Episode 210 Cover

If you’re trying to build a tiny house on a budget, starting with a pre-existing shed can be one of the cheapest ways to do it. Adrian and Katherine Alvarez purchased a $20K 16×50 Dirksen shed for $10K and spent very little to turn it into a home for their family of 3. Shed conversions are their own special animal and the Alvarezes share some great tips and what they wish they knew before they started.

In This Episode:

  • How to find a cheaper shed
  • Site preparation: what they did and what they would do differently
  • A little determination and creativity can get you far
  • Things that could add time to your build
  • Could this money-saving trick work for you?

Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Adrian and Katherine Alvarez

Adrian and Katherine Alvarez

Adrian and Katherine Alvarez have turned a 16×50 Dirksen shed into a tiny home. The family of 3 lives in Houston, Texas.




This Week's Sponsor:

Tiny House Decisions Cover

Tiny House Decisions

Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. And it comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. If you're struggling to figure out the systems for your tiny house, how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, what you're going to build it out, then tiny house decisions will take you through the process systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for podcast listeners. Head over to https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thd and use the coupon code tiny at checkout!


More Photos:

A family member helped the Alvarezes with their layout and blueprints

They had a little help from Anthony and Olivia with their countertops

Adrian and Katherine did about 70% of the work (including the AC) themselves


The shed had a little bit of work done here and there that they ultimately pulled out and re-did

The shed was delivered all in one piece


Adrian Alvarez 0:00

We did have a couple of little issues with some of the neighbors. They didn't like the idea of somebody building, I guess, a house in the backyard, you know. And so they tried to stop us from doing it. But legally, there was nothing that they could do. We did everything that we could to make sure that we were doing things, you know, appropriately and legally.

Ethan Waldman 0:16

Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build, and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 210 with Adrian and Katherine Alvarez. If you're trying to build a tiny house on a budget, starting with a pre existing shed can be one of the cheapest ways to do it. My guests, Adrian and Katherine Alvarez have turned a 16x50 Dirksen shed into a tiny home. In this interview, they will share how they bought their $20,000 shed for just $10,000 and then spent very little money converting the rest of the house into a fairly large (for the tiny house world) tiny home for their family of three. Shed conversions are their own special animal and Adrian shares things that he wish he knew about shed conversions before starting, and so much more. I hope you stick around.

I want to tell you about something that I think will be super helpful as you plan, design and build your tiny house. Tiny House Decisions is a guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It comes in three different packages to help you on your unique Tiny House journey. And if you're struggling to just figure out the systems for your tiny house, you know, like how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, you know, what construction technique are you going to use like SIPs or stick framing or steel framing, Tiny House Decisions will take you through all these processes systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for listeners of the show, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD to learn more, and use the coupon code tiny at checkout for 20% off any package. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off.

All right, I am here with Adrian and Katherine Alvarez. Adrian and Katherine have turned a 16x50 Dirksen shed into a tiny home. The family of three lives in Houston, Texas. Adrian and Katherine, welcome to the show.

Adrian Alvarez 2:43

Thank you for having me.

Ethan Waldman 2:44

Yeah, glad to have you here. So I guess I'm always fascinated by the shed conversions. Because you know, you see them you see these pre built structures and, you know, always wonder, like, what does it take to convert one into a house? You know, does it work?

Adrian Alvarez 3:00


Ethan Waldman 3:00

And so I guess my my first question is just like, you know, why? Why did you choose a shed conversion?

Adrian Alvarez 3:05

Well, can I answer this, Kat?

Katherine Alvarez 3:08

Yeah, you can.

Adrian Alvarez 3:09

So well, when we first got married, you know, we had always wanted to have our own home. But it was just really expensive, you know, especially in Houston that the market is is extremely expensive, even like now in 2022. It's just gone through the roof. But when we first got married, we started renting. And then after a year of renting, we realized like okay, $12,000 and we don't own anything, you know, and we wanted to have our own little space. And we said, "What is the fastest way that we can have our own little space?" And so initially, we looked at, like, RVs, you know, and we didn't, we did the RV thing for a little while. But then we just started having serious conversations, we'd watch these YouTube videos that people get in the shed houses, like these sheds and turning them into shed houses. And we just fell in love with that idea. We were like, "This is this could be something that we could do, you know." And so it really just started from watching YouTube, seeing that other people were doing it and that it is possible, and just having that grow into a real real thing, you know?

