What may have seemed like a dream option just a few weeks ago, working from home, can be stressful when everyone else is home too. As we all find our “new normal”, a detached home office space is a great way to get away, focus on your work and begin a new routine. In addition to traditional uses such as garden sheds and storage buildings, “accessory buildings” are now being used for other personal spaces for exercise, hobbies or home offices. This article provides some important planning considerations as well as a few of our favorite tips to make your home office space unique without breaking the bank.
Once you have made the decision that a custom at home office space is what you need, consider the size, location and approvals that may be necessary. To determine the appropriate size, think about the interior layout of furniture and items. You can use a room in your house, your garage or even your driveway to lay out your ideal floor plan. To determine the best location in your yard, of course consider how you currently use the yard space. Also, you will need to think about how level each of your location options are. More level keeps your shed lower to the ground, which is more user friendly and aesthetically appealing. If it’s not level within a few inches, you may want to consider some grading work to level the location. You will also need to locate the shed in observance with required setbacks from the property lines and off of any utilities or septic systems. Finally, make sure you check with your Homeowners Association and local zoning and building code officials for required permits. In North Carolina, any building larger than 12’ in any dimension is required to be permitted, meet building code requirements for “Accessory Buildings” and be anchored to the ground.
For uses such as a home office space, it is likely that you will want to finish the interior of your building. In this case, you are supposed to also comply with building code requirements for doors, windows and energy efficiency (insulation & heating & air). Electrical wiring is a separate permit no matter the use and should be connected to the appropriate nearest source by a licensed electrician. Wood foundations for structures under 400 square feet are permissible as are wood and block pier combination foundations if designed by an Engineer. Homeowners associations also have covenants and your shed may need to be approved by the association.
Once you know what you need and can have, it’s time to personalize your new space to fit your style. There are endless options online that can be very overwhelming, so here are a few of our favorite design tips to simplify the process and make your new personal space a dream come true without breaking the bank.
Consider a single unique feature such as a window or door. Many builders use only stock materials, but others can include unique items provided by the customer, so be sure to ask. You may have something at home or be able to find something at a local thrift store that makes your building personal to you. Additionally, this can add extra light into your space to help brighten up the interior.
Custom exterior paint colors may be a great option. Painting the exterior of your building with an ‘outside the box’ color scheme or matching it to your home can help you get the look and “feel” you want for your building at a reasonable cost. Be sure to check for any HOA covenants that may require you to match your home’s color schemes.
Consider different interior finishes. Where available, paneling and floor coverings of various types can provide a finished look in a wide range of prices depending on the material type and the size of the space. If you are handy, you may be able to add those coverings yourself for about 1/3 to ½ the cost. One of our favorite “cheaper” options is painting the interior of your shed, which can usually be done for a few hundred bucks depending on the size. When using a light color, it can aid in giving a brighter feel to the interior and providing a more professional feel to the space.
Trendy and decorative items can really spice up the inside of your building in a cost-effective way. Thrift stores, TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, auctions or estate sales or your local garden supply stores (such as Big Bloomers in Sanford or The Garden Hut in Fuquay-Varina) are a couple places to check out. This type of design can make your custom space feel like home and be specific to the style or theme you’re going for.