Feeling spaced out? Me too! And not the Cheech and Chong sort of spaced out either: lately I’ve been feeling a severe lack of living space. But what to do?
Adding space to an existing home can be time consuming and costly. That’s why many Metro Vancouver homeowners are turning to their own backyards. The studio shed or garden studio takes the backyard shed and turns it into a freestanding, customizable, single-room living space.
Today these sheds can be found across the lower mainland with finished interiors, fully equipped with utilities and built with sustainable materials and production techniques. Why so popular? It’s all in the imagination; the studio’s simple construction encourages creative designs. According to Jake Fry, of HAVAN member Smallworks Studios and expert in small homes and laneway housing, garden studios “are not only functional but give owners an opportunity to create their own personal oasis in the middle of their backyard”. Building a garden studio adds living space uniquely suited to your needs, “whether it’s a tranquil retreat, or a cozy room out of earshot for the kids to entertain their friends.” Fry notes that common design forms include art studios, offices spaces and the always popular, yoga studio.
You’re likely thinking this custom oasis must be expensive and complicated? Not really: a studio shed can save you money, be energy efficient and be easy to construct compared to a regular home extension or conversion. Fry explains, “price does vary, starting with prefabricated do-it-yourself kits for $1000-$2000 to well-appointed retreats costing upwards of $10 000.” Using a builder who specializes in sustainable, environmentally friendly builds can mitigate the cost of installing new utilities.
With the right materials and insulation, a garden studio can reach Passive House standard of energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption by up to 90%. In fact, your garden studio can match or even surpass the energy efficiency of a house thereby offsetting the additional heating and cooling costs. Building a studio can be a whole lot easier than adding to an existing structure. In most cases, your garden shed will not require permission from City Hall. As a separate, self-contained structure, you can build your new studio without having to account for the condition or structure of your home, simplifying the process. Remember, there are size restrictions and local interpretations of building code at individual cities will vary, so it’s important to confirm you’re onside with your local government before construction.
Like many of you, I have often considered how I would find additional space for my family and nothing seems to fit. The garden studio can enable homeowners to expand their living space without disturbing the harmony of their existing home. If you need more space as your family grows or room to fit that new wide screen TV, consider a garden studio. With growing families and the stresses of urban life, garden studios offer an efficient solution. For information about creating your own garden oasis check contact one of our qualified builders found in our HAVAN directory at www.gvhba.com.
Bob de Wit is the CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (HAVAN), a not-for-profit society representing the residential construction industry in the Greater Vancouver Area. Celebrating 40 years in 2014, HAVAN has more than 800 members and is proudly affiliated with the provincial and national Canadian Home Builders’ Associations. You can reach Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.