Ethan Waldman 4:10

Yeah, yeah, totally. And so take me from, you know, from kind of the realization that it could be a thing, what, you know, what were your next steps? How quickly did you did you make it happen?

Adrian Alvarez 4:25

Okay, so it's taken a little bit over a year. And we're still not done. Truthfully, I wish I could be. We could sit here and say that the house is 100% done. It's not. It's about 90% done. There's still trim that needs to be done, touch up paint, and stuff like that. But how we got started and everything. Like I said it was the YouTube videos really got us motivated. After we saw that it was actually possible. We just sat down and had conversations and said, Is this something that we can do you know, is this something that are we both willing to make a lot of sacrifices, and, you know, sacrifices and you know, not going places and doing things with our friends and, you know, not buying things that we would like to buy, and just saving all of the money that we're able to, and try to do this, because we didn't take out a bunch of money in loans, you know, we pulled out, you know, a small loan, and we did this basically, you know, check the check. But basically, the way that it started is my father bought a piece of property. It was about an acre an acre, is it an acre and a half get like an acre and a half, right? Yeah. And so we bought this piece of property in Houston, it has no restrictions, no HOA, anything like that. And all of the neighbors have these little apartment buildings, or they turn their garages into apartments and things like that. And my dad said, "Hey, what if y'all want to build a little house on the property?"And we had already been kind of flirting with the idea of a shed conversion to a house. And so we were like, "Okay, this is, this is our opportunity." Because that's the other part is like, you could, you could build the house, but you have to have the land to put it on also without the restrictions and everything else. And so it just kind of fit perfectly. We didn't have to buy the land. We could build it on my father's property in an area that didn't have restrictions. And so it just, it just seemed like okay, this is the time for us to do this. And so we had been living in in a little camper, for probably almost two years, I believe. Right, Kat?

Katherine Alvarez 6:27

Actually, 4 years, because when we got the RV Axel was a couple of months when we moved in the RV.

Adrian Alvarez 6:36

So like almost four years. Yeah. And so we did that for quite a while. And we were like, "You know what, there's a lot of families that do it, but it's just not sustainable. Like long term, you know, at least not for us." It just wasn't - we were just kind of outgrowing it. And so we went looking and we we went one day, and we just started looking at we typed in Dirksen, and on Google, and just try to find these little places that sell these, these buildings. And we came across this one place, and we sat down and spoke with the lady. And we found out quickly that these buildings are like $20,000 brand new. And so we were like, "Okay, well, that's gonna, yeah, that's gonna cut into the budget." Yeah. And so we're like, Okay, that's it, which is still way cheaper than a house. But you think that's just $20,000 for a shell?

Ethan Waldman 7:23


Adrian Alvarez 7:23

And so we were like, "Okay, well, maybe this isn't going to be as easy as I thought." And so we kept looking. And then we found a little spot that had the building that we ended up purchasing, sitting in the back of a lot with all of the other ones. And so we went to go look at it. And it was a repossession. Somebody had had it, they couldn't finish paying it, and then they had to repossess this building. So we were all excited. We ran up to the front, and we're like, "Hey, we want to talk to you guys about this shed." And the lady said, "Well, unfortunately, somebody just purchased it." You know, they just bought it. And that was, yeah, it was a bummer. And so we were like, "Oh, man!" I said, "Is there any chance that if it doesn't work out, could you give me a call?" She was, "We'll give you a call if it happens. But that's never happened before." Nobody buys one of these things, and then says, "Hey, we don't want it or whatever." Right. And so, I had given her our phone number, and we had just kind of, you know, put it in the back of our mind, but we really kind of forgot about it honestly. And maybe three weeks to a month went by and we get a call from the the woman at the at the at the location and she said the gentleman who purchased the building, he did not want to cut down a tree to have the building transported into his property. And so he lost out do you guys want it and we we picked it up at that opportunity.

Ethan Waldman 8:41


Adrian Alvarez 8:43

And so that like normally they're like 20,000 and because it was a repossession it was only like $10,000 So we got it for half the price of that it would normally be.

Ethan Waldman 8:52

That's amazing.

Adrian Alvarez 8:53

And that's kind of how it started Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 8:54

And so give give me a sense of like what you know what it is that you got I'm getting so it's like a finished shed. So there's exteriors siding the windows are in the doors are in but there's no no insulation, what's the floor like? Tell me about what it was like in its raw form.

