Living in a Shed? An In Depth Guide To Turning A Shed Into A Tiny Home

how to live in a shed


When it comes to Tiny Houses, they come in all shapes and sizes. Many people have asked me about building a tiny house shed as an affordable option to having your own tiny house.

A tiny house

I think what’s important to keep in mind is that tiny houses have made a name for themselves because they’re willing to break the mold. 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.

With that said, using a shed as the shell for your tiny house is a great way to get things started. I myself have considered is a prefab shed and 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.

Can You Legally Live In A Shed?

get your permits

Like Tiny Homes, making this legal and meeting building codes is rather difficult when you say you want to live or dwell in it. One big advantage of the prefab shed option is that these structures are so prevalent that in many places you can just drop one off and you’re good. Some places require a permit, but it’s a formality more than anything, city hall needs to get it’s slice anyway they can.

These sheds will almost always pass code if you’re using it for storage. That means the shed would officially would have to be just a shed. It can a bit more complicated when you are not placing the shed behind a primary dwelling. This is where I find myself.

The real lynch pin when it comes to living in a shed legally if you want to connect sewer, water and power.

Connecting Water To Your Shed

water connection for a shed

Fortunately, you can get water to most properties without much hassle. Of the three main utilities, water is the simplest because it’s not terribly complicated or pose much risks. I did this on my current property in the mountains where I got a well and where my tiny house is in the city, I was able to connect to the city water for “landscaping” with zero issue.

You just pony up the cash for the permits and the install, run it to a frost proof hydrant (again saying it’s for landscaping) and get your inspections if needed. Once the inspectors are done with their checks and you have all your documents in hand, drop your shed, and connect it off the books.

NOTE: Because water is so easy to get, you can get it and the bill will provide “proof of residence” for other things like the DMV, getting a post office box etc.

Connecting Power To Your Shed

electrical hook up to shed

Getting electricity in your shed is slightly trickier because this is the part where code officials start to get warry you’re planning on living in the shed. That said, it’s not uncommon to want to have power in a shed for tools etc. What I suggest you do is get your water installed on the land so it’s about 20 feet into the property, wait a few weeks while you get your shed pad graded and shed dropped off.

Now next is what I’d do, but realize I’m not responsible for any consequence if you do this. Once the shed is dropped off, stage the inside with a few shed-like items: A lawn mower, a table top on some saw horses, a few tools scatted on top. Make it look like this is a real shed used for actual storage. That way when the electrician comes to install and the inspector does their inspection, it looks like your using it as a storage shed.

You’re most likely only going to get approved for a 50 or 100 amp service compared to a normal home is usually 200-amp service. That should be totally fine for your needs in such a small space.

Connecting Sewer To Your Shed

sewer connection

Here is the biggest hurtle and frankly I’ll be honest and say you’re not going to get any code official to let you install a flush toilet in a shed unless it’s totally above board and designated as a dwelling. I don’t mind using a composting toilet, but having water and power is a must.

For toilet you could use a composting toilet, you could use a porta potty service, or you could consider getting a septic system installed (if it’s possible). Septic systems will start to get people asking questions if they see a septic installed, a water line run to the property and power run to a “shed”. It won’t take much for anyone looking at your property or reviewing parcel tax and permit records to put two and two together.

Can You Live In A Shed?

can you live in a shed

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. He had an entire wall of photos where people had converted a shed into a house, upfitting the outside with porches, accents, etc.

Why Should You Live In A Shed?

why you should live in a shed

Living in a shed comes with a lot of advantages, between their wide spread availability, cost and ease to obtain.

Easily Permittable

The ease of getting them legitimized is the biggest appeal to me. There aren’t many things these days that are easier to do, in many cases you can just drop them on your property and be done. Often municipalities have rules like “if the structure is not a dwelling and no dimension is greater than 12 feet, no permit is required”.

Very Affordable

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 $6,000. You could then deck it out with Ikea swag for another $500 and have a really nice place! The only drawback is there is no loft for a bed, so you have to deal with that. Possibly you could use a murphy bed.

Another angle to this is they offer payment plans of $70 a month, makes it pretty affordable, considering I have friends that pay over $1500 a month in rent.

Easily Transportable

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. This is because they deliver these sheds on flat beds or even tow trucks sometimes. They even have these little crawler machines to maneuver the shed into place where a truck might not be able to get into tight back yards.

Widely Available

Unlike tiny houses where the closest builder might several states away, there is probably several shed sellers in your city. These sheds are everywhere it seems, so getting a shed is pretty simple and you can even price shop between them.

How To Convert A Shed Into A Tiny House

how to convert shed into living space

Once you buy a shed, you’re first going to want to get all your utilities to the site and setup before you do anything. Get your water, power and sewer squared away, get your copies of all the approvals, then wait a few weeks. I’ve found that sometimes there are a few little loose ends that need to happen and you don’t want an inspector around while you convert your house.

