• Jeremy Horning

LIVING IN A SHED

Updated: Apr 29


Are you ready to join the tiny house movement? Are you eager to live in a tiny house shed? Then keep reading; because you're in for a fun ride!

Living in a shed legally is becoming a fast-moving trend, and it's slowly crawling its way into real estate; surprised? Don't be.

Not everyone has the luxury of living in a big place with customized decor and all that. Truly, a livable shed is such a small space, but when built to your preference, you'll definitely enjoy your new home.


Sheds are much more than “being used as a storage shed to keep tools dry”; you can decide to customize and transform them into your own tiny home. Let’s look at everything you need to know about living in a shed and if you can.

Why Would You Want To Live In A Shed?

Sheds come in different sizes and designs, and these tiny houses may have caught your attention because of how unique it looks. You can build a shed home to serve as a guest house, a pool house, or where you spend your alone time.

Depending on the size of your shed, you can decide to add windows and porches. You can touch up the design by adding electricity and water if you want to be extra. Living in a shed is affordable and saves construction time, unlike other types of houses.

Is It Really Possible To Turn A Shed Into A Living Place?


Yes, it is. However, the zoning regulations and zoning codes may not allow you legally live in a shed full-time.

Obtaining a shed building permit doesn’t take much time; plus building a shed is fast and the building materials can be found easily.

However, before you proceed, ensure the building regulations of your state permits you to do so. If you want a prefab shed for recreational purposes, it’s a very simple process, but the real struggle lies with you wanting to install electrical lines and water lines.

Remember, it’s more likely that you won’t pass the building codes that’ll give you permission to live legally in a shed. The reason behind this is that many sheds aren’t built as a standard shed, which can cause certain conditions, such as; poor insulation and mold formation resulting from improper sealing.

It’s very possible to transform your shed into a living space, but make sure it meets the minimum standards and has the three main utilities; water, electrical system and sewer.

Is It Legal To Live In A Shed On Your Property?


The answer to this depends on if the zoning codes approve, then yes, living in a shed legally is proper. You may have zoning issues depending on the specific county and specific regulations guiding there. You can contact your local authorities on their stance on shed living and what building permits you may need for more legal information.

The requirements of some states for living in a shed include equipping it with solar panels, a flush toilet, and a wind load design.

However, other states could care less about you having a pre-built shed, but make sure there’s a main house on the property. If you don’t intend to build a shed on your own property or your own land, ensure you take permission from the homeowner before moving your shed legally to their backyard.


You can opt for a prefab shed if you plan on using your shed for tool storage, and what’s better is that most states usually give a passcode when using small sheds for the sole purpose of storage.

But, the only drawback with this shed structure is that based on the code official, you may only be permitted to use it explicitly for storage.

Do You Need Planning Permission To Live In A Shed On Your Land?


The short answer to this is “no.”

It doesn’t matter if you are the sole owner of your land; you’ll definitely need planning permission if you plan on converting it into a permanent housing spot for yourself, family or friends. You can occasionally have a sleepover with friends in town, but it gets complicated when you plan on living there.

In many cases, it’s downrightly illegal to convert an existing shed into a home without complying with the building regulations that govern your state. Getting permitted development rights is a great option if you want just a shed for storage or quick tasks.

However, you should know that the building codes are not in any way created to make things difficult for you; in fact, these laws are there to ensure your health, safety and welfare.

When a shed is built for the purpose of dwelling, there are certain regulations about air quality, drainage system, power supply, fire escape route, composting toilet, septic system, and of course, lights.

Inspectors from your jurisdiction will want to know exactly what you intend to do and how you plan to enforce the process. They can decide to stop by your location in the middle of the day for inspections, and, yes, they don’t need a warrant for that.

Additionally, you should check out your county’s rules and find out if taxes come with building a shed for dwellings.

How To Make Your Shed Suitable For Living?

Depending on the types and shapes of shed you want, you may need a professional for proper utilities installation, or if you feel confident about doing your own thing, then, by all means, you can make this a fun DIY project for you, and your friends.

Keep in mind that it may be a bit messy doing it yourself unless you have enough experience in constructing a sewer, water system, and electricity lines, but we doubt you do; however, if you insist, then get ready because it’s construction time*wink*

Making your tiny homes livable doesn’t need to come with a lot of stress because shed manufacturers have come up with amazing designs and ideas that you’ll definitely have a hard time purchasing because they are all simply amazing.