Adrian Alvarez 8:55

So all of this stuff, you could you could see it like on the YouTube channel, but it's basically you have I don't know what they call that exterior plywood that has like the grooves in it and it's it's not Hardy backer, but it's like, yeah, I forget exactly when Yes. And so it's basically that painted on the outside with 2x4 studs all the way around it. Okay. It has two windows and I believe it had just regular doors, not barn doors, but they normally come with barn doors. And in this case, it had been repossessed. So the person who had this shed was actually trying to convert it into a tiny house. And so they had like pieces of plumbing and places they had bits of floor. They had a little bit of construction that had taken place, but nothing was finished. And so we kind of had to do a little bit of demolition when we first got in because it was, it was the beginning of the project, essentially, it was not. It wasn't completed. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 10:19

Got it. Got it. And how do they how do they deliver it to you?

Adrian Alvarez 10:23

It was it was really interesting, they had this huge trailer. So the entire building sat on this trailer, and then the trailer lifts up from the front. And they put like, basically, it looks like a car axle or whatever. But it's like a dolly. As they, they lift up the front, it starts to slide off the trailer, and then they put the back underneath the wheels, they roll it. And then they have like this little forklift kind of machine that they get underneath the front of it, and then they'll they'll bring it onto the property, it's pretty interesting how they do it. And those guys are pretty talented, because it was the tight spot, we thought for a second that we weren't gonna be able to get it either. But they, they're pretty impressive how those guys get that building into the spot.

Ethan Waldman 11:04

Yeah, that is really impressive. And what did you have to do to the ground, you know, before putting it down?

Adrian Alvarez 11:14

Right. So that's something that I wish we would have done a little bit more of. We did do ground prepping. So the one of the first things that we did is we marked out the location of where the building was going to go. And then we got a machine that compacted that all of the dirt. I wish that we would have poured either you know, blocks of concrete, or something, just to give it better stabilization.

Ethan Waldman 11:38


Adrian Alvarez 11:38

And that's something that we may do in the future. But as of right now, it's just compacted dirt with cinder blocks on top of it. And that's probably not the best way to do it, honestly. But in the future, we're going to be going back and probably lift in a part of the house on a piece of concrete and then trying to reinforce it to make it more more stable. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 11:58

Got it. Got it. That's all fascinating. So where you live in Houston is, you know, are you like fully legal there in terms of the tiny house? Or are you kind of flying under the radar? Like how does that work with converting a shed to a house?

Adrian Alvarez 12:17

Yeah. So in the location that we are in, there is no restrictions, there's no HOA or anything like that. The building is 100% registered with the Harris County is the county that we that we live in. It is registered with Harris County, we do have permits, because you have to get permits to get electrical, and, and things like that.

Ethan Waldman 12:38


Adrian Alvarez 12:40

We did have a couple of little issues with some of the neighbors, because they didn't like it. So they tried to stop us from doing this. Who didn't like the idea of their somebody building, I guess, a house in the backyard, you know, and so they tried to stop us from doing it. But, you know, legally, there was nothing that they could do. And we did everything that we could to make sure that we were not flying under the radar, but doing things, you know, appropriately legally and everything like that.

Ethan Waldman 13:07


Adrian Alvarez 13:08

Because to put all this money and effort into something in the county come and say, "Hey, you can't do that." We have to take it down or whatever that would be. That'd be pretty rough. So we tried to do everything the best way possible.

Ethan Waldman 13:20

Yeah. Yeah, I suppose the less mobile the house is the more sure you want to be with the legal regulations.

Adrian Alvarez 13:28

Right? Right. I guess you could probably move this building but it'd be extremely, extremely difficult to do and it'd probably tear up everything inside so.

Ethan Waldman 13:38

Yeah, exactly. It's it's, it's your house now. So what did you say you got the house delivered? You got it all, you know, kind of sured up and reinforced at that point. What's you know, what did you start doing next? I'm guessing you like put put up walls put down floors like yeah, so next step?

Adrian Alvarez 14:00

So me, me me and Kat have we've been married for five years and my father actually had a flooring business when I was a kid. And so he taught me how to do tile flooring how to do laminate flooring, a little bit of wood, working with my with my uncle and my cousins. And so the flooring you know, we had a pretty good knowledge of I also worked on different crews and doing like a little bit of framing nothing like extremely professional but I kind of had a good just you know just about how to do these types of things. I also worked with sheetrock and I was an electrician for a few years. So I had I had a lot of like the the basic knowledge on how to do this. And yes, the five years that me and Katherine had been married we've always been picking up little odd and end jobs. And she's always been helping me she's always a great she's she's an incredible helper. She's always willing to stick it out and, and help me even when it's hard and even when we're hungry and even we don't really want to do it. She's always there helping. And so So yeah, when we when we started we did the demo stuff We first started doing walls. Well, first actually, I should say is we had to figure out a floor plan, right? We had to figure out how are we going to make this 16x50 livable, you know. And so, Katherine, and I sat down and we got pieces of paper out. And we were like, "I think we want like this. And we think we want to like this." And so we kind of drew up a few ideas. And then we sent the those pictures, those drawings to my uncle who was, is actually a blueprint engineer, which is convenient enough, because it's really convenient, right? And he looked at everything. And he told us what was possible what was not possible, you know, and he gave us like, professional blueprints.

Ethan Waldman 15:41


Adrian Alvarez 15:41

And he said, this is, this is kind of the idea that you guys want, feel free to change it. But this is what's going to be the most structural way to do it. And so he gave us the best way to do this. And so then we just started putting walls up, and I'm watching YouTube videos, how to how to build a wall, you know, and I had kind of a general knowledge, but I wanted to make sure that I was doing it right. And so watching a lot of YouTube videos, how to build a wall. And then we started putting walls up. Then after we put the walls up, we started doing insulation. After we did the insulation, we started you know, like, double check and making sure that everything was good. And then after that was good. We started running all the electrical stuff. So we ran all the electrical, the plumbing, and everything that I didn't know, like, I knew I knew a decent amount, but everything that I didn't know. I mean, Katherine would just like YouTube and Google and just to make sure that, you know, we were doing it right. And there's a lot of mistakes that we've made. But, you know, I really do think that if you have enough determination, you can you'll figure it out, you know, and, and the internet is a very powerful place to find knowledge and information. So yeah, we just, we just kept working on it little by little. There's a couple of little things that I will that I will say that that's that helped us out with this project.

Ethan Waldman 17:01


Adrian Alvarez 17:02

We're like, really, really big into like bartering. So like, well, we'll buy something, we'll fix it up, and then we'll trade or sell it, and we'll try to get more money that way. And so we actually ran a, we ran across one of these little things, they're called a UTVs. It's like a, it's like a little dune buggy for like a little four seater dune buggy. And I got, I got a great deal on it for like $1,000. And it was a brand new machine. The gentleman had bought it right before COVID. And then he got it for his niece and nephew. They didn't really mess with it. And so he said, "Hey, I want to sell this thing." And he bought it for like $4,000or $5,000. And we bought it for $1,000. And then I traded that for all of the sheetrock work inside of the shed house. And so it's not the you know, most conventional way, but it worked out, you know.

Ethan Waldman 17:53

Yeah, no, that's, that's awesome. Sometimes. It's like you turned $1,000. And what do you think that it would have cost to hire the sheet rock out?

Adrian Alvarez 18:04

I think he's when he gave us the first quote. He said it was going to be around $3,700 to do the sheetrock work. So we did save. Definitely on that. On that way.

Ethan Waldman 18:16

Everyone. Everyone got a good deal, except the guy who sold you the UTV.

Adrian Alvarez 18:22

Right, right. Yeah. Which I mean, he could afford it. That's fine.

Ethan Waldman 18:28

Yeah, sounds like it. Sounds like.

Adrian Alvarez 18:31


Ethan Waldman 18:32

So what's your what's your total cost all in?

Adrian Alvarez 18:36

So we we paid $10,000 for the building. And then in repairs, renovations and everything that we've gotten? It's around another, I think $25,000. So we're around like $35,000. And so yeah, but that's for an 800 square foot home. That is ours, you know, so yeah, we look at it as a win. Because I don't think anywhere in Houston, you could buy the house for less than $40,000 or $35,000.

Ethan Waldman 19:05

Yeah, no, and that's, you know, no mortgage.

Adrian Alvarez 19:09

Right. Right, right. We have one small loan that we're paying off, and we're almost halfway through with that one. So we're hoping by next year, we'll be completely done with it. And yeah, we won't have we won't have a mortgage anymore. We'll be able to spend that money on experiences and travel and different things. It'd be great.

Ethan Waldman 19:28

That's awesome. That's, that's the tiny house lifestyle.

Adrian Alvarez 19:31

Right? For sure.