Set A Level Pad And Grade For Drainage
Before the shed even gets delivered, I’d suggest at the very least scraping the grass away and putting down 4-6 inches of ¾” gravel. Consider burying your water and sewer connections at this point and hide the ends so the inspector doesn’t ask questions. Have the gravel base extend in all directions about 1-2 feet beyond the footprint of the shed. Make sure the space is totally level and compact the base with a plate compactor.While you’re at it, consider how the water will flow around the shed, put in French drains if any slopes will push water towards it. Also consider where the water will flow off the roof if you have gutters, consider trenching a drain pipe to flush water away from the shed.
Make Utility Connections To Your Shed
Once the shed is delivered on the pad you created, the inspector has come and gone, then bring your connections from wherever they are to the shed and inside. If you pre-buried your connections, uncover the connection points, and connect them. Test everything before you close up the walls.
Deal With Moisture On The Bottom Of The Shed
If there is one thing I don’t like about these sheds is they use OSB or similar products, which just don’t stand up well to moisture. If you have the option, I’d pay extra for plywood and make sure it is treated. The underside of the floor where it faces the ground is a place that moisture can build up and bugs can eat into.I suggest that you have you shed on blocks just high enough for you to crawl under so you can access things easier. This is even the case if you don’t need to use blocks for leveling. Having access and air flow is really great and super important to keep your floor dry and rot free. I’d also apply a thick coat of exterior deck oil based paint to the underside of the shed to seal the wood from moisture.
Adjust Your Shed Framing
In many cases shed builders use a smaller dimension framing than traditional 2×4’s. If you can, request your shed to be done with 2×4’s so all your building materials will work (insulation, electrical boxes, etc which are all sized for 2×4 cavities).If your walls aren’t framed with 2×4’s then you might have to figure out alternatives to every other step coming up because all building materials are sized to accommodate a 2×4 wall. You also are going to want a deeper cavity to insulate, a 1×3 wall like some sheds are will end up being a very cold home.If you can’t order the shed to have 2×4’s then you’ll need to build the wall inwards, if you go through that trouble consider getting a slightly larger shed and then you might as well go for thicker walls for more insulation.
Rough In Your Electrical, Water and HVAC
Next put in your electrical lines, water lines, internet connections, any HVAC needs etc. I’d also consider putting outlets and lights on the outside of the shed too.If there is one thing I’ve learned about outlets is that it’s hard to over do outlets. Because it’s a small space, you want outlets right where you need them. Consider everything you’ll be plugging in and put outlets there. Additionally, if there is any runs of wall more than 5 feet with no outlets, just put one there. Outlets are $1.50 for a box and another $2 for the receptacle itself, these are super cheap so don’t skimp here.
TIP: I’d also suggest taking a video and photos of the walls so you can remember where things are in the future if you need to fix something.
Seal Up Every Little Crack
If there is one thing I’ve learned about these sheds is they aren’t very air tight and because of that, bugs can get in too. The space where the roof meets the top of the wall and around the soffit/facia is usually so poorly done you can see day light!I’d start with sealing everything with a good silicone caulk. Follow all the junctions, seams, and transition points. First seal from the outside, then seal again from the inside. I’d also caulk where the walls meet the floor, the corners and inside the framing where the studs meet the sheathing. This will seem excessive to many, but a shed is so small that it will take a few hours to totally seal it up tight.Once you have that done, I’d move to spray can foam and fill in any hard to reach gaps. I’d also fill places you’re not going to be able to insulate easily and I’d go over any seams to safe guard from any leaks. Again, this is considered overboard by many, but a few hours and $50 of prevention will pay dividends, keep air and water out and the bugs at bay.
Note: You should make provision for fresh air exchange and humidity control. When you seal up the space and live in such a small space you need to take air quality seriously. I’d suggest having a mini split system that does heating and cooling (where it dehumidifies too) AND an Energy Recovery Ventilation unit (ERV). The ERV will take your indoor air, heat or cool the incoming air through an exchange, then adjust humidity levels too. The ERV will cycle your air so the indoor air is always fresh and the correct humidity.
Insulate Your Shed Walls And Ceiling
You have two main options for insulation spray foam or bat insulation. Bat insulation is a good option, easy to install and not that expensive. You an get bats that are sized right for your wall cavities to minimize the amount of cutting you need to do.The other option, and the one that I’d recommend, is closed cell spray foam. I specifically suggest closed cell spray foam because it is also a great vapor and air barrier. Spray foam is also a very high R value so you’ll keep your house hot or cold longer with the same amount of wall thickness.Many people will suggest open foam because it’s cheaper or some make the argument it’s easier to find the leak if a leak occurs. Because the shed is a small space, it will be more expensive, but since it’s small, you might only be talking a few extra hundred-dollar difference. The notion that you can spot leaks easier is something I flat out reject, you just bought a brand new shed and spend a few hours sealing everything, it’s not going leak any time soon and if it does, the closed cell foam adheres to the back of the roof decking, minimalizing the spread of any leaks. Open cell will allow the water to flow through it and into your wall cavity leading to mold.
Insulate Your Shed Floors
You want to insulate your shed floor or else you’ll have a condensing surface and your feet will be cold on the floors. You can do this by insulating under the floor on the bottom of the shed or laying foamboard on the floor and putting a new layer of plywood on top.If it was me, I’d do both. I’d order a shed that had a taller wall and then spray closed cell foam on the underside, then lay down 2 inches of polyiso foam with a compatible adhesive, then lay down a thick plywood subfloor on top of it, again with adhesive.The two downsides to laying in the foam on the sides is that you’re building into the space, reducing your overhead height (hence why getting a taller wall option on your shed is a good idea) and also your front transition of your front door will be a little weird, so you’ll need to work that out. Both are solvable problems and warm floors are a must have in my book.
Tip: If you do build up into the space by laying down foam, consider doing an in floor radiant heat!
Drywall, Floors And Trim
Next I’d suggest finishing with dry wall because it’s cheap. You want to make sure you are sealing all the joints and transitions of the dry wall for air tightness. This is because if you make this air tight, no water vapor can enter the wall cavity and hit a cold surface to condense, build up moisture and cause mold. This article on the proper way to air seal drywall is a great resource for this.[]Once you’ve put up your drywall, spackled and sanded your joints, go ahead and trim out your doors and windows, then paint the whole thing. Install your floors at this point, then add your baseboards to hide the rough edges of the floors.
Final Finishing
At this point I’d drop in my cabinets, counters and other finishes. Consider using off the shelf premade things that are pretty affordable and make it easy. Your local big box store or Ikea will have good options for this. Bring in your appliances, add your lighting fixtures to the roughed in boxes etc. There you have it, you’ve converted a shed to a tiny house!