If you’re wondering what structure to go for, you can consider the prefab shed, as it’s perfect for folks working on a budget and those who aren’t interested in building from scratch. Another great benefit of getting started with the prefab shed is that you’ll get help from the manufacturers; installing, designing and even permitting.

You can perfectly handle the interior aspect of your shed home; after all, it’s your small space, and you’ll need it to have your personal touch.

Let’s look at a few things you need to set in place if you intend on living in a shed and making the most out of your tiny house.

1. Set The Perfect Foundation

The first step to enjoying your shed living adventure is scraping the grass properly and laying about 5 inches of gravel.

You can also pour a slab; one of the advantages of this is that it’ll serve as a proper drainage system and seal in moisture during rainy weather as opposed to plain floors. You can also create a small space on the underside of the shed to allow you access to enter. Fun fact, you can bury your sewer and water connections under the gravel to avoid extra questions from your local inspector. Alternatively, you can get professionals to install a French drainage if you feel that the slopes will be an anchor for flooding in the shed. Check our guide for more useful shed foundation ideas and how to decide which is the right one for you.

2. Utility Installations

Once the shed pad is put in place, wait to get your shed pad graded, then proceed to start your utilities connection like composting toilet or porta-potty service and any HVAC needs. We understand if you are trying to cut down costs and go for a cheap alternative, but make sure you get a professional who knows his onions, or you’ll end up with a half-baked shed on your current property.

You’ll need the help of an electrician for internet lines and electricity, and you may need plumbing services as well. Utilities like the outlets on your walls need to be added now because it’ll be more difficult, and you’ll pay more to have it done later.

3. Get Rid Of Moisture From The Floor Of The Shed

A shed is such a small space, and to turn it into a standard shed, you need to be certain that it wouldn’t get rotten or sink into the ground in the long run. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to raise your shed above floor level using blocks or treated plywood. If the under of your shed is directly placed on the bare ground, bugs can easily eat into it, so for your own good, you can cover-coat the underside with a thick deck oil to keep the wood healthy and prevent moisture from ruining it.

4. Insulate Your Shed

Living in a shed can be fun initially, even for your elderly parents, but what happens when the heat becomes too much or the shed becomes too cold? That’s why you need to take insulation seriously, or you’ll abandon your shed in no time. You can use a spray can foam to insulate the seams of your shed, and in some cases, it can even serve as a sealant.


It’s important that you focus on climate control; if the climate isn’t conducive enough, your shed can’t be tagged as a livable shed.

For those living in a colder climate, insulation of the floors might also come in handy, especially if you have a metal shed.

5. It’s Time To Be Creative

You have a lot more work to do when it comes to designing the interiors of your shed. The plan is to make your living space as perfect as possible. You are allowed to design the insides of your shed as you see fit without the limitations of local codes and building codes.


Get your tools ready, drywall your walls, set in baseboards and paint it up in your favorite color. You can set your cabinets, appliances, and outside lights. If you intend to save money and costs, it’s best to buy your decorative off the shelf pre-made structures that are typically affordable and still give your shed a professional and personal touch. And guess what?


You are all set; you have successfully converted your shed into a tiny house for yourself or your elderly parents.

How Much Will It Cost You To Build A Livable Shed?

Building a livable shed doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; after all, you’re not building on a new land or property. If you intend to buy land to build your livable shed, it will cost more.

However, we’ll give you a breakdown of the reality to know how much you’re likely to spend and the drawbacks you may experience.

Generally, if you’re building a shed on your property, it’ll cost around $30 – $150 per square foot, the cost of the shed inclusive.


Converting your shed could cost you anywhere from $2000 to $30000, but the costs ultimately depend on the quality of raw materials, fixtures, and structures.

Let’s give an example of the costs you’ll likely incur when purchasing a pre-built shed:

  • Shed – $2500 – $10000

  • Insulation – $1000 – $2500

  • Utilities – $2000 – $7000

  • Flooring – $500 – $1000

  • Windows – $1000 – $5000

  • Toilet – $100 -$1000

  • Flower bed – $700 – $3000

  • Outdoor lighting – $190 – $330

But if you want a quick and easy installation that you can easily comply with, it’s best to try the prefab shed. Prefab shed kits cost around $2000 to $5000. If you’re wondering what might be in the kit; there are separate parts, including roofing and walls, plus an instruction manual to help you install it yourself.

