How Much Does it Cost to Build a Backyard Office Shed in 2021?

Compare prefab costs to DIY

August 25, 2021
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“How much does it cost to build a backyard office shed in 2021?” This question has flown from the lips of millions as they transition to permanently working from home. Those still working remotely must split a less than ideal workspace with spouses and children. Few houses have an extra room to simply convert into a home office. Thus, kitchen tables have become conference rooms and headboards have become Zoom backgrounds. Thankfully, outdoor space has offered a surprising solution. Dalvin Brown explains this solution in a recent article for USA Today. Brown writes that because many homes lack “room for an office setup inside...an increasing number of Americans are building a backyard shed” kits. In addition to the ease of setup, backyard sheds offer a separate entrance door, making them more professional. While constructing an outdoor shed can be “more affordable...than taking on a full-scale construction project,” it is still an expenditure. Follow below for a breakdown of how much it costs to build an outdoor shed in your backyard and if it could be tax deductible.

Long Story Short: How Much Does it Cost to Build Backyard Offices?

According to the HomeAdvisor guide “How Much are Average Shed Prices,” the average prefab backyard office shed measures 120 square feet (ca. 11 m²). This size shed will price out at an average of “$1,500 to $4,000...depending on the materials used and extent of the project.” For reference, the average in-home office has a footprint between 100 and 300 square feet (ca. 28 m²). Keep in mind that this $1,500 to $4,000 total excludes labor and customizations for your backyard shed.

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Office Shed?

Overview

The price of your backyard office shed build will depend on five primary factors. One of five is the price of basic materials like a wood or steel frame. It is within this factor that space — or square footage — falls into. Two of five is work. Three is “extras" like a special floor, insulation, additional windows, more doors, and special roof or siding materials. Four is shipping and five is building permits. As you might guess and as you will see, each addition contributes significantly to the overall price of backyard offices. Small-space, kit, prefab, and fully assembled office sheds will save the buyer money on labor. Purchasing only a shell will save the buyer money on extra features.

How Much Will I Have to Pay? The Breakdown of Costs

As outlined above, buyers who want to build an outdoor office will pay $1,500 to $4,000 for shells in shed kits. They would expect to reach way above $10,000 for a fully outfitted backyard office. The size and design of your storage shed will determine whether permitting is required. Each square foot increases the likelihood you will need to hire a contractor. If you want to add plumbing and wired electricity or a foundation and extra windows, your backyard office will cost more per square foot. It could approach the total charge run up by an ADU. One might find that this amount could reach $30,000. Follow below to see what it would end up costing to get your garden shed built.

Materials: Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Shed?

The price of materials for your backyard shed's structure will vary greatly depending on which you want. The type chosen for the shell of your shed will also likely affect shipping fees. According to HomeAdvisor, metal and plastic styles are the cheapest to ship. Buying all the materials for your project — the door, siding, frame, floor, roof, windows — and other parts of the miniature house locally and then constructing the small shed on your own might cost less up front. Purchasing a project plan or kit design — or two — online and buying locally can be a budget-friendly way to DIY a backyard office next to your house.

A metal or plastic studio shed kit you can get and make on your own will cost between $300 and $2,000.00. This amount varies depending on the size, number of windows, doors, and other features you get. The majority of these can be assembled at home, windows and all. Real wood office sheds can cost over $3,000. Steel-framed styles with metal siding are around $3,000 to start and often require professional installation or construction.

Labor: Should I Go it Alone or Hire Out?

If you choose to hire a contractor to make your modern studio office space, they will likely charge $30 to $100 per hour or another amount per square foot for their time. The good news is that money you pay a real contractor for the time they take to build your studio space is often tax deductible. This is opposed to your own work, which, according to the IRS, would not be tax deductible. Customizations you may get could require one or two builders. According to Fixr, a small, professionally installed outdoor “custom-built 10 x 12-foot wooden storage shed" will cost an average of $5,630.00.

