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Thread: Thinking about converting a shed into a house.

  1. #1

    Default Thinking about converting a shed into a house.

    I live in Huntsville, AL. I have a good job but I wish I lived closer to the mountains. I take about 10 trips a year to the southern Appalachians, which are about 3 hours away. I either stay in cabin or a hotel. I've been thinking about ways to make a cheap vacation home there. I've seen some videos on converting a prefab shed to a small cabin. It seems by far the cheapest and best solution. I'm not interested in off grid, although I may try a composting toilet. If that doesn't work I'll put in a septic tank. It seems to be the cheapest and best way I've found to make a small 200 sq ft house, that's still comfortable to stay in. The lots I'm looking at are about 10K. I can get a 10x22 for about $5K and that is big enough for my design.

    Some questions I have are:

    Would you put it on a concrete slab?

    What's a composting toilet like?

    How much money do you think it would take to finish the inside? Insulation, drywall, electric, water?


    Here's a video on a couple that made something similar:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-uKj_QrJyc



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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    Would you put it on a concrete slab?
    Personally, no. Not needed. Though, it totally depends on the site.

    How much money do you think it would take to finish the inside? Insulation, drywall, electric, water?
    Depends how "finished" is finished. Could easily be more than the rest of it combined ($15K). But, if you do it all yourself... it could still be $10K, and a lot of time and work (but a lot of fun!).

    Does the lot have 240V and water hookups?
    The rebel of the 21st Century will be old-fashioned.

    Western Civilization is collapsing. Modernity, particularly egalitarianism, has killed it. The solution is to implement a traditional-style civilization.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by helmuth_hubener View Post
    Personally, no. Not needed. Though, it totally depends on the site.

    Depends how "finished" is finished. Could easily be more than the rest of it combined ($15K). But, if you do it all yourself... it could still be $10K, and a lot of time and work (but a lot of fun!).

    Does the lot have 240V and water hookups?
    I haven't picked out the lot yet. I'm going this weekend to look at them. I'm only looking at ones with water and electric. Also I didn't realize some didn't come with 220V. I assumed if they could run electric it would be 220V. I'll check into that.

    Dang, I didn't realize finishing was so expensive.

  5. #4

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    I helped a guy once . After the Insulation , just put plywood on top and painted it because a guy gave him some after a project was done . I have some unpainted indoor /outdoor barn paneling in my living room at the cottage in the woods . I got it at around 15 a sheet at Lowes. I think a sink , stove , wood stove and shower would not cost alot if you do it yourself and there is water access . I would imagine the only really expensive part would be a septic if you have to have it . We used paint that was discounted because it was returned .
    Support CalExit .

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    I haven't picked out the lot yet. I'm going this weekend to look at them. I'm only looking at ones with water and electric. Also I didn't realize some didn't come with 220V. I assumed if they could run electric it would be 220V. I'll check into that.

    Dang, I didn't realize finishing was so expensive.
    Materials are expensive these days. helmuth about has it right, judging by the video. If you are a handy man you could save a lot on materials cost. If you have connections for cheap/free pallets then the interior walls/flooring could be had cheap for the cost of a 12" planer (@$400 new/$200 used), tongue and grove blades for $70, and a router and you are set. I've looked at those buildings and if I remember correctly they have only single pane windows. Those would have to be replaced.
    As far as a pad goes it depends on your property. If you are in the foothills and the property has a spot with nice slope then I would think of anchoring one end and elevating the other so that there is storage underneath. The property you buy will determine what is best. Then move on foundation up.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
    and unacknowledged by our laws;
    giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  7. #6

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    I'd add...get out there and look at innovative ways for space savings. Here's an interesting video, but there are many more out there. Tiny homes are kinda like "Transformers" if done right.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
    and unacknowledged by our laws;
    giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post

    Some questions I have are:

    Would you put it on a concrete slab?
    Absolutely not. you need air movement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    What's a composting toilet like?
    More work than a regular one but not insurmountable unless you have a houseful of split-tails.

    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    How much money do you think it would take to finish the inside? Insulation, drywall, electric, water?
    Drywall and electric won't cost as much as the well providing the co-op will set a pole close to your shed no charge...Check before you buy!


    [edit]

    I started typing before the last several posts......

