Shed to Tiny House Conversion

In this post: Our shed to tiny house conversion experience; broken into 10 digestible steps

We’re doing it! For years we’ve dreamt of living a more simple, financially free life. Since 2018, we’ve been working toward our goals of being debt free and living a peaceful carefree life where we make money doing only things that we absolutely love.

It all started with some serious soul searching, which led us to taking massive action steps to get us closer to our goals. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has all been worth it. We are exactly where we set out to be only four short years ago and we are thriving in a life we love living!

Part of our plan included building a tiny house from scratch. But as we researched more into the topic, we found that it would simply take far too long to build from scratch.

We decided to convert a shed to a tiny house in order to save time. To stay true to our financially free lifestyle, we had one rule: NO LOAN! Everything must be paid for in cash. A task that would come with some sacrifice, but we were up for it.

Shed to Tiny House

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An Overview of our Shed to Tiny House Conversion

As one may expect, the process of converting a shed to a tiny house is similar to building/renovating a regular size house. Except everything is on a smaller scale and there are some unique challenges that come with working within the limited space of a shed.

There are some decisions that need to be made. The biggest one was creating a list of non-negotiables.

For us, the non-negotiables included a good sized kitchen/entertainment area, two office spaces (since both Cully and I work at home), some separation from our dogs – although we love ’em to pieces, having four dogs with combined weight of over 350 pounds is a lot for a tiny house, space for a washer and dryer and ample windows to take in the beautiful views that surround us.

We decided that building two separate tiny houses was best for our needs. Both would be shed to tiny house conversions, built on a gravel foundation. Not only would it allow a separate play area for the dogs, but it would also give Cully and I some (much needed) space to work without being in each other’s bubble.

The same rule applied with two tiny houses: all had to be paid in cash! So we spent money where it made sense and did our best to save wherever we could.

Shed to Tiny House: the 10 steps

To put it simply, there are 10 steps to converting a shed to a tiny house.

  1. Draw Plans
  2. Decide on Key Materials
  3. Purchase the Appropriate Size Shed
  4. Install Windows
  5. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!
  6. Rough in Electric and Plumbing
  7. Wall + Ceiling Finishes
  8. Install Flooring
  9. Install Cabinets and other Finishing Touches
  10. Decorate + Enjoy Tiny House Living!

Draw Your Tiny House Plans

This is probably the most important step. You need to know exactly what you want your shed-turned-tiny-house to look like before you start making any changes. 

Will you need a loft? How many windows do you want? What kind of flooring will you use? Answering these questions (and more) ahead of time will save you a lot of headache down the road.

Drawing it out is as simple as getting some dot or graph paper and a pencil. Below is what I drew up for our main tiny house.

Shed to Tiny House

Decide on Key Materials

You’ll need to decide how you will heat and cool your tiny house. If you will be off grid, we recommend this diy mini split. It’s what we’re using and we are 100% off grid. Currently, our tiny houses are powered by this generator.

We can’t run everything at once on this generator, but it is our short term solution until we get solar panels + get grid tied in the next year or so.

If you will only need heat, you can get away with a propane heater like this one. We have these in our other home (not a tiny house) and our 1969 camper and they work great.

You’ll also need to decide if you want to go with a traditional water heater or a tankless water heater. There are some space limitations, depending which route you go, so make sure what you choose will work in the space you have.

Purchase the Appropriate Size Shed

Once you know your non-negotiables, have drawn out the plans and know about what materials you need, it is time to purchase a shed shell!

We went with a local shed builder and you can do the same or buy a kit online. Home improvement stores like Home Depot sell kits and/or done for you sheds.

Or, you can always search for a used shed on Facebook Marketplace (or an equivalent resell space).

If going with a new shed from a local company, see if you can get all the door and window frames pre-cut. It will save you time and the cost is typically reasonable. This is what we did for most of our windows and doors.  Some we were undecided on, so we knew we’d have to cut those ourselves when it is time.

Install Windows

If you had the shed company cut windows for you, great! If not, it’s time to cut those out and install them.

For our tiny houses, we used second hand windows that we purchased for good friends of ours. These windows were in good condition and all we had to do was clean them up, add some weather stripping and re-install them.