Ethan Waldman 19:35

I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Tiny House Decisions, my signature guide and the resource that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It starts with the big decisions which is you know, should you build a tiny house yourself or with help? is a is a prebuilt shell a good idea? Is a house on wheels better than on the ground and what works better for you? Deciding on the overall size, deciding on whether you should use custom plans or pre made plans, different types of trailers and more. Then in in Part 2, we get into the system. So heat, water, showers, hot water, toilets, electrical, refrigeration, ventilation. And we're only two thirds of the way through the book at this point. From systems we go into construction decisions, talking about nails versus screws, SIPs versus stick framed versus advanced framing versus metal framing. We talk about how to construct a sub floor, sheathing, roofing materials, insulation, windows, flooring, kitchen, I know I'm just reading off the table of contents. But I just want to give you a sense of how comprehensive Tiny House Decisions is. It's a total of 170 pages. It contains tons of full color drawings, diagrams and resources. And it really is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions, using the coupon code tiny, when you head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD, that's THD for Tiny House Decisions. Again, that's coupon code tiny when you check out at thetinyhouse.net/THD.

Is there any any lessons or things that you wish you knew about shed conversions, you know, in, in particular, that you wish you knew before you started?

Adrian Alvarez 21:30

There's a lot, there's a lot of things that I wish I would have known before doing this. Well, I guess one of the main things that I wish I would have known is that it's gonna take a lot of time, I feel like you look at the size of the building, like, "Oh, all we have to do is this, this, this and this. And then we have a house." And so you just have it in the front of your mind. Sometimes you get excited about the project, and you just want to get it done, done, done. But then, you know, a year went by and we were like, "Wow, you know, we're still not done." We're in it. But we're technically still not done. So I wish I would have really had a realistic timeframe. You know, and I mean, not that not that that's wrong, not to have, you know, to be excited about a project. But I think just having a more realistic timeframe would have kept me from like disappointment and feeling like we're taking too long, you know?

Ethan Waldman 22:19


Adrian Alvarez 22:19

Because that was one of the things that I would be like, all this is taking forever to do this house. It's taking forever. It's taking forever, and I would get really bummed out. And then I would feel like, maybe we can't do this. Maybe this isn't gonna work out? I'm not sure. I don't know. And then Katherine would always come in and and what would you say, Kat? Every time I would talk like that.

Katherine Alvarez 22:38

We can do it. We can do it. I'm always, I'm always the positive person. Because in Houston, it is to 100 degrees. And we have a fan. But it doesn't cool off. So when it gets hot, we're like pouring sweat. And we're like, let's call it quits, because it's so hot. So that's why it took so long for us to finish, because it will get so hot. And then now the cold gets here. I guess so cold. So there's no one way. So Adrian will be like, "I can't do this. I just don't want to do it." I'm like, "Dude, we have to do it. This is our dream. It has been always a dream. We have to focus on this." I'm always the positive person. He's like something so negative. But I kind of push him up, like let's do this.

Adrian Alvarez 23:21


Ethan Waldman 23:23

Nice. Nice.

Adrian Alvarez 23:24

And it's true. Like, we had the heat stroke, you know, because a fuse just hit be in Houston. And then we had that Texas winter freeze last year.

Ethan Waldman 23:32


Adrian Alvarez 23:32

And so those two things just really like, put everything on hold.

Ethan Waldman 23:37


Adrian Alvarez 23:37

So, but. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 23:39

So how how long did you think it was going to take and how long? I mean, for all intents and purposes, it's done. I mean, you're you said it's 90% done, but you're living there.

Adrian Alvarez 23:49

Right. Right.

Ethan Waldman 23:50

You know, how, what was your because like, when I built my tiny house, I thought it could be done in three months. And it took me 13.

Adrian Alvarez 23:59

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I don't know. I don't know what Katherine was thinking it was gonna take, but I thought that it might take six to nine months to do. You know, and I don't know, I just, you know, one of the things that actually, you mentioned it before, and I just got a total blank. But one of the things that was really hard that I wish I would have known that took a lot longer was getting the permit for the electrical stuff that took more ever. That took months and months and months. And I'm not sure exactly why it took so long. We had all of the proper paperwork, all of the documentation, but the state just moved slow, I guess. I don't know. It took forever. But yeah, I mean, I guess we thought it would take like six to six to nine months, you know, and it took it took a lot longer than that. We're still not done but you know, but yeah,

Ethan Waldman 24:48

And what about what about you Katherine, any things that you wish that you knew before you got started?