At this point I’d drop in my cabinets, counters and other finishes. Consider using off the shelf premade things that are pretty affordable and make it easy. Your local big box store or Ikea will have good options for this. Bring in your appliances, add your lighting fixtures to the roughed in boxes etc. There you have it, you’ve converted a shed to a tiny house!

How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Shed Into A Tiny House?

cost to convert shed into house

Converting a shed will cost around $75 per square foot including the cost of the shed. Depending on the shed size, utility connections and fixtures/appliances. This assumes you’re buying a pre-built shed. It could be done more cheaply if you build the shed yourself (shed companies typically mark up 60% above material cost).

Example costs:

  • Shed: $3,500 to $10,000
  • Windows: $500-$6,000
  • Insulation: $500 to $2000
  • Interior finishes: $500-$4,000
  • Electrical: $750 to $3,000
  • Water heater: $500 to $1000
  • HVAC: $500 to $1,500
  • Toilet: $20-$800
  • Fixtures: $1,000-$5,000
  • Appliances: $400 to $4,000
  • Interior wall: $500 to $1000
  • Flooring: $300 to $1,000
  • Fasteners/Adhesives: $1,500
  • Paint: $50 to $200

Living In A Shed While Build Your House

living in a shed while building your house

Many people want to live in a shed while they are building the permeant house. I myself have considered this for building my home on the property I bought in the mountains. This again falls to the legality issue. Dwelling in a shed is often not allowed because how small it is.

Additionally, I’ve found that if you do this, the code enforcement staff will require everything you normally are required to having in a full house, jumping up the cost dramatically.

Ultimately, the real answer is yes and no. Legally no you can’t. Is it possible, totally!

How do I turn my shed into living space?

This is something I have a lot of experience with, tiny houses are working on the same scale as a converted shed. There are a few critical things you want to consider when converting a shed into a living space.

Top Ways To Turn A Shed Into A living Space

  1. Run power to the shed for lights, electronics & HVAC
  2. Choose a way to climate control – Heating & Cooling
  3. Seal cracks to control moisture and bugs
  4. Insulate and Drywall for a clean look
  5. Install a durable flooring option
  6. Use a light color pallet, good lighting and natural light

Shed Design Ideas And Tips

tips for desinging your shed home

There are a so many ways to take your living space in a shed to the next level. Many of them can be borrowed from tiny houses for design inspirations. Here are a few guides I’ve created to help you design the perfect shed to live in!

Small Bathrooms For A Shed

A bathroom is one of those spaces in a shed you have to get right, there is a lot going on between power, water, fixtures and storage. Check out my post on how to design a small space bathroom.

designing a bathroom for a shed

Kitchen Designs For A Shed

The kitchen is another critical area if you want to live in a shed. You don’t have a lot of room to pack a lot into a small space. When I designed my tiny house kitchen there was a lot that went into it. Learn more about small kitchen concepts and how to design them.

kitchens in a shed

Appliances For Small Sheds

One challenge I’ve found is getting appliances for small spaces. You can’t always go to the big box hardware stores and find an appliance that will fit in your shed’s kitchen. Choosing the right appliance for small kitchens is important, here’s how to choose the right one for you!

small space appliances

Consider Adding A Sleeping Loft In Your Shed House

A sleeping loft can add a lot of room in the ground floor if you’re tight on space. Sleeping lofts are pretty straight forward, but I figure out a few tricks to make them really well.

save space in a shed with a loft for your bed

Add Solar Panels To Your Shed

Solar is a great option if you can’t get power run to your shed. I’ve written several post about how to setup solar, so here are some great I wrote about how I did it on mine.

Setting Up Solar Guides

Converted Shed To Living Space Photos And Ideas

bedroom in a shed

shed living area

gambral roof shed converted to living space

living space in shed house

bedroom in converted shed home

kitchen and bedroom in a converted shed house for living

modern cozy shed home

cottage style shed converted into a living space


guest room in a shed

living space with sitting area in a shed

tiny bedroom in a shed

guest room and office space in a shed

guest room in converted shed

rustic shed conversion to live in


a Tiny House made from a shed

Living In A Shed In Your Backyard – Is It Right For You?