But to properly install it, you need to be sure that your building skills are perfect, or you can call a professional to get the job done. Most prefabricated sheds don’t come with a foundation, so you might need to build a concrete slab to help support the shed.

The price of custom-built sheds will vary based on the design and the location you want it to be designated. Yes, it may come with its own benefits, but it’s a more expensive choice. You’ll need to pay labor fees to a contractor, and you’ll pay for plumbing services as well.

The four most common materials for building a shed are; wood, vinyl, brick and metal, with brick being the most expensive.

However, if you want a shed that’ll make your neighbors stare in wonder or value for money well spent, get an experienced bricklayer to get the job done in whatever style you want.

What Are The Laws And Regulations You Should Be Aware Of?

The zoning and building codes of different counties play a role in building a shed or even living in one. The laws of your county can stipulate the size of your shed and can either approve or disapprove of whether you should live in a shed or not. Before moving forward with your shed idea, you need to be certain that you have enough room for it to begin with, and ensure you obtain the building permits from your local council, even if it takes you weeks to get.

Zoning Codes

Generally, the zoning code of jurisdictions dictates the site on which you can build a shed. They also give laws on the size of a building and the number of buildings on a particular property. So, it’ll be illegal to proceed with building your shed without getting approved. You can enquire from the zoning department to know if it’s acceptable to erect a shed in your city.

Bylaws Of HOA

Different cities have their specific bylaws of HOA on the size and structure of outbuildings. So to live in a shed, you need to be aware of the bylaws your property falls under.

Class 1a Livable Shed

As we said early, every city has a particular law that limits what you can build, where you can build, and the living condition of your building. However, the general codes that apply to Class 1a livable shed include:

  • Connection to city water is a must

  • Standard bathroom for a quick shower

  • A kitchen

  • Installation of a window for even ventilation and fresh air

  • Smoke and alarms for extra security

  • Foundation design as stipulated by your city

Your shed must pass all of these requirements unless you can’t make it an accessory dwelling unit.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Living In A Shed?

If you live in a shed, the major problem you’ll probably face isn’t the heating or cooling breeze but compost from urine and feces. Although most owners usually hook their toilet to a septic tank, what if you don’t have the space to afford such luxury?

Another disadvantage that comes if you wish to live in a shed is the difficulty surrounding getting zoned. It can be quite challenging to get approved; it doesn’t matter whether you want to convert an existing shed or build from scratch.

Living In A Shed Ideas

There are no particular criteria for designing the interiors of your shed; depending on what you want, you can watch a video on different sites to get a visual idea and proceed to design your shed in that manner. Usually, people want sheds that can compliment their yard or garden, and if that’s you, let’s take a look at a few ideas that’ll make your habitation a warm and presentable one.

Faux Fireplace

To make your living space have a heating medium without putting your safety at risk, getting a faux fireplace is the best idea; it doesn’t consume power and it’s inexpensive.

Potting Shed

To give your backyard a garden-like view, you can install watering supplies, design a perfectly looking seating area, and plant plenty of colorful greens and herbs to convert it into the ultimate potting shed.

Outdoor Lounge

You can use this in advertising your creative skill. Stage a small deck just beside your shed to create an outdoor look. When the atmosphere is calm, you can invite your family for a night out to watch the stars, or you could engage in fun games too.

What Can Urban Sheds Do For You?

At Urban Sheds, we understand that you need to create a living space that reflects your personality, and that’s what we are all about. It’s our goal to make your tiny home terrific while complying with the legal laws of your county or city.

If you wish to legally live in a custom-designed shed that’ll last you for years and transform your backyard, then let’s do business together. Our sheds come with a 3-year warranty, so you can be sure that it’ll be a shed the neighbors won’t forget in a hurry.

Conclusion

If you have enough space in your backyard to accommodate a new development like sheds with doors and furniture, then why not have one?

To live in a shed is a wonderful experience; it allows you to create time for yourself while enjoying nature. Ensure you install enough windows, get your plumbing right, and have a temperature balance, so the heat or cold doesn’t get too much.

FAQs:

1. Can I turn my shed into a guest house?

Yes, you can. But make sure the door is large enough to accommodate your tall guests, and you are good to go. And yes, hire a professional to help out if you are confused about what to do.

2. What is a good size shed to live in?

Depending on the number of people you need to accommodate, your shed size could be anywhere from 150 square foot to 700 square foot.

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