Do you connect with any of the following when you think about a tiny cabin?
Relaxation. Nature. Wood. Rustic Scents. Independence. Self-Sufficiency. Freedom from stress, work, the city bustle, noise, and pollution. Wood stoves. Hot chocolate with melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows. Hunting. Soft slippers.
Take a moment of silence. 😊
Whatever gives you that hmmm good feeling about owning a cabin, keep following it as you discover how to convert a shed into a tiny cabin of your own!
Let’s start with determining what kind of tiny cabin you are hoping to create…
3 Routes for Tiny Shed Cabin Conversions
What were you thinking when you searched how to convert your shed into a tiny cabin?
- The Fully Functional Tiny Cabin – Livable all year around, with all the necessary appliances, plumbing and electricity
- The Off-Grid Tiny Cabin – Basic necessities, solar powered, wood stove, outhouse, or compost toilet
- The “Chill Out in Your Backyard Woods” Tiny Cabin – Emphasis on cozy with a couch, a cot, a table, tv, basically a hangout space to sleep over the weekends within walking or short distance driving of your home
Which one best matches your expectations and your budget?
The following steps to converting your shed into a tiny cabin may not all apply to your situation depending upon how you want your tiny cabin to function.
However, regardless of how basic or how functional, the following steps can help empower your shed to tiny cabin transformation!
Let’s get started!
14 Steps to Convert a Shed into a Tiny Cabin
Step 1: Scope Out Exactly What You Want for Your Tiny Cabin & Create a Budget
Even if your tiny cabin is super basic, it still helps to carefully consider each angle of this project. Starting with exactly how you envision your tiny cabin to be and then seeing if your dreams match your budget and plan accordingly.
A few helpful things to consider are:
- Size – How big or small do you want your tiny cabin? 10×12 sheds are the largest size available without needing a permit to own or build on your property. However, a 10×12 size is rather small.
- Style – There are many styles of sheds available on the market, but two popular choices for tiny cabins are the Tall Barn style with a loft or the Gable style.
- Electric or solar powered – Do you want traditional electric to power your tiny cabin or novel solar power?
- Wood stove – Would you prefer to heat your cabin with a tiny wood stove? If you are from a colder state, a wood stove can save you a hunk on your electricity bill. A wood stove also pairs perfectly with an off-grid cabin.
- Plumbing – Are you planning on adding a bathroom? A fully functional kitchen?
- Interior layout design – Try to draw the layout for your tiny cabin. Draw where you want your bed, the bathroom, the kitchen area, or the living room, etc. to make sure you have the right space and style of shed to transform into your dream cabin.
- Crunch the numbers – How much money can you afford to invest in your shed to tiny cabin transformation? Depending on how big you are going, to be safe, expect at least a 20% increase to your budget. So, make sure you can afford the project before diving in too deep.
Step 2: Pick a Piece of Already Owned Land or Buy Land
If you have land already begging for your tiny cabin, make sure you have carefully evaluated the available space to make sure it is for sure your desired location.
If you do not have available land to build, enjoy the hunt for land for sale. Fortunately, in your case, you do not have to own acres upon acres of land especially since you are going tiny. Big win!
Step 3: Prepare a Solid Foundation
This step cannot be skimped on without later regret. If your goal is to turn your shed into a fully functional and livable cabin, a solid and properly laid foundation is vital to enjoy a secure and durable living or vacation space for years to come.
🚫 These foundation methods are a BIG no-no:
- Simply set on the dirt, aka. no foundation
- Set on just crushed gravel (not a true gravel foundation)
💰 The following is not highly recommended, but works sufficiently if your budget is tight:
- Crushed rock bed with cinder block piers on top
- Real crushed gravel foundation
✅ Here are the highly recommended foundation methods for livable tiny cabins:
- Real Pier and Beam foundation
- Concrete foundation
- Gravel shed foundation with piers
In a nutshell, if you want your shed to be durable and lasting (with minimal rot), investing in a proper foundation pays off big bucks in the long run.
Step 4: Check with Your Local Zoning Codes & Get Permitted (if necessary)
It is ideal to make sure your tiny cabin is legal. Whether you are purchasing or building your shed, you will want to make sure your future tiny cabin is cleared by your local township.
This is especially necessary if your shed exceeds 120 (or in some states 100) square feet.
As annoying as it might initially feel to have to get a permit, doing your shed to tiny cabin transformation properly from the beginning helps the whole process go a whole lot smoother.
Annoying is being forced to stop your shed transformation process due to local government intervention.
In other words, check in with your local township and get a permit if necessary. 😊
Step 5: Buy Your Shed or Build
Your two routes to your tiny cabin shed are:
- Build DIY
- Buy from a local shed company – Some sell cabin sheds that look like mini cabins from the outside. All you need to do is remodel the inside and walaah…your tiny cabin!
If you have construction skills and time, building your shed is the way to go!
If not, looking into a reputable and local shed builder offers you a quick and quality way of securing your shed.
Step 6: Partition Off Separate Rooms or Bathroom
Depending on the size of your tiny cabin, you may have space to create separate bedrooms on the loft area or even on the ground floor. Even if your cabin is rather small, you should be able to fit in a separate space for a bathroom.
Step 7: Add Deadwood or Blocking
Are you going with a larger lofted Barn style of shed? If so, this step might be something for you to consider. Deadwood comes in real handy nailed in the corners or where the walls meet the ceiling to give you a place for the shiplap or drywall to be attached.
