You either have an old unused shed at your backyard waiting to be converted into a comfortable shed home or you bought a new piece of land and you’re planning on getting a shed until you have saved up for a house. There are various ways you can customise your shed without sacrificing the durability of a home. You can transform this space into a tiny liveable space, like a living room, a personal reading area, a man cave, a cabin shed, a backyard house, a granny flat, or even a miniature guest house. In an age where DIY is becoming a trend, more and more shed suppliers innovate their products and improve on assembly procedures to make shed installation and construction more convenient and easier for homeowners.
Here are some suggestions and simple questions to consider when converting your shed into a home:
What do you plan in the short-term and long-term?
Whether it’s an unoccupied shed or a newly purchased one, you can convert it into something homely. Having a temporary shed home before you have a full house built is smart, sensible, and ideal, especially if you are saving up first or if you don’t have enough time at the moment. On the other hand, some homeowners think about its long-term goals and benefits. Either way, you can’t really go wrong with a shed. It is a good asset to have.
Keep in mind, though, that whilst DIY makes installing sheds a fun, fulfilling, and convenient experience, building shed homes in Australia is not fully unrestricted. There are specific standards and legal requirements laid down by your area council. In the long run, the dimensions of your shed will matter, and having the right size is important.
A safe bet would be to purchase a large shed if you intend to convert it into a shed home. This would mean applying for several permits, like a building approval and development approval, as early as possible rather than acquiring them only upon conversion.
What permits will you need when you convert a shed into a home?
It gets a bit tricky here. This hinges on the size and the purpose of your structure, though regulations vary from one state to another, and there are general guidelines set by the Building Code of Australia (BCA). There are ten classifications listed in the BCA. These classes of structures are arranged according to the structure’s intended function (usually whether it is habitable or non-habitable). Sheds and garages are classified under Class 10a and are considered as non-habitable buildings.
Exemptions from building approval and development approval vary among class 10a structures. The exemption depends on the size, roofing, and level of enclosure. It is not the same as class 1 habitable structures.
Transforming a non-habitable shed (class 10a) into a dwelling or habitable space (class 1) is not as simple as transforming the shed into a structure that falls within the same category (e.g. a garage into a garden shed). Class 10a has requirements different from those of class 1. Reclassifying your small shed into a residential space may mean removal of these class 10a exemptions. It is best to consult with the council in your area.
Additionally, you will have to consider complying with class 1 requirements for the successful conversion of the structure. The BCA requires, among others, preparation of building and site plans, certifications of compliance under the energy efficiency provisions of the law, certificate of compliance for plumbing, and other structural engineering plans. Knowing these requirements will keep you from incurring penalties and fines.
This type of transformation may need significant changes, but it may also be a good investment among individuals who plan to have a family in the future or among homeowners who wish to lease out some space.
What is the right size and location for your shed?
If it is the first time you are converting your shed into a dwelling space, you should know that this may require more thought and effort and may not be as simple as building or converting a shed into a garden or storage shed. Getting the correct measurements and drafting an inventory of the items and furniture you plan to bring into this space will be necessary.
Building a living space will likely require a floor plan because you will need a bedroom, a living room, a kitchenette, and bathroom inside. You will most likely also need sturdy partitions. It is important to remember that sheds come in different types, costs, and sizes. Also, consider a location that has a shade to keep your area cool. For the base of your shed home, consider whether you want a temporary shed home or more of a permanent one. For this, you should know that a gravel base is ideal if your location will be temporary whilst a concrete one is more suitable for a permanent location.
How can you save space?
Although a shed is not as spacious as a house, there are sheds about the size of a 20-square-foot apartment unit. Given this size, having less furniture can be an option. After all, minimalism is becoming appealing these days. Some suppliers and manufacturers of furniture have developed DIY, multipurpose, and convertible materials. As early as 2010, these types of furniture have been selling well in the market. Here are some of the most popular convertible furniture: a sofa bed, a bed with drawers, convertible or extendible dining or study tables, and seats with an interior storage.
A sofa bed is perfect whether you’re single or you’re a couple. Having one will most likely mean that you’ll no longer need a separate area for a bedroom, as you can put the sofa bed in the living room. This requires fewer partitions inside your shed home. On the other hand, a bed with drawers is just right if you do not have space for a closet. These drawers can also function as bookshelves or storage for your shoes. It is perfect for avoiding clutter inside your shed home. Seats with interior storage would work just as well.
Convertible or extendible tables are best if you occasionally invite friends and family over. If you’re living alone or with someone else, a huge table will not be as practical as having a small one, which you can extend only during certain occasions.
Convertible furniture does not only save space. It also saves money. Because you’re working on a tight budget, investing in these types of furniture will be the best option.
Do sheds come with partitions?
Not all sheds come with internal partitions. You usually have to work on purchasing them upon conversion. The good thing about steel sheds is that you can put your partition anywhere because they are usually spacious. Some dividers and panels are lightweight, portable, and easy to move. Except for the bathroom, temporary walls can be a cheap and good choice.
What about other utilities, such as plumbing, wiring, and electricity?