    It looks like you're looking at some sort of developed land ie; 'lectric and water supplied?

    Much better to buy land but it's your money....
    Last edited by tod evans; 05-16-2017 at 05:14 PM.

  9. #8

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    Last edited by tod evans; 05-17-2017 at 08:16 AM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans View Post
    Absolutely not. you need air movement.
    How would you do it? The shed I'm looking at is on runners. Would you place it on gravel? Railroad ties?

    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans View Post

    More work than a regular one but not insurmountable unless you have a houseful of split-tails.
    After reading some reviews on Amazon, I'm probably going for a septic and regular toilet.

    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans View Post
    Drywall and electric won't cost as much as the well providing the co-op will set a pole close to your shed no charge...Check before you buy!
    About 15 years ago, when I first moved here, I bought 5 acres and a mobile home. They charged me $1,000 to run an electric line to a short pole by my trailer. I think I just rented a ditch witch and ran the water myself from the meter.


    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans View Post
    It looks like you're looking at some sort of developed land ie; 'lectric and water supplied?

    Much better to buy land but it's your money....
    You mean go "off grid" and use a well and solar panels or generator?


    Here's the cabin I'm thinking about. It's the "Cabin" model.

    http://www.premierbuildings.us/our-models

  11. #10

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails shed-roof-cabin-designs-2.jpg  
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
    and unacknowledged by our laws;
    giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by phill4paul View Post
    I'd add...get out there and look at innovative ways for space savings. Here's an interesting video, but there are many more out there. Tiny homes are kinda like "Transformers" if done right.
    I thought about the "trailer style" tiny homes but they look too cramped to me. They're only 8 feet wide. Those space saving gadgets are cool but they look like a pain if they break. Everything is custom. I prefer standard stuff that I can get at Walmart. Also those little houses are very expensive.

  13. #12

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    If you guys were going to build a 300-500 sq ft house, what method would you use?

    Another thing I was thinking about was how much would I have to spend to get the bare minimum just to make it habitable. A sink, a toilet (maybe I could just go outside), a futon, a small fridge, shower, leave the walls unfinished. Except for the winter the weather is pretty moderate in the southern Appalachians. I could get a small window ac unit.

    I'd feel more confident about the whole project if I didn't have to spend that much money in the beginning. The other option is to go all out, get a loan and get a larger cabin done quickly so I can rent it out. But I'm nervous about doing that. I'd rather have something I can afford, even if I don't rent it out.
    Last edited by Madison320; 05-17-2017 at 09:01 AM.

  14. #13

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    Set it on piers, it'll help keep bugs out and you'll be able to get underneath to work on utilities or for storage...

    Pole power is by far the best form of 'lectric and would be my first priority after purchasing land...

    You'll need to power a well pump eventually....Gutters and bottles would suffice for a while same with a composting toilet.

    I wouldn't even consider solar unless you've got more money than sense or unless you're literally miles from pole power, and even then wind/water and boiler power are often more efficient and reliable....

    1st priority should be land, land, land! They don't make any more.....

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    I haven't picked out the lot yet. I'm going this weekend to look at them. I'm only looking at ones with water and electric. Also I didn't realize some didn't come with 220V. I assumed if they could run electric it would be 220V. I'll check into that.
    Oh, typically it would be 220 or nothing, absolutely. But you never know what those good old boys might have rigged up there in Alabama -- it's Alabama, after all! ;-)

    Dang, I didn't realize finishing was so expensive.
    Again, it depends how "finished" is finished. Is "finished" a port-a-potty, a used sink, one outlet, and a lot of extension cords? If so, then maybe it would only be a few hundred dollars! Just depends on how nice you want it to look, what you're willing to put up with, etc.

    Converting a shed is not the only way, BTW. Hopefully that is obvious but just wanted to point it out. You could, for example, renovate a cheap mobile home. Converting things that were not built to be houses (such as sheds, storage containers) into houses can end up being a lot more trouble than it seemed like on paper. Whereas a mobile home was at least built to be a house. You also could start from scratch! Design whatever you want. That can be really fun.
    The rebel of the 21st Century will be old-fashioned.

    Western Civilization is collapsing. Modernity, particularly egalitarianism, has killed it. The solution is to implement a traditional-style civilization.

  16. #15

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    Last edited by tod evans; 05-17-2017 at 09:18 AM.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    If you guys were going to build a 300-500 sq ft house, what method would you use?
    Would you be interested in a geodesic? Ala

    http://www.curbly.com/7332-put-her-in-a-pumpkin-shell

    The rebel of the 21st Century will be old-fashioned.

    Western Civilization is collapsing. Modernity, particularly egalitarianism, has killed it. The solution is to implement a traditional-style civilization.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    I thought about the "trailer style" tiny homes but they look too cramped to me. They're only 8 feet wide. Those space saving gadgets are cool but they look like a pain if they break. Everything is custom. I prefer standard stuff that I can get at Walmart. Also those little houses are very expensive.
    Yeah, thy are a little too cramped for me. The video merely pointed out a few space saving options to make a small space much more efficient. I find a lot of the innovations in tiny home designs brilliant.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
    and unacknowledged by our laws;
    giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by helmuth_hubener View Post
    Oh, typically it would be 220 or nothing, absolutely. But you never know what those good old boys might have rigged up there in Alabama -- it's Alabama, after all! ;-)

    Again, it depends how "finished" is finished. Is "finished" a port-a-potty, a used sink, one outlet, and a lot of extension cords? If so, then maybe it would only be a few hundred dollars! Just depends on how nice you want it to look, what you're willing to put up with, etc.

    Converting a shed is not the only way, BTW. Hopefully that is obvious but just wanted to point it out. You could, for example, renovate a cheap mobile home. Converting things that were not built to be houses (such as sheds, storage containers) into houses can end up being a lot more trouble than it seemed like on paper. Whereas a mobile home was at least built to be a house. You also could start from scratch! Design whatever you want. That can be really fun.
    I lived in a mobile home for about 6 years and I don't think I'd do it again. Everything is cheap and hard to work on. They use 1x2s instead of 2x4s. The drywall is like cardboard. The underside is made of plastic sheeting! I never figured out how to fix that crap underneath without it falling apart after a few months. Duct tape falls off in a few weeks.

    As far as I can tell the shed I'm looking at uses the same construction as a normal home. The model I'm looking at is specifically sold as a cabin. 2x4s every 16", 2"x6" floor joists, engineered wood exterior panels, etc. I'm nowhere near a construction expert but when I look at these sheds I can visualize how to work on them, they're so simple.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by phill4paul View Post
    Yeah, thy are a little too cramped for me. The video merely pointed out a few space saving options to make a small space much more efficient. I find a lot of the innovations in tiny home designs brilliant.
    What annoys me is that there seems to be a huge gap between tiny houses and "regular" houses. Tiny houses are like 160 sq ft and then the next stop is a 1000 sq ft house and even 1000 sq ft is hard to find. McMansions are way more common than 500-800 sq ft homes. I think a major reason is zoning laws. 1000 sq ft is usually the minimum. My wife and daughter lived in a 900 sq ft concrete block house in florida for 5 years and it was no problem. That's another thing that bugs me about housing. Why is it that only florida builds concrete block homes? They're awesome in my opinion. They last forever, they're hurricane and termite proof and cheap to build.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    What annoys me is that there seems to be a huge gap between tiny houses and "regular" houses. Tiny houses are like 160 sq ft and then the next stop is a 1000 sq ft house and even 1000 sq ft is hard to find. McMansions are way more common than 500-800 sq ft homes. I think a major reason is zoning laws. 1000 sq ft is usually the minimum. My wife and daughter lived in a 900 sq ft concrete block house in florida for 5 years and it was no problem. That's another thing that bugs me about housing. Why is it that only florida builds concrete block homes? They're awesome in my opinion. They last forever, they're hurricane and termite proof and cheap to build.
    Yeah my first house was a 950 sf concrete block home in FL. I'm probably never going to build a house but if I did I would definitely check into it as an option.
    * Enforce Border Security – America should be guarding her own borders and enforcing her own laws instead of policing the world and implementing UN mandates.

    * No Amnesty - The Obama Administration’s endorsement of so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, will only encourage more law-breaking.

    * Abolish the Welfare State – Taxpayers cannot continue to pay the high costs to sustain this powerful incentive for illegal immigration. As Milton Friedman famously said, you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.

    * End Birthright Citizenship – As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be granted U.S. citizenship, we’ll never be able to control our immigration problem.




    Reprinted from http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/immigration/ [Nov. 29, 2011]

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    Yeah my first house was a 950 sf concrete block home in FL. I'm probably never going to build a house but if I did I would definitely check into it as an option.
    My block house was built around 1950. Sometime around the mid 1980s the carport was walled off with wood to create a kitchen. I lived there in the mid 90's and the wooden carport kitchen room was having problems with leaking and wood rot. The 40 year old main concrete part of the house was in perfect condition but the 10 year old wood part was falling apart.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    My block house was built around 1950. Sometime around the mid 1980s the carport was walled off with wood to create a kitchen. I lived there in the mid 90's and the wooden carport kitchen room was having problems with leaking and wood rot. The 40 year old main concrete part of the house was in perfect condition but the 10 year old wood part was falling apart.
    Masonry wicks moisture, moisture is the enemy of wood.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    My block house was built around 1950. Sometime around the mid 1980s the carport was walled off with wood to create a kitchen. I lived there in the mid 90's and the wooden carport kitchen room was having problems with leaking and wood rot. The 40 year old main concrete part of the house was in perfect condition but the 10 year old wood part was falling apart.
    Yes mine was also that same era. But it had a small kitchen and a 1 car garage. I tore out the carpet and went with the original terrazzo. I loved that little house.

    ETA - Here it is. The screen porch is new in the past 20 years. They put in tile over the terrazzo. Looks good.


    And if you look at the Street view, I planted the tree when #1 son was born. It had sprouted in the yard of the neighbor to the left he dug it up (it was about 3" talll") and asked if I wanted it.https://www.google.com/maps/place/99...097897!6m1!1e1
    Last edited by angelatc; 05-17-2017 at 10:39 AM.
    * Enforce Border Security – America should be guarding her own borders and enforcing her own laws instead of policing the world and implementing UN mandates.

    * No Amnesty - The Obama Administration’s endorsement of so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, will only encourage more law-breaking.

    * Abolish the Welfare State – Taxpayers cannot continue to pay the high costs to sustain this powerful incentive for illegal immigration. As Milton Friedman famously said, you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.

    * End Birthright Citizenship – As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be granted U.S. citizenship, we’ll never be able to control our immigration problem.




    Reprinted from http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/immigration/ [Nov. 29, 2011]

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    Yes mine was also that same era. But it had a small kitchen and a 1 car garage. I tore out the carpet and went with the original terrazzo. I loved that little house.
    I hate carpet. It's like a stink reservoir. I ripped out my carpet in the florida house also and tiled it and put down area rugs in a few places. I did the same where I live now only I used bamboo. I friend of mine at work finished his concrete block floor somehow. That sounded like a cool idea. I'm into low maintenance.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    I hate carpet. It's like a stink reservoir. I ripped out my carpet in the florida house also and tiled it and put down area rugs in a few places. I did the same where I live now only I used bamboo. I friend of mine at work finished his concrete block floor somehow. That sounded like a cool idea. I'm into low maintenance.
    I live in MI now and have zero carpet. I hate it.
    * Enforce Border Security – America should be guarding her own borders and enforcing her own laws instead of policing the world and implementing UN mandates.

    * No Amnesty - The Obama Administration’s endorsement of so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, will only encourage more law-breaking.

    * Abolish the Welfare State – Taxpayers cannot continue to pay the high costs to sustain this powerful incentive for illegal immigration. As Milton Friedman famously said, you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.

    * End Birthright Citizenship – As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be granted U.S. citizenship, we’ll never be able to control our immigration problem.




    Reprinted from http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/immigration/ [Nov. 29, 2011]