If you are hoping to create a “vaulted” ceiling with the exposed beams showing, then deadwood helps make this look possible inside your shed. Deadwood is basically just 2x4s nailed into all the corners or trusses where there is not an available space to attach the ceiling material.
So, yes, it takes time, and the wood does nothing for strengthening the actual structure. However, it is worth the extra time and wood to get the job done right and, in the end, easier!
Step 8: Choose Your Method of Electricity & Installation
You have got two ways to light up your tiny cabin!
- Good ole’ electricity
- Earth loving Solar Power
Once you have made your choice, carefully consider how you plan to install your power preference.
NOTE: If you are hoping for a larger shed cabin, unless you have a lot of practice and skill with electrical work, it is in your best interest to hire a professional contractor for the rough electric.
However, if your tiny cabin is small and simplistic adding the rough electric and electrical connection might be a lot more feasible.
One word of advice. Definitely, do your DIY research on adding electrical connection to a shed if you are beginner and determined to go for it.
Consider this video as you prepare to wire your tiny cabin. ➡️
If you are going the solar route, then check out solar installers near you or research DIY methods. Again, depending upon how simplistic or how functional your tiny cabin determines how seriously you should consider investing in professional assistance.
Check out this video on DIY solar power to a tiny cabin! ➡️
Step 9: Add Plumbing
Again, it is highly recommended for you to hire a professional contractor for the rough plumbing inside your tiny cabin.
What are your plumbing needs?
You may want plumbing for your bathroom, kitchen sink, dishwasher (if you are going that route), and water heater.
Start exploring DIY plumbing options! Watch this tiny house plumbing video!
Or you may keep it very basic or desire no plumbing at all.
Step 10: Consider Moisture Control Methods
It is ideal to prevent this homeowner’s nightmare. MOLD!
To do that effectively would require you to invest in preventative moisture control methods. Such as:
- Bathroom vents
- Vent hood in the kitchen area
This is especially relevant to you if you live in a very humid climate and/or wish for a fully functional tiny cabin.
Take a moment to glean from 18 tips for tiny house (in your case tiny cabin) humidity and ventilation.
Step 11: Add Insulation
Insulation is a must inside your tiny cabin for two reasons:
- Helps to regulate temperature in the winter and summer
- Cuts back on heating and cooling costs
It is ideal to insulate the walls, the ceiling, and the floor.
Some of the common insulation options include:
- Loose Fill
- Foam Board
- Spray Foam
While all insulation works at the end of the day, spray foam insulation is the way to go inside your tiny cabin.
Spray foam is an ideal choice for the following reasons:
- It helps with moisture control since it seals tightly enough that you don’t need vents in your ceiling to allow moisture to escape.
- Spray foam fills all the extra cracks that come with converting a shed into a tiny cabin. If your budget allows, you will have no regrets if you go with spray foam for your walls and ceiling.
- Another plus is that spray foam is solid and keeps small pesky animals like mice etc. from making their homes inside your shed walls.
You can more easily DIY adding insulation. Of course, to ensure you get the job done right hiring a contractor is the way to go.
Ultimately the decision is up to you and your budget.
Check out this helpful DIY video on adding spray foam insulation tips.
Step 12: Clad Your Walls with Interior Siding
Yay! At this stage of your shed to tiny cabin transformation, you are getting closer to bringing it all together. Way to go! Time for covering your newly insulated walls with something eye pleasing! Popular choices for interior siding and ceiling coverage are:
- Shiplap – Stunning and rustic
- Pine Tongue and Groove – Absolutely woodsy and good smelling
- Metal Sheets – Adds a rugged dimension
- Drywall – Modern and classic (If you go with this option, painting will be another necessary step before step 13)
One or a combination of two or more of the above siding options will certainly offer your tiny cabin a classy and irresistible cabin feel and look. Check out the Jack of All Master of None added ceiling drywall insulation and knotty pine shiplap to his off-grid tiny cabin.
Step 13: Add Flooring
Now onto the last step of converting your shed into a tiny cabin! The flooring!
Popular flooring options are:
- Water-proof Vinyl Plank flooring – Highly recommended
- Engineered hardwood
Laminate – Cheapest option, but not moisture friendly
Step 14: Fill in the Prepared Space with Your All Your Desired Cabin Amenities & Décor
Wow, once your tiny cabin is at this step, the rest is a relative breeze! Plus, you did it! You converted your shed into a tiny cabin!
Last, but certainly not least, fill your prepared tiny cabin with all your desired cabin amenities and décor.
Final completing touches like:
- Adding a bed(s) – Consider adding a retractable bed if you are tight on living space
- Table – Also consider a retractable table if space crunched
- Heater & AC
- Rocking chair
- Cabin décor
…You got this!!!!
Plus, for further space tips and fellow small cabin living inspiration, check out Small Cabin Living: Creative Space Ideas for Small Cabins. Or turn a cabin into a work shed and enjoy the freedom of working from your own small cabin shed.
Further Shed to Tiny Cabin Inspiration!
Check out these videos of real-to-life shed-to-tiny cabin conversions!
Yours can be next!!
🪵 While it may sound difficult to make your own tiny cabin, just take it one step at a time and watch your dream become a reality!
Needing a shed to get started? ⭐️ Call us today to get pricing or to talk about any other questions you may have!