An ad that popped on Facebook the other day claimed: You Can Build This Tiny House Shed for Less Than $5,000! The ad featured a rather attractive tiny house interior that was clearly a shed interior that someone had spent more than $5,000 to build. A quick Google search quickly reveals that a lot of folks are buying sheds to live in. And why not?! They’re inexpensive to buy and easy to buy! The reality, however, is something different.

Living in a shed is not a good idea, in fact living in a repurposed  tiny house can be hazardous to your health! Here are 3 important reasons you should’t live in a shed:

  1. Materials – Sheds are designed to be exposed to the elements and their primary purpose is to keep equipment, tools and gardening supplies secure and dry. What they aren’t designed for is daily living. Many sheds have walls and floors that are made of OSB or particle board, which are full of formaldehyde, insecticide and other chemicals that are used prevent damage from the elements and bugs. While many of these same items are used in traditional stick-built homes, the confined nature can create a higher concentration. Many of the substances used to build sheds are specifically used to prevent intrusion by pests and water and can be toxic or even carcinogenic.
  2. Air quality – In addition to potential toxic chemicals in the air from the building materials used to make the house, there tend to be other air quality issues related to shed-based tiny houses. Sheds are designed to keep tools dry, but it’s not designed to keep them warm. Sheds tend to be vented to prevent the build up of odors, but these vents can leave the shed too cold to habitate.  Sealing up a building to make it easier to keep warm can have an adverse affect on air quality and exacerbate the issue of toxic materials.
  3.  Structure – Sheds are designed for a relatively simple task – keep the weather off of your garden implements. What they are not designed for is structural modifications such as lofts, wet bathrooms, the addition of fixtures to make it livable, etc. The way that these building are vented (as mentioned above) can cause excessive amounts of moisture which can damage the structure and cause mold to form.  They are typically not built to be wired the way a living structure would be. The addition of a large number of electrical outlets can be difficult and even potentially unsafe.

Most municipalities will not allow you to convert a shed into a livable structure, so before you convert one, make sure you know your local zoning laws and building codes. Are you living in a shed? Have you made it safe and workable? We’d love to hear from! Until next time, keep thinking tiny!