Converting a shed into a house or living space is something that a lot of people have done and it’s totally possible. They are a great way to have a house quickly and pretty affordably. So I wanted to ask you all what do you think of this idea? Do you think living in a shed is right for you? Is anyone here doing this?

  1. Thank You

  2. Recently thanks to a visit from my brother in September, I came to realize that the overwhelming health issues I had been dealing with for the past 3 years were due to a large mold problem in my trailer. 6 months later I am finally starting to feel like I could be healthy and active again. This being the second run in with mold in my life, I decided that I did not want to ever live in any dwelling where I could not see what was inside my walls again. Being newly retired I was at a point in my life that I no longer wanted to spend money on rent or purchasing a home, so the shed idea began to shine brighter. Both my daughters are married and raising their own families. So it is just for me and my cat.. Although downsizing in a rush like this was not on my list of to do’s in retirement…throwing out everything that could not be washed, it has been somewhat liberating.

    I am now terrified of mold and its devastation on one’s life, health and mental anguish! I would offer to anyone who thinks that “maybe” “possibly” mold could be making them sick? Take a two week vacation away from your dwelling, if you come back feeling a lot better…get
    a Mold Test and it may save your life. I am still amazed at my acceptance of all the health issues I was facing, when just leaving
    the house could have given me 3 years of a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, health providers do not seem educated to its dangers, and I ended up on so many meds that I no longer need today.

    So after many nightly visits on YouTube checking out Tiny Houses, searching Craigslist, researching Tiny Home sites I found my shed. There are many rent to own options out there, some will build on your land, but I opted for my Graceland shed. It is 12 x 16 with a small front porch. This size is larger then my old bedroom, and will be perfect with a daybed/entertainment area, kitchen and bathroom. I do plan on having a large closet, I am not sure I could deal with the teeny tiny closets in a Tiny House. I plan on using items that can have multiple uses, so I think it will work. The shed cost me $5,300 complete with taxes and set up! I was able to put it on my daughters property in the country, so for now it is on blocks. I do however want to insulate it, piddle with it and make it my own mold free, live in studio. I would like to put it up on a foundation in the spring to get it up higher, making it a whole lot warmer from the ground up. Also would love to get Solar power to it. Since having lost so much stuff to the mold it will be really easy to start anew and create a place where I don’t have to move stuff around anymore. A new adventure!

    I would love to hear if anyone else is doing this and what their insulation solutions have been. Also is 12 feet to wide to put up on

    • Why are people posting their life-stories here?…

      • I was wondering the same thing….lol.

      • You don’t have to read every comment that is posted here. That’s the beauty of it. Read what you want to read and skip the rest.

    • Yes you can have 12 foot wide shed on wheels much like a mobile home but you will need a special permit to move it. Most states have a set width and height requirement to move safely down the road and will offer special permits and specific days for movement of larger vehicles. Some shed manufacturers will be able to move the building for you and set it up on your building site. Be sure to ask for this info before you purchase. Happy shopping and good luck with your build/renovation.

  3. My husband and I would love very much to have a Tiny House especially the one shown on this page with the small porch at front. I am raising my 12yr old granddaughter because my son was in a car accident 12/06/2014 and passed away 12/11/14. Victoria is his only child and there is no mother. I would like to be able to leave her a home to live in or do whatever with after we are gone. She is A+ honor student and is on the President’s Honor List. She wants to be a veterinarian and she has the determination and will to do just that! Did I forget to mention her mentality is at a 16yr old level. Yes we are proud of her but with her father’s death it is up to us to make her future be achieved. We are Senior Citizens and financing is probably going to be our worst and mossed feared trial to accomplish. With God’s help and love we pray that somehow this dream will be realized. Congratulations on Your Tiny Home and I pray all goes well with your precious home. Claudia Moore, Roanoke Rapids, NC.

    • I wish you the best with all you are going through raising your grandaughter, and going through so much grief. Hope u find a Tiny home for her to enjoy someday.

      • Thank you for your precious comments. God Bless you all.

  4. I am considering a prefab shed as well. I have become homeless this past year and have found this may be my best option . I have found out of necessity that I need very little ,and in that a tiny dwelling will be a blessing just to have a roof over my head . I wish I could do the drywall and all involved myself but will need help . I’m not certain how much this will cost . I have very limited funds . I can do things slowly as my budget allows . I guess I don’t know what to do first once I get the structure . Any one have suggestions ? I do have place to place it on my step moms land.If anyone has at kind suggestions ,I could use some direction . Thanks so much …<3

    • Hi Julie

      Last year for the 2nd time in my life I lost everything I had to Mold.
      I knew that I could never live anywhere that I could not see what was between my walls ever again. I searched Youtube nightly and after many nights of absorbing everything I could on DIY’s for Tiny Houses, Sheds etc. I decided that because of affordability a shed might be the answer for me. I say for me.. because legally one is not suppose to reside in a shed. I navigated Craigslist and found dealers that offered Rent to Own options, which was what I needed to look for. However, some dealers offer those options only to Homeowners, which I am not. So I persisted, and found that some dealers do offer Rent to Own options to everyone. I am in my mid 60’s, so this is a pretty big undertaking. I am sure it will not be as easy to do things myself as it could have been earlier in life….but I have found that you can learn how to do just about anything on Youtube, from plumbing for a Tiny House to a 12 volt electrical system to insulation. Just know your strengths! Don’t be afraid to try and find help when you need it.
      I paid under $6000 for a 12 x 20 shed, and I think it is plenty for me and what I have. Best wishes on your search.

