My mom and step-dad are getting on in years. They were living on 20 acres, three hours from their nearest family member. We wanted them to be closer, so we could help more.
They are on a fixed income so we looked at places for them to rent in the Bend area. With the rental market the way it is, it was tough to find anything that worked within their budget. So we had to think outside the box. Some things we needed to consider were: cost, accessibility (Jack uses a walker) their three dogs and they did not want to be stuck in a neighborhood after being accustomed to 20 acres. I considered those tiny houses on trailers. The trailers wouldn’t work because they all would require steps. We also didn’t have the funds for a granny flat nor did we have the correct zoning.
After a lot of thought we decided to convert a lean to on the back of our shop. This area was 550 sq. ft. with a roof and a concrete slab floor. We were currently using it to store hay and other misc. junk.
We started by designing the area. Since this was not near our water or septic and because of our limited budget we wanted to unit to be self contained. We decided on a “job shack” septic that would be pumped every two weeks. We opted for a water tank for potable water that we can have filled once a month from a local water hauling company. We chose to use propane for heat and hot water because we did not have a lot of excess power.
We needed to fit a mudroom, for three dogs, one bedroom, kitchen, accessible bathroom/laundry room, and living room into 500 sq. ft. We also wanted to feel as open as possible and provide plenty of storage. We needed to have no steps and 3 ft wide doors, and no doors swinging in the way.
Again, we were on a tight budget. We went to the “bone yard” of our local door and window. It is the stuff that is returned or not needed, so it is less expensive. We were able to buy what they had and then frame accordingly, saving money. We did the job during the winter which is our slow time, so we were able to keep our crew working throughout the winter and get our job done…win win.
We also wanted this job to be used for marketing purposes, so we wanted to incorporate some unique features. We decided to use corrugated tin for the ceiling. It gives it kind of a shop/barn like feel. We went with beadboard instead of drywall because it would take less time, because you don’t have to wait for the multiple coats of mud to dry (especially when it is super cold out). Also our crew could do it instead of hiring a subcontractor. It turned out that is was not much of a savings of time or money….but it looks good! We made the bedroom furnature because we wanted it to all have built in storage. We made a platform bed with cubbies underneath to store totes. We used kitchen cabinet uppers that we had lying around from previous jobs. We made shelving for the lowers that we could cover with curtains, kind of like a 1950’s kitchen. We made butcher block countertops. We made the whole kitchen a little lower than average because my mom is not quite 5 feet tall and she has never had a kitchen where she could reach the top shelves. The kitchen was very inexpensive. The most expensive item was an RV model dishwasher that was about $200 (mom couldn’t live without a dishwasher).
We had grand plans to do a pea gravel epoxy floor for super low maintenance and the look. We got down to the end of our timeline and could not find the quantity of epoxy that we would need, so we decided on laminate in the bathroom and kitchen areas and then interlocking carpet squares in the living room and bedroom. These were things we could do ourselves without hiring outside.
The project turned out amazing! Mom and Jack moved in Mid-Feburary. Jack was able to get around really well with the wide doors and no steps. The dogs loved it because they have a doggy door out to a 10,000 sq ft yard. Mom loves it because she is close to her girls and has a space that is her own.