Have you ever considered living in a shed? Some of the bigger cities that have major housing shortages are using tiny homes to provide some rental units on their property. Life living in a shed is doable, but make sure you find out all the regulations for living in a shed before doing it.
Most storage sheds are less than 500 square feet and many are made from plastic and metal, these types won’t be a good option for living in. So can you live in a storage shed? The quick answer is yes. And you’ll need to have a shed that’s build out of wood with and strong and sturdy foundation and have at least 700 square feet.
Let’s begin by looking at the reasoning behind wanting to live in a shed. Many people can’t find a place to live in that’s affordable or even available and this is especially true for students who are attending university who are struggling with the high cost of accommodations on campus. Living in a small shed is also great for those who are down on their luck and struggling to find a place to live.
In many places you’ll be able to submit a plot plan and a plan for your proposed shed and get a building permit. Building a shed can be done in a weekend if you use a good quality skid foundation and you can even wire your shed for power and add some plumbing too it.
Can You Make an Existing Shed Liveable?
Again the answer is yes you can. Metal or plastic sheds will be very difficult and costly to turn into a living area. The most important needs would be making sure the shed is dry and well insulated and by building your own wooden shed you can easily do this. You can also add a small bathroom and tie into existing sewer line or septic system.
You can also use a composting toilet so you won’t need to hook up to the sewage system. Be aware that a composting toilet requires regular emptying and if it need to be in a separate area with an exhaust fan. On the positive side you’ll have compost for your garden and flower beds.
Cost wise you will need to look at the shed carefully that you want to turn into a living area, remember lining in a shed isn’t for everyone. The cost to make that existing shed livable may be too much; your other option is to build a wooden shed with the goal of turning it into a small living area for yourself or for a rental or family member.
Can You Live in a Shed Legally?
Living in a shed legally will depend on where you live and what the requirements are for living in an outbuilding. There can be many hoops to jump thru. But make sure you follow the regulations and take out any permits required and have any required inspections by your local building authority completed before using the shed as a living space.
Some areas won’t allow occupancy in a shed unless it has power, water, plumbing and some type of heating system. There main be restrictions to family members only and renting it out may not be allowed. Beforehand go and talk to your local building inspection office and they can tell you what’s required before you go and send $1000,s on a fancy shed only to have them make you tear it down.
18 Tips to Turn a Shed into Your Very Own Hideaway
Turning a shed into a viable living space can be easy or difficult depending on the condition of the shed. I have compiled a list or 23 things that you can do to make living in a shed more like living in a house. I’ve not put these tips in any order and some may not apply to your shed.
1] Caulk The Cracks…Older sheds that have been around for a while very often are going to need to have all the cracks plugged to keep out air, bugs and airborne dust from getting in. Once you’ve cleaned the interior of the shed get some caulking and seal up any holes and cracks.
2] Fresh Paint… You’d be surprised what a fresh coat of paint will do for the outside of the shed. You can choose to paint a color that will match the house or pick a color that goes good with the surroundings. You’ll need to do some prep work, like scraping and sanding down where needed. Be sure to caulk any cracks and gaps around windows and doors with a paint able caulking.
You may also want to give the interior a good cleaning and after you have caulked any gaps and cracks give the interior of the shed a couple coats of paint. This will freshen it up and make it look more live-able.
3] Skylights… Adding a skylight will let in a lot of natural light and not to mention the moonlight and great for star gazing on clear nights. There are many skylights that will open and have screens so you can get some fresh air without the bugs.
In addition to skylights there are also other options for lighting the inside of the shed. You can read my article “Top 5 Best Outdoor Shed Lighting Ideas and Solutions” where I go over natural and artificial lighting options. You can read the article here.
4] Insulate your Shed… There’s nothing worse than living in a drafty cold home. Insulate the floor, walls and ceiling to make it nice and snug. You can even drywall the ceiling and walls to make it look more modern. You can read my article “10 Tips For Insulating Your Outdoor Shed” where I go over the basics of insulating a storage shed. You can read it here.
5] Heating and Air Conditioning… If you live in milder climates just having the shed insulated will likely be enough to keep the sheds temperature a cozy 68 degrees. If you live in areas where there’s cold and hot weather having heating and air conditioning will be necessary to keep the shed from freezing and from getting too hot.
6] Good Lighting… Living in a shed is going to require some interior lighting and you’ll want to have an outside light as well. Having a good overhead light and a lamp will make the shed feel more like home.
7] Windows… In addition to have good interior lighting adding a few windows can really make living in a shed feel like a home. While your wall space will be limited having 2 or 3 windows is a good idea, just make sure that their double sealed windows especially if you live in a cold climate. Also get at least 2 windows that open and have screens so you’ll be able to let in some fresh air.
8] Flooring… You’ll want to cover the basic plywood floor in the shed with something that’s more comfortable. There’s many options available like carpet tiles, carpet, vinyl flooring and be sure to use a good durable waterproof flooring in the bath area and the area where you’ll be placing your shoes and boots when you come in.
You can also look at installing rubber tiles which are interlocking and very simple to install, what I like about the interlocking rubber tiles is it provides a good soft floor that’s great for walking on and very soft and durable. Check out Amazons full line of rubber tiles here.
9] Entrance Area…You can really dress up the entrance area by adding a small porch with a roof over it and you can also sit out there in the evenings. Too get even more light into the shed you can install a door with a window in it. Adding a screen door is a great way to allow fresh air in without letting in all the insects.
10] Weather-stripping Doors and Windows… This is an important step for keeping you nice and snug in your shed during the cold weather. You may have older windows that may need to be weather-stripped and the front door needs to be weather-stripped as well. A properly insulated and weather-stripped shed will save you on heating and cooling costs.