      • I love your comment and go for it attitude!! I am working on turning my tiny shed into an escape route from abusive home. Would love to see pics of yours if you have some!

    • Hi Julie,
      I came across this article and your comment and it has been 5 years, and so I was wondering how you were doing and if you happened to make your shed home possible?

  5. Hello all, im mark from pennsylvania. I bought a 10X20 shed with a 4 ft loft. I enjoy every minuite of my living. I have plenty of room, i have heat, air, its furnished with a foldup bed, carpet, tv, pretty everythang that a big $200,000 house would have, but alot smaller. Its only me which sux, but i have 3 more payments to go yet at $200 then i wana move it to oklahoma where i’ll finish out the rest of my life and hope to find a gd woman that would enjoy the small things in life also. Small things come in big packages! Btw, i only gave $3200.00 for my 10X20. Greentree in quarryville, pa. 🙂

    • Best of luck to you, Mark! And remember, eventually you can add on things like a deck. I wish you’d shown a picture of it, especially the inside. I think it’s just amazing what people are doing these days. And for you to buy it at $3,200? That’s incredible.

    • Hi, I’m buying A-1 Agricultural land in PA. I can’t seem to find any information on building codes, etc. For living in a shed. .. Would you please be able to help give me some info? I have no idea where to start. Thank you

      • Why not try the building codes dept. Of where you’re moving To?!.

  6. My husband and I have already seen the shed we want to get. It is a spacious 392 sq.feet. My only dilemma is where to put it. We live in NC and I’ve done some research but I’m still drawing a blank. Any suggestions would be great. I too suffer from a disease that limits my mobility so to have something that we can design to accommodate my issues is a God send. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Lizette

      Is there the possibility of putting it on a friend or families piece of land, that is what I was able to do…just a thought.
      Hope you find the perfect spot!

  7. I was fortunate as I was able to set up my 10 s 20 shed on my daughter’s house lot. Like you my income is low and monthly payment on shed, and trying to insulate it well has tapped out my monthly income. All the same the expense has been so worth the freedom. Been 7 months and I think I should have done it a long time ago!
    Any friends or family that would allow a shed on there land? Hope someone comes to the rescue soon. Wish you success with your new home.

    P.S. Just one comment, when starting Reno, YouTube has so much to help.
    Be open to renovating RV’s videos, lots of great space saving ideas.

    • I put a 16 x 32 shed with a loft on property id owned 20 years but couldnt afford to build on. Insulation was expensive, but i installed a wood stove, put tin on ceiling and to protect walls around stove. Then i located a small sawmill and the owner gave me all the imperfect logs and cut wood i wanted free and i lined the walls of the shed with it. Now it is super insulated. Used chitting recipe from a foxfire book to fill gaps. This may help some of you guys cut cost. Also it was easy to get appliances and bathroom fixtures from people who were remodeling. I had home depot cut 1/2″ plywood into 4 inch strips and laid it on floor for a mock hardwood floor.everyone loves it and its paid for.

      • I was wondering how you were able to get a permit for the shed without having a primary house on the property as they refused to permit me to do so? I own 14 acres and they would not permit me to put a 10×20 shed due to the fact that it would be my primary structure. I think that rule is plain ridiculous, its my land which I pay taxes and I see nothing wrong with having a shed on it.

        • John, I saw a Youtube video where the lady kept going back and asking questions, like, “What is the minimum square footage to be legal?” The answer was 1,200. So she said, “What if I had two, 600 sq ft homes with some sort of breezeway?” This was also allowed! So sometimes it’s a matter of going on several fact-finding missions until you know what will work. In this lady’s case, she ended up beginning a whole community!

      • We bought 2.25 acres out in the county and bought a sturdy, well-built 16 x 32 shed with 2 lofts, from EZ Portable Buildings out of Kentucky, which we are slowly making into a home. We still have another house we live in in another city nearby until we get this new building finished.

        The property we purchased previously had a large home with a 3 car garage, but that entire structure burned to the ground years ago. We had our “shed” placed about 2 feet off the ground on blocks right on the concrete slab where the garage was previously. We didn’t feel as though the previous home’s foundation was stable enough or even safe after the fire.

        We have discussed doing what you did with the wood logs and such as there is a lumber yard and sawmill close to the place, but were unsure how much weight the walls could support? My husband and I would LOVE to convert our little “shed” into a faux log cabin and live out our lives there!

        That being said, we are both fairly young (51 & 52), but unfortunately are both also disabled. He is a rare cancer survivor with extensive, and progressive, radiation damage from his cancer “trials” and I have severe systemic Lupus with Stage 4 kidney failure. We MUST downsize and MUST have something we can manage which is why we went with something doable like a large “shed.” It’s tough getting it all together, but better to do it now while we still can…somewhat, lol…

        Best thing is, while we will have to pay on the land a few more years, the “shed” house will be paid for in full when we sell our property in town.

