The novel coronavirus has changed our lives in countless ways, but one of the most noticeable is that many of us are working from home. Even once companies start reopening their facilities, it’s entirely possible that many of us will continue to work from home to a certain extent—an exciting prospect for people who hate their commutes, their co-workers, their cramped offices, or other aspects of corporate life beyond just the germs these areas could be carrying.
There’s just one problem: Where to work? If you don’t have a home office, working from the dining table or living room couch can be done for only so long.
Enter backyard offices, or “office sheds” as they’re often called. Easier than building an addition to your home and usually less expensive, too, these prefab offices can be shipped right to your address to assemble yourself. And if you ever do return to a company office, this shed could easily double as a guesthouse or in-law suite, so we doubt the extra space will go to waste.
It’s no surprise, then, that office sheds are more popular than ever right now. Studio Shed, a manufacturer of such sheds, says sales have risen fivefold compared with a year earlier.
Office shed basics: Questions to ask before you build
Yet adding an office shed to your property is not as easy as clicking Buy and seeing it pop up in your backyard overnight. For one, make sure to check with your city or town before ordering in case there are any permitting regulations on new structures. Plus, brace yourself for a lengthy wait before it ships (often four to six weeks) and assembly that may last a few days but up to a few months, depending on the complexity and comfort level you seek.
In fact, you may want to consider hiring a professional to properly install it for you, says Tyler Drew, president of Anubis Properties.
“Go the extra mile, and pay someone to do the heavy lifting for you,” Drew says. “There are many issues a novice doesn’t consider when building an outdoor office, even outside local ordinances. For starters: power. Are you going to run extension cords? Can your electrical panel handle the load of a sudden addition to your house? One of the first ‘home offices’ I had would lose power if someone in the house used the microwave and toaster at the same time.”
Another issue is the land on which you’re putting it.
“If you aren’t going to build a foundation for your shed, check the drainage in your backyard,” Drew continues. “Are you putting your shed on the lowest part of the yard? If so, prepare for your office to flood come winter. Or maybe the ground beneath your shed simply cannot hold the weight, and now your office floor slants on one side. Doesn’t seem like much, but when your office chair is constantly being pulled to one side of the room, it can cause some serious back issues. Take it from personal experience: I’ve even seen a home office shed collapse.”
Another downside is office sheds, although cheaper than a home addition, don’t come cheap. While prices range considerably, expect to pay $10,000 and up. Still, if having an office all to yourself is worth any price, then here are some options to consider.
1. Best office shed for the budget-conscious
If you’re looking for an affordable, basic backyard office, the Signature Series from Studio Shed starts at just $9,600. The final price, however, will depend largely on the choices you make regarding size, type of siding, and finishes. Installation can be done by yourself or with the help of Studio Shed professionals.
2. Need a large office shed?
Need office space for you and your co-workers? The Modern Studio Luxe from Kanga Room Systems ranges in size from 192 to 500 square feet, plus the option of a bathroom. Residents in the company’s home state of Texas are also eligible to receive completely furnished dwellings and the option of professional installation. But if you live elsewhere, the company will send a shell kit and you’ll have to add the interior finishes on your own. Shell prices for this model start at $10,000.
3. An office shed with lots of light
The Urban 360 comes with two large, insulated windows as well as windows up top to bring in plenty of sun—ideal for artists or others who need natural light. Prices for this model start at just over $13,000 for an 8-by-8-foot model, without the interior finishes.
4. Best customizable office shed
Plus Hus (which is Icelandic for “plus house” and pronounced like “couscous”) offers a basic 16-by-20-foot structure, and then you can choose to customize it based on one of three plans.
The Open is the most basic version, and includes the structure as well as doors and windows, ceiling lights, interior cladding, and an AC and heating unit. It runs $47,000, although the company notes that you should also plan on an additional $70,000 to $90,000 for site planning, permitting, and contracting. It must also be assembled on a concrete foundation.
5. Want a sturdy office shed?
The Buhaus is made from shipping containers—and is therefore one of the sturdier models. Its price reflects that, with an all-inclusive tag of $96,000. (That does not include the cost of installation, and septic and electrical systems.) Despite the high price tag, buyers do get the option of some cool built-ins such as a desk, couch, or Murphy bed depending on whether they plan to use it for work, sleep, or combination thereof in case they need a postlunch nap before they tackle their afternoon shift.
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