Category: Mini Cabins |  By Rick Stoddard

The Difference Between Mini-Cabins, Tiny Houses and Sheds

Tiny Homes, Mini-Cabins, Sheds. Aren’t they all essentially just the same thing? Are they not just small buildings that people live in? What is the difference? Each of these actually is a different thing let’s take a look at why and how they are different.  

Tiny Houses The Difference Between Mini-Cabins, Tiny Houses and Sheds

Tiny houses are the most expensive of small footprint living options. The nice thing is, you get what you pay for. Tiny homes ordered from tiny home companies include everything from the outside shell to the interior finishes to the necessary hookups to the furniture. They are fully insulated and ready to live in.  

As tiny home living becomes more and more common the laws and definitions surrounding tiny homes are changing. Tiny home legal definitions can be different depending upon the area of the country you are in. Some states are tiny home friendly like here in Washington, but local county and city laws still need to be taken into consideration as well.  

When tiny houses first appeared on the scene they were put on wheels and needed to be subject to RV building permits and laws. In most areas where tiny homes are considered livable structures, they are still viewed differently than single-family homes.  

Some tiny homes are still being built on wheels and these homes are generally looked as RVs. Some tiny homes are now being constructed on permanent foundations and these homes are generally classified as stick-built homes or modular homes and must adhere to all local codes in the city which they are built. In some areas, this comes with a requirement of minimum square footage.  


The Difference Between Mini-Cabins, Tiny Houses and ShedsA shed is an outbuilding. It is built with the main purpose of becoming an outdoor storage space. They are just a shell and come with none of the necessary features to turn a structure into a dwelling unit for human habitation. Sheds do not have or come with plans for insulation, power, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, or sometimes windows.  

To save money on the cost of a tiny home, many people are beginning to convert sheds into tiny homes. Be aware that to turn a shed into a tiny home it will require more work on your part and more money than just paying for the shed. It will require some knowledge and planning to create a safe dwelling and may require extra inspection measures and legal battles to legally turn a shed into a tiny home.  

Mini-Cabins The Difference Between Mini-Cabins, Tiny Houses and Sheds

While a tiny home can be placed on wheels or a permanent foundation and can be up for debate on whether it is a temporary structure or permanent dwelling, a mini-cabin is more clear cut. Mini-cabins are placed on foundations always. They are deemed inhabitable and almost always include insulation unless it is a log cabin that the owner preferred to see the logs on the inside walls as well. Instead of being subject to RV laws cabins go through the local building department to be permitted.  

Plans required for mini-cabins include electricity, water, and sewer. Living off-grid is permitted in a mini-cabin, but there still needs to be a plan for hookups and the waste removal plan will be under more inspection.  

If you are interested in building a mini-cabin or purchasing a shed we have several pre-planned options or we can build a custom dwelling specifically for you. Contact us anytime to get more information or take a look at our current plans.  

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