Katherine Alvarez 24:55

Um, I already knew was going to take a lot of work because I don't like work at all. I'm working out in the heat. That's the only thing. I get very moody. I don't like working on the heat. But I try to help Adrian as much as I could because I had health issues. So I will get sick, and he would work at the shed house by himself, and I feel bad. But he was like, "Oh, it's gonna take like nine months." I'm like, in my head, like, "No, it's gonna take more than that." It took forever to finish it. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 25:27

Well, least you knew at least you have that idea. So how long does it end up taking? Before you felt like you could live there?

Adrian Alvarez 25:35

Right? It probably took close to 15 months or so. Yeah, and I mean, and this was working, I have a full time job. And so I was working my job and then coming home and almost every single day, working on this, this building. And for the most part, it was me by myself and Katherine helping.

Ethan Waldman 25:55


Adrian Alvarez 25:56

And so that we have and I don't want to say that we did it all on our own. I mean, if I could, I'd like to give a huge thank you to Anthony and Olivia, from Ant & Olive's Workshop. They helped us out so much. They have an up there another set of youtubers that actually came and helped us out.

Ethan Waldman 26:12

Oh, cool.

Adrian Alvarez 26:12

Building the countertop. Yeah. And so we got help from them. And it was a it was a huge help. The gentleman, I don't remember his name, but the gentleman that did the sheetrock been willing to do the trade? That was a huge thing. So there's a lot of like, things that, you know, that we were helped with, but for the most part we we did if I had to put a percentage on it, we did probably like, you know, 70% ourselves. And, yeah, and you know, it just took a lot, a lot of work. And there was like I said, there was days that it was really hot. And I would go in there and I would do 30 or 45 minutes and be like, "Okay, that's it. I'm done. It's 110 degrees outside. I can't I can't do any more." Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 26:49


Adrian Alvarez 26:50

But um, we just stuck with it. And we just like Katherine said, we just this was our, it may not be everybody's dream. But this was our dream was to have our own home. And we just kept that, you know, at the front of our mind. And anytime I felt down about it, she encouraged me. And then when she was feeling down about it, there was times I'm not gonna lie, it was what sometimes that Katherine would say, "This is taking forever!" And then I'd be like, "I know, I know." And so we really did we encourage you. So a lot. She's way more positive than I am. But we did we have to, we did have to both encourage each other. Just to keep going because it can become overwhelming. Very, very quickly.

Ethan Waldman 27:28

Yeah, absolutely. And building, you know, building your own house, whether it's, you know, small, or I'm not gonna say that your house is large, but it's bigger than most tiny houses that, you know, my listeners might be thinking about, but right. It's all a lot of work.

Adrian Alvarez 27:44

Yeah. Yeah, it is. And that's what we get. We get comments sometimes, like, your house is not a tiny house, your house is a small house, you know, but I mean, I guess it just depends on perspective. You know, it's not even 1000 square feet, you know, and it's in somebody else's backyard. So I mean, but um, you know, I guess to us, you know, it's, it's a lot bigger than the camper, the camper that we were in was 150 square feet. So it is a lot, lot bigger than that.

Ethan Waldman 28:12


Adrian Alvarez 28:13

But it is, I mean, anybody that comes over and they hear that we have a shed that we turned into a house. They're always like, they give us this like, kind of weird face. Like, why would you do that? Why would you live in a in a shed in somebody's backyard, and then they come over and they see it? And they're like, oh, wow, this is like an apartment. Like, this is like a, you know, and then they get it. You can see the light bulbs kind of click, and they're like, oh, okay, I understand why you're doing this. Now. I see.

Ethan Waldman 28:35

Yeah, cuz it looks like it looks like a house, you know, you might not really know even that it's a shed unless you really knew what to look for.

Katherine Alvarez 28:43

Right? Right, right. And another thing you can help us to save money for our shed house was we are just people that likes to go in San Antonio or Austin or, oh, I want to buy this and I want to buy it that and we keep our minds like, Okay, you want that? Let's pretend we're buying it. But then like how much it costs, put it in our safe? And we're like, oh, we already bought it, but not actually we put it on the safe. So we can save more money to buy the shed.

Adrian Alvarez 29:11

Yeah. Yeah, it's like a, it's like an interesting way of doing that, you know, it's like, how much would that pair of shoes cost 100 bucks, do you really need them? Or is that a need or I want is I want if it's a warrant, then that $100 that you would have spent on those shoes, let's put that towards savings. And so it's like you would have spent that money anyway, you just didn't, didn't get the thing that you wanted. And that's a way that you could see like, you know, how much money first that you you would have spent. But in turn, you're able to save it by doing that. And that was that was Catherine's idea. And that was something that helped us out a lot was was doing that.

