Can You Live in a Shed on Your Property - 12 Preparations and Regulations You Need to Know
Updated: Jul 13
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 in real estate. Surprised? Don't be. The question "Can I live in a shed on my property?? is frequently asked.
Not everyone has the luxury of living in a spacious place with customized decor. A livable shed may seem such a small space, but a well-built one could be a new home you can enjoy.
Sheds are for much more than being used as a storage shed to keep tools dry. But can you live in a shed? You can decide to customize and transform one into your own tiny home. Let's look at everything you need to know about living in a shed.
Why Would You Want To Live In A Shed?
Sheds come in different designs and styles, and these tiny houses may have caught your attention because of how unique they look. 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 customize the design by adding electricity and water if you want. Living in a shed is affordable and saves construction time, unlike conventional houses.
Is It Really Possible To Turn A Shed Into A Living Place?
Yes, it is. However, zoning regulations and zoning codes may not allow you to legally live in it full-time.
Obtaining a shed building permit doesn't take much time. Also, building it is fast, and building materials can be found easily.
However, before you proceed, ensure the building regulations of your state permit you to do so. It's a simple process if you want a prefab shed for recreational purposes. The real struggle lies when you want to install electrical lines and water lines for plumbing.
Remember, it's more likely that you won't pass the building codes that'll give you permission to live legally in a shed. Why? Because many sheds aren't built according to standards, which can cause conditions, such as poor insulation and mold formation resulting from improper sealing.
It's possible to transform your shed into a living space if it meets the minimum standards and has the essential 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 it. If yes, living in a shed legally is okay. But zoning issues may arise depending on the specific county and its specific regulations. You can contact your local authorities regarding 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 and live in a shed on your own property or own land, ensure you get permission from the homeowner before moving your shed legally to their backyard.
Opting for a prefab shed is a great option if you plan on using it 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 the code official may only allow you 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 "yes."
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 permanent housing for yourself, your 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 state building regulations.
But getting a permit or development rights is not usually essential if you just want a shed for storage.
However, you should know that the building codes are not created to make things difficult for you. In fact, the laws are there to ensure your health, safety, and welfare.
Of course, when a shed is designated as a dwelling, specific regulations will apply.
These regulations govern air quality, drainage, power supply, fire escape route, composting toilet, septic system, and 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 discover if taxes come with building a shed for a dwelling.
How To Make Your Shed Suitable For Living?
Depending on the type and style of the shed you want, you may need a professional for the proper installation of utilities. 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 unless you have enough experience in constructing a sewer and water system, and electricity supply. But we doubt you do. However, if you insist, get ready because it's construction time!
Making tiny homes livable doesn't need to come with a lot of stress because shed manufacturers have come up with amazing designs and ideas. You won't have a hard time purchasing something suitable because they are simply amazing.
If you're wondering what structure to go for, consider a 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 a prefab shed is you'll get help from the manufacturers with designing, permitting, and installing it.
You can 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 for living in a shed and to make the most 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.
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 system if you feel that the slopes will be an anchor for flooding in the shed. Check our guide for more helpful shed foundation ideas and options 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 with connecting utilities like a composting toilet or porta-potty service and any HVAC needs. We understand if you are trying to cut costs and go for a cheap alternative, but make sure you get professional help. Otherwise, you might end up with a half-baked structure 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 and outlets on your walls need to be added early 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 you need to be sure that it won't get rotten or sink into the ground in the long run. To avoid this, raise your shed floor level using blocks or treated plywood. If the underside of your shed is directly placed on the bare ground, bugs can easily eat into it. So for your own good, cover-coat the underneath 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 there is too much heat 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 of foam to insulate the seams of your shed, and in some cases, it can even serve as a sealant. You must focus on climate control. If the climate isn't regulated, 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 interior of your shed. The plan is to make your living space as perfect as possible. You are allowed to design the inside of your shed as you see fit without the limitations of local codes and building codes. Get your tools ready, drywall your walls, fix baseboards, and paint them in your favorite color.
You can install your cabinets, appliances, and outside lights. Do you want to save money/costs? Buy decorative off-the-shelf pre-made structures. These are typically affordable and 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 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, building a shed on your property will cost around $30 - $150 per square foot.
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 shed building costs you'll likely incur when purchasing a pre-built structure:
Shed - $2500 - $10000
Insulation - $1000 - $2500
Utilities - $2000 - $7000
Flooring - $500 - $1000
Windows - $1000 - $5000
Toilet - $100 -$1000
Outdoor lighting - $190 - $330
But if you want a quick and easy installation that will comply with almost any building permit, it's best to try a prefab shed. Prefab shed kits cost around $2000 to $5000. Are you wondering what might be in such kits? There are separate parts, including the roof 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 location. Yes, it may come with benefits, but it's a more expensive choice. You'll need to pay labour fees to a contractor and pay for plumbing services.
The four most common materials for building a shed are wood, vinyl, brick, and metal, brick being the most expensive.
However, if you want to live in a shed that'll make your neighbours stare in wonder or want the best value for money spent, get an experienced bricklayer to get the job done in style.
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 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 ahead with any shed idea, be sure you have enough room to begin. And obtain the building permits from your local council, even if it takes weeks.
Generally, the zoning code jurisdictions dictate the site where 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 start building your shed without getting approved. You can enquire at 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 a Class 1a livable shed include:
Connection to city water is a must
Standard bathroom for a quick shower
Installation of a window for even ventilation and fresh air in your shed
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 plan to live in a shed, the most serious problem you will probably face isn't the heating or cooling but compost from urine and feces. Although most owners usually hook their toilet up 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. Zoning can be 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 interior 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 a standard shed or something fancier. Usually, people want sheds that complement their yard or garden. If that's you, let's look at a few ideas for sheds that'll make your habitation a warm and presentable one.
Do you want to give your living space some heating without risking your safety? Getting a faux fireplace is the best idea. It doesn't consume power, and it's inexpensive.
Do you want to turn a standard shed into a potting shed in your backyard or garden? You can install water supplies, design a seating area, and plant plenty of colorful greens and herbs to convert it into the ultimate potting shed.
You can use your creative skill and stage a small deck beside your shed to create an outdoor area. Invite your family for a night out to watch the stars or engage in an evening of fun games.
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 for years and transform your backyard, then let's do business together. Our sheds come with a 30-year structural warranty and 3-year workmanship warranty, so you can be sure that it'll be a shed the neighbours won't forget in a hurry.
If you have enough space in your backyard to accommodate a new development like a shed with doors and furniture, 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 regulate the temperature, so the heat or cold doesn't get too much.
1. Can I turn my shed into a guest house?
Yes, you can. But make sure the door is large enough to accommodate 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, the size could be anywhere from a 150 square foot to a 700 square foot building.