What Do You Call A Small House In The Backyard?

To understand what a small house in the backyard is, the solutions lie in the definitions, and the history behind it. Defining a small house in the backyard, and tracing the origins of the structures will provide insights into the growing trend of small houses in the backyard.

Defining a small house in the backyard

Backyard small houses are separate living spaces within a private residence’s yard. These abodes are usually smaller than typical homes, but contain essential amenities like a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette.

More and more people are turning to these tiny houses for affordable housing solutions and increased privacy. They provide an extra source of income by renting it out on sites such as Airbnb or creating extra space for family members.

However, local laws and regulations may require permits and zoning compliance before building a small house in the backyard. Homeowners must also consider factors such as utilities and property access.

Creating an attractive design with proper construction materials can add value to the home. By using green materials like bamboo or recycled steel, homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint while increasing sustainability.

In conclusion, small houses are a great way to stay at home, while still having a home in your backyard!

Origin of small houses in the backyard

Little houses in the backyard are growing in popularity in cities. They are also known as accessory dwelling units, granny flats, or backyard cottages. These small houses have become a solution to housing affordability and density. They started long ago with families living in shared spaces. Now, it is driven by the need for affordable places for single people or young adults who want to be near their family’s home.

Cities are beginning to recognize and even regulate these dwellings with zoning laws and regulations. Homeowners can make money by renting them out on platforms like Airbnb. North America is seeing a rise in adoption of these small houses.

They are a functional solution that many homeowners are using. Land is becoming scarce and expensive in some places, so these tiny dwellings remain attractive. Whether it’s a guest house, granny flat, casita, or man cave – it’s just a tiny house in the yard.

Different terms used for a small house in the backyard

To understand the different names used for a small house in the backyard, such as tiny house, micro home, and granny flats, explore this section. Discover the unique features and benefits of each, and see which one fits your needs best.

Tiny house

Micro homes, pocket-sized dwellings, and tiny abodes are small structures built in backyards.

These houses offer an eco-friendly solution to the demand for affordable living spaces.

They are typically less than 500 square feet and can include modern amenities.

Plus, they can be used as stand-alone residences or as accessory dwelling units.

Interesting feature? Tiny homes are often on trailers – making them portable! Some tiny homeowners enjoy traveling while still having a compact home to come back to.

Tiny homes have a long history. In Japan, small traditional homes called minkas were usually only a few hundred square feet. They were made with natural materials like straw bale roofs and mud walls. Also, Scottish crofters built simple cottages from locally sourced materials.

The tiny house movement began to take off after Hurricane Katrina. This eco-conscious lifestyle has enabled people to live smaller yet fuller lives. Why not live the tiny life in a micro home?

Micro home

A tiny home in the backyard is known as a “Granny Flat”. It can have many other names, based on culture and region, such as Tiny House, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), Carriage House, or Garden Cottage.

Data about these miniature dwellings can be found in a table. The columns include: type of structure, size, materials used, and cost. For example, an ADU can be attached or detached, and range from 300 to 1200 square feet in size. They can be built with prefabricated modular units or more traditional methods, costing between $30k to $100k.

These little homes come with eco-friendly features, such as solar panels or rainwater harvesting systems. The design is made even better with dual purposes, like walls that can be moved to change a living room into a bedroom. Plus, modern designs make them able to run self-sufficiently.

A unique use of one of these mini homes happened in New Orleans, when someone donated a FEMA trailer after Hurricane Katrina, for use as a pool house in someone’s backyard. It was retrofitted, affixed to a foundation, and turned into a swimming pool area.

Granny flats

If you’re after added housing space, “secondary dwelling units” is an option. Also known as: carriage houses, DADUs, granny flats or in-law suites.

Granny flats are mini living quarters with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. They’re usually in the backyard of a property, and can serve as a home for family, or rented out.

You can get them pre-fabricated, or build a custom one to your style and budget. But, keep an eye out for local zoning regulations that may be in place, limiting size and placement.

Although, these dwellings are traditionally associated with elders, they’re great for adult children and renters too.

For instance, one of our clients built a granny flat for her daughter completing college. It gave her daughter independence and privacy, but also allowed them to spend time together without invading each other’s space.

A tiny abode in the garden is the ideal solution when you want to take a breather, but don’t want to totally detach from the world.

Benefits of having a small house in the backyard

To understand the benefits of having a small house in your backyard, consider these four sub-sections: cost-effectiveness, environmental-friendliness, additional space for guests or renting out, and increased property value. Each of these solutions brings distinct advantages to your property and lifestyle.


