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Daughter and Son-in-Law Build Tiny Home for Dad

This Inspiring Story on How a Daughter and Her Husband Built a Tiny Home for Her Dad was submitted by Kim Mendenhall

My husband and I wanted to build a house for my Father to live in on our property in Colorado.

We decided to buy a pre-built shed and turn it into a home. The house is 12×32 with a 8×4 covered porch.

The house sits on a permanent foundation with a crawl space underneath. The 20 gal. water heater is under the house. It’s a one bedroom one bathroom home with a living/kitchen area.

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Images © Kim Mendenhall

The house is still a work in progress but my Father is living in it and is very comfortable. We are planning to extend the roof another foot on each side and put some rain gutters on.

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We also have some landscaping to do. The house is very well insulated and has 3 baseboard heaters to heat it. I thought maybe some of your readers would be interested in seeing it.

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Please enjoy the rest of this tiny house tour and story on the next page!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!

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{ 61 comments… add one }
  • Eugene December 31, 2014, 3:00 pm

    I love it, I have been thinking of something similar. I like how the house has a flow through design with no interior doors to block heat/cooling it should be pretty efficient on energy. The only thing I’d add is solar panels to catch all that sun to reduce energy costs even more.

  • Cahow December 31, 2014, 3:32 pm

    You can tell that the father was One.Special.Dad. if not only his daughter but his Son-Inlaw created this Home Of Love for him! <3 What a heartfelt story to end 2014 upon. 😀

    I like that Dear Ol' Dad has his LazyBoy arm chair to relax and kick back in.

    Absolute perfection from front porch, Barn-red exterior, and the entire interior. Bless this family and their obvious love for one another.

  • Beth December 31, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Love it!!!!

  • carolyne December 31, 2014, 5:37 pm

    Will you build me one lol,,,,, simply beautiful! How nice to see the love you have for your dad! !,, well done!

  • Bill Burgess December 31, 2014, 6:55 pm

    Odd…Did no one tell them they could buy a same size Park Model complete for $21K? Rickey Nelson in Spokane can custom order a Canadian unit and deliver it to their property for about $36K and that’s to Canadian energy spec’s. I think a lot of times people do stuff without really crunching numbers or shopping around. I wish i could get a factory to consider one of my Designs from 4Fathoms Designs.

    • Sharon Irven December 31, 2014, 10:05 pm

      Does the “Canadian” Unit actually come from Canada? where? name of manufacturer? thanks

    • Dennis Reynolds January 1, 2015, 10:36 am

      BILL, I WOULD THINK THAT A PARK MODEL WOULD BE NICE, BUT, THEY MIGHT HAVE WANTED SOMETHING MORE “OPEN” AND CUSTOM. LIKE THE LARGER BATHROOM AND OPEN FLOOR PLAN, PLUS THAT DECK COST A BIG CHUNK OF CHANGE. AND SOMETHING LIKE THIS WHERE YOU BUILD AND ADD YOUR OWN TOUCH TO, IS MORE SOLID THAN A “MANUFACTURED” HOME. I WOULDN’T MIND A PARK MODEL MYSELF, JUST POINTING OUT THAT THERE ARE SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES.

      • Bill Burgess January 1, 2015, 11:42 am

        Agreed Dennis. Not to mention a lot of people are DIY types and having a better selection of materials is always an issue. Being a senior myself I also think “Pitting” a Park Model RV would keep stairs to a minimum. For me a slab foundation on this house would have been a good idea as well. I did not give the Dealer name in Spokane but as there is only one the name can be Googled Sharon.

      • mountaingypsy January 1, 2015, 7:56 pm

        Dennis, Like I commented, many regulations in most CO counties, do not allow what other states take for granted. I had lofty ideas for my personal dreams, for small living, and park models are one not allowed in CO! There are zoning, size, insulation, what is considered RV or mobile coded, or not stick built, foundation, etc. There are old places/cabins on the market for sale, that do not meet code, so considered unlivable. Tiny homes are very well built, better than many thrown together McMansions. Like this site makes clear, these wonderful tiny homes are meeting restrictions in many states. 🙁 One should be able to live small or simply if desired. I am happy for this family that were able to build this home. I love it! I am curious what county. We also have water use rules and POA’s that do not allow smaller places even on acreage in rural neighborhoods.

