What is a liveable shed and are they popular?

Sometimes referred to as a shed house (shouse) or shed home (shome), the rustic charm of portal frame shed living/lifestyle are popular as a flexible alternative to conventional builds for:

  • Teenager’s Retreats
  • Man Caves
  • Granny Flats
  • Kids Playrooms
  • Home Offices
  • Additional or alternative accommodation while building a home

They can be repurposed as sheds into homes or just built from scratch, as seen here.

Sheds converted to homes

1. A more cost-effective approach

While an average house costs $100K, a shed house can be built for prices ranging from only $10K to $15K.

2. A less time-consuming project

Because they’re smaller, tiny shed homes take way less time to build. Rather than the thousands of hours required for a normal house, it’s possible to construct a shed home in only hundreds of hours, especially if you start with a prefab shed or cabin

3. A lower skill requirement

If you’re a DIY (do-it-yourself) type of person, creating your own living space from a storage shed is a great idea. It is less involved than building a regular-sized home. The feeling of accomplishment, though, is just as great!

4. A less taxing legal avenue

Permits, taxes, bills, and unwanted expenses pester even the most affluent homeowner. On the other hand, shed houses are virtually free aside from minimal maintenance and the initial building cost.*

5. A great living-space addition

Whether you need a guest room, additional living space, a getaway space or you're just interested in shed conversions, a finished shed house fits the bill perfectly. Rather than spending lots of money to add to your house (and dealing with any red tape your local municipality adds to the process), try a simple shed home.

What is the cost of a shed house and how can it vary?

A very basic 10-by-10-foot engineered wood kit from a home improvement store runs about $900. And if you're wanting things like extra windows, bigger doors, flower boxes, etc., you'll pay more. While that may sound affordable, there are additional expenses that aren't included.

Building a shed house

What kit shed homes don't include:

·       Permits

·       Foundation and flooring

·       Shingles

·       Drywall

·       Electricity

·       Insulated sheds

·       Plumbing

·       Installation if you're not DIYing it

A poured foundation will cost about $75 in materials, and if you hire someone to do it, they'll charge up to a $100 an hour.

Electrical materials will cost around $150 to run a line from your house to a shed 50 feet away. But unless you have this specific skill set, you'll need to call in an electrician. At $50 to $100 an hour, that brings the cost to $500 or more.

And if you're looking to trick out your shed with a wet bar or convenient bathroom? Plumbing is an even more costly addition, starting at $1,000 to $1,500 just to run the supply and drain lines. 

To provide a rough idea, converting a shed into a shed house can cost you some $2500 to $30,000. Depending on your preferences and what expenses you can afford on its production, the costs may vary, especially if you used Colorbond or Zincalume.

Are there any hidden costs?

If you’re planning on turning shed into tiny house and you’ve received the approvals that you need, there are some basic standards that you need to meet.  As previously stated, the shed needs to be built to class 1 engineering standards so that it is habitable.  It also needs to meet the Basix standards with things such as proper insulation, efficient hot water, good ventilation and so on.  The shed needs to be connected to the sewer or an appropriate septic system and the concrete slab must have a vapour barrier.  You also need to meet minimum ceiling heights.  Other things that your shed will need include water, power, wall and floor coverings, doors and windows. You might need to further research council permissions and costs pertaining to licences, also, these may vary depending on whether they're shed conversion or barn houses.

What are the regulations of living in a shed?

This is the number one question – are you actually allowed to live in a shed?  The answer is maybe, if the shed meets certain conditions,  but remember, large sheds have broader conditions. Generally, living in a shed is not allowed. This is because a shed is usually classified as a class 10a building, and these are not for habitation. To be able to live in a shed, you need to find one that has class 1 engineering so that it is habitable. You can find sheds that meet these conditions though.

Shed house plans
You also need to talk with your local council or a private certifier.  You need approval from the council in order to use a shed as a temporary dwelling and you will often need to have a Development Application approved for a future home (so the council can see that the shed is not the only building intended for the property). It generally varies from state to state.

Are there any companies who supply ready-made shed homes?

Yes. Wide Span Sheds, Sheds n Homes and The Shed House are among the most popular kit-shed houses and are among the cheaper side of prices.

  1. Farmhouse shed

    Materials/Features: Black corrugated steel cladding, angled windows, high level insulation wood burner, open plan living area with bi-fold doors.
    Location: UK
    Costs: 500,000 GBP
  2. Beach shed

    Location: Gerroa, NSW Materials/Design: The couple contacted designer Alex Michael with an idea for a house resembling a "pimped-up shed". "We wanted something that would sit well with the surrounding landscape and a shed seemed the perfect fit," says Suzy. "Alex uses concrete, steel, glass and wood extensively in his work, which we love, and he has a wonderful way of adapting industrial items to domestic settings. He took our shed idea to the next level."
  3. The Escarpment House 

    Atelier Andy Carson have designed a two bedroom modern guest house in Gerringong, Australia, that has a farm shed like appearance, with a welcoming interior.