Like many others this past year, you may find yourself thrust into a position where you are now working from home due to the global pandemic. If this transition was not expected, your office conditions may be less than ideal. Alternatively, you may find yourself with a new hobby but no adequate space to pursue it.
While your home is probably already being stretched to its limits, serving as an office, gym, or school – alternative spaces are often overlooked.
If you own a utility shed, there is potential to transform it into the office you need or even the office you have always dreamt of having. While this will require a good amount of construction and materials, we’ll lay out the basics for you here, so that you can get started converting your shed into a home office right away.
Adding a Window
If there is not already a window installed in your shed, you may want to add one to keep your new office from feeling too dark or cramped. This can add both natural light and ventilation.
Depending on the existing structure, you may need to reframe part of the wall to fit the window of your choice. Consider both windows and HVAC options before adding any other features, as you want to get anything that involves cutting holes in the structure knocked out before shifting your focus to finishings.
If you are using a computer or any other equipment that requires a power source, this is one of the first things you will want to consider. If your shed is not already outfitted with electricity, you will need to add wiring to it before adding the other necessary components.
Most of this work will need to be done by a licensed electrician. However, you can do some preliminary work by planning out the space ahead of time.
Consider the ideal places to put electrical outlets and where they will best fit to plug in your equipment and lights to hide wires. Also, consider what sort of HVAC you’ll want to install to keep the space comfortable, as many units require more than a standard outlet.
Because your shed was probably designed to store only tools and hardware, it is probably not insulated. To keep your space (and you) safe and comfortable in harsh temperatures, you will need to add insulation directly after the wiring is complete.
While some methods require a professional, there are other options available that can be a quick DIY project. Either way, this is an important choice to make.
Fiberglass or Mineral Wool
Some of the most common types of insulation are fiberglass and mineral wool. These materials are both safe enough to install by yourself, but you will want to wear the proper protective gear such as a face mask and gloves. This will help protect you from breathing in or being injured by fiberglass or other materials in the insulation.
Fiberglass insulation often comes in rolls or batts. Rolls are typically used for larger spaces and can be cut to fit your specific area. Batts are flat, pre-cut chunks of insulation that can easily fit between studs.
While fiberglass batts are perhaps the most common form of insulation, other materials can be found in loose pieces and installed as a filling behind drywall. Depending on how handy you are, you may be able to fill the walls yourself with a bit of research, or may prefer to hire a professional.
In colder climates, spray foam insulation is now becoming more popular. While this method can be more efficient and DIY kits are available in stores, most products recommend a professional to insulate your space with this method.
When considering spray foam, use great caution and always wear protective gear. If not installed properly, the chemicals in spray foam insulation can be dangerous and even make the space dangerous to your health.
After insulating your shed for the changing seasons, you will want to add walls. With this, there are a couple of options available.
The most common solution in this instance is drywall. You can purchase drywall in sheets and cut them to size with a utility knife and a chalk line. You can then screw in the pieces to the wood of your shed with coarse thread screws.
Finally, use drywall mud to smooth them together into a solid surface. For the mudding process, you will need a trowel and a joint knife.
As an alternative to drywall, you may also consider shiplap. While it has been popularized mainly for its rustic aesthetic on home improvement shows, shiplap was originally used to create a watertight seal (like the walls of a ship).
True shiplap may do well for your home office if you live in a colder climate or in an area with high amounts of precipitation. It may also be much easier to install depending on the style you choose.
With any of these options, you will want to account for both the appearance and functionality of the wall style. After all, you are going to be looking at these walls more often once your workspace is complete.
If you are moving your work equipment into the shed, you may be keeping more expensive and sensitive material in this space. This may require an upgrade to the type of door that is already on your shed. You may consider installing better locks or a keypad system for increased security.
Flooring and Trim
Once you finish the walls and doors and insulate your space, it’s time to finish the floor and trim off the perimeter. Most types of laminate flooring can mimic hardwood or other textures and is usually easy to install. For this portion of your shed conversion, you will need a rubber mallet and a tape measure. You may also need a jigsaw or miter saw, and a drill or nail gun.
Once the flooring is installed, you might want to add baseboards, crown molding, and other types of trim to finish out the construction. These can usually be purchased in pre-cut pieces in the style of your choice, and installed with a hammer and finishing nails.
Now you’re ready to paint the inside. This is your space to work, so be sure to choose a color that fits your taste. Consider samples in multiple lighting conditions before committing to a full color scheme.
Because sunlight only lasts so long, you will need to install lights in the shed as well. While you may only need a simple desk lamp, you may consider track lighting or led panels, depending on the space. These can typically be installed directly into the ceiling and offer a range of lighting options for your unique space.
Now that you have completed the basic design, climate control will be the essential element in making your good-looking outbuilding a workable office space. For this element, consider PTAC units which are the low, wide models commonly found in hospitals and hotel rooms. Because of their central/singular style, these units are easy to install and do not require ducting or extensive preparation, making them a great fit for a shed conversion project.
However, you will need to be sure that the unit you purchase has the right voltage for the outlets installed by your electrician. You may also decide to install a PTAC sleeve into the hole you have pre-cut for this unit. This will help with any drainage and create a better fitting for the unit overall.
If you are interested in purchasing one of these units at a better price, you can pick up a refurbished unit with a great warranty here.
Whether you are in desperate need of an office space for your job, or if you just want to have a new place to work at home, your shed has potential to be something much more than an unfinished box for garden equipment. With a few simple tools and materials, you can do the conversion yourself and start working in a new space before you know it.