    • mountaingypsy January 1, 2015, 7:39 pm

      Bill, Depending on where in CO they built this, a park model may not be to code, for their county. Many regulations, in my state. Many places will not allow any park model or this home, or 2 on one property. Foundation, wheels, insulation, zoning, size, etc.

    • D. Lowery June 21, 2015, 3:32 pm

      mountaingypsy is right about this screwed up state. Living in Colorado Springs and wanting to live tiny in a rural area outside of this or any town…found out that unless you want to bribe the inspectors or live illegally…this state has so many hurdles to overcome. It’s not worth it. The roads and infrastructure are falling apart and I pay outrageous taxes for everything. My solution…head to Texas with an old friend where we can build something like what this couple did without all the bribes and hoops to have a dream those in charge in this state refuse to accept.

  • CathyAnn December 31, 2014, 6:55 pm

    What a wonderful, loving thing to do! I really like this space, everything about it; quite livable.

    Many years ago, we lived in a rustic, small 2 bedroom, 1 bath Chalet style home at Mt. Shasta. I don’t think there was much insulation in the walls – it was old. Our sole source of heat was a wood stove. Until we figured out what to do to control the amount of fire and heat output, we’d get that place so hot, we’d have to open all of the windows while it was very cold and snowing outside.

  • Jodie Dew December 31, 2014, 7:43 pm

    I really like this one! I spoke with my mason today and got the price nailed down on my foundation for my upcoming 20×28 dutch style amish barn that I am having built and converting into my own small home. I can’t hardly wait for spring! Yes I am building in town and have to meet all codes and that has increased the cost some but will be sooo much better than living in an apartment or a condo with all the rules and regs. I purchased a lot on a beautiful tree lined pretty quiet street. I wanted to be back in town due to health issues and not driving after dark anymore. Being in town with all the street lights I will be able to drive after dark again, which when it gets dark at 515 is a big plus. As soon as I can figure out how to get the pictures on my cell phone to here I will start posting them….anyone who wants to explain to me how to do that please feel free 🙂

    • Connie March 7, 2015, 9:29 pm

      Can’t wait to see your pics!

      • Debbie March 10, 2015, 4:25 pm

        Me too!!! Sounds adorable!!! And I love what they built. I have been scoping out different pre-fabricated sheds, small buildings, etc and trying to get pricing and design arranged a little bit in my head. I really want to have a big say in the design of my little home, and depending on where I end up, I totally plan to take my ideas to the Amish and Mennonite guys to see what they think they could do for me. I definitely want something on a foundation (raised), and I personally have a very shabby chic rustic industrial vintage cottage old barn kind of style. Please post photos when you can figure it out! 😉 I have another 2 years or so to firm up my plans. <3

  • lisa E. December 31, 2014, 8:28 pm

    A total delight, end to end. (Love that Mission chair.) Fabulous!

  • JuDee December 31, 2014, 9:07 pm

    I like the lay out. Uses the space very well. The patio/deck is perfect. However, I am not sure about the decor choices. The colors, the patterns and wall hangings simply are not masculine and I doubt they are items from his previous home.

    • ida January 1, 2015, 3:24 am

      Meow!

    • Dennis Reynolds January 1, 2015, 10:40 am

      Could be items that remind him of his “wife” is why it looks like that. Or, he might not like “masculine” decor. Not all men are real “manly”, lol

  • Karen R December 31, 2014, 9:55 pm

    Some of the shed companies even sell for monthly payments. Bless them for doing this lovely home!!

  • cmartin December 31, 2014, 10:57 pm

    That’s nice you did a good job on it I’m sure ur dad will enjoy it for a long time

  • Cat January 1, 2015, 12:20 am

    I love it! Nice use of space and very homey.
    This looks very much like what I would like to do for myself when I “graduate” from RV life. I’ve seen prefab sheds in all shapes & sizes that look like cabins, barns, etc. Some are quite attractive. I have fantasized about mounting one on a trailer and turning it into a tiny home. I wonder how difficult it would be to do this in a way that would conform to building codes in California.