        • Did you do all of this with or without a permit? If with, in my area they have this stupid rule, no shed allowed if no primary structure is already on the land!

  8. Not sure if it’s too late to post this (last comment was in August) but…would it be possible to get a prefab storage shed attached trailer? Like but them separately then have had someone attach the shed to the trailer. Is that legal…or possible? It seems as tho it would solve a ton of problems.


  9. I am in Billings Montana area. I can build this for you.

  10. Hi, I am Danny. I am in the Billings Montana area. I can build these tiny houses usually insulated and paneled for the same price as a shell would cost you. Usually on skids but can put on wheels for an added cost.
    406 697 9995

    • Do u have a website, do u rent to own? I need to get one on wheels as I am campground pastor and am moving to the campground. I need it on wheels to get around certain code issues…

    • Hi danny. I too have picked out a so called shed/ portable building 12 X 24 like a lot of people I have no place to put it. No land no family left ,, haven’t gotten it yet for that reason , but if and when I do it will cost 6000 just for the shell, no electric no insulation, nothing !! Home on wheels not good idea for me as I don’t drive , just curious if you have any connections here in Richmond Virginia? With anyone that possibly have anywhere to put something ?, I could pay 200 or less monthly to put something on there property my email is Thank you

  11. I too would want to own a Tiny House, Im on a fix income…however I don’t have a piece of land and don’t know of anybody that has one that would be willing to share there property to me. But God is good and with lots of prayers and determination I know things can and will happen.
    Good luck to everyone that is considering this option of living, It’s awesome and liberating!!!!!

  12. I own 14 acres and I applied for a shed permit from a local company selling all types of sheds, I bought the shed to convert to a cabin. Well the township denied the permit saying that I was unable to put a shed on my land due to the fact that it would become the primary structure. He stated I would have to first have a primary structure, a home then the shed would be permissible? Well my shed was already ordered because I really didn’t think there would be any problem, after all its secluded land with minimal frontage. There is more to this but I wanted others to know they may encounter this problem.

  13. re the issue of not being able to have a shed be the primary dwelling unit, you can get around this in Oregon by buying a crap travel trailer for a thousand bucks and a “mobile home” permit and parking it on your site as your primary dwelling, then in most counties you can have up to 2 “storage” units up to 200 SF apiece. The county does not normally physically inspect the travel trailer so you can be somewhat creative when filling out the application (“gee, the seller said the ID tags were removed from the trailer years ago and he has no paperwork any more, I thinks its a 27 foot long with a kitchen and bath…”) for the mobile home permit to park it on your property.

  14. Also, if you are far enough out in the country that it can’t be seen from the road, you can build an outhouse rather than spending $4,000-$8,000 to have a septic system put in, but don’t call it an outhouse, it’s just a “quaint architectural structure” that “isn’t actually used”. Be sure to put a padlock on it for show..

  15. If you want to put an unpermitted shed on your rural land without first building a house, the shed has to go on the Back of your lot and you should buy the kind of shed that Looks like a shed not a vacation cabin, then BUY a porta potty (don’t rent one) and FENCE the whole thing with a good locked security fence so if the inspector drives out he cannot get close enough to “peek”. You don’t need a permit for an above ground water tank or propane tank as long as they are “movable” and you can install “removable” temporary propane refrigerator and cooktop, and you can add a small woodstove as long as the stove is epa compliant. The idea is to have the site look like a storage area so no outdoor clothesline, garden, chicken coop etc. Sorry but the county will fine you into oblivion if they think you are living in a shed, although I suppose you could just continue to live there and wait til the county took the property back after 3 years, then buy it back from the sheriffs sale?

  16. I have watched the Tiny House (TH) shows and have left them with a heavy heart. With pioneering and romantic notions, the TH buyers are spending $70-$100k on homes that are the size of tool sheds. This TH concept SHOULD be done for much less. To do otherwise is in conflict with the answer to the basic question: How do I live simply, comfortably, inexpensively, and on a small scale in such a way as to enhance my life? The answer to any question should not be more complex than the question itself. (Borrowed from Thoreau.)

    The best answer to the question is what you propose, which is an outbuilding converted to a livable space. It is far cheaper and far easier to put in place than the majority of what is presented. With a little study, people who want a TH can learn what they need to build much of it themselves. Actually, if you want to live in a TH, you probably have a mindset of self-sufficiency anyway.

    • I am of the same mindset as Greg Nixon. Living a simplistic lifestyle, if one uses the reduce, reuse, and recycle rule, a TH can, and should be, a very low cost option for all.

  17. What are all you folks doing about a toilet and grey water…? Or even just water to the shed?

    Im loving all this Info and want to learn more!


