Opening Up Possibilities

BAY AREA – When the pandemic hit, Peter and Amelia, with their growing family, found that life in their small San Francisco apartment was no longer sustainable. 

The couple had a 4-year-old and a brand new 4-month-old baby at home by the time March 2020 came around. Working from home helping hospitals prepare for the pandemic (Peter) and as a therapist (Amelia) became extremely difficult.

“After about three months, we hit a wall and suddenly went from, ‘We love this place; we’re never moving,’ to ‘We need more space; it’s an emergency,'” Peter said. “What we loved most about where we lived was the neighborhood and being able to walk everywhere. But with the shelter-in-place, those benefits disappeared almost overnight.”

The family needed a bigger place, but finding all that they were looking for was a challenge in the Bay Area – between bedrooms, home offices, and guest space for Amelia’s family to visit, they needed five private spaces.

 Modern-Shed proved to be a perfect solution.

“I don’t think I’d ever really seen a shed like this, but we were just trying to consider all options,” Peter said. “One question we had was, ‘What if I built an office in the backyard?’ Thirty minutes on Google and we learned that this was possible.”

In a short span of time, the couple found a rental, moved in, sold their apartment, bought a home, and moved again. The home that they purchased in Oakland had a patio in the backyard that proved the perfect spot for a Modern-Shed. 

“Getting everything we dreamed of in a house in a location we love was only possible because building a shed made it possible,” Peter said. “Once we were under contract on the house, the planning kicked into high gear.”

Peter and Amelia had specific measurements to work with due to the space constraints of where the shed would fit in the backyard. They were able to take six inches off one of the standard dimensions for a custom 7.5′ by 12′ Modern-Shed home office.

The pergola and outdoor furniture on the patio came with the house when they purchased it and blends in seamlessly with the Modern-Shed.

Modern-Shed installation started Dec. 2 and finished Dec. 4. In total, work on the shed –  the couple hired another contractor for the interior finish work and painting –  was done by Dec. 13. 

Peter found Modern-Shed design professional Jeff Bergerson extremely helpful in walking him through the process of purchasing a Modern-Shed from start to finish.

“I had never built a building before, so it was a huge benefit to have an expert like Jeff talk me through the process and give feedback on the design,” he said. “At one point, I was debating window placement and I asked Jeff’s opinion. He told me that most people overdo it on the windows and don’t realize how much they want wall space. That sort of insight was invaluable and helped me land on a design that fit my needs perfectly.”

Peter would advise anyone looking at purchasing a Modern-Shed to plan out their furniture before they build, down to the size of the couch and the placement of electronics. 

Having a detailed plan ahead of time helped Peter decide on the exact dimensions of the walls and where to place the outlets right where he knew he would want them. 

He also advises people to consider and understand the sequence of steps involved, including steps beyond the Modern-Shed installation.

“Understanding what steps have to happen in what order, so that you can coordinate the various contractors, is very helpful,” he said. 

Peter’s shed has a concrete foundation, as opposed to sitting on piers, a decision that was switched partway through the process. 

“The pros and cons of concrete versus piers were something I didn’t really understand early on, but I am glad that we switched because it was the right decision given our location and other constraints,” he said. “That’s one decision I would recommend thinking through carefully.”

The family is now fully settled after a transition-filled year of welcoming a new baby, weathering the pandemic, and the increased workload Peter had as a consequence, buying a home, building a Modern-Shed, and moving in.

“Though we expected to stay in our old apartment for a very long time, the pandemic made moving not only necessary but urgent,” Peter reflected. “We were optimizing for a lot of things. The ability to build a shed quite literally put our dream home within reach.”

How to Work From Home #WFH – Being Disciplined 

By Tim Vack, Modern-Shed General Manager 

If you’re just joining us, check out our previous posts about being mentally prepared, physically prepared and operationally prepared for Working From Home. In this post, we’ll talk more about getting the work done amid distractions.  

The Key Word: Discipline

As I mentioned in earlier posts, staying focused on work can be challenging while working from home. The inclination to go to the fridge, do laundry or other chores are “in your face” when you are at home unless you have a completely separated space like a Modern-Shed. If you are in the dining room or down the hall, it is all too tempting to throw a load of laundry in or get a snack from the fridge. Here are some ideas to help keep those distractions under control. 