    • mountaingypsy January 1, 2015, 8:09 pm

      Cat, I really liked this home too, inside and out, size and décor! I noticed your mention of RV life. We are contemplating this. Would you comment to me brief pros or cons? We hear it all, but would appreciate your view! We think we want to be more mobile. But the tiny (wood) homes, give the house look, mobile, better built, than typical RV’s. I saw recently, where a tiny home was built on a 5th wheel frame, quite nice. The height alone in a tiny, is nicer than RV’s. I keep reading and the new TV shows on tiny living, are so appealing! There is some question on RV parks that allow these. I plan to call some and see. 🙂

      • Cat January 1, 2015, 11:14 pm

        mountaingypsy, I’ve lived in 2 RVs, first an 18-foot travel trailer, then a 23-foot Class C motorhome. When I first started (after relocating for work reasons and dreading the idea of looking for an apartment) I didn’t imagine I’d end up a “full-timer” ten years later! I love the mobility, and the necessity of not accumulating too much “stuff”. Although I’ve tended to stay in one place for months or years at a time, when I move, it’s practically stress-free. I’ve been pretty lucky finding parks with low rent, good neighbors, and adequate security, near where I’ve needed to be.
        Both of my RVs I remodeled extensively, to make them more homelike, and to eliminate as much particle board, plastic molding, carpet, foam (mattress and seating) as possible. RVs tend to have a good deal of these types of materials (one reason I’m thinking in terms of a tiny house). You have to be careful when you change things in an RV, as the weight balance affects the way it handles on the road.
        I like the compact simplicity of RVs, and the fact that many things are fixable myself. I’ve repaired plumbing leaks, changed out sink fixtures and a toilet, done roof and siding repairs, but I’ll definitely call a professional if it’s about the electrical or gas systems (or the automotive part). I’ve been pretty lucky about finding good RV repair folks who will come out to my location.
        Although it’s possible to keep an RV shipshape year after year, I think a tiny home could be built to have greater durability as well as being safer and more pleasant for long-term living. Also better suited for living in areas with colder winters.
        Although some parks have lots of restrictions, I’ve stayed where there were repurposed school buses, a gypsy wagon built onto a pickup truck, and other originals. Can’t imagine why an attractive, well-built tiny home would not be welcome.
        Good luck to you. It’s good to have the Tiny Home Network to help with the dream.

        • mountaingypsy January 2, 2015, 12:10 am

          Cat, WOW, a terrific explanation of your RV life, thanks. I must say, you need to forward or write on one of the RV type sites, where people need to hear this from you! You covered many things, people are concerned about, and are truly knowledgeable. They need to hear about the remodel/repair stuff. I have heard that remodels are tricky, with thin walls, plastic, cheap stuff, balance, weight etc. I was in decorating/remodels, so never like the store bought RV look (we have had 2 trailers) lol. The current one, bugs me, still looks like a tin RV. We want to do something new. I have a newly remodeled cabin, (of 3 years), but crave smaller, no tax, mobility, freedom) Any place (apartment or RV) has to feel like mine and home, even if just vacation travel! The urge to change….is a curse. A tiny house, being the same size, as an RV, (around 160′) offers wood, stability, no plastic or thin tin and cheap walls, insulation, ceiling height, anything we choose to want or pay for! Most are (currently)expensive, but like a stick built, it should be easy to make reasonable choices, (if a builder allows) and not the most expensive. I have done several homes and businesses, and made careful choices, and was pleased and amazed on quality, look and cost. (pat myself on back) I would prefer a bit less wood, inside on the TH, for weight, looks and cost. I love the salvage idea. One can get fixtures, appliances and nearly anything, with a bit of sleuthing. I have gotten faucets at half price, or closeouts, lighting wholesale, and creative repurposed things. My main problem, will be layout plans, style, cost, the décor! Too many choices! Every time I see another knockout tiny home here, or on TV, I like it BEST, lol. I really think, for mobility, warmth in cold climates, looks, a TH, for comparable size to any RV, is better built, inside and out, gorgeous, and feel like home! (RV’s, even the high dollar, elaborate, classy, ostentatious class A’s are still metal mobile mansions!!) Besides, wood TH, look better in the trees, or in a park! (did I mention, I am obsessed with treehouses?, same TH, with a view) Thanks again! 🙂 Hope you can find your dream home too!

