How to turn your backyard into a home office

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If you're lucky enough to have a backyard in New York City, it may be time to—say it with us now—put a shed in it! Homeowners in other cities have apparently been hopping on the "shedquarters" trend, in which you build a tiny outdoor space in your yard to use as an office, general hideout, pseudo-treehouse or even a pub. And we see no reason why this can't make its way to NYC (though it's up to you if you actually want to call it "shedquarters").

We checked with the city's Department of Buildings, and it is indeed legal to build a shed of up to 120 square feet in your yard without adding any extra foundations or filing any paperwork. (Lest you think this is an impossibly small amount of space, may we remind you of that 90 square foot studio in the West Village.) Anything larger, and you'll need to hire an architect and secure an Alteration Type III permit, which covers "construction equipment, condo subdivisions,  and some temporary structures."

There are number of companies that build and manufacture these kinds of standalone microstructures — Apartment Therapy has a handy list — generally for a minimum cost of $6,000. Even if you don't need a home office, there are plenty of other ways to make this kind of space work for you: We've seen a shed turned into an adorable artist's studio on a tour of historic Bed-Stuy homes, and if you get a comfy bed in there, you could always go the Airbnb route (Or, if you're feeling more altruistic allow friends to say there for free. Hey, it'll free up your couch, afterall.)

This is New York, after all, so we'd bet good money that it's only a matter of time until some enterprising brownstone owner lists one of these as a $2,500/month rental.

***This post was first published on April 10, 2015.


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