Extras and Features: Do I Really Need a Bathroom?

If you live in a temperate climate with lots of sunlight, you can likely skimp on insulation for your modern studio shed. Many will also choose to leave out plumbing and will only get electricity in their shed. However, if you choose to have your backyard office built with these features and in this way, it will cost quite a bit extra. According to Fixr, you can “expect to spend at least $200 on insulating a basic shed.” Electrical wiring and plumbing are a very different story and could make your shed subject to additional permitting. While you can get and install the roof, doors, siding, floor, walls, and windows of the garden shed on your own, adding plumbing and electricity will likely require you to hire a real professional. Even a small modern bathroom will ramp up the total cost, particularly if you need a different type of floor or door for this space.

Plumbing Costs

HouseLogic notes that simply running plumbing drain lines and supply to backyard offices starts at “$1,000 to $1,500.” You can expect to tack on $500 for a toilet and $177.77 for a sink before installation. If you choose to hire a professional, you can expect to fork out an additional $200 to $500.

Electricity Costs

According to Summit College's article “What to Know Before You Run Electrical Power to a Shed,” the cost of electrifying a shed will vary. The cost will depend on which type of conduit, the size of the space, which type of tools, and how much work is required. The article notes that “powering a shed can be quite costly, especially if done by a licensed electrician,” which is the safest option. You should expect to pay between $100 to $600 to electrify but could save on heating with insulation.

Shipping Costs

The cost of shipping will vary based on the weight of the material and the manufacturer. If you plan to purchase a design and buy supplies from a local source, you might save a lot of money on shipping. Heavy materials like natural wood and steel will generally be more to ship, but the manufacturer might decide to waive any fee for shipping. Many constructed sheds purchased through Amazon and other retailers ship for free.

Permitting: Will I Need a Building Permit for My Backyard Office?

Whether your garden shed will require a building permit, foundations and other code-compliance will depend heavily on where you live. It will also depend on which extras you add, square footage, and how your property is zoned. If you plan to lay new plumbing or electricity, permitting will probably be required. Sheds under 120 sq. ft. or 12 x 10 feet wide rarely require permitting. Jason Somers outlines when to apply for permitting in “Do I Need a Permit for a Shed at Home?” for Crest Real Estate. Somers writes that you will need a permit “when installing electrical equipment...plumbing [or] mechanical equipment…[and] when the height" of the roof exceeds a 12-foot height. Thankfully, building permits typically cost more when you are trying to build an attached addition. Permitting for detached sheds and ADUs can be quite a bit less costly. For garden sheds with plumbing and electricity, HomeAdvisor advises budgeting “up to $2,000” for permitting if you need it. Simple sheds without plumbing or electricity but which measure over “200 square feet (18.58 m²) will run approximately $250.”

Is Constructing a Modern Office Shed in Your Backyard Worth It?

If you plan to work from home, you will need a home office of some sort. What form your home office will take is the key question. Will you work in a converted garage, a new attached addition, or a backyard office? As explained above, each of these options will add up because of the variable cost of labor, materials, permitting, and “extras.” One of the key cost benefits of constructing an office shed rather than an addition to your house is the prefab option. Purchasing a prefab or modular home office shed allows you to skip out on labor costs, or to at least significantly reduce them. Adding a detached structure rather than a built-on addition like a garage to the home can also reduce work fees. The financial benefits of choosing backyard offices for your house's office over constructing an addition or extension onto your property are clear. According to Thumbtack, constructing a new shed will cost you between “$17–$24 per square foot.” Conversely, according to HomeAdvisor, extending a room in your home “costs between $600 and $750 per square foot.” When all is said and done, you might get to pay as little as $1,500 for your work from home shed. Even if you spend more for all the bells and whistles — perhaps around $30,000 — you will still find yourself spending less. All told, you might find yourself spending over $50,000 for a home addition. To learn more about the process of, options for and FAQs surrounding constructing an office shed in your backyard, view structures by Dwellito.