The Shed to Home movement, an offshoot of the Tiny House movement, is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. People are increasingly interested in a simple, less complicated lifestyle. Our family made the transition to a shed home three years ago. It might be a good move for you as well. The following is our experience.
My wife, Beth, and I have lived in many places and in homes of varying sizes. We started out our lives together in a basement apartment. From there, we progressed from condos to various sized homes as our needs and wants increased and our family grew. With every move we accumulated more…well…crap. We made daily deliveries to various charity groups when we finally decided to downsize from 3,500 square feet – to a shed.
The Long Road to Shed Living – in a Nutshell
Beth has always been fascinated with alternative homes. When we were dating, she showed me one of her favorite books (I wish I could remember the title). It was filled with interesting and unique homes that ranged from huge wine barrels to various types of train cars, and from yurts to tree houses. I had never seen homes that were “alternative”. I thought they were cool, but I didn’t get interested until we spent a weekend in a wine barrel cottage. I was hooked, as I am sure she intended, and we decided to figure out how to have an interesting, alternative home of some type.
Fast forward a few years (Beth won’t let me say how many). We bought some land in the north Georgia mountains with the idea of building a family compound. The first house we built was a group effort. Our youngest daughter and our grandkids live in it, and we are thankful to be able to be with them every day. It truly is a blessing! Building the first house took a lot of time and effort, so we decided to go a different route on the second house. On one of our many trips to Home Depot, Beth took our grandson to look at the sheds in the parking lot. He loved to go from shed to shed and run around in them. I caught up with them after getting what I needed in the store and we walked into the largest shed on the lot. We looked around and, after just a few minutes, Beth exclaimed “this looks like a house to me”. Over the next few days, she drew out the plans for the interior of our shed house on a napkin. We had a discussion with our county planning office, received their permission to go ahead with the construction, and purchased the Tuff Shed model TR-1600, a two-story workshop shed.
The Shed to House Conversion
Dealing with Home Depot and Tuff Shed was a great experience for us. We had already built one house with the help of our local Home Depot, and the management and staff were all interested in our new project. We were also the first in our county to do a shed to home conversion, so we worked closely with Tuff Shed to make sure our new shed house was built to code. We made some modifications to the base shed to make it longer, added 2x6 framing, and changed the pitch of the roof. We also added a custom front door, upgraded the windows, and added a custom front window.
The construction process was amazing. Tuff Shed built all our walls in their facility in a jig. This ensures the walls are straight and square. They brought all the parts of our shed home to our property (walls already assembled) and began construction. The process should have taken four days. Our shed home took about 10 days due to snow and ice. We had a slight issue during construction, but that was quickly taken care of by Tuff Shed. Once dried-in, we were able to have the trades come in.
Challenges with the Trades
We began the interior work with many of the same tradespeople that had worked on our first house. Our electrical and plumbing crews both started and got much of the work done, but they were lured away by more money at a massive construction project about thirty-five miles south of us. You certainly can’t blame them. They were making three times what we had agreed to pay them for our small project. It took some time to find other local and licensed tradespeople who were willing to take on a small project, but we eventually found great plumbers and electricians to get back on track. Our project was further delayed by our travel and work schedules, but everything finally came together. Beth and I completed the rest of the interior work by installing flooring, tile, sinks and sink basins, trim, and kitchen cabinets.
The Transition to Shed Living
Our house is slightly larger than many of the tiny houses shown on TV. At 764 square feet it is technically small, but not tiny. It is, however, still a shed. We moved from a 3,500 square foot house to a twenty-seven-foot RV during our shed to home construction. When we finally moved into our new shed home it was like moving into a mansion! After more than three years it is still our favorite home. It is comfortable during all seasons thanks to our mini-split system. On the coldest days, we supplement our heat with a small gas fireplace that can heat the whole house. It’s nice for ambience as well. Our power bill is between $65.00 and $79.00 every month, depending on how hot or cold it is. The house is also well-insulated with R-19 in the walls and R-38 in the attic and under the house. It’s also incredibly quiet. The size of the house makes it quick to clean up before guests arrive or after playtime with the grandkids.
Making the transition to living in a shed house was not without challenges, but it was worth it for us. We love living with a smaller footprint in our shed home.
Some Tips to Consider if you Want a Shed Home