Because this will be your shed home, a permanent power source is needed. You cannot rely on extension cords for electricity. Electrical equipment cost around $150, and you’ll most likely need an electrician. Installing fixtures will cost around $50 to $100 an hour. Since you’ll also need a bathroom, plumbing services and drain lines cost around $1,000 to $1,500. You will need to seek professional assistance in these areas because there are council regulations that must also be met. In addition, this ensures that accidents are avoided.
Will you need to replace the doors and windows?
For this, you will need extra work because some sheds have wide doors or two doors that are not suitable for a home. You might need to replace the wide doors of your shed with a small-sized one to make it easier to go in and out of the shed.
There are also some sheds that do not have windows. You will need to install a window or two on your steel shed to provide it with natural lighting and for cooling purposes. There are special tools that can cut through steel very neatly. If you do not have skills for this, it is best to seek professional assistance to prevent a set of rickety doors and windows.
What are the available types of material for your shed home and what are the pros and cons?
You will want stable and sturdy material for a shed home. The common materials for sheds are timber, steel, and plastic. They vary widely in several aspects such as costs, aesthetic appeal, ease of assembly, durability, maintenance, manageability, and size. If you’re prioritising investing in a spacious and sturdy shed whilst working around a tight budget, you might want to look into steel sheds. They are the least expensive among the three and are also eco-friendly.
Timber sheds are appealing if you enjoy customising your shed from time to time. You can cut and paint timber any way you wish. However, it takes its toll on maintenance costs as some types of timber require maintenance on a regular basis. Some also deteriorate faster and are vulnerable to pests, fires, and other elements.
Steel sheds and plastic sheds, on the other hand, are low maintenance and are easy to assemble. High-quality steel can endure extreme and harsh changes in the weather. However, its downside is that some types are prone to rusting faster than others. On the other hand, the disadvantage of plastic is that due to its lightweight nature, it may be impossible for you to hang heavy items on its walls. Both steel and plastic cannot be painted over and customised.
How much will this cost you upon purchase and conversion?
Shed homes prices vary. Customised sheds are normally more expensive than DIY sheds. Timber is the most expensive whilst steel is the least costly. For less than $1,000 as initial cost, you can get a large steel shed that comes with a lifetime warranty. Likewise, steel sheds are resistant to fire and are waterproof. Some shed suppliers also sell rust-resistant steel and provide warranties against rust.
The other good thing about steel sheds is that most come with DIY instructions, like this 5-step assembly procedure. This helps homeowners install and build their sheds without spending too much on professional contractors and professional fees. With the assistance of family and a few friends, you’ll get the job done in a few days.
Designing your shed is a different matter and may require additional costs. To have a more reliable and conservative estimate of shed homes prices, add professional fees for designing the shed; those required by your government agencies; costs of electrical and power installation; and costs of the furniture and fixtures you plan to use in your shed. There are designers and contractors who offer package deals to save you from the hassle of attending to all these things.
The costs of designing the interior will vary, based on the demands you have. Additional costs will be necessary if you want to hire an architect or interior designer as you convert your shed. Some designers charge by the hour for up to $100 whilst others charge by the project. It is best to conduct a thorough research and to read online reviews to get a good designer’s deal.
How will you avoid condensation?
Without proper ventilation and insulation, your shed becomes more susceptible to the growth of moulds and bacteria that are harmful to the shed’s occupants. Electronic and digital devices will likewise be exposed to these risks. Having multiple windows; installing electric fans, exhaust fans, heaters, air-conditioning units; and putting humidifiers and calcium chloride can help solve this problem.
You may also add weather stripping material to your doors and windows. Some steel sheds are sold with a watertight roof that is useful during months of heavy rain.
For your floor, avoid putting carpets, as these may be harder to manage especially when your area is exposed to damp. Also, in order to prevent damp from rising, waterproofing materials must be installed underneath your slab. Make sure that the type of floor you choose does not collect moist.
How should you secure your shed?
If this is an old shed and you’re remodelling it, remember to replace your locks and hinges. Rusty ones tend to make them easier to unhinge. Being your new home, whether permanent or not, it should keep thieves and unwanted pests out. Make sure to seal cracks to avoid pests from settling inside your shed.
What is the best design for the exterior of your shed?
This depends on the material you choose. Since steel and plastic cannot be painted over, make sure you choose the colour that blends with the theme of your home or the home you have yet to build. Though steel sheds may sometimes look rigid for a home, the good news is that a number of steel shed manufacturers are starting to use vinyl coating to improve their appearance. Some also provide a wide range of colours and designs.
Keep the following things in mind when converting your shed into living space: the size of your shed; the furniture and fixtures you will install; the number of rooms you wish to have inside; the partitions you want to place; and the legal requirements of your area council.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out where to start, a good source of quality shed kits and materials is available online. EasyShed supplies different types of sheds with 25 different colour options to choose from. It also supplies accessories that are useful for your shed. This supplier also offers great deals, and its online shop presents great ideas on how to make your shed not only liveable but loveable, too. Visit EasyShed today!