Ethan Waldman 29:46

Yeah, that's a great, that's a great kind of life hack. Just don't buy the thing, put the money in your savings account instead of that.

Katherine Alvarez 29:54

It was a little difficult because like I want it so bad or like the wanting All right. Do you want your own house? I'm like, You know what, I want my own house?

Ethan Waldman 30:03

Yeah. Right. Right. Yeah, you can probably buy, you know, once you have your own house, then maybe you can buy it.

Adrian Alvarez 30:09

Right? Yeah. And a lot of things that we that I think sometimes people will see something that they feel like they want, they really, really want something. And then, you know, or they feel like they just need it. But if you give a person time, you know, they'll realize, you know, I really don't need that I just really wanted it. You know, I just really, really wanted that thing, but I really don't need it. Yeah, you know, and so just, it did it took it took discipline to do that. And it just, you know, all of the all of the work and everything, all the money that we saved, it just it really paid off in the end. So, yeah, you know, anybody that that's trying to do this, just keep your focus, just keep your keep your eyes on the prize, you know, just just keep working towards that. Because at the end, if you keep going you you will have it, you know.

Ethan Waldman 30:59

Nice. So does the shed have an upstairs? I've seen some shots where there looks like there's some kind of loft or upstairs space?

Adrian Alvarez 31:10

Yes. So initially did when we first got it when it was a renovation, it did have a loft space. The way that we have it now it does not have a loft space has an attic space now. Okay, so the way the shed is laid out is you walk in the doors are right in the middle of the of the shed house. And to your left is the bedroom, and bathroom. In the middle is the kitchen, the living room. And then all the way to the right is my son's room in the laundry room. And so above my son's room is the attic. And that's where the air conditioned air and we have a central system. So okay, the AC AC equipment is above his room in the attic. And then we have because if you if you watch any of the YouTube videos, you'll see that the ceilings are really tall. They're like 12 foot to center. And so because of that we had to put the what are they? What do they call those those industrial, I guess style AC vents that you see in restaurants and stuff like that. So that way we can have air conditioning inside that the home? Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 32:16

Oh, those are cool. I like I like that. I like kind of bringing in some industrial look into our house. I think it creates a really nice vibe.

Adrian Alvarez 32:26

Yeah, it wasn't really by choice. It was more by necessity, because actually, Katherine initially initially she didn't like the look of that she was like, "No, I don't I don't want to see the AC events." But we didn't have attic space throughout the entire house. So that was kind of our only option or to do floor, AC events. And then we lived in the camper, we had that. And then you know, with the sweeping and everything everything gets always seems like trapped inside those AC vents. So that just right, just decided against that. But I think I think it's safe to say that we've actually kind of fallen for them. And we really liked the way that it looks. Now everybody that comes over like, "Oh, wow, that looks so cool." And we're like, "Oh, we just, it was the only way possible." Like, but everybody seems to like the look of it. And I think that it's kind of won us over also.

Ethan Waldman 33:12

Nice. Nice. Well, you're also you've been documenting your build on on YouTube. Yeah, can you tell us about about the channel and about what you're doing?

Adrian Alvarez 33:24

Sure. So when we started doing this, we didn't know that we wanted to record it was just kind of an idea. And you know, Katherine said well, if if nothing happens to the channel, and you know if it doesn't if nobody watches it at least we have videos that we can look back on and watch, you know where we like where it started from to where it is now.

Ethan Waldman 33:45


Adrian Alvarez 33:46

And so we just started putting stuff on YouTube the channels called AKA Home Shed kind of like a spin off of homesteading but with a homestead.

Ethan Waldman 33:55


Adrian Alvarez 33:55

And, and so we - oh, and also AKA is Adran, Katherine, and Axel. That's our names. So

Ethan Waldman 34:02

Ah, nice. Okay.