  18. Also…do u tell tbe neighbors or stay really quite about it?

  19. I love the idea,my wife and I spent a week on vacation in New England in a 14 by 17 tiny house or shed,it also had no loft it was near a slow moving river behind it a way’s and in the wood’s it was perfect for us it had all we needed for the time we spent there and we would talk about what we would change if we were to live full time in wife is gone now and I still think of finding a spot to live in saomething like we dreamed of,I am a Carpenter and able to do alot to save money so the dream seem’s so very close,I have to get back to the thought of making it happen

  20. Curious if you can live in a shed as a primary residence if you don’t hook up to any utilities on your property?

  21. My hubby and I bought two 16 x 40 portable buildings (utility sheds) to move onto our 2 acres in southern TN. After checking with the county courthouse to see if a building permit could be obtained and being told by officials in several odduces that no permit would be needed, we were thrilled and proceeded to put in many long hours and a lot of our life savings into turning one of them into our forever home.

    My husband even added on a 16 x 12 addition and plumbed in a bathroom and built a sweet tiny bedroom. He’s 65 and has done all the work himself, and done a great job! He just finished the wiring and called for the electrical inspection. When the inspector came out, we got the shock of our lives.

    Turns out that turning our utility shed – which is referred to as a “ready removable” – into a residence is “prohibited”. We were supposed to get a building permit after all (TCA 68-126-303). The only time a permit is not needed is when the structure will be used only for storage, maintenance etc.

    My husband ended up talking to someone at the TN Dept of Commerce and Insurance who stated that, if it had an engineer designed foundation put in, and IF it would meet the other building code requirements ( which he was vague on other than having studs on 16″ centers – which ours does), then we could get a building permit.

    However, the ladies that would issue the building permit from our local county courthouse say that they are PROHIBITED from giving us a permit under any circumstances since it will be used as residential.

    We are currently awaiting a packer of info from the TN dept of Commerce and Insurance that supposedly outlines info on the type of foundation that is requirements. Meanwhile we’re trying to not panic and just trust God to help us know how to resolve this conundrum.

    Please beware of this type of issue when considering the “live in a shed” option. Also, if any of you have had any success getting a building permit approved for a residence under similar circumstances, we could sure use the encouragement! We were definitely not prepared to pay to have an engineer design and will be forced to do all the work ourselves. Bless his heart, my husband is so hardworking but is a disabled vet and has pretty severe arthritis in his hands, shoulders, neck, back…still, God will give the health and strength to do what’s needed!

    Thanks, and you all be careful out there!

    • Hi Heidi. My husband and I were just about to do the “shed into home” thing until I read your comments. Did this get resolved? Would they have allowed the shed as a home if you would have gotten a foundation put in first to place shed on?

    • We live in South Tennessee as well btw.

  22. Be sure to check local building requirements. Most sheds as sold do not meet building codes. However, most can be built to code by a licensed home builder, but then they do cost more. Some areas will allow tiny homes that are on a chasis (which makes it a vehicle like an RV) that don’t meet residential building codes. Other areas will allow sheds up to a certain size on land that has no other structures, but the sheds are not residences and can be used only for short camping vacations (like a hunting cabin, for instance). Different areas are different. It has happened that people have spent thousands of dollars on sheds and then fixed them up to live in, and then they get caught living in a home without a certificate of occupancy (required in the vast majority of places) and they are forced to move out. And many areas now use overhead satellite imagery to locate unauthorized sheds or other structures. So unless you own land in a very remote area that does not have building codes (such as some Alaskan wilderness), there are probably building codes that you must satisfy in order to live in your “shed.” And no, it doesn’t matter if you own the land and pay taxes. Building authorities don’t care about that. Sadly, the days of pioneers building their own log cabins without permits and codes are long gone. We no longer have that personal freedom. Just a friendly warning that may save some folks a lot of money and a lot more grief.

    • I’m in KY. Tore down uninhabitable house, cleared area and just had a 16’x40’ cabin/shed set up with the intent of making into a home. Only other structure is a barn that I work out of. Have temp electric, septic tank and water. Starting process. Talked to an electric inspector and found I can not live in this!! Too small, wrong/no foundation (sits on blocks with crawl space), can’t call loft part of living space, etc. etc. Needless to say I am a 72 year old devastated retired woman. I paid cash for the land and the cabin/shed. What can I do but cry? Be very cautious before buying. You will be told ‘Oh, yes, many people live in these” etc. Beware.

  23. I have purchased a 14×24 shed and working on making it a home. I plan on putting this on my son’s property that already has a dwelling. I was wondering I know there regulation codes on building a house but are there any on these dwelling such as ceiling height or anything specific that would prevent me from living in one?

  24. I know someone that bought the 16×40 graceland shed(cabin) and lives in it with no need for permits, he bought a 12×38 mobile home first and put on the property. It was easier to just leave the mobile home on the property and list the cabin as a storage building–cheaper on property taxes too!

  25. Visit archer storage buildings for more portable storage buildings.

  26. What about if your primary residence is a home in a medium-density zone, and you want to convert a shed in the backyard to use for AirBnB income? I was told I couldn’t build a second unit, but would that include a shed? There is already a shed on the property that is dilapidated, so I was considering taking it out and putting in a newer one.

  27. Can I put a 10’x24′ shed on a 30′ camper frame with each axle (2 axels). Holds 3500lbs.

  28. It appears that moving into an already established “Tiny Home” community. Does anyone have any information about TH communities in Virginia?

