How Big of a Tiny House Do You Need?

When planning for your shed to house conversion, one of the biggest factors will be how much room you need. This is more important if you have a family along for the journey. This project likely needs to fit your budget and your family within it. How big of a home do you need exactly?

To determine the square feet needed for your shed to house project, consider the space you’re in now, the future needs of your household members, and your desire for privacy.

Since you’re here, we won’t chat about how much space the average American doesn’t actually use. We’re talking small, practical homes for your shed to house project. Let’s dig into some questions you can ask yourself to determine the right size home for you and your family.

How Much Space Do You Live in Now?

If you’re reading this, you’re dreaming of what is next. However, to start this process, I urge you to consider your current situation as a good foundation for what’s right for your future.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you started. You’re searching for balance, right? Not too big but not too small.

  • How big is your existing housing situation?
  • Is your current house too big?
  • Do you think your current place is poorly laid out?

Just critically assess what exactly you hope to change from where you’re at now.

You could be in a small home already, but if you are planning to downsize significantly, analyzing what you’re hoping to change becomes even more important. A quick Google search will land you on plenty of articles with people that quickly regretted their decision to downsize.

Get creative in how you assess how far to downsize. Here is a YouTube clip that we put together of us staking out our shed to house project as a starter. Next up, we’re considering spray painting a section of our backyard or putting tape on the floor in our garage.

Quick clip on how we began our process to decide how big is big enough for us.

How Many People Will Be Living in the Small Home?

It may be obvious to make sure you have room for all of the people of your household, but I ask that you think beyond your current situation. Are your kids older with only a year or 2 left in your home? Are you living with a spouse or partner with maybe a kid or two in your future?

While you may not be able to predict the future (hello, lotto numbers!), you should at least give it some thought. If you have a kid likely to go off on their own in a year, you still need to make sure they have a bed comfortably, but I just can’t see investing as much as if they were 5.

I know you can fit a family in a tiny house, but think of comfort over the long term. Your 6 and 8 year old daughters now will need more space in just 3 short years.

So before you dive into this too far, give it a thought to how many people you are housing and what this looks like over the next 5 years.

Read more: Tiny House vs Small House

Regulations on Home Size versus # of Folks in Your House

Regulations based on the size of your house is a touchy conversation depending on where you hope to have your tiny house. You definitely need to look into the specifics of your location before you buy or build anything.

That said, in general, most locations use the International Residential Code (IRC) that the International Code Council (ICC) publishes as the basis for their regulations. So what does the IRC say about the size of your home in relation to the number of people housed in it?

The minimum square feet of a house should be 120 with a closet and window. The interior ceiling height needs to be at least 7 feet. In addition, rooms should be at least 70 square feet beyond the kitchen and bathroom.

Most sheds will meet these requirements without crazy requirements, but again, check into your local codes and zoning restrictions before you move beyond the planning stage.

Look to Your Future to Decide the Size of Your Housing Needs

So you’ve thought through the people in your home now and over the next few years, but this leads to a larger question. Is this a forever home, or do you see your (shed to) tiny house as a stepping stone for now?

This matters because if you are using this home as a stepping stone as part of your journey, you can lean towards a smaller option.

It’s obviously more expensive to build a larger home, but the cost between a 12’x18′ and 12’x20′ is not huge. When the differences are more significant, then the cost becomes more significant.

However, I am all for going smaller to reach a goal, but give yourself some grace. A couple of years might me manageable squeezed into a home, but 3 years could be too much. If an extra room will keep you happy an extra year to hit a goal, build that room!

For us, our tiny house is a stepping stone for a small home down the road. Our forever home is planned to be something around 800-1000 square feet. However, to build the forever home with zero debt and reduce our living expenses quicker, our tiny house is a way to reduce living expenses to reach goals faster. I’m more than happy to go tiny as part of that longer term goal to financial freedom.

Think About How Privacy Will Be Impacted With a Smaller Home

Do you enjoy alone time? We tend to have our own ideas of a greater or lesser amount of solo time, but we all crave it on our own terms.

A tiny/small/shed/whatever-you-wanna-call-it house does not mean you have to sacrifice your sanity from alone time. Just give your personal privacy needs consideration. The smaller the house, the more likely there will be fewer walls in it to keep your home feeling spacious.

I do think this is a spot where you can compromise, though. The smaller the house you build, the lower you can keep your costs for the exterior and interior. I get it. If you crave solitude, the outdoors can satisfy this need.

Just have a plan for what will work for you if you’re downsizing as part of this project to keep your sanity in check!

Use the outdoors for space if your house is too small for much privacy

Consider a Loft if You Need More Space Than You Can Afford

Going up is a good rule of thumb to get more space. Think gardening and skyscrapers. This applies to your shed to house project, too. You’ll see lots of sheds have lofts. There are space-saving ladders to minimize the floor space taken downstairs.

A loft space with a ladder may be comfier for storage, or you will want to look at stairs to use a loft for sleeping space. I just imagine it being uncomfortable if not unsafe to crawl down a ladder in the middle of the night to use the restroom.

I genuinely hope this helps you get the right sized house for you and your family! This is a fun undertaking, and to keep it fun when the dust settles, build it once & build it right!