A compact dwelling in the backyard has the plus of being cost-effective. Save on rent/mortgage, energy and upkeep. Plus, no commuting expenses!

Less space to maintain and clean. Minimalism and thriftiness come with the package. Plus, privacy. Get creative with interior design!

Install solar panels to save on bills. Eco-friendly features for sustainable living! Plant a garden for fresh produce at home.

Having an extra space in the backyard may seem like an extra cost, but it’ll be beneficial in the long run – both financially and emotionally.

Living in a small house in the backyard is a great way to save space and money. Plus, it’s an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint and make Mother Earth smile!


Opt for a tiny living space and reduce your carbon footprint! Save energy, produce less waste and get close to nature. Compact homes mean efficient use of space and resources. Require less heating and fewer appliances, using recycled materials and modern insulation.

Plus, sustainably reduce water consumption and air pollution. Harness renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. Even incorporate green infrastructure into the backyard. Create rain gardens and barrels to conserve water, plant native species that attract pollinators.

And who needs a spare room when you can rent out your backyard cubby? For less than the cost of a city studio apartment!

Additional space for guests or renting out

Why not build a small house in your backyard? It’s the perfect solution for those looking for extra living space or passive income. And both hosts and guests can enjoy independent living spaces without disturbing one another. Plus, you can generate a reasonable profit with vacation rentals, without having to go through complex regulations.

And it doesn’t stop here, you can use these houses as workspace retreats or art studios conveniently close-by! So before you start building, make sure you get legal permission from your local government institutions! Why not enjoy a win-win for all involved? Get a small house in your backyard and increase your property value!

Increased property value

Building a small house in the backyard can significantly increase the value of your property. Homebuyers often look for extra income streams or multi-generational living, making a backyard dwelling a desirable option. It also makes your property stand out!

Moreover, it increases potential rental income. As rental prices rise, having an extra unit is a great source of passive income. In some cases, it could even cover mortgage costs.

Plus, it’s flexible. One month, it’s a guesthouse for relatives, and the next, an office or gym. It offers physical separation between occupants and private living areas.

My friend built a cottage in their backyard to use as a work-from-home office. They later rented it as an Airbnb on weekends. It was very successful and provides a substantial portion of their monthly income.

Regulations and requirements for building a small house in the backyard

To ensure you comply with building regulations, this section explores the regulations and requirements for building a small house in the backyard, including zoning laws and building codes, permits and inspections, size limitations and setbacks. Explore each of the following sub-sections to gain an understanding of the legal considerations you need to know before embarking on your small house project.

Zoning laws and building codes

When constructing a small house in your backyard, it’s important to research local regulations. This includes adhering to property setback requirements, sewage disposal systems, and getting necessary permits. Not following these regulations can lead to legal repercussions and fees. Consult a licensed contractor or architect to make sure building standards are met.

Some areas have provisions for ADUs such as size, parking, and occupancy limits. Additionally, placement restrictions may exist. Research local government websites, zoning maps, and licensed professionals to find out more.

A homeowner in California learned the hard way. After failing to get permits and disregarding regulations, they had to pay over $30,000 in fines and dismantle the structure. So, follow all legal requirements before beginning construction. Otherwise, you may regret it!

Permits and inspections

For legal compliance, assessing regulations and requirements is essential before building a small house in your backyard. Obtaining permits and undergoing inspections is mandatory.

The table below shows key info for acquiring permits and inspections:

Type of Permit Issuing Authority Application Requirements
Building Permit Local Building Department Floor Plan, Site Plan, Zoning Compliance
Electrical Permit Electrical Board or Inspector Wiring Diagram, Circuit Map, Certificate of Conformity
Plumbing Permit Plumbing Inspector or Board Plumbing Diagrams, Material Specifications, Inspection Reports

Remember, applications must be submitted by a licensed professional. Construction can only start after all permits and approvals have been obtained. Timelines for inspections must be followed to avoid delays.

Following regulations can affect the property’s value. Violations could lead to fines and legal consequences. So, regulations must be followed from beginning to end.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that tiny homes are widely popular among Americans. As of 2021, 11% of all new houses constructed are tiny homes or accessory dwelling units (ADU).

Looks like my backyard castle dreams will be replaced with a tiny backyard shoebox!

