So many emotions come with this post, from sadness to joy to relief and everything in between. Today was a monumental day. We sold the shop that Historic Shed has worked out of for the past 15 years. With this comes a lot of changes all around.
The last six months or so have been really hard on us. We take great pride in providing a well-designed and well-built product, but material shortages were really getting to be a problem. The garage doors we prefer were taking 6 months to come in, LVLs were impossible to get, the wall sheathing we used was down to 2 sheets available at one store with no idea of when they would get more in, and the list went on. That meant that every time we sent out a quote, we felt really unsure of whether we would be able to deliver what we promised, and whether we were pricing things right since we often had a back log of 4 months or more. So, we stopped sending out quotes. We had enough on the books to keep us going for a while, and it took the pressure off trying to foretell the future, deciding to wait things out for a bit. However, the slower pace that we could sustain with limited materials meant that we couldn't afford to keep all our guys working full time, so we had to downsize what had been a rather wonderful crew.
Construction is a hard field to be in during the best of times, but the increased challenges had made it even harder. I still loved to design for new customers, but getting permits seemed to be getting more difficult and took longer. Craig spent hours seeking materials I had specified, but which were not available or had jumped up in price. Then we had to explain to customers that we had to change how things would be built and submit changes to the building department for review, adding further delays. To top it off, Craig had to strap his tool belt on more frequently to replace our missing workers, while also renovating our historic home. We found we were working twice as much for less money.
In short, the last bit of fun was gone for us.
So, we looked at our options. One was to expand and build our units as part of the manufactured building program so we could build less customized, but more units that would be delivered whole to reduce costs and permitting and inspection time. Unfortunately, our 5,000 sf shop space was just not big enough and the cost to expand was cost prohibitive in a time when we still weren't sure we could get the materials we would need. It would also be a huge change to the all-custom niche product line that we were known for.
We considered subletting our shop in part or whole, or finding an easier to build and ship product (Craig had some great custom fence picket ideas), but then we looked at the big picture of what we really wanted to do. We'd bought a couple of residential lots in Brooksville previously and then took a big leap buying a 4-acre parcel of land downtown earlier this year. What we really wanted to do was build traditional homes on these lots using the same design concepts that made our sheds and other outbuildings so popular. We decided that selling the shop would allow us to focus on this goal, so that it what we did.
So, what does this mean for Historic Shed? I think it is easiest to say that the building component of Historic Shed is on extended hiatus now that we don't have a place to build our units in. I don't know if we will resurrect it or pass it on to another builder when things stabilize. The design portion of Historic Shed will continue to be promoted through online sales at Liberty House Plans, as well as taking on custom design drawings occasionally. We also have some ideas for how to use our Historic Shed brand in some alternative ways, so do check back here periodically. And we are open to working with anyone who might want to license our designs for projects or for their own customers (franchise, anyone?).
It's been a phenomenal ride, having launched Historic Shed way back in 2008 at our 1212 Ponce de Leon address. We've met so many incredible people along the way, many who have become fast friends. We are very excited for this next chapter in our professional lives, but also nostalgic. Our kids have grown up hanging around the shop, driving laps in go-carts, occasionally building their own projects, and even grabbing hammers and paintbrushes to build sheds during the early years. We've had puppies and kittens and fallen trees and any number of crises along the way. There has been tears and drama and laughter and stories galore. And we ended our last day with both kids (not so kidlike anymore) helping to load trusses and walls for our few remaining jobs.
Thanks so much for being a part of what I will refer to as "Phase I" of Historic Shed!
AARP created a nice guide to ADUs earlier this year with some case study write-ups. They have followed up with some full length stories of the ADUs featured, including a nice interview with Bertha who had a Starlet built in St. Petersburg by Historic Shed. https://accessorydwellings.org/2019/12/15/berthas-adu-a-tiny-cottage-in-my-sons-backyard/
Historic Shed was pleased to be featured in Shed Builder magazine. Read it here: https://shedbuildermag.com/historic-sheds/
Historic Shed was honored to receive a Community Award at the historic Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in St. Petersburg from LocalShops1. https://thegabber.com/localshops1-honors-long-standing-businesses/
We were honored to have a project by Historic Shed included in this informational publication put together by AARP on ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units): https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/livable-documents/documents-2019/ADU-guide-web-singles-071619.pdf
More than a few years ago (2011 to be exact), I wrote a post about historic detached carports and included some designs of our own that we thought would be fun to build and useful in a variety of situations. Like many of my random design exercises, none of the sketches were built, until now. And I must say that it looks even better in real life than in my head.
A customer in the oldest city in the US, St. Augustine contacted us and was interested in replacing a rather rickety open garage behind her new-to-her 1920s bungalow. We started with some garage designs, but didn't find the right solution until we dusted off the carport/ shed sketches and found something that fit both the site and the customer's needs.
We are now offering plans for the Carport Shed for sale online for the DIYer or those not located in Florida: Carport Shed Construction Plans
Historic Shed recently was able to put its mark on our own Hernando County by building a new 8'x8' parking attendant shed for the Pine Island Beach Park. While Hernando County is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, there are few public beaches, with Pine Island Park offering the only sandy Gulf beach. Therefore our little shack will be seen by many residents and visitors to Hernando County, particularly as Florida winter weather attracts northerners in the next couple of months. The island history is important in Hernando County history and some interesting background on the island and surrounding area can be read here in the Hernando Sun.
The small shed was placed on a concrete slab and the interior will be finished out by the county. The layout allows the parking attendant to take in the parking fee, while enjoying cool air from a ClimateRight 5000 BTU unit. The vibrant colors were chosen by County staff, who clearly had a really good time making their choices. The colors will compliment a new fence and playground equipment that are part of the overall park upgrades.
We design a lot of custom sheds that complement historic bungalows, but most are commonly covered with lap or novelty siding. Recently we got a chance to built a slightly differently clad shed for a unique 1940s bungalow in New Port Richey. The house, and an existing garage on the lot are both covered completely in wood shingles, so we designed the new shed accordingly.
We've been advertisers in Hyde Park Living and Palma Ceia Living magazines (really nice full-sized glossy magazines) since they were first published a few years ago, as these are two of our favorite south Tampa neighborhoods. When I mentioned a recent project to the magazine director, Bradley Hassen, she very nicely offered to do a feature article in the magazines. The project highlighted is a two-story garage-apartment recently built in the Historic Hyde Park neighborhood. The article appears in the February issue of Hyde Park Living and will also be in the March issue of Palma Ceia Living. The magazines are mailed to residents of each neighborhood. Click on the link below to see the article in better detail.
Tampa Bay Times writer Logan Neill wrote a lovely feature article on Historic Shed that ran in Sunday's paper. We'd spoken to Mr. Neill several times over the past year as a local non-profit struggled to save the historic Chinsegut Hill Manor House. Mr. Neill, a Brooksville resident, has been one of the biggest advocates of saving the antebellum house and our paths crossed as we became involved in the project.
Here's the article he wrote about Historic Shed: