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12 DIY Small Backyard Cabin and Shed Ideas and Plans

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Are you looking for backyard cabin ideas that would make you want to move in? In this blog post, we are exploring backyard cabin ideas that will spark your imagination to create extra space in your backyard. 

Additionally, we will analyze professionally designed backyard cabin plans to help make your dream a reality.

backyard cabin Lily


From modern designs to rustic charm, these cabins offer a perfect place to escape from the daily grind. We’ll look into what exactly backyard cabins are, the concept of ADU, whether you need a permit to build one, and the best ways to utilize your cabin space.

Furthermore, you’ll find 12 DIY plans for building your own small cabin. Get ready to transform your backyard into a haven with these alluring backyard cabin ideas and plans.

What are backyard cabins?

small backyard cabin MOLLY


Backyard cabins serve as versatile additions to any outdoor space, offering a cozy retreat just steps away from your home. Surely, the cost of living continues to rise and land prices reach new heights. But with the right small cabin plans, hard work, and some professional help you can build your DIY backyard cabin or tiny home. 

Some homeowners lack extra space in the main house. For that reason, they decide to add prefab cabins or backyard sheds as extra office space or even possible rental.

Most importantly, these auxiliary dwelling units, also known as ADUs, offer a versatile solution for various needs like storage space or even short-term rentals.

Thinking about building your own backyard cabin? Check out these plans to get started on creating your DIY retreat.

12 plans to build your small backyard cabin

1. Simple Living Backyard Tiny House by TinyHomeBuilders

Looking for an inexpensive, functional tiny house design to lower your build costs? You are in the right place! The ‘Simple Living’ house plan is one of the easiest and least expensive to build tiny backyard cabins. 

Simple Living backyard cabin idea

Source: ‘Simple Living’ by TinyHomeBuilders

Designed for those with a tight budget, it can be built for as little as $10K (depending on the materials list). In fact, this plan provides enough room for all the features that create a cozy home.

As illustrated, it includes a 7-foot sleeping loft, a storage space, a bathroom with a 36-inch shower, a kitchen, and a large living area.

Whether you need a backyard office, an occasional guest house, or a small cabin, it is a good reason to consider buying this plan. And the best part? It is only $197.

2. ‘Tiny Living’ Backyard Cabin by TinyHomeBuilders

'Tiny Living' Backyard Cabin by TinyHomeBuilders


Perfect for those with limited backyard space, this compact cabin design maximizes every inch for a cozy retreat. The design features a classic gable roof, dormers, and a spacious living room. Additionally, a 7-foot loft space is located above the bathroom and the kitchen.

Also, a ‘Tiny Living’ design comes in a variety of sizes: 12′, 16′, 20′, 24′, 28′, and 32′ so you can design your small space according to your needs.

3. ‘Tiny Retirement’ Single Level Cabin by TinyHomeBuilders

'Tiny Retirement' Single Level Cabin


Whether you want to build a granny flat, or a guest house, sleek lines and minimalistic design make this cabin a stylish addition to any backyard. Truly, this single-level home is perfect for those who would prefer not to climb a ladder when you go to bed. 

Its unique design has an entry door situated on the long side of the house. Consequently, the bathroom is on one side of the house, and the space for a full-size bed – on the other. The ‘Tiny Retirement’ floor plan comes in two sizes (20′ and 24′) and is currently priced at $347.

Most importantly, Tiny Home Builders is a great resource for those looking to build cozy cabins in the backyard. Additionally, they host online and hands-on workshops that are perfect for beginners (no carpentry experience required). 

4. 2-bedroom Cabin Plan by Architectural Designs

2 bedroom backyard cabin by Architectural Designs


Enjoy the fresh air and scenic views with a cabin design that includes a spacious front porch for relaxation and entertaining. Notably, with 2 spacious bedrooms and an open-concept living/dining area, there is tons of space for guests, entertaining, or personal offices.

5. The Traditional Backyard Cottage by Architectural Designs

traditional backyard cottage


Embrace a classic design with a warm and inviting aesthetic, ideal for creating a timeless retreat right in your backyard. Especially, it is a great choice for a cozy granny flat or a guest house, featuring 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, and a spacious living area with a kitchen and a cozy fireplace. 

6. The A-Frame Cabin ‘Dolores’ by PinUp Houses

A-Frame backyard cabin

Get this plan here

This classic design offers a unique architectural appeal and plenty of natural light, perfect for a serene getaway or a backyard retreat. With 183 sq ft of space, the cabin offers a lot of functionality and amenities including a kitchenette, bathroom, storage, porch, and a loft space.

Follow the steps of those who already built this cabin using the book ‘How to Build a Tiny House’ which comes with the plans.

7. The Cabin with a Greenhouse ‘Doris’

Backyard Cabin with a Greenhouse

Get this cabin plan here

Incorporate a greenhouse into your cabin design for a natural and visually striking addition to your backyard. With a modest DIY building cost of $27,600* (*estimate at the time of writing), you can create a perfect spot in your backyard for occasional guests, enjoying nature, and growing plants.

Check out these backyard gardening ideas:

8. Backyard A-Frame Shed Lily

Backyard A-Frame Shed Lily

Get this shed plan here

With an open layout, this cabin can serve as a playhouse, home office, or even a creative studio. It is one of the most popular plans among DIYers and woodworking enthusiasts. It is very inexpensive to build and can be your first DIY backyard cabin project to get hands-on experience.

Electronic downloadable plans are $79 (which come with a free eBook on ‘How to Build a Tiny House’). Most importantly, the DIY building cost is only $2,300. 

9. Japanese Tea House Backyard Project

Get this cabin plan here

Are you looking for a serene escape amidst your busy schedule? Japanese backyard cabin plan is a perfect backyard project. Check out an actual completed project build with this floor plan: DIY building cost is $2,400 (*estimate at the time of writing) with approximately 150 – 200 labor hours.

10. Modern Cabin ‘Yvonne’

10. Modern Cabin 'Yvonne'

Get this cabin plan here

This 2-story cabin offers plenty of space with 231 sq ft of living area, an upstairs bedroom, and an open terrace to enjoy the views. Downstairs, large windows bring plenty of natural light to a cozy living area featuring a kitchen and a bathroom for comfortable living. 

11. Small Saltbox Tiny House Molly

This classic design offers a unique architectural appeal and plenty of natural light. Furthermore, this small saltbox house is designed to be energy efficient by preventing heat loss with a unique flooring system.

saltbox backyard cabin idea

Get this cabin plan here

12. Classic Backyard Cabin Mia

12. Classic Backyard Cabin Mia

Get this cabin plan here

Elevate your cabin above the ground for a modern and airy feel. This classic backyard cabin is perfect for enjoying the surrounding nature on your spacious covered front porch.

13. Backyard Shed Leah

are you in search of a cost-effective building plan for a comfortable and practical space? Look no further! This simple floor plan offers 140 sq. ft. of space and can be built for only $5,700. So, it is perfect for those in need of a guest house or DIY backyard office shed.

Not convinced yet? For this reason, take a peek at a real-life project completed using this same floor plan. You can witness every step of the DIY building process, from laying the foundation to framing.

backyard shed Leah


What is ADU?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are secondary dwellings that are built on the same property as a primary residence. In general, they can take the form of backyard cabins, tiny sheds, or tiny houses, providing homeowners with additional living space or rental opportunities.

Also, understanding the concept of ADUs and the legal aspects of such dwellings can help you maximize the potential of your backyard cabin. One of the main questions is whether you need a permit for your backyard cabin.

backyard cabin plans and ideas


Do you need a permit for your backyard cabin?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are a great way to add extra living space or rental income to your property. In the process, you can increase your property value. However, before you start building your backyard cabin, it’s important to check with your local government to determine if you need a permit. 

Many cities and counties have specific zoning regulations and building codes that dictate whether a permit is required for ADUs. It greatly varies from state to state. For example, the state of Georgia only requires a permit for a shed or other structure if it’s bigger than 120 square feet. 

The state of California just updated its ADU rules, making it easier for property owners who wish to construct an ADU for any purpose. Good thing, that many states plan to make changes to ADU laws allowing even more freedom and square footage for backyard cabin designs.

As the laws constantly change, the best option is to consult real estate and construction professionals before building a backyard studio. If you are wondering which states in the US currently allow ADUs, check out THIS ARTICLE.

Here is the list of the most ADU-friendly states, as of the time of writing:

  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Texas
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • New York

On the positive side, other states may join this list as the laws regarding ADUs are changing. With this in mind, always check with professionals before implementing any backyard cabin ideas.

Failure to obtain the necessary permits could result in fines or even having to demolish the structure. Once you have confirmed the need for a permit, you can move forward with creating your dream backyard cabin. Explore the best ways to use your backyard cabin to make the most of this valuable addition to your property.


Best ways to use your backyard cabin

One of the best ways to use your backyard cabin is as a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you use it as a private workspace, a yoga or meditation studio, or simply a cozy reading nook, your backyard cabin can be your sanctuary.

Looking for more backyard cabin and shed ideas? Check out these posts:

Additionally, you can consider these backyard cabin ideas: a guest house, mother-in-law quarters for visitors, or year-round use as a rental property to generate extra income. The possibilities are endless when it comes to making the most of your backyard cabin.

As you explore the 12 DIY backyard cabin ideas and plans, remember that the perfect cabin is just a blueprint away. In the words of William C. Hannan, “Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.” Let your backyard cabin be the embodiment of that feeling – a space that truly feels like home.