Get electrified: Learn more about adding electricity and plumbing to your shed

When planning for your Modern-Shed, there are some key things to keep in mind when it comes to adding electricity and plumbing to your shed.

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Electricity:

A Modern-Shed with an electrical framing package includes:

  • All wall studs pre-drilled for “roping” (running the electrical wiring throughout the walls), making it easier and faster for your electrician to do their work
  • 1 ceiling chase in the center of the roof panel to allow for the wiring of a ceiling light. We also offer the option of adding more ceiling chases. Our panel system for the ceiling is a fully enclosed and insulated box panel with no access to the interior framing of the roof panel.
  • Wall framing next to a door to allow for a junction box for exterior light

Differences to expect from traditional building:

Due to the panelization process where two panels come together, it is not always possible to put the junction boxes or switches in the exact desired location.

For wall switch and exterior light, due to where panels come together, and the desired location of the door (particularly if in a corner), it may not be possible to put a wall switch or exterior light in the exact desired location, such as right next to the door because of wall framing members required by the building process and panel connection.

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Outlets and switches can’t always be placed in the desired location.

The determining factor for the ceiling chase will be the overall length of the roof, which determines the exact center, left to right. If the center of the building falls in the same place as the location of a ceiling joist, then the electrical chase will need to be on one side or the other of that joist.

Our design professionals work closely with you to help determine locations of these items to obtain as close to desired location as possible. IMG_5268

Plumbing:

If you desire plumbing in your Modern-Shed, there are elements which must be considered due to the Modern-Shed unique floor system.

 

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It is important to work with your plumber and design pro to consider where your water supply and drainpipes will be located

We use a 4X perimeter beam directly below the wall framing that cannot be drilled through. Location of the plumbing elements must be taken into consideration.

 

First, it is important to understand the three elements of plumbing:

1. The supply (incoming water) for hot and cold water from the source feeding the sink, toilet and shower.

2. The drainpipes for the same three fixtures. Keep in mind that water / waste exiting a toilet is considered black water and must be drained into a sewer or septic system.

3. Venting for the items in item 2 above which must be hidden within a wall cavity.

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Typical plumbing would have the supply coming through the floor and into the wall cavity and the drainpipe for a sink would typically go into the wall and through the floor via the wall cavity which would also carry the venting. The toilet and shower would drain through the floor and connect within and between the floor joists.

In a Modern-Shed, the designer and plumber must consider the location of our perimeter floor beam which sits directly below the bottom plate of the wall and is typically a 4x beam which cannot be drilled through.

In order to design the piping routing and locations, there are three design solutions to the scenarios. Considering the drains first, the drains can go directly through our floor system and connect below the floor. Our floor system is fully enclosed and insulated therefore the drainpipes cannot connect within or between the floor joists.

It is of utmost importance that the location of drain holes for shower and toilet be determined before fabrication so we can pre-frame the floor panels to accept the drains, if by chance the design calls for the holes to be directly above a joist or where two panels come together. If this were to be the case, we custom design the floor and provide a schematic for your plumber to locate the exact spot where the toilet and shower drains need to be.

The supply line for the toilet can come through the floor inward of the floor beam since it resides next to the toilet unlike a shower or sink which reside within the wall cavity.DSC_0749

For the sink and shower supply lines, there are three solutions:

1. The full height of the wall where the plumbing wants to go can be made thicker with either 2×6 or 2×8 studs to accommodate the space required to drill through the bottom plate of the wall and not hit the perimeter beam.

2. The wall can be thicker only part way up from the floor to accommodate the supply line and vents. This would create a handy “shelf” behind the sink and toilet.

3. Normally there will need to be an interior wall with a door for the bathroom and the supply lines and venting can reside in that wall, depending on the door location, particularly if the door is a pocket door. A barn style door could be used if necessary.

It will be important to familiarize yourself with local building codes by working with your local plumber and then working with your Modern-Shed design professional to achieve the best design possible.

Saving energy: A Modern-Shed testimony

A few years back, CBS Early News did a segment with Bill Nye the Science Guy about how white rooftops could combat global warming — the idea being that darker rooftops retain heat and cause people to use more of their air conditioning.

A Modern-Shed customer recently brought this to our attention, and it got us thinking about all the ways a Modern-Shed could be made to be energy-efficient.

az150925-0552Our general manager, Tim, shares his own experience about how he heats and cools his own Modern-Shed:

I have a direct south and west exposure which brings in tons of natural light. Along with the upper clearstory transom glass, I also have a 6-foot sliding glass door and an awning window.

The Ply Gem window and door have excellent energy values and my shed has walls with R-21 insulation, a roof with rigid foam R-38 and a floor system with R-21. I use a small radiant heater in the winter to keep my office toasty warm. Set on the first of three levels at 68 or 69 degrees is all it needs due to the excellent insulation.

In the summer, I have a stand-alone AC unit that vents through the awning window very easily and I have curtains to block out the late afternoon sun, but then I can’t see out. I remembered from years ago when I sold sunrooms that glass is better shaded from the exterior before the sun/heat gets to the glass. So, I put an exterior roll up shade on the large window.image006

If you can stop or filter the sun’s heat before it gets to the insulated glass, the LowE/Argon glass doesn’t have to work so hard and is much more efficient. I ordered a roll down shade screen from Amazon, and with it, I really don’t even need the air conditioning, which I prefer, and can then use the lower awning portion the window to cool in the morning and evening hours.

