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Shed your inhibitions

POSTED ON 01 APRIL 2021

The humble outbuilding can be put to a number of uses

 

To paraphrase rock giants Motorhead, a shed used to be a place of spades. Or lawnmowers. Or half-empty tins of paint and discarded outdoor toys. A handy little store, generally made of glorified fencing panels, that gets a coat of creosote when you remember but generally sits, unloved, at the end of the garden waiting to be battered by the next named storm.

Times and lifestyles, however, change, and now the humble structure has become the fashionable ‘must-have’, graduating from the often-outlandish man caves and she-sheds to offices, studios, outside bars and even saunas and cinema rooms.

If the prospect of turning your forlorn shed into a rustic home extension appeals, there are some things to bear in mind, not least checking with the local authority to see if you need permission for change of use. Then see how structurally sound it is or whether you might be better off biting the bullet and getting a new summerhouse or log cabin, depending on size of budget, garden… and ambition.

Having checked the damp-proofing, if the roof is watertight, walls are in good condition and doors and windows fit properly, clear the shed out and look for signs of mould, damp, wood rot or pest infestation around the floor. Once satisfied, the big decision now is whether it’s a DIY project or needs to be turned over to an expert, as you would be advised to do for a sauna.

If you’re going it alone, the first job will be to get the outside treated or painted to make it weatherproof, then think about sealing any cracks you may have discovered with caulk or weatherstripping to help prevent draughts, bugs and any other undesirables. Depending how you plan to use the shed, you might want to pop in a skylight window, particularly if you’ve got the professionals in and you’re designing an office.

If a home-working space is the objective, you will need to insulate, drywall and think about heating for those slightly less-than idyllic days. Heating means power and while it may be tempting to connect to the supply from your home, don’t rule out solar panels, which provide a simpler, cheaper and energy efficient solution. If it’s a bar you’re after, you’ll need plumbing too.

For flooring, think durable coverings such as cork, tile and carpet – a wood floor might be attractive but may not be practical.

After that, it’s all about preferences: LED or halogen lights for an office, a string of novelty lights for your personal pub; shelves and versatile cabinets for work, a good service area and racks to attach the optics for the bar.

And finally, make sure you’ve got some good locks.

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