Size limitations and setbacks

Local zoning regulations dictate size limits and the required distance of a secondary dwelling unit from lot lines. Typically, this ranges from 5-10 feet in the side and rear. The maximum allowable size is usually 400-1,200 square feet. Homeowners must also ensure their small houses meet the minimum setback distances. This is important, as failure to abide by these rules can lead to code violations or structure removal.

These limitations aim to keep the neighborhood attractive, reduce traffic, maintain privacy, and reduce noise pollution. Some municipalities may have additional restrictions such as specific heights or dimensions. Additionally, neighbor complaints may delay or stop any construction project – researchers advise discussing small home projects with backyard neighbors.

In 2017, Los Angeles Times Magazine covered several Los Angeles residents using backyard rental units to combat L.A.’s housing crisis in gentrified areas. These units are allowed in many zoning areas, but increase density much less. DIY builders: ‘close enough’ is sometimes good enough!

DIY vs. Professional build

To weigh the options between DIY vs. professional build with “What Do You Call A Small House In The Backyard?” as your guide, explore the pros and cons of both approaches. The benefits and drawbacks of DIY build and professional build will be discussed in sub-sections.

Pros and cons of DIY build

DIY or Professional Build? Weigh Your Options!

Pros of DIY:

  • Savings on labor costs
  • Flexibility to customize details
  • Satisfaction of doing it yourself

Cons of DIY:

  • Huge investment in tools and equipment
  • No insurance or warranty
  • Risk of errors leading to issues in resale

Check your skill set before attempting a DIY project. Consider hiring a knowledgeable consultant or professional for structures beyond your expertise. Pre-assembled kits can help you cut down on DIY costs while getting construction experience.

Pros of Professional Build: No need for DIY disasters or explanations to insurance company.

Pros and cons of professional build

Should you go for Professional Construction or DIY Building?

Building a house is no small feat. Deciding on the method of construction is of utmost importance. Professional construction has its own pros and cons to consider.


  • Professional builders have knowledge and experience. They can help guide you through the building process.
  • They can give you advice on materials, design, and regulations.
  • The quality of a professional build is generally higher due to modern equipment and skilled labour.
  • The contractors are insured, protecting you from any damages or incidents during the build.
  • You’ll save time and avoid expensive mistakes.


  • Professional building may be more expensive than DIY, due to labour costs, permits, etc.
  • You won’t have as much control over the building process once it has started.
  • You’ll need to plan extensively before starting the project, or else you may incur extra costs.

Pro Tip: Research potential builders thoroughly before hiring one. Working with licensed professionals will save you time and money!

Forget about big houses – have a tiny home in your backyard. Creativity and functionality is what it’s all about!

Popular designs and styles of small houses in the backyard

To explore popular designs and styles of small houses in the backyard, you can look into traditional, modern, and rustic styles. Each style brings a unique solution to the backyard living space, and it depends on what you prefer and what suits your lifestyle.

Traditional style

The Traditional Style features a symmetrical façade, a steep-pitched roof, and windows on either side of the front door. It’s a classic design that evokes nostalgia and longing for the past. This timeless style is often linked to historical homes or romanticized countryside residences.

Simple and practical, it has an ageless appeal. The central hall floor plan with rooms on either side of a central passage contributes to its charm. Wood paneling, wainscoting, crown molding, and chair rails are common features of traditional home constructions.

This style has had a lasting impact on modern architectural styles around the world. Its history stretches from ancient Greece to colonial America and is still celebrated in contemporary living spaces. Who needs a large house when you can have a backyard bungalow fit for a modern minimalist?

Modern style

The Modern Look is taking over small backyard houses! Square lines, natural wood, and lots of glass create a spacious interior. Hardwood flooring, bold colors, and plush furniture complete the elegant touch. Innovative storage compartments and smart lighting solutions maximize functionality. Large windows provide beautiful views of the lawn and invite the outdoors in. Minimalist design with comfortable elements make the modern vibe warm and inviting.

Outdoor dining or lounge areas make excellent use of the limited space, bringing a cozy atmosphere to entertain. Upgrade your backyard today and don’t miss out on the stunning designs! Rustic style backyard houses offer camping-like amenities with walls and better beds.

Rustic style

The rustic theme is popular amongst homeowners who want a small backyard house. The design is natural, with colors, textures, and exposed wood. Reclaimed wood or sustainable materials can be used. It fits well with a cabin-like feel and cozy furnishings. Unique features like stonework or log beams add character. Nature-inspired elements should be practical and visually pleasing. Greenery in the structure or a garden nearby adds appeal.