I’m going to recommend you use a door draft blocker for the bottom of the door, that’s one spot that always lets in cold air. You can check out Amazons full line of door draft blockers here.
11] Shelving… Living in a shed going to mean living in a small space and to maximize every square foot shelving is going to need to be used wisely. Wall units and narrow shelves from wall to ceiling can really help organizing what little space you do have.
12] Make Some Furniture… You can make yourself some smaller furniture with wood and foam that will be smaller than full size furniture to save on space. It’s also a good idea to custom make storage cabinets to fit into any of the spaces you have. Also consider a wall bed that folds up when not in use.
13] Use Strings of LED Lights… These types of lights are very cheap to buy and can be set-up quickly to create some mood lighting. I’ve seen them used around windows especially above the sink to provide lighting, use colored strings for different areas and create your own setting.
14] Use Plants for Décor… Plants on the outside that grow onto the shed such as vines will help the shed blend in to its surroundings if you want to conceal it. Using plants inside also add to the décor and will help filter the air, try planting some that have flowers to spice up the area.
15] Solar Power… If you’re limited on the amount of power you can run to your shed a great way to make up the difference is using solar power. Basically you set up the solar panels on the roof or an area that gets lots of sunshine. These systems are great for powering small appliances, led lighting and for charging your electronic devices.
Let’s take a look at the “Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit” this solar power kit is perfect for someone living in a shed and wants to get started using solar power. The beauty of solar for a shed is it doesn’t need an external power source and is very quiet. You can easily add more panels and increase size of your system.
– You get all the tools needed for the system.
– Simple to set-up and use.
– PWM charge controller with brackets.
– 2 – 20 foot lengths of MC4 adaptors for fast connection to the panel.
– 30A PWM charge controller that can handle up to 3 100 watt panels.
– Required cable to hook-up charge controller to your battery.
– You need to supply your own battery.
The “Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit” has 1,010 ratings and 832 answered questions and with a user rating of 4.5/5 you can be sure it’s a good system. Definitely worth every penny, you can read the reviews and answered question and see it for yourself here on Amazon.
16] Heat Control… During the summer months living in a shed can be like being in a sauna. Using an AC unit will require a lot of power and if you’ve wired your shed then that’s going to be an option for you. If not then add some curtains to windows, you can also use some reflective coating on the windows.
If you’re building the shed to live in it then you can locate it in a spot that’s away from the sun direct rays or build it under the shade of a large tree. You can also use thicker insulation in the ceiling and walls to keep the shed cooler.
17] Air Ventilation… Living in a small are like a shed will require some means of moving the air around, especially in the summer months and opening a window will help if there’s some breeze. I have found that an inexpensive dual window fan works great at removing air and bringing in fresh air at the same time. Check out Amazons line of windows fans here.
18] Install a Retractable Awning… This is a great way to enjoy the outside without having to sit right in direct sunlight. It also provides cover if you want to work outside or barbecue your favorite meat. Another option is to use a patio umbrella close to the sheds entrance.
Inexpensive Ways to Heat Your Shed
Many sheds are located near to a garden for easy storage and access of garden tools lawn maintenance tools as well set-up out the way as to not be an eyesore in your back yard. Many people are using there sheds as “Man caves” and “She Sheds” and some are even choosing to rent or live in a shed to save money.
I decided to add this section on how to heat your shed without having to spend a big pile of money. Be sure to follow all the local codes so you’ll be safe when using these options for heating a shed.
The Sun… The sun is the best free heating source and will be a good option for heating the inside of your shed. When your installing your sheds roof add several skylights on the side that gets the most sun and you’ll be feeling the sun’s heat thru these skylights very quickly and with a well-insulated shed it should stay warm for a while.
Heat Bulbs… You’ve likely seen the clear heat bulbs used in bathrooms, and the red infrared heat bulbs used for a good heat source for raising chickens. These types of bulbs work very fast at heating an area and the red ones are a good source for some relaxing ambient light as well.
Wood Stove… Again you’ll need to find out what the local building codes are and you’ll need to have the stove inspected. There are several tiny wood stoves that are used in tiny houses and depending on the size of your shed will give you a good idea of the size of wood stove you’ll need.
Electric Heaters… If you have power in your shed then using a small 1500 watt or smaller electric heater will be enough heat for a small shed. You’ll need to insulate the shed and install double sealed windows so your costs will be lower.
Propane Space Heater… A great option and doesn’t require and power to operate, let’s take a look at the “Mr Buddy Propane Space Heater” that uses the small propane tanks that the small camping stoves use. And it can be used indoors; you also can get the optional 10 foot Mr Buddy hose for connecting to a full size propane tank that’s usually mounted outside.
– Variable 4,000 to 9,000 BTU that can heat spaces up to 225 square feet.
– Clean burning and approved for both indoor and outdoor use.
– Built-in auto shut off if unit is tipped or if pilot light goes out as well will shut off if it detects unsafe oxygen levels.
– Handy folding handle and regulator will swing out for easy connecting.
– On full the small propane tank will last about 3 hours, you may want to purchase the optional 10 foot hose for connecting to a larger propane tank.
Using any un-authorized devices may cause injury and the warranty will be voided.
The “Mr Buddy Propane Space Heater” has 3,077 ratings and 852 answered questions, with a user rating of 4.5/5 and is an Amazon best seller. You can read the reviews and get all the information here on Amazon.
Living in a shed is quite doable and can be a real good option for some people, just make sure you talk to your local building authority or building inspectors office for the requirements before you proceed with the build. You can build a large shed and use half of it for storage and the other half for an office, workout area or a place for a family member to live in.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have found the information you’re looking for in my article.