San Francisco Bay Area — Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic taking root in the United States, Sami L. was traveling more than 250,000 miles a year for work.
Now, like many of us, he hasn’t been on an airplane since February, and he doesn’t foresee getting on an airplane for work ever again.
“I traveled a lot for my job,” says Sami, who works in Internet cloud security. “Zoom and other video conferencing technologies are working so well that I don’t think the traditional conference will make a comeback, at least not any time soon.”
Sami was already preparing for a new work reality prior to the pandemic — when he wasn’t traveling for work, he had to commute 3 hours round-trip to his office in downtown San Francisco.
Instead of making the trek, he would work from a desk in the master bedroom of his three-bedroom 1961 mid-century modern home.
Understandably, he didn’t like looking at his stack of work and his computer when he was supposed to be in bed, relaxing. He started researching putting up a shed in his backyard because adding onto the home would be too cost-prohibitive.
“There was no great option to expand the house,” Sami says. “We didn’t have a logical way of expanding the house as there was no place to really build another room. It would have been a major surgery.”
When COVID hit, Sami’s two high-school students began remote learning, and their house became that much more crowded.
“You are more distracted and you have to worry about people barging through while you’re in the middle of a presentation,” Sami notes.
The family had some space in the backyard, and they pivoted from wanting to build a sauna to deciding to build a home office for Sami. They built an 80-square-foot Modern-Shed so that they wouldn’t have to obtain any permits in their jurisdiction.
Thanks to some sleek interior design and multi-functional furniture pieces, the intimate space has enough room for a work space (Sami has a standing desk) and can be used as a guest room because the divan folds out into a bed.
The Modern-Shed blends seamlessly with the family’s home. The siding is the same, and Sami even painted the siding the same color as the house.
“Our home has floor-to-ceiling windows, and the shed fits into that aesthetic,” he says. “When I was looking at the different options, Modern-Shed’s clerestory windows looked exactly like it was meant to be. The shed more or less looks like it was here all along, like someone popped it in in 1961 and it’s been here ever since.”
Sami appreciated working with design professional Jeff Bergerson.
“I didn’t have any issues communicating my design goals and I had strong opinions about what I wanted,” he says. “I was probably an easy customer because I knew exactly what I wanted and I was probably a difficult customer because I knew exactly what I wanted.”
Jeff helped Sami obtain a window style that wasn’t on the list of options available from Modern-Shed — Sami wanted aluminum windows that matched his house, but the windows needed a thermal break to prevent condensation and mold in the winter.
Sami completed all of the finishing work himself, spending hours on YouTube learning how to put in drywall and electrical.
He ended up installing a mini-split A/C unit, and installed more than enough Internet (wired and wireless) and electricity to accommodate for future growth and future purposes that the shed might have.
“There’s better internet in my shed than I ever had at my internet company,” he says. “I also ran enough electricity because you never know how much you’re going to do or how much someone else wants to do. If someone wants to turn this into a woodshop some day, they’ll have all of the electrical they’ll need.”
One of his big pieces of advice is read everything carefully, and then have someone else read your plans to double-check you.
“I made one really big mistake in the way I was reading the blueprints, which is embarrassing because my dad was an architect,” Sami recalled. “I misread the height of the shed and my initial reading was off by a foot.”
Sami had to hire an installation crew to move the shed after Modern-Shed’s partners had already installed it.
“It was through no fault of Modern-Shed,” he says. “I had the flexibility to do it, but it was an additional cost.”
Now, his family and loved ones all enjoy the shed.
“My daughter, basically the day I got the sofa chair, she spent the night in the chair,” he says. “She has since told me that after 5 p.m., it is not an office, it’s a chill and homework space.”