Can I Live in a Shed in My Backyard Legally?

If you’re looking for a home, but aren’t ready to get locked into a mortgage, a backyard shed may be right for you! Like the tiny house movement, sheds are making their way to the real estate scene.

And, I’m not just talking about a storage building for your tools. They can be customized to fit your personal needs and your backyard. The best part is, it may actually be legal to live in a shed!

Reasons of Living in A Shed on Your Own Land

Can i live in a shed in my backyardThe sheds of today come in a variety of sizes, materials, and designs. They can range in size from 150 to over 700 square feet. You can even update the shed with electrical and plumbing!

You can add extras such as a front porch or windows to give it a more “homey” feel. When choosing the material for your shed, keep in mind your climate. A metal shed in the middle of a Florida backyard, mid-summer, may not be ideal. Could you imagine the cost of cooling that!?

Living in a shed is becoming popular with people who want the independence of living on their own, without the financial burden. They are great for someone fresh out of college or a person who needs to get back on their feet.

The great thing about a shed is that a building permit is easy to obtain in most cities. Construction time is minimal, with most going up in under 24 hours.

Is It Possible To Turn a Shed Into a Tiny House?

The short answer is, YES! If you’re like me, a house isn’t a home without a front porch. Check out the front porch on this shed! With the right contractor, you can turn a shed into a mini version of a multi-million dollar mansion.

You can create custom porches, awnings, windows and doors for your shed. A standard shed would be big enough to fit a single bed, small table, TV, and a toilet (if you needed that addition).

Electricity can be wired to a shed with the right access ports. You can also add plumbing to your shed via septic hook up or a composting toilet.

A composting toilet takes excrement, (feces and urine) and turns it into compost. This is great for use in gardens and flowerbeds. The only drawback to this is that someone has to empty the commode often. Not it! Not to mention, the possibility for smells to overwhelm such a small area is unavoidable.

But, is Living in a Shed LEGAL?

Well, that all depends. Your local state and county ordinances for personal dwellings will have more information. You should make sure all building permits are obtained before construction takes place.

Some places rule that for a shed to pass as a “home”, it needs electricity, plumbing, heating, and air. Some cities don’t care where you put a shed, as long as another home is on the property. An example of this would be the backyard at your parent’s house. Just make sure you ask the homeowner first before moving in the backyard!

Pros and Cons of Living in a Shed

Living in a shed has many benefits and a few drawbacks. The cost is well under what you would normally pay for a mortgage or rent. You can buy a simple shed, outfit it with plumbing and electric, furnish it, and still come in under $10,000! You can create a custom shed to match your personal style and personal needs.

A shed dwelling is perfect for college graduates who may not have the job or the funds to afford rent. It’s also a great option for a senior who requires a watchful eye but still wants their privacy. It is easy to obtain building codes and permits for the actual building process.

Depending on where you live, living in a shed legally may not be a reality.

If you love to entertain, you may find it hard to fit 30 of your friends in 700 square feet. In such a small space, the most likely living option is a single room. There is usually no separate room for toileting/showering.

This could pose a potential problem for guests that come over and need a little extra privacy. If space is an issue, you can always create an addition to an existing shed, like the author of this article.  Another option is using a decorative screen to create a barrier between living areas.

Living in a Shed Regulations

The biggest downfall to living in a tiny house is zoning issues. Zoning could limit the size of the shed you need, or deny use of a shed on a property altogether. You should also make sure any permits are obtained before construction takes place.

A permit is how a city governs building codes. These codes ensure homes, and sheds, meet all structural and safety standards. The last thing you want to happen is to get all set up in a tiny house only to be told it has to come down! Any reputable builder should have all required permits and zoning regulations before construction.

Zoning codes enforce what and where things can be built. They enforce what type and how big a building can be. They also restrict the number of buildings on a specific property.

Depending on the city and state, you may not be able to add a shed to your property based on the zoning codes. You can find out this information by contacting your city zoning department.

Another thing to keep in mind is the bylaws of any HOA your property may be under. Some Associations place rulings on the look and size of outbuildings. For more information on zoning, read this article on historicshed.com.

Conclusion

If you have space on your lot, and zoning codes approve, living in a shed legally should be no problem.  Don’t limit the shed to just a home or tool storage.

They can be great for a home office, pool house, or even a “getaway” room.  Easy on the budget and easy to customize, the possibilities are endless!