By Jenn Dana
“You did what?” It’s a question we get asked a lot when we tell people about building our house inside an already existing tractor shed on land we purchased. Doing a shed house conversion was a decision and a process that happened after much thought and consideration, and something that I will forever be thankful to have experienced.
Discovering Homesteading in Kentucky
In 2009 we decided to homeschool our son. That was the first step in us making choices that some people do not understand or agree with. But, it’s ok—we’re used to that now. In 2010 my husband took a job transfer and we made the decision to move from Michigan to Kentucky. We purchased a beautiful, practically brand new 2,600-square-foot house. It was gorgeous and it was big! The house was on seven acres, which is a lot, but to us it just didn’t feel like where we were supposed to be.
In the fall of 2011 I was just learning about the movement of people going to back to a simpler way of life, creating homesteads, and learning a more self-sufficient way of living. We were still living in the big, beautiful house when I sent my husband a text message: “Let’s find a bigger piece of property so we can have a farm.”
New Goals For Our Family
That text to my husband began our search looking for a place to call home. We looked and looked; we put our house on the market, and continued to look. Numerous conversations were had, decisions were made. Our desire to create a more simple life became a frequent topic of conversation. Our goals had shifted. We wanted to reduce our consumerism. We knew we wanted our son to grow up at a slower pace of life. We wanted him to be connected to the outdoors. We wanted lower utility bills and to move toward becoming debt free. We wanted to have farm animals, an orchard, a huge garden, and the ability to walk out our door and go deer hunting. We had created new goals for our family, and we were excited!
For me, personally, I have spent the majority of my adult life cleaning a house that was way too big. I will never be able to get back the hours spent vacuuming and dusting rooms that we didn’t even use. I have realized that having a big house also requires a lot of work, and I knew that I wanted to spend my time doing much more than cleaning.
Finding Where We Wanted To Be
Finally, we had it narrowed down to two pieces of land. The first, one hundred acres with a small house on it that was the perfect size, the other—one hundred acres with a tractor shed that had hay stored in it. We were ready to make an offer the day we laid eyes on the house with one hundred acres. But, our realtor insisted we at least walk through the second property—one hundred acres with just the tractor shed on it, one more time, and we obliged.
After walking the tractor shed property, we returned to our car, looked at each other and knew that this was where we wanted to be.
Completing our Shed House Conversion
When my husband first shared the idea of converting this tractor shed into a shed house I thought he was crazy! But, I love him and trust him, so agreed to give it a shot. Our big house eventually sold, we moved into a rental, and the work began on converting the shed house. The shed was 40′ x 60′ and the plan was to make half living space and half garage/storage area. We spent hours designing how we wanted it to be laid out. We knew a small basement was necessary. (We are from the north and kind of freaked out by the tornadoes down here!)
Then the deliveries began; materials started arriving, and the work got going.
The majority of the building we accomplished ourselves, with the help of a couple of friends to keep the costs down.
Soon, walls were up and windows in place. And before we knew it, it was time to close in the front of the shed house so the drywall could be completed. We started building in June 2012 and moved in on September 24, 2012.
The shed house is approximately 1,100 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath. It is an open floor concept with the living room, kitchen, and dining area. There is potential for the basement to be used as another bedroom someday, but right now it is storage and a bunk house if there is bad weather.
Thankfulness And New Homesteading Goals
We still have some projects to finish in the basement and in the garage area, but I can’t begin to tell you the joy we have living here. I love our little house now. I love that I can have it cleaned in about forty-five minutes (and that my vacuum cleaner cord needs only to be plugged into one outlet to reach the majority of our rooms). We feel like we don’t deserve to be living here on all this beautiful land. But we are so thankful to have the opportunity to pursue our dream!
Although very content with life, we now have new goals we are working towards in order to continue to develop our homestead here in Kentucky—goals that might include chickens, pigs, and a milk cow someday! We are living a lifestyle that we began dreaming about many years ago, and we are so thankful to have made it happen!
Jenn Dana lives in Kentucky with her husband of fourteen years and their 9-year-old son. She spends her time homeschooling, baking, and managing their household. You can follow her at http://www.littlehouseonthe100.com.