Can you build a shed and then decide to turn it into a house?

Can you build a shed and then decide to turn it into a house?

Have you thought about turning a backyard shed into a small cottage to rent out? Or have you considered turning a shed into a tiny house and renting out your own house?

Can you turn a shed into a house legally?

I was told that yes, a Tuff Shed or Classic Manor building could be used to build a house, but you had to pull the permits that way in the first place, before it was built. I was told that you have to have the residential-type inspections and everything all along the way. If you pull permits to build a shed, you have a shed. Period.

It seems that is not exactly true! Someone just talked to zoning about converting an accessory building into a residential dwelling unit. They want to turn a Home Depot 2-story shed into a home.

Change of Use Zoning Permit

They were told that a Home Depot 2-story shed can be converted into an accessory dwelling unit. If it meets the setback requirements and is 800 square feet or less they can get a Change of Use Zoning Permit from the Building Inspections Department to change the use from shed to residence.

Change of use permits essentially change the use of the space and must meet requirements specified by that use. Change of Use permits, once approved, will also require a new certificate of occupancy for the space. Essentially that space is now certified for that use as long as the basic permit requirements are met. This change of use permit and certificate of occupancy will stay with the property for the life cycle of the parcel.

Change of Use Permits

Our neighborhood zoning allows for Accessory Dwelling Units. Each house can basically have another house. You just can’t sell an Accessory Dwelling Unit separately from the main house unless they are far enough apart.

ADUs or Accessory Dwelling Units are not unusual. They were zoned here since the ‘20s. Different areas have different zoning and rules for ADUs. HUD had a report written on them in 2008.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — also referred to as accessory apartments, second units, or granny flats — are additional living quarters on single-family lots that are independent of the primary dwelling unit. The separate living spaces are equipped with kitchen and bath-room facilities, and can be either attached or detached from the main residence.

Accessory Dwelling Units: Case Study June 2008
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research

The report compares rules and zoning in different areas.

The lot that our Classic Manor New Day Cabin is on is zoned commercial, C-3. The setbacks are 20-feet in front, 10-feet in the back and 8-feet to the sides. Our building is too close to the property lines. It meets the setbacks for a shed, not for a residence.

It is possible to have that lot rezoned as residential, since the other lot is. In that case the setback would only have to be 5-feet.

There is another way it can be done. You can get a Hardship Exemption if you have a special need, like elderly parents.

I found out about that another time and wrote about the Granny Flat Zoning Temporary Use Permit.

Different areas have different rules, but check! Maybe you can legally turn your shed into a house.

Featured Image Tiny House in the backyard in Portland, Oregon
Photo by Tammy, Wikimedia Commons