Outdoor garden sheds are the largest part of an industry that’s forecast to swell to $1.6 billion by 2023 -- obviously, these spaces are big business. With work-from-home becoming the new normal for millions of Americans, backyard sheds are being reassessed as ultra-versatile spaces that can be suitable for anything, including business. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” which begs the question...
Can a shed be used as a backyard garden office? Yes! We’ll show you exactly how to do that: whether buying a prefabricated shed, converting a garden shed, or building from scratch, we’ll demonstrate how to create a space that is productive, stylish, and can add value to your home.
The current work-from-home moment is a necessity for many, however, it's also a trend that feels overdue and even welcome. You may think it's impossible to work outside the comfort zone of your traditional office, but we're here to prove otherwise: a home office can be just as productive and effective as a conventional workspace, and with 100% fewer TPS reports.
Today, savvy remote workers are getting funky and creating home offices that support top performance. More and more are asking, "Can I use a shed as an office?" and discovering that the answer is “Of course.”
Here's your beginner's guide to creating the perfect backyard garden office space that supports your productivity, comfort, and satisfaction (and your coffee habit).
How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Shed into an Office?
What’s the cost to make a backyard shed livable and productive? A shed converted into a workspace can cost anywhere from $1,500 up to $30,000, depending on the following factors:
- Site preparation
- HVAC (also plumbing, if necessary)
- Extras (deck, decor, accessories)
This swanky conversion set the owner back about $7,300 (adjusted for 2021 costs). That’s why it’s important to get the basics ready before you start building a shed.
Backyard Shed Basics -- Getting Started
First of all, you're not alone: thousands of American homeowners are using the pandemic as an opportunity to make the move to a backyard office. There are three options to make your garden office dream come true:
- Buy a pre-assembled backyard office space
- Convert a garden shed into a home office
- Build a shed office space
4 Things Your Shed Needs to Be a Productive Office
Whichever you choose for your new place to work, make certain you have your list of office essentials locked down:
- Electricity: Keeping the lights on is essential (unless you can see in the dark) and so is having power for your computer, phone, devices, coffeemaker, maybe a neon beer sign, depending on your vocation. Electricity is also required for heating and/or cooling. It’s probably a good idea to have an electrical contractor handle this job for you.
- Lighting: You can’t see in the dark, we caught you. You will need appropriate lighting to be productive. That could be built-in overhead lighting, a floor lamp, or something else -- as long as light comes out of it, you’re good.
- Aesthetics: Creating just the right home office vibe is definitely essential, so you always feel like you’re in your work happy place. Do you want hardwood floors? A large sliding glass entry for a nice view? Decorative siding? You can do a lot to make it more than just a shed.
- Furnishings: Finding the perfect little table, chairs, and shelves for your office shed is part of the fun (fun is essential), including artwork and decorations. Finally, a place for all those Marvel Comics action figures you’ve been hoarding.
The simplest, fastest, and often most cost-effective way to add a garden shed home office is to buy one that's purpose-built for the role. Here's what that process looks like.
Buying a Pre-Assembled Backyard Office
A shed office DIY project is not everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. It’s a huge hassle, requires construction expertise, comes with a significant risk of getting really bad splinters… we get it.
What if you run out of DIY mojo one day after buying lots of expensive materials? What if your sister’s boyfriend actually does NOT know how to hang drywall? Life is too short for that kind of fuss.
The good news is you have a huge number of outstanding options for backyard offices that are pre-assembled and ready to install. These studio shed solutions are beautiful, convenient, and guarantee the quality you expect from a professionally designed and built backyard office space.
Going with a prefab office shed just makes your life easier. These wonderful little buildings are designed and purpose-built to be the ideal solution for all your needs: productivity, comfort, convenience, attractive looks, all in one. And they eliminate all the hassle of trying to do it yourself, at a cost that’s affordable.
This is the simplest and fastest path to have a garden office, however, there's still a process to follow that yields the best results.
