You may have heard the term “she shed” or “man cave,” but homeowners who build additional living or work space with a modern shed say they become more productive and enjoy their recreational activities with this complementary space on their property.
Robert Johnson, a San Antonio woodworker and founder of Sawinery, says he built a cabin as an area where he could build furniture and other woodwork—something that helps his livelihood and keeps his tools safe from his family.
“The most common use of a shed is for storage, usually for items that are meant to be kept away from young children, such as sharp gardening tools. But apart from that, a shed can also be used as a workroom or for recreational use,” says Johnson.
“In addition to providing additional space for activities, this type of structure adds charm and aesthetic value to a home,” says Jamie Irwin, landscape designer for Windproof Gazebos in Miami.
Shed costs vary widely depending on the finish and amenities. Prices range from $200 for a basic veneer to $1,500 for a larger model, and up to $5,000 to $10,000 and up for a shed that can be used as a home office or other purpose.
Here are some tips, tricks, and suggestions on how to add a modern shed to your property from real estate experts and landscape designers.
Check your partition
Because a shed is considered an extension of your home, “you must make sure that your cottage still complies with local building and zoning codes,” says Johnson. “You might think that building a shed is something you can pull off, but in fact, it also requires careful measurement and planning.”
Prepare or draw up a plan
You might even be able to build it yourself if you have DIY skills and a well-drawn plan, says Walid Al-Hajj, owner of On The Move Canada in Toronto. “Consider how much space you need and what you plan to use it for,” says Al-Hajj. “Building a modern shed is a fun DIY project for anyone with basic technical knowledge in construction and carpentry.” You may also want to consider a prefabricated shed, which can be less expensive but give you fewer customization options than building from scratch, Irwin says.
Use high quality materials
Johnson recommends using wood in a modern shed because it’s so versatile and easily customizable. “It’s also durable and can withstand extreme weather conditions,” says Johnson. Irwin agrees: “Think carefully about how much insulation a structure might need, depending on its use. If it is going to be used as an office or living space at any time during the colder months, additional insulation may be necessary.”
Alex Tinsman, author of How to Houseplant in Durango, Iowa, says he uses his cottage as a home office and exercise room. “She has proven to be more valuable than I initially expected because of her ability to adapt to different roles, which I assign creatively according to the needs I have,” says Tensman. “The modern penthouse is customizable to different needs, especially with the versatile interior design.”
Add creature comforts
Josh Ryota, owner of Mikku and Sons Roofing in Phoenix, says he added a shed in his backyard for his own use and to share with family and friends. Therefore, having a comfortable space was important to him. “My roof with comfy chairs and cushions is the perfect place for me to relax in my spare time,” says Ruitta. “It frees up my house and I can spend more time outside, especially in the summer.”
You have to be practical about shed security, sanitation, and airflow, says James Morgan, who with partner Lisa runs ShedHelp in Minneapolis. “I tend to use huts for storage and workshops,” says Morgan. “It’s a good idea to keep messes and fumes separate from my basement or attached garage. Even if the chemical is organic, I still like to keep fumes and any spills separate from my home.”
Go green when possible
Budget tends to be a big part of how you design and build your shed, Irwin says, so think ahead about the type or source of materials you purchase as part of the overall project. “Sustainable materials such as recycled wood or metal roofs can help reduce costs while providing an attractive appearance to your structure,” says Irwin.
Renew if you can
Morgan built two sheds and renovated four more as part of his hobby farm, and says you can make an existing structure work for you with some creativity and a bit of strategy when it comes to purchasing materials. “If you’re lucky enough to own a property with an existing shed, consider renovating,” says Morgan. “You can do a lot with an old shed.”
Think outside the box
Barbara Chancey, owner of Barbara Chancey Design Group in Dallas, says her firm has created home gyms in a variety of structures, including detached sheds, abandoned barns, and even a house with a pool. “We create captivating environments that blend strength, heart, and action—three studios under one roof,” says Chancey. “Imagine a private indoor cycling studio for candlelight yoga and strength training.”
Prepare for the guests
A shed can become a great space for hosting guests or as a rental property with the right indoor conditions, says Alex Czarnecki, founder and CEO of Cottage, an attached condominium platform that helps homeowners build ADUs. “If you rent out the unit, you can easily earn what you spend on the project and then some,” says Czarnicki.