heat. My stuff can rough it. I am happy I found this site and will post what I learn as I go along. My land is in, what is called, the Current Use Program, a tax saving program for farms. There are restrictions there, and I have my plan for dealing with that. But I have not yet spoken to the State about regs. In fact, I’ll make the note to myself now, lol, to remind me to call tomorrow. My town has no zoning. I thought they were joking when they told me that. I came to Vermont from Seattle where there is a ton of zoning, most of it dealing with water quality for salmon. Zoning is fine by me, I think it’s a good idea, but not having any here may just come in handy. This does not, I am sure, stop me from needing to meet other regulations, so I will find out what they are. Obviously snow loads on roofs, and insulation are going to be key issues for me. I am handy but hope to buy a shell that comes with the electric and plumbing done. I can finish an interior. Headed to the Vermont Cottage company later this summer for a look see. Really glad I found this site. I will pick up valuable tips here I am sure!

  47. Also following tiny homes movement for some time, but recently disabled in a bad accident and no longer able to do much building myself. Turning to the idea of an affordable shed conversion, but concerned re: foundation, insulation etc to avoid dampness and decay… Would love to hear more on this from people who are builders and/or living in a converted ‘shed’. Thx!
    Burnaby, BC, Canada

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