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

Portland changes rules on dwelling units

The City of Portland, Ore., made some big changes this year that went into effect Aug. 1.

To combat the city’s affordable housing crisis, city council members rescinded the city’s longstanding waiver of its system development charges for folks building accessory dwelling units and renting them out as short-term rentals.

For builders who want to build an ADU as a long-term rental, their fees will be waived permanently. Other builders will have to revisit the scope of their project.

What does this mean in plain English?

If you’re building an attached or detached dwelling adjacent to your home (think: tiny house, mother-in-law unit, backyard cottage), you won’t be able to rent it out on Airbnb, VRBO or any number of other short-term vacation rental sites (or not through a site) without paying the city’s very high system development charge — between $12-19K!

If you want to take advantage of the waiver and save $12,000, your dwelling must be rented out as a long-term rental for 10 years.

If the city finds out you’ve been using your dwelling to make extra cash renting it out short-term to tourists, they’ll charge you 150 percent of the original SDC waived.

This all only applies to new dwellings permitted after July 31.

DSC_0784While we have many Portland customers who previously took advantage of the SDC waiver (and who are not affected by this change since they’re not new builds), ultimately, we feel as though this could be a good thing for Portland’s tight housing market.

“Since Portland has more people than housing, rental rates have gone way up with the shortage,” Modern-Shed general manager Tim Vack noted. “If all residents could put a rental unit in their backyard that would alleviate the market. It’d be a win-win.”