Consider a warm color scheme for decor. Rustic-style furniture has wooden accents with iron or metal. Before you build, think if you’ll still like your family members after sharing such close quarters!

Factors to consider before building a small house in the backyard

To ensure a successful construction of a small house in your backyard with a limited budget, purpose in mind, and easy access to utility connections, it’s important to first consider some crucial factors. These include budget, purpose, accessibility and utility connections, and maintenance and upkeep. Let’s explore each of these sub-sections to help you better understand what you need to know before starting your construction.


Constructing a small residence in the backyard? Consider these financial points first!

  • Price: Think about the cost for materials, permits, and labor.
  • Funding: How much you have or can borrow?
  • Contingencies: Put aside at least 10% of your funds for unexpected costs.

Don’t forget to research location, size, timeline, and codes. They can influence your costs.

Pro Tip: Make a buffer to cover changes in estimates.


Dreaming of a small house in your backyard? Before starting, there are a few things to consider for success! Here are four points:

  • Zoning and Permitting Regulations: Check with local authorities to make sure your plan is approved.
  • Construction Materials and Style: Choose materials based on how often you’ll use the house and what purpose it’ll serve.
  • Functionality and Design: Consider electricity, plumbing, heating/cooling systems.
  • Budget Planning and Financing Options: Have a financial plan and financing options ready.

Don’t always go for the cheapest. Consider customization for better long-term results.

Pro Tip: Above all, make sure the foundation is structurally sound.

Escape from reality in your own private backyard house – no neighbors necessary!

Accessibility and utility connections

Constructing a small house in your backyard is a great way to add value to your property – but first, you must consider accessibility and utility connections. Here are some points to think about:

  • Examine the distance of sewage and drainage lines from the proposed site.
  • Is the electric power sufficient or do you need to upgrade?
  • Inspect potential water supply sources, such as wells or city connections.
  • Assess the accessibility of gas lines for heating, cooking, and other appliances.
  • Check if workers and construction materials can access the site easily.

You must also obtain permits from local authorities before beginning construction. Compliance with regulations ensures safety, ease and future property resale.

For unique details, consult an experienced contractor. Researching will help avoid legal issues that can result in fines or delays.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to add value to your property. Consider the necessary steps before building and you’ll benefit from it, now and in the future.

Maintenance and upkeep

Caring for and maintaining a tiny house in your backyard is an important factor to consider. To keep the house functional and safe, regular cleanings are necessary. Exteriors and surroundings must be kept clear of debris and animals. Also, seasonal inspections are vital to spot any water or cracks.

Permits must be renewed yearly to meet local ordinances. Ensure that all moving parts like windows and doors are functioning properly. This will help maintain its longevity.

Maintenance of the small home will keep it cost-effective, efficient and livable, while adding value to your property. So decide if a tiny home is a wise investment and commit to consistent repair and maintenance. Else, you may face liability issues with insurance providers in the future.


What do you call a small house in the backyard? Some people say granny flats, while others use terms like casitas or ADUs. No matter what you call it, these structures offer many advantages to homeowners.

Granny flats have become popular recently. Housing costs are high, so these small houses can be used as guest quarters, offices, or places for adult children. Plus, they can add value to your property and bring rental income.

Building a granny flat is often cheaper than adding an addition to your home. To start building one, follow the steps:

  1. Check local zoning laws and permits.
  2. Find a reputable builder with experience.
  3. Look into financing options like home equity loans.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a small house in the backyard called?

A small house in the backyard is commonly called a granny flat, backyard studio, or guest house.

2. What is the purpose of a small house in the backyard?

A small house in the backyard can serve as a living space for guests, a home office, a rental unit, or a space for an aging family member.

3. Do I need a permit to build a small house in my backyard?

The need for a permit for a small house in the backyard depends on local zoning laws. Check with your municipality to determine if a permit is necessary.

4. How big can a small house in the backyard be?

The size of a small house in the backyard varies based on local zoning laws and regulations. In most cases, it is limited to a certain percentage of the primary residence or a maximum square footage limit.

5. Can I rent out a small house in my backyard?

Check with your local zoning laws and regulations to determine if renting out a small house in the backyard is permitted.

6. What are some advantages of having a small house in the backyard?

Some advantages of having a small house in the backyard include additional living space, increased property value, potential rental income, and the ability to accommodate guests or family members.