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Looking to move? Bring your Modern-Shed!

Often at Modern-Shed, our design professionals encounter customers who are not quite ready to commit to purchasing a shed, in part because they’re afraid of the permanency of the shed.

Here’s where we remind folks that while our sheds are not DIY kits, per se, they can be taken apart and moved to a new location, should you decide to move.

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Modern-Sheds can be taken apart and moved, should you decide to buy a new house.

“It’s something I think our customers don’t even think about until I bring it up,” said design pro Jeff Bergerson. “The question of moving strikes fear: there’s the expense, the hassle of moving, of pulling kids out of school districts. It’s reassuring to them to know that if they do have to move, they can disassemble their shed, put it in a trailer and put it all back together again.”

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Adding on vs Buying big vs Modern-Shed

Here at Modern-Shed, our design professionals often meet customers who are fed up with their living situation.
When a family needs more space, sometimes the first thing they’ll consider is adding onto their home or buying a new, bigger house with an additional bedroom.
Once they embark down those paths, however, they soon realize how costly those options are.
“Whether they’ve gone to an architect or they’ve actually hired a contractor and bid a job, or they’ve researched online, they realize it’s more complex than they thought,” said Modern-Shed design pro Jeff Bergerson. “That’s when they start to open their minds to other options.”
Building a detached studio such as a Modern-Shed for a home office or guest room living space is far less expensive than adding onto your home or buying a bigger house.
For the proof, all you need is to look at the numbers.
10x18 guestroom_2The average cost to build an additional room runs anywhere from $80 to $200 per square feet, according to Home Advisor, but higher (close to $400) in competitive markets like Seattle.
For an 80-square-foot room, that comes out to upwards of $32,000 for a home addition, with factors such as size, architectural services, support beams, electrical wiring and more influencing the cost.
More realistically, however, homeowners planning a home addition are more likely to spend more than $200,000 on their remodel in areas like Seattle, San Francisco and southern California.
“The customers I talk to who have already gone through getting quotes, these people are already tired, they’re already discouraged, and they’ve spent thousands of dollars just to get drawings and bids only to find out, ‘Hey, it’s going to cost $80,000 when here I thought it was going to be $20,000,” Jeff notes. “ And it’s going to take over a year. That’s when they say that’s not close to what they expected, so they look for new ideas.”
Additionally, building an addition might require updating the rest of your house to current standards, which can be like “opening a can of worms,” Jeff says.
“If you build a detached studio, no one’s looking at the rest of your house,” he says.
For folks not interested in turning their home into a construction zone, they might be tempted to just up and move. However, the costs to upgrade to a new home are even more alarming.
In Los Angeles, the median price of a three-bedroom home that was actively listed in February 2019 was $730,000, but the median price of a four-bedroom home was $979,000, for a difference of $249,000, according to figures obtained on the real estate listing site Redfin.
In Portland, the price difference between a three-bedroom and four-bedroom home came out to $180,000, and in Seattle, the difference was even more striking: home buyers would have to shell out an average of $748,000 more for a four-bedroom home compared to a three-bedroom home.
“The cost to upgrade the size of a house is astronomical,” Jeff says. “It’s far more than they expect, especially if they’re talking about increasing bedrooms.”
Factor in the cost and stress of moving, potentially pulling your children out of their school district, leaving a neighborhood you love, and messing with your mortgage interest rate, and many of our customers come to terms with the fact that they don’t want to move.
Modern-Sheds start at a base price of around $13,000, depending on the size of the shed, and not including, taxes, delivery and installation.
“So many people want to stay where they are and they just need to find another solution and that’s how they’re discovering us,” Jeff says. “You could have a new shed four weeks from the time of your order.”

Let’s Get Grounded: A Look at Pin Pier

At Modern-Shed, we’re often asked: What needs to be done if a site needs to be leveled before placing a Modern-Shed on it?

 

This is a great question and one that comes up often in hilly areas like Seattle or the San Francisco Bay Area, where many of our customers reside – for these customers, building a retaining wall can get expensive and could require pricey geotech engineering and design work.

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The work-from-home solution

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PORTLAND — When you’re two executives working in high-powered fields, finding space to work is critical.

It becomes even more so when you have two young children at home.

Sara and Greg both work from their home in Portland, though now Sara travels 80 percent of the time for her job.

Before finding Modern-Shed, they both juggled working from home with working outside the home in various offices.

“We needed an extra work space in our home because even though we had offices and were working within other offices, we’d occasionally be working in our home,” Sara says. “It became more of a heavy need to work at home since we have two small children. But working in your house is not realistic when the kids get home at 3 p.m.” Continue reading

The ideal commute

PORTLAND — Within the first year that Steve started his consulting business, he knew he needed to find a space to work outside of his house.

Steve and his wife, Michelle, and two daughters live in a three-bedroom Portland home built in 1912.

Steve works in accessory and product design, with his hands on everything from watches and eyewear to other wearable technologies for brands like Nike and Timex, while Michelle designs and creates handbags and clothing. 

“I was working in our finished basement, which is a nice basement, but there was a lack of light and still, it’s in the basement and it’s in the house,” Steve recalls. “I started looking at renting spaces or doing a prefab build. My goal was to get a modular system I could build myself.”IMG_4034 Continue reading