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Building a Tiny House in her Son’s Backyard

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When ADUs became legal in a small Central Kentucky town, Janet and her son/daughter-in-law saw a great opportunity! The son and daughter-in-law own the land and larger home, and Janet lives nearby with her grandkids in a backyard cottage. It’s 320 sq. ft. with no wheels and was built by a local traditional builder.

Minus the deck her son built later, the cost for the home came in at $60,000. She furnished it with compact IKEA furniture with hidden storage and has a garden shed as well.

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Janet’s ADU in Her Son’s Backyard

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 3

Images via Janet

This IKEA table folds compact when not needed.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 2

Images via Janet

She has a compact oven for cooking.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 7

Images via Janet

Here’s the table with just one side lifted.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 10

Images via Janet

Her apartment-sized fridge and various aloes.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 8

Images via Janet

She chose a lovely light blue color indoors.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 4

Images via Janet

Her bedroom space with high-up storage.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 5

Images via Janet

It matches the “big house” and looks lovely.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home

Images via Janet

Here’s a during-construction picture.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 13

Images via Janet

Drywall going up!

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 12

Images via Janet

Her son later added the porch.

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 9

Images via Janet

She looks so happy here!

320 sq ft. Conventional Foundation Tiny Home 6

Images via Janet

Janet’s Story:

Very conventional tiny house built by a builder in 2020 in a small town in Central Kentucky. It took 9 mo and cost $60K to build. 320 sq. ft. of living space on a foundation. No wheels, not DIY, not even ‘rustic chic’, but works well for me in my late 70s so I can enjoy life next door to my family including granddaughters. High ceilings, transom windows, loft for storage, downstairs bed area, full bathroom with tiled walk in shower. Apartment sized appliances. My bed frame, coffee table, foot stool and love seat all have extra storage areas. I also installed a gardening shed on my deck.

Built for and financed by my son and his wife after many years of looking for a house with a mtr in law apt. or additional living space with an eye on renting out if I leave. Zoning was changed to match nearby urban areas allowing for ADUs which made the building fully legal. Full w/d and water heater in adjacent garage. Deck was built on by my son at additional cost, (no labor cost ;D) and I plan to have an awning installed this Spring. The mini split provides sufficient heat/ac and also provides good air flow in this small space.

I major downsized, (third time) and have lived here full time since Sept. 1, 2020. No extra house or storage areas. I garden on the deck and next to house but the kids keep up the yard. We keep track of each other’s pets, borrow needed tools, borrow a cup of sugar or a car when needed. I originally planned to live in a co-housing unit built in Nashville but the recession changed my mind and this has worked out even better.

Learn More:

  • Builder Contact Information
  • Bed, wardrobe, pantry, over the frig cabinet and gate leg table from IKEA
  • Summit range and outside gardening shed bought online from Home Depot
  • Small (9.8 cu. ft.) but full size refrigerator/freezer from Lowes

Related Stories:

Our big thanks to Janet for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Ms A.
    April 11, 2022, 6:56 pm

    The great and wonderful part of it all is that she’s welcome there. Some in-laws don’t get along with spouses of their children. Here’s wishing them all great days ahead to share!!

  • Janet Pierce
    April 13, 2022, 11:56 am

    Thank you for the best wishes. Yes, I really lucked out on kids, their spouses and kids.

  • Jaison Kinser
    April 15, 2022, 8:11 pm

    What is an ADU? You mentioned it three times in the article and didn’t explain it once.

  • AMY
    April 18, 2022, 3:14 pm

    This is illegal in pretty much everywhere. I think if you own land you should be able to build a tiny house OR TWO…we as people need to reserve our income and live in a better way. I feel its really against our rights not to do so. Government expects us to live in covid regulations but doesn’t allow us to alter our lifestyles to preserve our way of life??? Makes no sense.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 19, 2022, 7:26 am

      It’s becoming more and more legal. They actually just made it legal in my town in the Eastern U.S. — progress!!

      • Eric
        October 9, 2022, 5:10 pm

        Slow…snail slow… but progress.
        In New Zealand it’s getting nigh on impossible to build “tiny homes” even on LARGE sections, unless you’re out in the wop wops (translation – out back of beyond) and keep under the radar.

  • Janet
    March 13, 2024, 8:14 am

    I’ve now lived here, full time, for over 3 1/2 years am loving it even more. I have that ‘extra’ car and cup of sugar and they keep the grass mowed and have a larger range for me to use my canner in the summer. A win-win for all. Only problem is my granddaughters are growing up too fast. One gone to college and the youngest is half way finished with high school. Life changes.

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