  • Avoid the kitchen and use it as you might a “break room” at your old workplace. Keep a small fridge in your workspace to keep snacks and beverages in. Not that taking a break is a bad thing– it isn’t — but not if it is a several times during the day. 
  • Schedule times during the day for a specific “break” to see your kids, talk to your partner, take a short walk or exercise. 
  • Create rules in the home regarding interruptions by loved ones. Talk with loved ones about urgent, critical, important, or can it wait until after work hours? interruptions 94787167_3263128460397862_8306762824034549760_o
  • Dress for work if it helps you stay focused and makes you feel like you are “at work”. 
  • If you feel compelled to do something that could pull you away from work, such as laundry, set a timer on your phone beforehand for 5-10 min in case you go off on a tangent. 
  • Set your alarm: Some folks can be on a flexible schedule but most need to be at work certain times of the day. Be careful not to run into the trap of “… oh, I can get to that later…” or “…I could work tonight instead of today…” I suggest keeping regular work hours and ask the boss what they require from you. If you are recently self-employed, create your work hours, track them, and stick to it. 

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#WFH – Operational Preparedness 

By Tim Vack, Modern-Shed General Manager

Now that we’ve talked about how to be mentally prepared and how to prepare your physical surroundings for working from home, earlier in our series, let’s tackle how to prepare operationally for #WFH.

Setting up your computer and peripherals:

Some of you may have never set up a computer before because you have an IT person at work. My guess is that if that is the case, your IT person will guide you to get things set up at home. Many businesses use a virtual environment or remote desktop that, once set up, your IT department can access.

As stated in an earlier blog post, your desk size and location are of utmost importance. Two of our Modern-Shed employees have monitor arms which allow their external monitors to be positioned any which way that suites them. This is very helpful for numerous reasons, not the least of which is switching it up occasionally to make things more interesting or moving your personal position in relation to sunlight as the seasons change.

 

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Plenty of desk space, plenty of natural light!

My monitors sit on my desk but swivel and go up and down. They are also curved slightly which helps the transition from one to the other and keeps the  screens a better relative distance to my eyes. Typical computer systems include a computer or laptop, keyboard, mouse, monitor(s) and printer. If you use a laptop with a built-in keyboard and trackpad, I highly suggest getting an external ergonomic keyboard and mouse … believe me, it will make your daily computer tasks much easier and help reduce chance of carpel tunnel.

The first purchase after your desk and chair is a high-quality surge suppressing outlet station with enough outlets for your computer, monitor(s), and any other expensive equipment. These units help control power to these items and reduce the chance of damage in the event of a power surge through your home.  Continue reading

How to Work from Home #WFH: Be Physically Prepared  

By Modern-Shed General Manager Tim Vack

Just started or want to start working from home? Check out the first part in our series about Working From Home or read on for tips on preparing your physical surroundings for working from home.

Choosing a physical location at home to set up shop for your “office:”

Typical choices often are:

  • Dining room table
  • Kitchen nook
  • Garage
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Corner of family room
  • Backyard tool shed
  • Spare room
  • Detached home office space, such as our Modern-Sheds
  • Home addition

The chosen space should:

  • Allow you to focus without major distractions
  • Allow for video conferencing and private phone conversations
  • Have access to natural light
  • Have enough space for your desk/chair/cabinets or shelves as necessary
  • Be customizable to create your space
  • Allow you to “leave” work

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    Leave work whenever you want, and make it home in seconds!

Over the 30-plus years that I have worked from home on and off, I have had my office in my bedroom (twice), in a spare room (twice), in the dining room (twice), in an insulated garage, in an RV and in a basement (obviously I have lived in numerous locations during the past 30 years!). Continue reading

How to Work From Home #WFH: Be Mentally Prepared 

By Tim Vack, Modern-Shed General Manager

Now that many of you have become part of the WFH movement, I thought I could help many of you get started and adjust. I have been working from home on and off since becoming an entrepreneur in 1987, with the latest stint being the past 9 years continuously.

I’ll detail in a series of blog posts my tips on #WFH, starting today with being mentally prepared.

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Be Mentally Prepared

Now that you are either faced with working from home by no choice of your own or are desiring to do so and have never done so before, it’s worth it to examine your thoughts on the subject, both positive and negative. Positive thoughts around WFH might include:

  • No more commuting
  • No more parking hassles
  • No more daily make-up or getting ready for work
  • Saving money on child care, parking, gas, eating out

Or the thoughts might be more subjective such as:

  • I get to wear my pajamas to work
  • I don’t have to see that person at work I don’t get along with
  • I can do laundry or other household chores during the week
  • I don’t have to work in a cubicle or pre-decorated office space of someone else’s choosing

Just as there are happy thoughts, there may also be some not-so-happy thoughts, such as:

  • I won’t see my friends from work anymore
  • I won’t get to eat lunch at those great places near work
  • I enjoyed the “me time” during my commute, by reflecting or listening to music, books or the news.