  29. It looks good idea but I think planning regulations would have something to say on the matter here.I’m not entirely sure but I don’t think you can live,or let other people live in caravans or sheds.

  30. What is wrong with the world?? I no longer wonder why there are so many homeless people in San Antonio. If it was easy to build a structure to live in then the homeless population would go down. I’m sure the problem of homeless isn’t entirely mental illness, drug addiction, and poverty, but also the impossible building codes and regulations. I’m not sure why the city needs to be concerned if I’m living in a shed on my property or not. I know they want to increase property values by not having lower quality homes in the neighborhoods and stuff. but i think they should have big sections of town where you can do whatever you want. It’s a free country. Anyway, I’m trying to make a shed home in San Antonio that meets the city codes so I can get a certificate of occupancy and I’m just about to throw in the towel.

    • Totally agreed. We just wanted to use our customers shed as a fourth bedroom, only for sleeping at night maybe a nap sometimes during day but nope, against the law here in Sacramento. Meanwhile the numbers of homeless folks sleeping on public sidewalks, roadsides, etc, is like over 3000 strong and growing. I will soon be among them as i can’t afford rent with my$800 monthly disability income. It’s freaking rediculous. America is far from being about Freedom. Free to move about is about it. Smdh. So if you have any mental conditions where you freak out indoors and rather sleep under the stars at night in your own backyard, forget it, you will be written up and fined big time!

  31. I would buy If I knew I could run power to it.

  32. Ok, so I’ve purchased a 12×24 custom shed that will be delivered in about 10 days on a deeded RV lot. Per the HOA, I can have a building of less than 400sf in addition to our RV. Technically, I can have electricity but not be attached to the septic system. However, nearly everyone in that RV community has a w/d so guess what, that covenant goes out the window. So, my question is this… is there a checklist of things that one must do to finish a shed for a livable structure? I’ve looked everywhere and this post is as close as I came. Any legitimate help is VERY much appreciated!

    • Yes, I too would like to see a check list to make a shed into a livable structure. Is there such a check list? I’m thinking different county and states have the international building codes in place today.

      • Each State and even county differ. There is no set single rule. In Sacramento, it is illegal to sleep in any shed on anyone’s property unless it’s been upgraded by permit with plumbing, heating and air as well as cooking facilities. But to just put your bed and make it your bedroom, nope, can’t do that and you’ll be violated and fined. I can bullshit and i wish people would start challenging this and make things change.

  33. Excellent information. I’d love to put a 16×40 on a full basement for storage, tornado shelter, a place for the hot water tank and furnace, and maybe a spare guest bedroom. Have a full width 8×40 covered front porch, and a rear covered porch for the hotub, grill and chairs and table. Mitsubishi majes a split a/c system that would be perfect for a 16×40. A airtight woodburning wood stove, or a pellet stove would be the main source of heat, the furnace for a backup system. After reading all of the comments, I never realized that getting permitted can be such a pain in the heiny. A mobile home is out of the question as they actually lose value over time.

    Another option may be to build a barn with living quarters inside? A freind of mine did that. Real nice, no evidence of anyone living inside as well.

  34. I’m getting my shed in August and utilizing everything I can from the camper. I have 16+ acres in Missouri and my build site cannot be seen from the road. No building restrictions here.

  35. I appreciate how you mentioned hat tiny sheds are cheap and it comes with windows and doors and other important features included. I just graduated college and I am looking for an affordable and organized way of living. I will have to consult a specialist to be able to make the best decision when it comes to what kind of on-site cabin to purchase.

  36. Funny you should ask. I stumbled upon this thread because I was googling “living in a shed”. Permits of course but I don’t see any difference rolling out insulation and slapping up drywall on a house or shed….its very plausible

  37. Hi,
    Do you have rainwater drainage system?
    How did you install the system?


  38. There is one of these as an Airbnb near Owensburg Indiana. They get $20. a night and it’s always booked up.

  39. Great ideas

  40. Hello I would like to buy one . I want to make my she shed .

  41. hi

  42. I am going to purchase a graceland shed 14 x 36 with a loft. Does anyone have pictures of one this size done on the inside? Thank you, Amy

  43. I have purchased land with a well and septic tank already there. Why is it code officer say I cant convert a shed into a home?
    It’s not their property. I am living on S.S.with very little income. I am basically homeless.
    Should I go to Calif. And live in the streets as they do there? Doesnt seem fair to me.

  44. I would like to find a shed with no more plumbing than just one shower and one toilet and full electricity in Lufkin, TX for $300 a month and I pay electric myself.

  45. I like this web site because so much useful stuff on here :D.

  46. I want to do this for a friend who has severe allergies. The adhesives, caulking, synthetics (which emit off-gases) you mention here might be issues. I wonder if anyone has done this using completely natural non-allergenic materials.

  47. Great detailed article. Thank you!

  48. Great ideas for a backyard tiny home

  49. Iam have rare immunity disease/palliative/ pursuing transplant making me very high risk. Was placed in covid isolation since March 2020. My two children who live w me, have had to follow strict restrictions to avoid exposure all this time. So I am looking for a way to create living space in my yard where my children can return to normal activities, work,school etc and be nearby to help. Not sure which options are best for my circumstance.

Leave a Reply