What Are Small Backyard Houses Called? (9 Names Explained)

Backyard houses, also known as accessory dwelling units or ADU, are small houses that are on the same property as a larger house.

There are various names for small backyard houses and while they are similar in concept, there may be some slight distinctions between them.

Here are the different names of backyard houses:

1. Detached ADU

A detached accessory dwelling unit is a type of backyard house that’s not connected to the primary house.

This type of house is literally built in the backyard as a stand-alone unit and has its own entrance. It also doesn’t share any walls with the primary house so it has a lot of privacy.

Detached ADUs have their own kitchen, living and dining areas, bedroom, and bathroom.

Even though these small houses are stand-alone units, they are usually constructed to have the same architectural style as the main house.

So if the main house has a modern and minimalist design, you can expect that the detached ADU has the same design. This is to make sure that all structures on the property look cohesive.

Detached ADUs are self-contained houses that are ideal for young adult family members who want to gain some independence and older members who want to be close to their families while still maintaining a sense of privacy.

2. Attached ADU

This type of backyard house is attached to the primary house but has a similar concept as a detached ADU. This type of house is also self-contained with the basic amenities to be independent from the main house.

An attached accessory dwelling unit can be built either attached to the side or the back part of the primary house while sharing a wall or roof with it.

Depending on how they’re built, attached ADUs can have their own private entrance while some ADUs can only be accessed through the primary house.

Please also check out our article explaining what apartments in houses are called. 

3. Garage Conversion

A garage conversion is a name for a backyard house that was originally a garage converted to a separate housing unit. Homeowners do this when they have no use for the garage.

Depending on the configuration of the house, a garage conversion may or may not be attached to the main house.

With this type of backyard house, the garage has been renovated and remodeled to have some basic amenities, which usually include just a sleeping area and bathroom.

If the garage conversion is attached to the main house, then it might share the other amenities such as the kitchen and living room. With this configuration, it means that the garage house has two entrances: one from the main house and a separate entrance from the outside.

If the garage conversion is detached, it may or may not share amenities with the main house. This depends on the amount of space available.

Some detached garage conversions may be big enough to fit a kitchen and living and dining areas. Some conversions may involve expanding the space even more to add these amenities.

Regardless of whether the garage is attached or detached to the main house, a garage conversion is a great way to utilize a good amount of space that’s not being used frequently.

4. Granny Flat

As the name suggests, a granny flat is a self-contained housing unit that’s used to provide separate living spaces for grandparents, aging parents, or older family members. Other names for granny flats include “mother-in-law suites,” “in-law units” and “accessory apartments.”

This type of small housing unit is a great way for older members to live close to the rest of the family while still maintaining a sense of privacy.

Granny flats are typically smaller compared to the main house but they have all the basic amenities such as a kitchen, living and dining area, bedroom, and bathroom.

5. Tiny Home

A tiny home is a small housing unit often placed in a backyard. This stand-alone house is typically on wheels for easy relocation.

Tiny homes are quite small, with an area of around 500 square feet or less, but they are self-contained and have basic amenities such as a kitchen, living area, bedroom, and bathroom. Some tiny homes may even have a laundry area.

Because there’s limited space inside the home, some pieces of furniture have multiple functions. For example, the kitchen counter can be used as a dining counter and a workspace. Another example is a couch that can be converted into a guest bed and has storage underneath it.

Most tiny homes are custom-made based on the lifestyle of their occupants. So the kitchen can be smaller or bigger, depending on how often it will be used. Or the owner can convert every nook and cranny into storage space as much as possible.

Some tiny homes are also solar-powered and off-the-grid, which can be quite useful if the house is on the road instead of parked in the backyard.

This type of housing is a great option if you want a small self-contained unit that can be placed in the backyard but is also portable and movable whenever you want to travel around.

6. Studio

A studio is a type of small backyard house that has only one room and a bathroom. This means that the kitchen, living space, and sleeping area are all in the same room.

This type of housing is ideal for someone who doesn’t require a lot of space or a minimalist who doesn’t have a lot of things or clutter. A studio can also be good for a couple if they don’t mind having a small space to share amongst themselves.

To add privacy, some studio units have partitions that separate the sleeping space from the rest of the room.

When built in the backyard of larger houses, studios can be used as guest accommodations or rental units to generate extra income. They can also be used as a study room, office, gaming room, or dedicated workspace for artists.

7. Shed

A shed is a single-story unit built in the backyard and detached from the main house.

They are typically built using simple and low-cost materials such as wood, metal, or plastic. They are characterized by flat or sloping roofs, and they may have small windows for improved ventilation and to bring in some natural lighting.

Sheds are primarily used as storage spaces for bicycles, gardening tools, sporting equipment, and other bulky items. Some sheds are used as a dedicated space for work, hobbies, home repairs, DIY projects, and crafts.

Meanwhile, some sheds have been remodeled and renovated to become separate housing units. Depending on how big the space is, a shed may be self-contained or not, but when converted, it will have the basics such as a sleeping area and a bathroom.

8. Garden Pod

Also known as a garden room, a garden pod is a small structure that’s made to provide additional living space. As the name suggests, it’s typically built in the garden and is separated from the main house.

Garden pods may have different functionalities. Some people use them as a home office or study area while some use them for arts and crafts, and other DIY projects. Some people use garden pods as guest accommodations.

These units may come in different styles and sizes. Some may have complete amenities, while some may have just the basics.

Garden pods are a great way to add more living space without renovating and changing the structure of the main house.

9. Pool House

A pool house is a type of backyard house that’s usually beside the swimming pool in a backyard. It is designed to provide amenities for people using the pool.

Pool houses often have amenities such as shower rooms, changing rooms, and restrooms. They may also have storage space for pool accessories such as floaters and inflatables.

They may be simple or luxurious, depending on the preferences of the homeowner.

Simple pool houses would have just the basic amenities mentioned above, while luxurious ones may have a kitchen, bar, lounge room, and spaces for relaxation and entertaining guests.

To maintain a cohesive look on the property, pool houses are designed to match the architectural style of the main house. These backyard houses are nice to have as an additional living space.


What Are The Different Types Of Backyard Buildings? 

All About Accessory Dwelling Units

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