Backyard Guesthouse Redesign

Backyard Guesthouse Redesign


Some Tiny House Blog readers might remember the backyard guesthouse project I was working on last fall. Well, the Tiny Guesthouse Challenge is complete and my mother’s backyard guesthouse now has a new bathroom and a few other additions. A 5 foot by 7 foot addition was added onto the existing building by a local builder who lives right up the street. The bathroom contains a shower, sink and cabinet, and a low-flow toilet.

We bit the bullet and decided to have a 300 gallon septic tank and leach field put in behind the house. We do not have any neighbors or facilities within 5 miles from the back of the house and the property is adjacent to a county wilderness area. The water for the shower and sinks was run from our pump house, which is right next door to the guest house. Because the addition was so small, and we live in an unincorporated area, we did not need to get a permit.

The sink and cabinet were custom made by a local cabinet maker, and I was able to get the slate tiles for free from a man up the street who used to own a tile shop. Our builder’s partner was able to procure me a 7-gallon hot water heater from an RV he was renovating and a free mirror from a torn down house. Another neighbor was hired to put in new double pane windows. I also had a cement patio built in front of the house and will have a back deck constructed this winter. I purchased the outdoor table and chair from Craigslist.

The home now has a small kitchenette by Avanti that contains a dorm-sized refrigerator, some storage space, a two-burner stove and a sink. The gray water from the sink currently runs out to the side of the house, but I will put in a high-desert garden next to the house to use that water.

The furniture was purchased from IKEA. There is a small dining table and three folding chairs, a wardrobe, a small couch that folds out to a queen sized bed, some kitchen shelves and a new rug. The curtains and footstool came from Target.

The approximate cost for all the labor, materials, machinery and new furniture came to about $8,000. The building is now fully functional as a full-time living space and we are interested in putting it on Airbnb as a vacation rental. I have already had a few people interested in renting the house as a silent retreat space, but I’m hoping to have the garden and some landscaping in before that. 🙂


Photos by Christina Nellemann


By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]


  1. You’ve done a terrific job on the little house! Your mom must be thrilled. Would you share the measurements of the main part of the house? Thank you for sharing your completed pictures. Pat

  2. Wow – beautiful!! Absolutely love it. The slate tile is gorgeous. Adding a bathroom was a great idea. The little kitchenette is perfect! Very well done!

  3. These tiny houses are fabulous; however, I greatly would love to see these houses structured for those who have disabilities, with features and room for wheelchairs. Also, I would love to see these houses structured for elderly and people with vertigo, that can not climb up top to sleep. Perhaps builders could take note, and expand their markets at the same time?

  4. LOVE that slate!! That’s what I miss most from our W Seattle reno! Some day soon OUR new project will be on this website….and we already have our slate stock piled and ready to set! Until then, its incredible to see what everyone else is working on….it allows our dreams to bloom even brighter!

    • The tank itself was about $380. The leach field came to about $250 and the machinery and labor for the work was another $850. It took about two days to dig out and install.

  5. I love the Avanti kitchenettes! You may want to relocate your kitchen towel away from the burners, however. It’s always a good idea to keep towels and curtains away from the heat source.

  6. Thanks for the timely update. I may be doing a similar project soon, minus the add on, and have been concerned about costs. This lets me know I may be overestimating slightly. I won’t need furniture, for example. Did you redo the ceiling in the main room, or was it already like that? I like it.

    • Yes. Our budget and the builder’s estimate was about $10,000, so we came in way under. The ceiling in the main room was like that when the structure was built back in the 1980s. It’s a typical Swedish design that my Scandinavian parents worked into the house.