  • Dominick Bundy January 1, 2015, 1:04 am

    Nicely done, who could ask for anything more? Love the openness , standard size kitchen appliances, All in just 384 sq. ft, And the porch is a plus as well..I could be very comfortable in something like that..What a lucky Dad..

  • carrie jacobson January 1, 2015, 8:30 am

    I’m going to save this one, and send it to my daughter when I’m old enough to need a place to go…

  • Joe January 6, 2015, 4:10 pm

    Dad needs a full size bed, the twin is a bit cramped I am thinking.

    • Carla March 8, 2015, 8:15 am

      I love this home!!! Very nicely and lovingly done!! A couple of things that I really like (other than everything, lol!!) is the lovely colors in the bathroom and that awesome corner desk in the bedroom..really “special” family and home!! 🙂

  • Sue McCarson January 8, 2015, 8:50 am

    Kim! My old friend…you guys did a great job! Happy for your Dad 🙂
    Sue

  • Denise January 10, 2015, 3:04 pm

    This is well laid out, beautiful and tastefully done. I especially like that corner desk in the bedroom – was that handmade and how was it done?

  • Brian March 8, 2015, 12:28 am

    I think your 40K was very well spent. You have a lot for the money and I am sure your father/in law will be very comfortable in it. I know I would be. Thanks so much for sharing and cheers from Australia.

  • Dee March 8, 2015, 4:52 pm

    Looks great, but not much room in the kitchen. Take a look at the IKEA catalog to get ideas about organizing for a small home. I would’ve hung the microwave under an overhead cabinet, and used the space above the fridge as well.

  • karen March 8, 2015, 5:25 pm

    This is so nice and contains everything a person would ever need……….actually it’s bigger than the first place I lived in 8×32′ :)))
    One blessed dad !!!

  • Callene March 8, 2015, 8:48 pm

    Love the house.I have wanted to do the lofted barn style shed into a tiny home for several years.Being a single mom makes it harder to save for land,shed and the redo.Though they do have the rent to own option. The issue of the land is a Big hurtle.We at the moment are living in two travel trailers.A large fifth wheel and a small pull along.I want to redo the small one and turn the fifth wheel into a Tiny House.Want to do a folding roof for more height and a fold away bedroom.A loft bed area for my daughter. And fold away porch.Need to figure out how to do the porch as light weight as possible, because I want a big one.Or thinking of doing a sitting porch,where the bed area is,above the hitch.It would have a roof and chicken coop wire instead of walls and windows.Maybe a grass patch for my dogs.Still thinking.

  • Jean March 8, 2015, 9:24 pm

    I like the layout. Would have different decor. 🙂

    • Andrea Hardy June 21, 2015, 10:32 pm

      Me too Jean. Took the words right out of my mouth…

    • Mame June 22, 2015, 12:08 am

      Well, regardless how we feel about the decor (I do agree with you), that is a very personal thing and easy enough to personalize. Basically, though, the house appears very cozy and warm in winter and, with a washer/dryer, would be just perfect for most of us. They say it is still a work in progress, so I expect that Dad has some good projects to keep busy with. I would love to see it more off the grid, but that can happen with time too 🙂 — love the idea it’s on a foundation with a crawl space below.

  • Elizabeth March 8, 2015, 9:32 pm

    looking for Tiny House communities in Southern CA. Or a small piece of land with sewer hook up

  • Mark Terene March 9, 2015, 12:21 am

    Wow! That is all I would need. All on one floor. Nice flow. Nothing extravagant.
    Really may take this design in mind when I take the plunge for a tiny house.

  • vecherd June 21, 2015, 2:35 pm

    still continues to be one of my faves…all one floor and a porch 😀

  • Mary Corbett June 21, 2015, 4:41 pm

    This is very pretty and comfortable looking. I love the decor and the colors used. It looks “happy”.
    Your Dad is lucky to have such a sweet daughter and son-in-law to build this for him. This is my favorite small home I’ve seen so far, and I’ve looked at many.