Rough in Electric and Plumbing

Now that the windows are installed, it’s time to start on the electric and plumbing. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, please hire a professional. This is not an area where you want to make any mistakes.

Since we’re off-grid, we are currently using a composting toilet. This saves on water and there is no need for a septic tank (yet anyway). We use gray water safe products and reuse all the gray water that comes from the shower and sinks.

This is another area that will (eventually) change down the road, but for now it works perfectly!

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!

I can’t stress enough the importance of insulation in a tiny house. This is an area we did not cut corners or try to save in. We went all in with spray foam insulation, the thickest the walls and ceiling would support.

Insulation

Wall + Ceiling Finishes

This is where the fun begins! Now that your tiny house is weather proof, insulated and has rough electrical + plumbing installed, it’s time to start making it look like a home.

We used drywall on the walls and ceiling in our tiny house. However, you do not necessarily need to use drywall. You could use tongue and groove, shiplap or one of the many other beautiful wall finishes.

We did use drywall in our tiny house because we wanted to start with a clean + modern look. We also knew that if (more like when) we decide to go with a different finish, we could easily work over the existing drywall.

Install Flooring

This is another fun part of the tiny house build! It’s time to install your flooring. If you went with a different wall finish, you may want to consider that when choosing your flooring. We went with luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring because we loved the clean look and it was very easy to install.

Our go to LVP is always Select Surfaces. This is the third time we’ve used their flooring and we LOVE it. It’s priced very reasonably as well.

Flooring install

Install Cabinets and other Finishing Touches

Now that the flooring is installed, it’s time for cabinets and other finishing touches. We were so excited to get to this part of the build. This is when our tiny house started really coming together.

We went with IKEA kitchen cabinets because they are very reasonably priced and we loved the style. If you go with IKEA, make sure you have a game plan ahead of time, especially if you don’t live near a store and have to get them delivered to you.

Decorate + Enjoy Tiny House Living!

The last step! Decorating and enjoying tiny house living. Cully and I are currently on this step as we continue to work on all the finishing touches. We’ll be sure to share more pictures and updates as we go.

How Much Does it Cost to Turn a Shed into a Tiny House

Now for the burning question – how much did it cost us to turn our shed shells into tiny houses?

I’ve been tracking EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY. spent — it’s amazing how disciplined we got the second we committed to paying for everything in cash, lol.

At this point, I do not have an exact number that is only in relation to the tiny houses. But sign up for our newsletter below to stay tuned because I will be writing a post that outlines every single cost once the tiny houses are 100% complete.

    Shed to Tiny House Cost Breakdown

    To give you some initial numbers, we spent about $25k on the two shed shells. One is 12×36 and the other is 12×20. Keep in mind these sheds were purchased at a time when building materials were at an all time high. Hopefully you can snag one for less than what we paid, assuming costs continue to balance out.

    In total, we will likely spend a little over $100,000 on everything. Now, before your jaw breaks from hitting the floor so hard, allow me to elaborate.

    When I say “everything” I mean the shed shells, all materials to build out the tiny houses (windows, drywall, paint,. nails, plumbing, electrical, etc..), labor for the plumbing and electric work, generators, solar panels, cistern build, the truck we need to haul water, gravel for the road on our land, both tiny house gravel foundations and more… It also includes the cabinets, décor, furniture and all finishing touches.

    Oh, and let’s not forget the chicken house…that estimate also includes the new chicken coop (also made from a pre built shed shell) + secure run.

    So, you can see that a lot more is going into that $100k+ number.

    Has it been worth it? Without a doubt, YES! We saved tens of thousands of dollars doing much of the work ourselves and we absolutely love tiny house living. We wouldn’t change it for the world!

    Shed to Tiny House Conclusion

    If you’re on the fence about converting your shed into a tiny house, we hope this article has helped sway you in the right direction.

    It’s not as difficult as you might think and can be a fun (and affordable) project to take on with friends or family.

    We absolutely love tiny house living and we hope this post provides some helpful information if you’re considering building or converting a shed into a tiny house.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out or leave them in the comments below! We’ll do our best to answer them.

    Until next time,

    Krista


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