Amazing Modern Backyard Office

written by:
May 3, 2013
When it comes to DIY ingenuity, we applaud Scott Dorman of Marietta, Georgia, for designing, overseeing, and erecting a modern office/shed that makes a striking addition to his backyard. Click through the slideshow to see the shed in action and to hear Dorman candidly discuss the challenges and success of his project.
  • 
  I work from home and was in need of more space for my art projects. I started out researching many prefab structures from Modern Shed, Modern Cabana, Studio-Shed, Kangaroom Systems, etc. Initial estimates from these manufacturers looked good initially. However, calculating total cost after adding concrete slab foundation, plumbing, half bath, and and electrical sub panel would have brought a prefab the cost closer to what I would spend having it custom built.

    I work from home and was in need of more space for my art projects. I started out researching many prefab structures from Modern Shed, Modern Cabana, Studio-Shed, Kangaroom Systems, etc. Initial estimates from these manufacturers looked good initially. However, calculating total cost after adding concrete slab foundation, plumbing, half bath, and and electrical sub panel would have brought a prefab the cost closer to what I would spend having it custom built.

  • 
  My individual higher costs may not be applicable to others. The existing electrical panel in my old house didn't have any free space to add on. That sub panel alone was about $2,500. The concrete slab also doubled in cost because we had to raise the floor up 12 inches to get the proper drainage slope of the sewer pipe to tie into the house's plumbing system. Tack on another $2,500. When I was researching pre-fab structures I learned about my local zoning restrictions - no more than 144 sq. ft. for a work/storage shed. That ruled out all prefabs since I realized I had to build up to achieve my 200-square-foot plan. Fortunately, the county rules on height limitations were more generous. 

    My individual higher costs may not be applicable to others. The existing electrical panel in my old house didn't have any free space to add on. That sub panel alone was about $2,500. The concrete slab also doubled in cost because we had to raise the floor up 12 inches to get the proper drainage slope of the sewer pipe to tie into the house's plumbing system. Tack on another $2,500. When I was researching pre-fab structures I learned about my local zoning restrictions - no more than 144 sq. ft. for a work/storage shed. That ruled out all prefabs since I realized I had to build up to achieve my 200-square-foot plan. Fortunately, the county rules on height limitations were more generous. 

  • 
  I applied for a building permit and acted as general contractor. I sourced all the materials, either locally or over the internet, and hired a builder, who had relationships with concrete guys, electricians, and framers who came in to help. The whole build timeline took a few months, simply because the shed was a low priority for me, and my builder was multi-tasking on a couple of other projects.

    I applied for a building permit and acted as general contractor. I sourced all the materials, either locally or over the internet, and hired a builder, who had relationships with concrete guys, electricians, and framers who came in to help. The whole build timeline took a few months, simply because the shed was a low priority for me, and my builder was multi-tasking on a couple of other projects.

  • 
  Other times we were waiting for building materials to be delivered. That was mostly my fault for not ordering ahead of time, and learning that a month lead time was needed just for the windows. We got to a point that we couldn't do anything else until the windows could be installed.

    Other times we were waiting for building materials to be delivered. That was mostly my fault for not ordering ahead of time, and learning that a month lead time was needed just for the windows. We got to a point that we couldn't do anything else until the windows could be installed.

  • 
  The interior could have been drywalled in a day, and would have been much cheaper, but I really wanted to have the warmth of a blond wood on the interior to contrast with the black and metal on the outside. I bought a bunch of 4' x 8' 1/4" birch plywood and we cut it down into pieces to create the pattern. Interior panels took two guys 5 days. Ouch. 

    The interior could have been drywalled in a day, and would have been much cheaper, but I really wanted to have the warmth of a blond wood on the interior to contrast with the black and metal on the outside. I bought a bunch of 4' x 8' 1/4" birch plywood and we cut it down into pieces to create the pattern. Interior panels took two guys 5 days. Ouch. 

  • 
  My total cost came in around $29,000. I could have shaved off thousands had I gone with cheaper bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, standard drywall, and more traditional roofing and siding materials. Heck, I could have done this a whole lot cheaper if there wasn't a half bath. But I had this sketch. And I'd been inspired by architecture magazines for years. And I thought, I want a cool space of my own.

    My total cost came in around $29,000. I could have shaved off thousands had I gone with cheaper bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, standard drywall, and more traditional roofing and siding materials. Heck, I could have done this a whole lot cheaper if there wasn't a half bath. But I had this sketch. And I'd been inspired by architecture magazines for years. And I thought, I want a cool space of my own.

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