My Man Cave

So instead of jacking up our house and putting a basement underneath ($25,000 for an empty shell of a basement), we’re going to just build a shed for me to use as an office. The question, is whether or not to build said shed, or to get a “pre-cut” kit. The former might be cheaper, and easier to customize. The latter, however, I might be able to actually construct.

We’re thinking of buying this. It should make an awesome office space. I’m not sure exactly how to go about making a foundation, or if that is even required. I’m also not sure if a pre-cut shed requires a building permit or not. I have to find such things out pretty soon though. 🙂

Wish me luck, and send any advice my way. Please!

13 thoughts on “My Man Cave”

  1. I would be VERY suprised if you don’t need a building permit.

    But if I may be allowed to point out that the pre-fab is not designed to be something for human occupation. You’ll need to insulate it, heat it, and electrify it. It has no windows, which may be an advantage in removing distractions, but will certainly require more lights, and thus use more eletricity, as well as making it impossible to make use of sunlight to help heat it in the winter. And how will you cool it in the summer? You’ll need air flow, and the insulation will help, but electronic equipment and high heat don’t mix.

    Please understand that I’m not trying to “steal your sunshine” (per my daughter), but these things must be addressed. I would think that adding a room to the house might be less expensive in the long run.

    Just my buck 95.

  2. Vince kinda made my point, which was a shed is not going to work once it’s cold. Or hot. To make our basement habitable we had to build a room, insulate the floor, all four walls, and the ceiling, and then we still have to use a space heater in the winter, unless we have a fire in the woodstove.

    Now, we did all the work ourselves, so that saved us a lot, but anything you want to be habitable in the summer and the winter is going to be a lot more expensive, since you’ll almost certainly want to tie into the house heating/cooling system. (If you can access the duct work, this is relatively easy to do.)

    We can give you pointers, but what you need bare minimum is an insulated floor (on a cement slab most likely), insulated walls, insulated ceiling, electricity (easy), and access to the house heating/cooling.

    Also, building permits can be a royal pain in the rear.

  3. We put in a 10×14 at our previous house. It didn’t require a building permit but did require HOA permission. (Oh the joys of the HOA… not a prob though.)

    We did 1 window plus prewired for electric. It was not insulated and had only plywood flooring.

    We did not need to lay foundation, but put down a gravel pad and compacted it as level as we could with a little front-end loader. The shed was then built on a floor of leveled 4x6s.

    I’d agree with Vince. They’re usually not approved for occupancy-the insulation, wiring upgrades required for electrical to code, inside finishing, flooring, etc might make it a much more considerable project than you’re thinking right now. Make sure you are able to estimate all the costs. Maybe a new RV might be cheaper. 😉

  4. Yeah, I’m thinking drywall, windows, and a combination heater/AC unit. I’d also like to put a small “attic” in the thing to store stuff. I would like to run electricity to it, but that would be about it. A glorified workshop really. My “tools” just tend to be geekier than most.

    I have friends that are smarter than me regarding the building codes in our area. I’ll have to see what the dealio is.

    Regarding a basement, I’d *love* to do that — but we just can’t afford to lift the house, dig a new foundation, and set it back down. We have about a 3′ crawl space now with a sand floor. $25,000 just gets us an empty, cement floor basement. (No walls, heat, etc, etc)

    Honestly, if the market was better, we’d just try to sell the house and get something more suited to our needs. In northern Michigan, however, that ain’t gonna happen for a long time. 🙁

  5. Can you invest the money adding on a room to the house instead? Rather than a shed, which won’t add as much to the value of the house? My mom did that – and she did most of the finish work to manage costs. It’s been a really nice practical addition for her. (She built a quilting machine/craft room – she has a tractor so she excavated the foundation, the builders built & wired it, she taped, textured, painted, & floored it).

  6. Unfortunately, for a moderately sized addition, the cost came in at around $38,000. This caused me great stress… 🙂

    I’m hoping to get the entire project done for under $5,000, so once I get plans, lists, volunteer help, etc, I’ll see if it’s feasible.

    Otherwise, I might continue to use the corner of our bedroom. 🙁

  7. Shawn, just so you know, I think it cost us more than 3k to add the two rooms to our basement, and that was with me and Michael doing almost all the work, (the only thing we did not do was tap the sewer line) the rest of the cost was materials, and I imagine that materials have only gone up since then.

    And those were all interior materials–we didn’t need anything exterior, so that was primarily dry wall, 2x4s and 4x4s and 4x8s, insulation, floor tile, and ceiling tile. (Michael already had all the tools and the wire)

    Sorry. 🙂

  8. I really am. 🙂

    In fact, we’re discussing waiting again, so we can possibly raise the house next year. The square footage it would add to the house is much greater than any addition. Plus, we could have a walk-out basement, which is cool anyway.

    One more year in the corner of a bedroom won’t kill me, that’s for sure.

    (Thanks for all the input. Srsly.)

  9. Plus, we could have a walk-out basement, which is cool anyway.


    Every house I’ve lived in (excluding rentals) has had a walk out basement.

    Of course, that’s because just about every house in the city is built on a hill.

  10. After reading your posted blog and your comments, I wanted to talk to Bill. He knows all that kinda stuff. He said if you want to use that shed for an office, go ahead. He said the association you live in would have to ok it, and don’t say it’s an office, just a shed. You can put it up and use it even with extension cords from your house for now. If you plan to drywall it you would want to put in the electric before then drywall, and you wouldn’t even have to mud it for now. To keep it cool and hot for different seasons, you can put an a/c in and space heater. If your not making it to look like the ritz now, you can always add to it later and make it look more like a professional office. Or you could lift your house later, it would value to your house.


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