Adrian Alvarez 34:03

Yeah. A lot of people don't know, they're like, "Oh, okay, that makes sense now." But so we just started recording. And Katherine in the in the beginning, she didn't want to be on camera, she just wanted to hold the camera. And you know, just videotape. And so I didn't know what to say or what to do. But I just got in front of the camera and started kind of talking about stuff. And I tried to tell little jokes, and you know, and then we started doing like little skits and stuff like that. And the channel is just continued to grow. It's not a huge channel, it's still very small. We only had 800 and like 50 or 60 subscribers, but from zero, and not knowing anybody, you know, and people liking it, and it's kind of like wow, okay, well, people are watching this. And so, you know, every week we seem to get more and more subscribers and we just, you know, just kept document and we just kept recording. And one thing that is pretty incredible is we started to develop, like I guess people who are really into sit in our family and then the project. And that kind of motivated us even more. Yeah. Because when we didn't post the video for a while somebody would comment on on our previous video and say, Hey, where are you guys at? Like, you know, we're ready for the next video. And so that kind of motivated us to keep to keep doing that, you know, to keep to keep posting. And it's been, it's been a lot of fun. It's been a lot of fun doing the YouTube thing.

Ethan Waldman 35:22

Very cool. Yeah, I've, you know, it's fun when you can find a community and find people who are kind of fan of what you're doing and it, you motivate them, and they motivate you right back.

Adrian Alvarez 35:33

Right? Yeah, that's one thing that I wasn't really expecting. When we started putting these videos up. You know, we put these videos up and, and random strangers that we've never met before started watching these videos. And they were like, you know, hey, you know, I hope you guys are doing well. And he's just saying really nice things. And you have a couple of people who say, negative stuff. I mean, I guess that's the internet, right. But for the most part, everybody's really supportive. You know, and everybody's really, really nice. And it's just been, it's been an awesome experience, to be able to put these videos up and to have people who are interested in our family, our life, our house. And we have, like the set we have probably around 50 people who continue to like the same people who keep commenting over and over again, that I've that we've never met. And they're from all over the place up. It's awesome. Canada from you know, from Brazil, from all over the place United States everywhere. And it's just, it's really encouraging to see that. Yeah. And it keeps us it keeps us going, you know. So that's, that's, that's pretty awesome.

Ethan Waldman 36:37

That's really cool. Are there any YouTube channels that like, were particularly helpful to you, you know, people that you want to kind of give shout outs to?

Adrian Alvarez 36:49


One of the first ones that we watched is, they're huge. I'm sure you guys, you might have seen them already. But it's Better Together Life. I don't know if you guys have seen those, you know them before, but they have a building almost the same size as ours. I think there's a 16x48, which is two feet, you know, different than ours. And they have I think like five kids, and they're all living inside of this inside of this, this building. And they have lofts. And they've their houses very nice. They're also I think, in Texas. But um, but yeah, we watched their, their videos, and they were one of the channels that motivated us to, you know, to do this to try this out. And, and then we were like, well, they have like five kids and we have one. So if they can do it with those many kids, and maybe we can just do it with the one. And that really, really motivated us to, you know, to give it a shot. And we're really happy that we did. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 37:51

That's awesome. Katherine, what about you?

Katherine Alvarez 37:54

I really don't watch that much YouTube. I just leave it all up to Adrian. But yeah, we do have one child and it's a lot of work. We do have a puppy too. And I'm technically taking care of three kids because clearly my husband is almost like a kid who sometimes Yep, but but I don't I really am not a big fan of YouTube. I'm just a normal, calm person, that our TV or tech, I beg to differ.

Ethan Waldman 38:33

Any resources, any resources or books or movies or anything that that kind of inspired you to want to do this?

Katherine Alvarez 38:41

Um, I barely read at all, I I barely read. I am a I'm a big fan of Princess Diana Azzam and two that are the Kennedys. But nice. Adrian will see like, videos from the shed house and he'll send it to me. And I'll watch it and like we have to do this kind of thing, almost the same thing in our house, but do it differently. So we don't get one thing that we're copying them. But there was a lot of videos that he will show me and I like some ideas that other people had. So I'm like, Yeah, we have to do that in our house, too.

Ethan Waldman 39:21

Nice. Well, Adrian and Katherine Alvarez, thank you so much for being guests on the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. It was really fun to chat today.

Adrian Alvarez 39:31

Yeah, thanks for thanks for having us. I feel like I was on Joe Rogan. It was great. Thank you so much for the experience.

Ethan Waldman 39:38

You're welcome. Hopefully, it was a good experience for you.

Adrian Alvarez 39:41

Yeah, it was great. Thank you so much, man. Okay, appreciate it.

Katherine Alvarez 39:44

Thank you.

Ethan Waldman 39:46

Thank you so much to Adrienne and Katherine Alvarez for being guests on the show today. You can find the show notes including links to their YouTube channel, photos of their shed build, and a complete transcript at thetinyhouse.net/210. Again that's thetinyhouse.net/210. Well that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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