  • Lynnette June 21, 2015, 5:03 pm

    Adore.

  • Theo June 21, 2015, 7:31 pm

    Ha, love the fact it cost $10,000, and they say it wasn’t cheap. I’d say that is a reasonable enough price, surely a lot more reasonable than the smaller one I just looked at and cost $29,900, which apparently was considered a ‘reasonable’ price. Like the porch, not enough of these have one, and no loft bed, yay. This one I like the whole thing.

    • Sgmaps June 21, 2015, 10:15 pm

      Just wondering why you think it cost $10k to build. If you go back & reread the builders comments, you will see that it says $40K.
      So, the cost seems to be in proportion with the smaller one listed @ $29,900.

    • Theo June 22, 2015, 12:20 am

      Good Lord, goofed that.wrong, didn’t I? Apparently read that right after taking eye drops, no excuse otherwise. Looks like this one is very overpriced too. I suppose a lot depends on what part of the coutry you are in, materials cost, and overpaying on some things. I think if I were going to start over, I’d get a shipping container, for around $1-2,000, and convert that. Either that or an older camper trailer, you can get those in pretty decent condiditon yet still really inexpensive, and redo it for a couple of grand.

    • JanneZack June 22, 2015, 8:12 am

      At over $100 p.s.f. that is pricy. I just built a 1700 sq. ft. house at about $60 p.s.f. However, this is quite spacious. Even if you hire out your trades (electrical, plumbing and mechanical) you should have been able to get that done cheaper, but if they had the money, most people don’t care at that point. If Dad needs a place, and has the money, go for it.

      I don’t get why people put a curtain going into the bathroom. I know a door might stay open 90% of the time when Dad is living there alone, but judging from the sounds and emunations that circulate around my husband’s or father’s bathroom visits, I’d want a FULL, door!

      Many people in their older years don’t care about doors, especially when they live alone, such as to the bedroom, it appears to be partitioned off by a short wall. This allows the air to circulate, but gives privacy to what could be a “messy zone”. This was at least logically thought out, even if it is still a work in progress.

      Over all, I give it an A+. $40k isn’t much to spend on an entire house for your parent, and to be able to let him have all his stuff there, bonus!

  • Kim G June 22, 2015, 12:54 am

    Super cute and not too cramped. I liked the decor, I am sure he will personalize it in time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Liz June 22, 2015, 12:37 pm

    Wow, this dad is one lucky guy. I sure wouldn’t mind being their mom!!

  • Susanne June 23, 2015, 2:33 am

    Mobile home cheaper., cuter, more modern looking…:)

  • Mike Inman March 10, 2017, 4:14 pm

    I have added a floor plan layout for this design for everyone hopefully it gets posted.

  • ZACHARY E MOHRMANN March 11, 2017, 5:17 pm

    What I nice thing that daughter and son inlaw has done for dear old dad…!

  • Sarah March 11, 2017, 7:17 pm

    First of all, how wonderful and refreshing that you did this for your Dad. Not everybody has such special children. Now that I’m getting older I wish I had a few! I just love the bright colors you used, how fun. I seem to be a little slow, what is that long orange board in the living room? I think you are also quite generous to share your blueprints for this house. Way to go, can I have you for my neighbors? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Mike Inman March 12, 2017, 12:44 am

      I drew the floor plan “based” on the pictures that were provided by the family in the article. I did so as I want to build this at some time in the future. enjoy them build one for yourself!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee March 13, 2017, 9:49 am

      They sure are lovely people!

  • keepyourpower March 12, 2017, 12:50 am

    A father-in-law pad. Nice. You two were very kind, to build that home for him! Love…ain’t it grand! Wish I had a family like yours!

  • keepyourpower March 12, 2017, 12:51 am

    I do have a question. I understand it gets very cold in CO.
    How have you insulated the water heater, under the house?

  • keepyourpower March 12, 2017, 1:07 am

    I saw the dog bed. Nice…but I do not see any closet space. Is there any?

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