There's a big interest in the recent years to using garden shed as a house - due to the mortgage crisis and what not. Because of this huge interest, there is a lot of crap written online saying basically how you should choose a location, paint the shed and you are all set in. You can go inside with your pets, your three kids, and their grandma.
This is of course utterly useless nonsense.
Living in a garden shed is a little bit more complex to say at least. So I'll try to put it into a more realistic perspective here. It's not impossible but there are far more important things to take in mind than painting.
Most sheds are fairly small to be used for a house. Now there are people who take downsizing to the extreme and live in the so called "tiny houses" which are basically the size of a regular shed. There are some quite impressive stories regularly posted on the Tiny House Blog for example.
In reality most of us won't be able to gather their stuff and pack into such small space. At the very least you will need one shed for living and another one for storage. This is if we talk about comfortable living of course.
If you choose the two-sheds solution be careful what you'll store in the storage one. Moisture and cold can damage a lot of your belonging and I doubt you plan to heat the storage shed.
Because sheds usually have tiny walls you'd need twice the insulation that you'd put on a regular house. Fortunately this is usually easy to do yourself, because sheds aren't too high and you won't need scaffolding. Pay special attention to waterproofing - wooden sheds are rather prone to leaks.
You'll have to arrange electricity and water supply inside the shed. Unless you are very experienced, call a technician to do both. And consider the added costs of installing the service of course.
This is not exactly appliance but... you should definitely think about bathroom and WC. In most cases it's quite a challenge to fit one in a shed, even a large one. A bath in a wooden shed will need to be really well water proofed and regularly ventilated to avoid decay and mold.
A common solution is to have external WC. This is something that definitely lowers the comfort level though.
While no one can tell you what to put on a plot of land in the middle of nowhere, living in a shed inside a populated area can be more of a trouble. In some locations it can be completely illegal because you don't be able to obtain usage permission for such kind of building. In other places you may be fine but may be unable to obtain permissions for using the electricity or water grid. So before starting with your shed house, you need to check the building codes in your area.
In general prefab shed houses or tiny houses have better chances of meeting the building codes than if you are building your shed house yourself.
The legalities about living in a shed are outlined better in this blog post. It's about Australia but requirements are fairly similar in many developed countries. It's not that much about the size but about the engineering class of the building and the disposal systems.
Now, in some cases you won't bother much about building codes because you might be interested in living off-grid. Which is completely different matter.
Some Links Worth Looking At
- Turn your shed into a Tiny House - an interesting post with even more interesting discussion in the comments below it.
- Living in a shed? - yet another good post where the comments add a lot to the topic.
- Tuff Sheds as Living Space? - some specific numbers and cozy pics here.
- A discussion about legalities etc
Are you interested to live in a shed or use it as a guest house?