Understand Your Garden Office Space
Have a plan in mind before you begin fixing details. Begin by asking yourself questions about the building you want to add:
- How much room do you have to add a pre-assembled structure?
- Where in your backyard do you want your garden office located?
- Is there appropriate access to the space for construction?
- What are the permitting and/or HOA requirements?
- What view do you want from your window?
Choose the Perfect Model
- What size is right for your needs?
- What amenities do you want: entry, lighting, electrical outlets, deck area, extra space, siding options, etc.
Buying and Installation
- Are you paying upfront, or do you need a financing option?
- What is your schedule, from purchase to move in?
- Does your space need any preparation that might cost extra?
Finish Your Studio Shed with Flair
- What are your basic needs for office equipment?
- What furniture do you need for best productivity and comfort?
- Do you have some happy little plants, decorations, and artwork to take things to the next level?
Is Buying Prefab Always the Best Solution?
Not always, but it's the most frequently recommended way to go. A shed-to-office conversion or building new from scratch are options, but they're definitely a distant second in almost all circumstances. Here's a top-level look at those options, and the extra cost, effort, and time required.
Converting Your Shed into a Home Office
The average garden shed needs a lot of work to be converted into a suitable backyard office -- we’re talking a lot of time, expensive supplies, and really hard work putting everything together in a way that’s up to professional standards. It's not an easy task and even experienced construction DIYers will find this project a challenge.
Hiring professional builders can be just as expensive (or cost more) as buying a prefab and take a lot longer. Here's a checklist to help frame the process:
- Pre-plan important elements (additional size, permitting, access, etc.)
- Replace doors and windows
- Electricity, heating, and air conditioning rough-in
- Add appropriate insulation
- Finish drywalling, floors, and ceiling
- Trim installation and finishing, painting
- Electrical, heating, and AC finishing
- Floor installation
- Siding and accessories
- Final finishing and decorating
Building a Backyard Garden Office
You can have a backyard office built from scratch by professionals, but that's almost always more expensive than buying a prefab unit, and it will definitely take more time. Not recommended.
If you have the skills to build a garden office from scratch, more power to you. You can probably save money (but not time), however, this is a daunting task that is beyond the typical DIY project. It's only for the most experienced, trained, and capable builders/contractors.
We're not going to tell you how to build your work studio here, because we assume you know what you're doing. Maybe instead of working from home, you should be in the design and building industry, where you can cash in by building garden offices for other people.
Office Garden Final Touches
Before it's time to start showing off your killer garden office to your neighbors, consider the finishing touches. These include your office productivity essentials, like a printer, phone charger, coffee machine, and portable Bluetooth speaker, among others (yes, coffee is essential).
You're also ready to add furniture. You'll need a desk and a chair, although if you like to work from your lap, maybe the desk is optional. Secondary seating is ideal if you have the room: a love seat, small sofa, recliner, or deck chairs are great options. A bookcase or table is mandatory in most circumstances and helps complete a suitably office-y look.
Save room for an attractive plant or two. Do you have your artwork picked out? We think you can never go wrong with a "Hang in There!" kitten poster, but your mileage may vary.
“Can I Use a Shed as an Office?” Yes, You Can Use a Shed as an Office
It's not a question anymore: some talented DIYers are building sheds from the ground up or renovating existing garden sheds, but most people are buying prefab models that are the perfect combination of convenience, productivity, and value.
There’s no drop-off in functionality: a garden office can have electricity, lighting, heat and AC, and all the small comforts that make for an ideal workspace. If you can have it in a traditional office you commute to, you can have it in your backyard (including a nice view of your garden). All that’s missing is the annoying co-worker who eats your lunch from the breakroom refrigerator.
You also end up with a design element that adds value to your home -- this is not just an investment in your career, but also in your financial wellbeing.
Thanks to this guide, you now know your options for creating the backyard workspace of your dreams.
Whether you decide to build from scratch, convert, or buy a readymade office garden shed, check out Dwellito's options for prefab and modular backyard offices for inspiration, ideas, and solutions.