by Steve Graham, Networx
If you need a home office, an addition to your home might be a prohibitively expensive way to get some workspace. Instead, consider a covered space you already have on your property. A storage shed can easily be converted into a small home office with some basic upgrades.
Of course, a basic pre-fabricated metal shed may not work. However, any wood-frame shed that can be insulated might be a potential space for a new home office.
If you will need to heat the shed in winter, consider upgrading from concrete half-blocks to a more permanent, insulated foundation. The extra cost will pay off in the long run in lower heating bills and possibly higher resale value for your home.
You will also need to insulate the walls and roof. The cheapest option is fiberglass batts and drywall. However, rigid foam insulation boards and stucco may be easier, albeit more expensive.
Many storage sheds don’t have windows, but a windowless home office will be too uninviting to see much worktime. Frame out a window and get an inexpensive window for the space. With tax credits available for energy-efficient window upgrades, replacement windows were popular this year. You should be able to find a good deal on a used window through a local building supply reseller.
Related: 6 Types of Eco-Friendly Insulation
If you have a small shed and not much space for windows, consider a skylight instead. Skylights let in more light than windows, and offer some free solar heating.
To add artificial lighting and outlets for your office equipment, you may need a dedicated panel box for the shed. Unless you are an electric expert, you should definitely hire a professional to run the power line from your house, and to wire the shed. However, you might save money (and get a serious workout) by digging a trench at least one foot deep to bury your insulated power lines.
If you will mainly use a computer workstation during daylight hours, consider a small solar PV system for your shed. Talk to a local solar installer about an off-grid solar home office in your backyard.
Of course, you will also probably need to talk to your Internet provider about running Ethernet cables to the shed.
Check Your Zoning
Zoning laws may limit the size of a shed or put more restrictions on a permanent shed than a simple storage shed that could be moved around the property. If you expand your shed or make some of the above upgrades, you may need a building permit and possibly approval from homeowners’ associations and historical preservation groups.
These upgrades can turn a backyard shed into a quiet, cozy and productive home office.