In just 245 square feet, one man created his dream home-from-home in his own backyard in San Antonio, Texas that now draws visitors looking for a unique vacation experience.
Inspired by trips away with his wife, Daniel Salas built the home from a storage shed he found on Craigslist. In just five months, he transformed it into a livable space that is now available for vacation rentals from $74 a night.
“Me and my wife love to travel,” Salas told Newsweek. “We started visiting more Airbnbs around Texas and further afield and were fascinated by this one home we stayed in about an hour north of here.”
Their unusual vacation property was built from an old barn that had been expertly transformed into a standalone tiny home. “We liked the intimacy,” Daniel explained. “With a smaller space, we spent more time together. We said then, one day, we’d love to have something like this in our backyard.”
Tiny homes have seen a big boom in recent years as people look for more affordable housing options and ditch apartment rentals in favor of custom-built miniature homes of their own.
In 2020, like many of us, Salas found himself with time on his hands as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill.
“I started doing a lot of research and preparing my backyard because I knew I wanted to create a tiny home. I was doing a lot of planning and rearranged my yard into the space I wanted to use,” said Salas. But it wasn’t until spring 2021 that a Craigslist listing caught his eye.
A man nearby was selling a shed, and Salas requested more information. “He was asking a very reasonable price for it, but nobody bought it,” he explained. Salas then reached out and asked if he could come and see the building.
“He had a beautiful set-up, and I went to look at the shed and it was fairly new—only about five years old,” said Salas.
When he inquired more about the building and why it was listed for such a reasonable price at $2,500, the owner explained that he had one condition: the shed cannot be taken apart. If he agreed to this, the seller said he would give Salas the unit that day for $1,200.
After looking around a little more, Salas made the decision to take the unit with him. The next step was getting it to his home around 45 minutes down the road. Making a lot of phone calls and organizing things, he eventually got someone to transport the shed for $500. Now the problem was getting it into his backyard.
“I got home and started looking at the backyard and thought, ‘Oh God, I’ve made a huge mistake,'” Salas said. “It wasn’t gonna fit between my neighbor’s house and my house with the fence.”
Salas had decided to surprise his wife with the purchase, and she was understandably confused when he started taking down their backyard fence.
“I told her I’m gonna work on the fence this weekend,” he laughed. “Then came Monday and she came to me and said, ‘There’s a storage shed in the front of our house,’ and that’s how she found out that I bought it.”
With the movement of the fence and a little bit of work, they managed to get the storage shed into the backyard. Salas’ next step was to make it into the habitable space they dreamed of.
For the first summer, it was used as a shed only, but by 2022, the couple had saved enough money to start their tiny home project.
“I put aside about $25,000,” said Salas. “I had to run plumbing, get the permits, electrics, everything. I used the contractor who had renovated my kitchen the year before.”
By mid-October, the house was complete, but the couple decided that they needed more space. “I wanted it just a little bit bigger,” Salas added. “So, we had to blow out a wall in the back and extended it another eight feet by 12 to make a bedroom.”
Adding more space to the tiny home took another six weeks, and by Christmas, the home was finally complete.
The plan was just to have the tiny home as a space the family could use when they came to visit. However, by the end of the renovation the budget had been stretched. “With all the additions and everything, all-in-all, it was about $40,000,” said Salas. “So, at that point, I said, ‘You know what? Let’s see if we can get this rented.'”
With building work complete, Salas got to work finishing the property with all the amenities required. As well as a fully functioning bathroom and kitchen, the home has its own power, air conditioning and TV.
It wasn’t long before they attracted interest, and the first guests in the tiny home stayed on New Years’ Eve 2022.
Today, the family have visitors from all over coming to stay in their unusual tiny house. “I joined a couple of Facebook groups, and I started getting people from all over asking me questions and wanting to come and stay,” said Salas.
“Friends and family come from out of town and want to stay in our house. It’s been pretty popular—from a small idea, it’s grown really big.”