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How to build a backyard office shed

Have you run out of spaces for your family to use in your home? Why not look outside and build out a backyard office shed!

shed office

Building a backyard office shed:

Is anyone surprised that creating more usable space in our homes is a major trend coming out of 2020?

Maybe it’s carving out office or learning space for those of us working and doing school remotely, or perhaps dedicating a quiet spot to just get away for some alone time. Whatever the motivation, finding that extra liveable space is something many of us are attempting.

One spot that is looking increasingly attractive for this use is outside—the backyard office shed. Seriously. Especially in smaller homes or where space has already been maxed out. Lots of creative folks are converting this common storage space into functional and comfortable living space. Anyone can do it. It’s a practical conversion and doesn’t require a significant expense.

The making of the backyard office shed plan

Here’s the first thing you need to know about building an office shed in the backyard: Insulation is the key. There are other features you may want to address as well, but creating a comfortable and usable space starts here. Insulation protects against the elements and creates thermal comfort, so that the space can be used for extended periods—whether it’s for work, school, hobbies or napping! It also creates sound dampening which provides the privacy many are seeking with these projects.

Do you have a shed you want to convert into a backyard home office? Maybe you’re up for building one from scratch? Either way, let’s get started.

Make a plan. What is the intended use of the space? This will drive all of the decisions that come.

  • What’s already there? Do the walls have any framing?
  • What materials will you need?
  • Do you need to consider electricity, heat, ventilation, windows and doors?
  • Are there any code requirements in your region that need to be followed?
  • If you’re building new, find out if a permit is required; some regions don’t require building permits for sheds smaller than 10’x10’.
  • How else could you be using the space in the future?

With this information in hand, get necessary permits in place before you start any work. And it goes without saying, if after making your plan you realize there are elements you can’t manage on your own, hire professionals when needed.

 

 

 

Start with insulation

Most sheds will be fully detached from the main house so treat all walls as exterior and insulate each of them (interior walls by contrast don’t always need to be insulated). Things to consider:

  • What R-level will be required? Most will find Comfortbatt is an ideal choice (R14 in Canada or R15 in the US), assuming 2x4 wood studs, but Comfortbatt comes in a range of R-values (up to R38) and thicknesses, depending on your location, the level of thermal resistance you want to achieve and the size of your studs, joists or rafters.
  • If no framing exists, build out the frame (typically with 2x4 or 2x6 boards) and insulate with ROCKWOOL Comfortbatt, or insulate with ROCKWOOL Comfortboard using appropriate fasteners which can provide you with a semi-finished look by leaving the rigid insulation exposed.
  • Regardless of the R-value and thickness, there are many benefits to using ROCKWOOL® Comfortbatt® in your DIY backyard office shed. The stone wool insulation is ideal for use in exterior walls, attics, and basements and provides consistent, comfortable indoor temperatures and energy savings throughout the year. On top of that:
    • Comfortbatt® offers excellent thermal performance
    • It is easy to install; it is simple to cut with a serrated blade to achieve an optimal fit around electrical wiring boxes, and pipes, and between studs and joists that are not standard width
    • Friction fit compresses on install then springs back to fill the stud completely to prevent gaps
    • It is dimensionally stable—it will stay firmly in place to provide energy savings over the life of the space
    • It is non-combustible, resisting fire up to 1,177˚C or 2,150˚F
  • It is water and moisture resistant; in a shed this is particularly useful as it is resistant to mold and mildew

 

We’ve added more ways to meet R-value codes

As building codes change, so do the challenges to effectively meet r-value requirements from one region to the next.

Now, get all the premium benefits of ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation
in R13, R21, and R38 thermal values.

 

Add a vapour barrier

This step is commonly misunderstood, and therefore skipped, by homeowners when renovating. The primary function of a vapour barrier is moisture control. In the shed, like any other spaces in the home, condensation results from moisture in the air. Excess condensation and humidity levels in your shed can damage its structure and contents. This can happen in both hot and cold climates. Low winter temperatures, followed by the rising humidity of spring and early summer, make your shed and home vulnerable to excess moisture. Homes in areas with high humidity and occasional temperature drops will also experience condensation.

Combining a vapour barrier with Comfortbatt® insulation will further improve moisture control in the space as it’s water and moisture resistant; it does not absorb moisture to maintain its insulating value. Additionally, insulating with ROCKWOOL Comfortbatt stone wool insulation will help keep the shed temperature more stable. The product is moisture resistant and vapour permeable with high drying potential, so even if it is exposed to moisture or comes into contact with water, the insulation will dry out and retain its full R-value. Because of its inorganic composition, it’s also resistant to mold and mildew, so it’s a great choice for this application.

Running electrical to power your shed office

Install electrical outlets. Think about your planned use of the space and where outlets make sense. If you’re using the shed as an office, where will the desk and computer go? What about lighting? Unless you’re a certified electrical contractor, don’t attempt this step yourself; source a local professional to do this work for you.

The finishing steps

Finish the walls, ceiling and floor. The materials you select will depend on the intended function of the space. Since you’re turning the shed into extra living space, install drywall—or wood panel walls as we’ve done in our example—and then prime and paint it for a quality finished look. Think about trim around doors and windows. And choose a durable flooring solution that will wear well with lots of traffic between the home and shed.

There are many possible benefits to converting your shed or building a new one from scratch. It might not have been a priority space for you and your family in the past, but life in 2021 has more of us needing to optimize every available space for living, working, school or leisure.

A garden shed has potential to be so much more than a storage place for yard tools. If you don’t need an office, consider the space for a gym or fitness area; a zen lounge for meditation; an art studio; a music room or practice area for your band…maybe some day you can even use it for outdoor entertaining!

Whatever the intended use, take another look to see if you can gain valuable living space from your existing shed, or if you have room to build a new one. And make sure to protect it from the elements, and even fire, by adding insulation. Whatever the end goal, tackle this home reno like any other improvement project by starting with a solid plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated to reap the benefits, the most important of which is adding a layer of piece of mind knowing that you’re helping to further protect your home and family.

Download the shed plans

20210217 RWNA INFO 1068We've packaged up our backyard office shed plans for you to get a head start!