Build a backyard retreat
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that backyard sheds — both functional and downright fun — are all the rage. And it stands to reason. No matter how organized you are or how much storage space you have, there always seems to be an overflow of outdoor items to house, from tools to landscape supplies. Fortunately, by adding extra storage to your backyard or garden with a customized shed, you can conceal all that extra stuff while boosting your home’s curb appeal and charm.
On the other hand, if you’re one of those lucky families that actually does have adequate storage space thanks to a smart design, a shed can serve as a great retreat, work studio or play area for grownups and kids alike. After all, with a busy family, who doesn’t need an additional secluded place to unwind, work on hobbies or entertain?
You may have definite plans for your shed, or you may decide to build with no specific purpose in mind. Great ideas for your shed, beside lawn equipment storage, are as varied as your imagination. Here are just a few of the typical, and not-so-typical, uses for your shed:
Home Office Man Cave “She” Shed Summer living room Guest House Green House Gym
Determining a final use will help focus the design. For example, a storage shed needs fewer windows, but perhaps an oversized door. Your home office or studio will benefit from spacious windows to bring in lots of natural light.
If you plan to use your shed yearround, you may want to include insulation and a way to heat and cool the structure. Mini-splits, which are heating
and cooling systems that allow you to control the temperatures in individual rooms or spaces, are an effective, economical and space-saving way to heat and cool your shed.
Determining the use up front also helps in decisions like running electricity and plumbing. If there’s any doubt, putting these in place during construction is far less costly than retrofitting after the building is complete. Don’t forget to add an outside electrical outlet for convenience. A 2-by-2-foot skylight is a great way to get some light into a shed without giving up valuable wall space. A loft can increase floor and storage space by as much as 50 to 75 percent.
You’ll also want to think about all the items you plan on storing or using in your shed. Measure them and consider your need for growth over time. Lots of folks try to minimize their costs by building small, only to find that a few years later they have run out of space.
CONSULT LOCAL ZONING ORDINANCES
Every municipality has ordinances on
outbuildings. They will certainly dictate your shed’s location with respect to property lines and may impose size limits that include square footage as well as height.
You may or may not need to pull a permit and submit a design for approval. You may also need a survey of your property line. This may be available with your closing documents for the purchase of your land, or you can have it surveyed.
Adding a shed to your property is not only a great way to add versatile living or storage space for you and your family, it can enhance your home’s value and add an attractive focal point to your yard or garden. Designing your shed with an eye toward future use can be a cost-effective way to reap the full benefit of your shed as your needs and priorities change.
Brice Cochran is the founder of Timber Frame Headquarters (timberframe hq.com), created to educate and spread the word about timber framing.