Whatcom County, Wash. — Ever since Dirk and Diana bought their one-and-a-half story home, they knew they wanted to remodel.
“Dirk and I have been wrestling with this home and how to figure out how to fit two offices in our house and all that stuff,” Diana recalled. “Adding onto the home itself opened up a can of worms.”
Half of their four-bedroom home is two stories, while part of the home is one story, Dirk explained.
“We were in a bit of a dilemma,” he said. “It was a nightmare looking at adding onto our home, with the city requirements and all kinds of things. The other consideration is we promised our three little girls a tree fort.”
The solution? Build not one, not two, but three Modern-Sheds.
Dirk and Diana each have a 10’ by 12’ Modern-Shed home office studio,
while their daughters — ages 8, 10 and 12 — have a Modern-Shed set up 5 feet from the ground, nestled among the trees.
Diana was the one who discovered Modern-Shed, through an ad in Dwell magazine.
“I knew the only real solution was to add some square footage,” she said. “But I didn’t want to do that because I knew the trend was to go smaller. We’re already at 2,600 square feet. The next buyer wouldn’t need the extra space most likely, if we added on.”
Diana saw the ad, which spurred her to look at hiring someone to build a shed in their yard — but the bid from the contractor came back too high.
“It seemed awfully expensive,” she recalled. “I thought, why not shoot Modern-Shed an email?”
Initially, the couple considered one large shed that they could share as a home office, but realized that didn’t solve any of their problems.
Diana works in real estate and Dirk is a salesman, selling organic and specialty rice and rice-related products.
“One shed wasn’t going to work because that’s what we did before, share an office,” Diana said. “If two phone calls are coming in at the same time, and you need to be quiet, someone had to leave the room. We just needed extra space. We thought we really should look at two smaller ones.”
The idea for a shed for the girls came about, and soon, the family found themselves with three Modern-Sheds.
The girls’ Modern-Shed play room sits 5 feet up in the air, with three trees incorporated into the deck.
“This fit the bill perfectly,” Dirk said. “The girls are able to have sleepovers in the middle of winter. Somehow we thought, ‘let’s just do three.’”
Dirk and Diana’s sheds are connected by a deck and angle into an ‘L’ shape, close to each other, with French doors that open up toward the other shed.
“So even though we have separate offices, it’s not like we don’t like each other,” Diana said. “We can open our doors and sit out together.”
All sheds were constructed in mid-September.
The couple advises others looking into buying a Modern-Shed to closely study their city and county permitting process.
“It’s a bit of a nightmare navigating,” said Dirk, detailing the unusual scrutinization their sheds came under. “Technically, when you look at our permitting process, if you don’t have a heater and plumbing and water through the structure, and as long as it’s under 120 square feet, the city should allow it. It would seem cut and dry.”
An inspector, however, deemed their units habitable dwellings, setting off a chain of further review.
“In our same city, there have been other Modern-Sheds built and there’s never been an issue,” Dirk said. “They have low impact on the environment and the footprint is great. We had the wrong scenario play out for us. It slowed us down a couple weeks.”
The couple also recommends thinking through site plans, especially if you have French doors (“Our two doors are so close, we should have had one be a right hand pull and one be a left,” Dirk said), considering adding an overhang and upgrading the insulation.
Despite the minor hiccups, both of them love their sheds and have no regrets.
“It’s excellent because you get out there and it’s peaceful, you can be focused and not interrupted,” Diana said, while Dirk added: “We’re right in nature, so you’re walking by and all kinds of wildlife come up. The upgraded insulation and the light keeps it sufficiently warm.”
The girls’ shed is not completely finished yet, but the family loves how the project all came together.
“We love our outdoor space above our house,” Dirk said. “We’re just glad that there was a product that didn’t require that you scrape the ground and pour a bunch of concrete out there and change the naturalness of it.”