Livable Sheds: A Surprising Solution to Affordable Housing
From Prefab to DIY Sheds, They’re Being Used to Meet the Need for Shelter
In the spring of 2011, tornadoes ripped through west central Louisiana over the course of several days. These storms left hundreds homeless. A surprising solution was utilized by several people in the area, livable sheds.
I knew a couple of families who joined two sheds together to make cute homes. A prefab shed is easy to turn into an insulated shed and to customize. You can even add a porch although many of them already come with a porch.
There are many situations which may make livable sheds a surprising solution for affordable housing. Many of the people in the area affected by the tornadoes couldn’t afford insurance, some of the insurance companies were slow in appraising the damage and delayed payments. These and more such circumstances prompted people to consider their alternatives.
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Are They a Real Option?
While prefab sheds are built to be just that, a shed, when properly insulated, wired, plumbed, and fitted with proper doors and windows, they can become affordable homes. The tiny house or micro homes movement is sweeping across the United States. They range from simple to extravagant.
There’s even a television show devoted just to tiny homes. It’s amazing to see the creative use of space and imaginative designs.
However, don’t rush out and buy one or build your own livable shed. First, check for restrictions in your area. Believe it or not, some communities are prohibiting livable sheds and tiny homes as housing options.
Disadvantages of Livable Sheds
As with all of life, there are pros and cons to everything, even livable sheds.
1. Appearance – Unlike traditional homes, you’ll be limited in exterior building materials, style, and color when purchasing a prefab shed. Of course, if you’re a handyman or have one, this can be overcome once the shed is in place.
2. Construction quality – This is flexible because it depends on the original intent of the shed’s use, the building company, and quality of construction materials. If you’re going to choose a prefab shed to convert into a livable shed, be sure you check it over well. The materials used and the construction of the shed are paramount to the sturdiness of the building.
3) Portability – Unlike tiny homes which are usually built on trailers or wheeled frames, portable sheds aren’t truly portable. They’re called portable because you can hire someone to bring in a trailer and special equipment to relocate the shed because it’s not built on a foundation.
Most prefab sheds can’t be secured to a trailer like tiny homes which are built on them. They’re too wide or don’t meet some other size restrictions. Being able to handle the high wind of interstate travel is also a restriction livable sheds may not be able to meet.
Advantages of Livable Sheds
1) Price – This is the first reason most people even begin to consider tiny homes or livable sheds as housing options. The shells of most sheds can be purchased cheaper than you can build it yourself if you have to purchase all the materials. Upcycling and recycling materials you have on hand would, of course, lower the price.
2) Available Financing – While you may not be able to have the upgrade work financed, most businesses which sell these sheds offer to finance the purchase. I’m not sure about the details, but I see signs all the time advertising the financing options for sheds and barns.
3) A Quick Move In – Once the shed is situated on your property, the process of finishing it out to make it livable will go quickly. This is especially true if you’ve planned carefully and have lined up any professional help you need.
Livable sheds seem to be a big hit with older couples looking to downsize. I’ve seen them added to the property of a child as an in-law suite. They would make nice little guest cabins for those with family members who would like to visit. I recently read about one area which is setting up these types of buildings for the homeless veterans in their area.
Remember to be sure you check zoning laws in your area. If you have a friend who is the construction field, take them with you to look at the general structure of the shed to be sure it can be modified to suit your needs. After all, two heads are better than one.
With the disadvantages and advantages laid out for you, what do you think of livable sheds? Are they an option for you and your goals? There are many situations where livable sheds can be a viable option.
Do you live in one or know someone who does? Do you have tips or ideas on making livable sheds?
Please share your experience and knowledge with us in the comments below.
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack