Alternative Shelter for Changing Times: Tiny Houses and Conversion Homes


Increasing numbers of people are seeking Shelter options that are more affordable and less dependent on the grid. Inflation, rising housing costs, and social unrest are major contributing factors in this trend. In a move toward increasing self-reliance, there are ways to lower housing costs while increasing self-sufficiency in sustainable ways. Let’s look at two examples: a self-built “tiny home” and a “tiny” conversion home.


“Tiny homes” are very small, cost-efficient, compacted living spaces which can vary tremendously in construction and style. Some are professionally designed and very elaborate, while others are models of frugality. The following is an example of the latter and serves to illustrate what can be created at very low cost, be self-sustaining, and almost entirely off grid. Interestingly, the builder of this “tiny” house is “urban homesteading” in Orlando, Florida.

Set in the backyard of a conventional home, he’s converted the front yard into a thriving vegetable garden in exchange for being allowed to use the back for his “tiny house” homestead.

The garden provides fresh healthy Food for the homeowner as well as himself. He built the tiny house with about $1500.00, using re-purposed materials scavenged from construction sites, re-purposing and thrift stores. “Tiny” at just 100 square feet, the house is cleverly furnished with items from garage sales that serve dual purposes. The kitchen and bathroom facilities are located outside. Rainwater, collected from the homeowner’s roof, is used in the kitchen sink as well as the gravity-fed shower. He constructed his own composting toilet, and uses the waste for garden fertilizer, although the process takes much longer than ordinary composting. He has a small propane cook stove and uses a Bio-Digester to produce some of his own fuel. His only municipal power is an extension cord that runs from the homeowner’s house and powers his freezer, laptop battery charger, and lights as needed. This is an innovative but challenging way to live. Suitable for an individual with the character to make it work, the “tiny conversion home” described below is a more suitable option for a family.


This “tiny conversion home” example demonstrates how one can achieve debt-free living with greater self-reliance. Selling their suburban home, this young couple purchased seven acres of land in rural Texas and set a pre-built 16’ x 48’ shed on the site.

They converted their shed into a comfortable, small home. While homesteading the property presently, they plan to eventually transform it into a self-sustaining permaculture. Through their own design, they remodeled and restructured the interior to create a fully modern but very space-efficient home; they installed large windows which created a well-lit family living space, designed a fully modern kitchen with all appliances, and installed a small modern bathroom. The laundry area is outdoors on the deck, which offers additional multi-use space. They have a 5000-gallon rainwater containment tank which they use for the garden and the animals. Creating their “tiny conversion home” was far less expensive than a conventional home, while providing many of the same amenities. Although still on the municipal power grid, they can convert to off-grid easily. While more labor intensive than conventional suburban life, homesteading is far more rewarding and offers greater Security in significant ways.



  • Lynette’s mission is to translate financial noise into understandable language and enable educated, independent choices. All her work is fact and evidence based and she shares these tools openly. She believes strongly that we need to be as independent as possible and at the same time, we need to come together in community to survive and thrive through any financial crisis.

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