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An educator’s home office

MS1Los Angeles — After years at home raising children, Susie and her husband, Josh, began to think about what it would look like for her to ramp up her career as an educational therapist. 

With a child still in elementary school, however, the couple wanted to figure out how Susie could still be around for their three daughters, but also have the time and space for work appointments that often take place after school, since Susie’s clients are also children.

That’s when Josh brought up prefabrication, a movement he’d been enamored with for two decades.

“I’ve fantasized about prefab sheds and subscribed to Dwell magazine for years,” Josh said. “The whole movement seemed cool; that kind of aesthetic and that kind of approach was appealing and exciting.”
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Shed with a View

IMG_1340BAY AREA — When Thorsten and Danielle were looking for a home two-and-a-half years ago, they saw several houses that had backyard sheds and dwelling units on a number of properties.
This was what first sparked the idea about obtaining a type of shed outdoors. When the couple found their dream home, they tucked the idea away in the back of their minds, and also thought of the perfect spot for a shed in their new yard.
“Our house had just the right spot,” Thorsten recalled. “The previous owners had a dilapidated play structure that we tore down. We had motivation to build something there, especially since I was already working one or two days a week at home and my wife, Danielle, works at home.”
Thorsten works in the technology department of a luxury automobile company, while Danielle works in the couture women’s retail industry.
IMG_1434Thorsten commutes about 50 miles to work three to four days a week, while Danielle works from home a few weeks at a time, then travels throughout the country visiting her brand’s stores a week or more at a time each month.
They both wanted dedicated home office space at home.
“When you work remotely, you like the notion of leaving your living space,” Thorsten said. “It takes 15 seconds to get to my office and then I’m not far if I need to go back to my personal space.”
Thorsten found the process to be smooth and simple with Modern-Shed’s design professionals and installation partners.
In light of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, the home office has proved even more useful.
“Right now, we’re being encouraged to work from home because of the virus situation,” Thorsten said. “I like having a work space that’s not my dining room table.”

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Need to Work From Home?

At Modern-Shed, we love to showcase how our sheds enrich the lives of our customers. Modern-Shed now has a quick turnaround on a specific home office design for customers who need to work at home quickly.

The Modern-Shed Home Office has become an even more attractive option for our customers, since working from home has multiple advantages — including avoiding sick co-workers and having a dedicated work space when you’ve been asked to work at home.

Many of our customers have expressed relief at having a home office in their backyard in light of the COVID-19 epidemic.

And whether it’s creating space for an artistic environment close to home or carving out a home office that is away from the bustle of your actual house, Modern-Sheds are here for YOU — and so are the design professionals who work to create the best shed that fits you and your life.

Below, meet three families whose problems have been solved and desires met by Modern-Shed’s tailored approach, and see how thrilled they are with them!

A Modern Aesthetic

GREATER SAN DIEGO – With young children afoot, it can be hard to get work done in the house.

J, a real estate developer from Las Vegas, spends his summers with his family at their vacation home in the greater San Diego area, but when it comes to work, he needs a quiet place away from the kids.
“Young children, they scream and yell, so there’s no possible way I can be in the house and work,” J said. “I used to rent a small office nearby, and it was pretty inefficient, having to leave the house all the time. With Modern-Shed, I can just step into my backyard and get to work.”
J had seen Modern-Shed in a Dwell advertisement years ago, but he tucked away the thought until he bought a new house in San Diego. He started the process about seven months ago to build a Modern-Shed in his backyard.
“I wanted to put an accessory structure up as an office, and when I had the need, I remembered Modern-Shed,” he said. “This was a way to take a prolonged vacation with my family without having to go to a coworking space or go to an office.”
J encountered a smooth process working with our Modern-Shed design professional, Jeff Bergerson, and moved forward with purchasing a 10′ by 12′ Modern-Shed with electricity and other bells and whistles.
He gravitated toward Modern-Shed because of the mid-century modern aesthetic that matched his new house, which itself has been featured in Dwell.
“The process was very good and it was very professional,” he said. “I would recommend it and I would buy another one. Jeff, once we connected, was super knowledgeable about the product and that was all good.”
Find a design pro near you at www.modern-shed.com.

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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