  27. #26

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    What annoys me is that there seems to be a huge gap between tiny houses and "regular" houses. Tiny houses are like 160 sq ft and then the next stop is a 1000 sq ft house and even 1000 sq ft is hard to find. McMansions are way more common than 500-800 sq ft homes. I think a major reason is zoning laws. 1000 sq ft is usually the minimum. My wife and daughter lived in a 900 sq ft concrete block house in florida for 5 years and it was no problem. That's another thing that bugs me about housing. Why is it that only florida builds concrete block homes? They're awesome in my opinion. They last forever, they're hurricane and termite proof and cheap to build.
    Well, I've lived in many homes that originally started out as perhaps 800 sq. ft. and over decades expanded to 1600-2000. That's the case of the house I currently live in. It started as a 600 sq. ft. fishing/poker playing/whoring cabin. Over the years a master bedroom with loft was added. A kitchen. And 12 yrs. ago a master bath that is worth about what the rest of the house is. Lol.
    Start small with plans for expansion. Your main goal seems to be "getting away from it all." It doesn't take much to do that. Try not to go into debt and if you do then pay it off as quickly as possible. Then start thinking about ways to add on to it in room-by-room increments.
    There is nothing wrong with block homes. For all the reasons you mention. I grew up in Florida and know what you are referring to. There are advantages and disadvantages to every building material depending on where one sets down. Around here many build a block home into the side of a mountain. Basically it is a basement construction. They move in and pay off that construction and then build up to the "first floor" with wood. When they are done they have a fully finished basement to rent or for the kids.
    Last edited by phill4paul; 05-17-2017 at 03:22 PM.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
    and unacknowledged by our laws;
    giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  28. #27

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    Well, all I can tell you is this: whatever you have budgeted in your mind for the project when you make a final decision...take that number and double it.

  29. #28

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison320 View Post
    I lived in a mobile home for about 6 years and I don't think I'd do it again. Everything is cheap and hard to work on. They use 1x2s instead of 2x4s. The drywall is like cardboard. The underside is made of plastic sheeting! I never figured out how to fix that crap underneath without it falling apart after a few months. Duct tape falls off in a few weeks.

    As far as I can tell the shed I'm looking at uses the same construction as a normal home. The model I'm looking at is specifically sold as a cabin. 2x4s every 16", 2"x6" floor joists, engineered wood exterior panels, etc. I'm nowhere near a construction expert but when I look at these sheds I can visualize how to work on them, they're so simple.
    Sounds like you needed this: https://www.amazon.com/Mobile-Belly-.../dp/B00BJ5SPO8

    But yeah, it also sounds like maybe this shed is ideal for you, and that a mobile home wasn't. You know yourself best. Everybody's different! Just keep in mind all the little things that can go into making a house really look finished and "right." Not to mention work correctly.

    Electric. Don't forget the dryer.
    Plumbing. Don't forget the washer.
    Don't forget the venting
    And then flashing, sealant, etc., to seal up the hole in your roof really well (you could vent out of the top of the wall instead -- I came up with that great idea years ago but never have tried it)
    CAT5 or other network cabling? (optional)
    All that you've got to do before putting up the inner walls. Then
    Insulation
    Walls. This could be paneling instead of drywall, by the way. That's one thing mobile home manufacturers got right in the '70s, in my opinion. Big labor saver.
    Ceiling. Once again here: drywall is heavy and time-consuming. You might consider the various alternatives.
    Flooring. Cushioned vinyl sheeting is a good, easy option, especially for your situation: one big rectangle. No fancy cutting. You don't even have to glue it down. If you're going to separate into rooms, you can again steal a page from the mobile home playbook and lay the flooring first, then put the interior wall(s) on top of it.
    Trim. Trim, trim everywhere.
    More trim.
    Endless trim.
    Tons of other finishing touches you never thought of. House-grade windows go in that list somewhere.

    If it's just for you, you can always cut corners and rig something up that's good enough. You'll get used to it. That's the danger, in fact. If you don't finish it all at once, if you're living in it as you work on it, chances are you'll never finish it. You'll get to a point that's "good enough" (but pretty bad) and then take a break for a week, then a month, then.... why did I think I needed trim again? Or that this stub of pipe isn't good enough as a kitchen faucet? Hey, it works!
    The rebel of the 21st Century will be old-fashioned.

    Western Civilization is collapsing. Modernity, particularly egalitarianism, has killed it. The solution is to implement a traditional-style civilization.

  31. #30

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    Get a cheap used camper and build what you want over the time span you want. If its your vacation home away from home you might just as well build it big enough to be comfortable and have it be your own.

    As for building in a shed you can probably build one of those sheds cheaper than you can buy one but that depends on your handiness. I'd look into a habitat for humanity restore if theres one around your area. You can get most of the items you're going to need pretty cheap if you're willing to not have the latest and greatest fancy faucet from Moen.

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