How To Turn Your Shed House Into A Tiny Home

Living in a tiny house is rising in popularity, so many people are ditching the white picket fenced, old fashioned dream for a slightly different way of life. Alternative living in tiny homes has become an affordable way to own your own home, live independently from family and to stop paying rent. There is one style of tiny house that is becoming more and more common as a quick and easy solution to affordable tiny homes and that is the Shed House. 

If you have been thinking about moving into the shed in your parents garden or turning your shed into an extra bedroom or guest suite then this article is for you. Today we’re going to be covering everything you need to know about how to live in a shed house and answering some frequently asked questions about shed living. We will be going into why this might be a good option for you, how to make a shed a comfortable home, buying a suitable shed for living in and if it is legal to live in a shed house. 

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Why Would Anyone Want To Live In A Shed House?

Grey shed house with frech doors.

While affordable tiny homes, as seen on tiny house YouTube channels that showcase these builds, look like a glamorous solution to housing on a budget, a shed house doesn’t often fall into this category. When I think of a shed I think of a cold, damp and draughty wooden shack. A building designed for bikes, tools and garden games that haven’t been touched in years. A place with no windows and where the door is always broken. So why would you want to live in a shed I hear you ask? 

Well, a shed house could be a good solution for teenagers looking for some independence from their parents, but who are not ready to move out yet. It would also be ideal for a recent graduate, working on their career who is sick of living in messy, loud and unaffordable shared housing. A shed house is a good option for someone saving for their first property or could even work as a granny annexe, allowing some space for the elderly person and those looking after them. Perhaps you simply like the idea of living in a shed; of minimal bills to pay and a simpler life, closer to nature. 

A shed is a good tiny home solution as it’s cheap and easy to erect. Many sheds come as a flat pack kit and can be ready to go in just a days work. Unlike many tiny homes, you don’t need to be an expert builder or to hire a designer to help you plan your build as sheds are basic structures that even the most basic DIY-er could tackle. As you will not require much outside input for the design and build of your shed house the cost of building one remains low, ideal when working to a budget. 

Modifications To Make A Shed House A Comfortable Home

Shed house with living grass roof.

While living in a shed is a great tiny house option, you will want to make some modifications to the basic shed structure before moving in. If you already have an existing building that you want to turn into a shed house then you will need to ensure that it is good quality. Empty it of its contents and spend a few hours in there, is draughty, does it leak? If it is fairly old you may want to remove it and start from scratch, or at least replace the roof to ensure it’s watertight. 

If you’re happy with the external structure of your shed house then you want to think about adding a few things to make it more homely. A window is a must-have, if you are going to be living in your shed then natural light is key. Another essential is a lockable door, for obvious safety reasons. You also need to think about heating and cooling your shed house- insulation is key to regulating the interior temperature and is very important in any house, this layer will go in between your exterior and interior walls. A wood burner is a good way to heat a small space or an electric radiator. For cooling a space make sure you install windows to allow a through-breeze and utilise electric fans. 

Electricity, water and a toilet are also amenities that you need on a day to day basis and are therefore important when turning a shed into a house. The easiest way to ensure your shed has these essentials is to utilise connections from the main house – a long electricity cable to provide power and water containers, along with a camping toilet, that can be filled and emptied at the main house. 

How To Design The Interior  

If you plan on living in your shed house full time and want to be as independent as possible from the main house then it’s important to plan your interior properly so you can use the limited amount of space well. The main limitation on a shed house is that it is rarely big enough for a loft bedroom so everything needs to squeeze into one level. With careful design, it is possible to create a comfortable space with everything you need.

Think about what is essential to you and how you can minimise on possessions- do you need a permanent desk or could you build a flip-up one or do without altogether? Is a double bed a must-have for you or can you make do with a single? Do you need a space to cook or just the very basics? Work out what is important so you can prioritise what will take up the most space in your tiny home. 

Before you settle on a design gain inspiration from other people’s tiny builds. There are plenty of amazing designs out there on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. It can be beneficial to gather as much information as possible before working on your own layout to see what has worked well for other people, what you would like to copy and what hasn’t worked and needs to be avoided. Once you have some ideas, get drawing. This can be either by hand or with a 3-D design programme such as Google SketchUp. Working with a 3-D design programme is a great way to get an idea of the space you have to play with and how all of your essentials will work in it. 

Things To Look For When Buying A Shed House

Barn style shed house

If you don’t fancy building your shed house from scratch and don’t have an existing structure to utilise then there are plenty of online shops that sell prefabricated sheds. As you’re planning on living in the shed then you’re probably going to want something a bit fancier than the standard shed. Try searching for terms such as ‘garden room’ or ‘summer house’. You’re probably looking at spending upwards of $5000. 

Many units often come pre-insulated which is great as it saves you a job further down the line, making the process of building your shed house even quicker. If you’re buying brand new remember to look for a shed with everything you need included – opening widows, sturdy lockable door, insulation etc. If you’re looking to save some money and buy second hand then you may have to compromise on some features. Try to compromise on features that you will be able to add or alter yourself without too much extra work. If your shed house is going to be long term accommodation then it may be nice to search for a local builder or carpenter to create something unique to you. 

Is Living In A Shed Legal?

Green Shed with deck

This is the biggest question of all: is living in a shed legal? Unfortunately, there is not a quick answer to this as it depends on where in the world you live. In the UK it is quite difficult to legally register your shed as a dwelling as you will need to go through full planning permission, as you would for any other home. The good news, however, is that it is easier to register its use as that of an extra bedroom but you will still need to contact your local council to ensure you tick all the legal boxes. 

In the USA the process of turning a shed into a shed house seems to be more straightforward but you will need to check with your local state and county ordinances for personal dwellings before erecting the shed house. You will also need to check the zoning codes for your local area. 

All of this may sound like a lot of hoops to jump through but it is essential to get the correct permissions before investing any money into your shed house. Laws and regulations are in place to ensure that your dwelling is safe to live in and will provide a healthy and happy home for those living there, so they are worth sticking to!

Final Thoughts

Sheds can create great spaces to live in and are a cost-effective way of creating housing on land that you or your family already owns. With a few alterations and personal touches, a shed house could be cosy and warm, the perfect place to rest your head at night without breaking the bank. What you think of the idea of living in a shed, does it appeal to you or are you wanting more space, perhaps living in shipping container homes? Let us know by joining the Van Clan over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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