• Last fall we were approached by a woman who was interested in building a cottage in her son's back yard in St. Petersburg. We looked through the local zoning regulations and found that the property allowed for Accessory Living Units (ALUs), but not Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The difference between the two in St. Petersburg zoning was that she could build a cottage, but would not be allowed to have a full kitchen with an oven. Other areas of St. Petersburg, mostly in the historic neighborhoods closer to downtown, do allow full cottages with full kitchens (ADUs). When considering a secondary dwelling behind an existing home (carriage house, in law suite, granny pod, guest cottage, rental cottage, etc.), always check local zoning regulations first as it will tell you if you can build an accessory dwelling unit, if it can have a kitchen, where it can placed (setbacks), and if there are any size limitations. Most communities have their zoning regulations available online at: https://library.municode.com/fl and offer a myriad of information on what can be built where. For this project, we adapted our 14'x16' Starlet Cottage plan for our customer's use, turning the kitchenette area into a walk-in closet and adding a roof extension over the front door to create a porch seating area. The end result is a comfortable and nicely appointed cottage. See details here, although the closet and bath ultimately were reversed: Starlet Cottage Plan In addition to meeting the zoning requirements, the cottage meets all Florida Building Codes and is legal for full time living. Historic Shed now offer the Starlet Cottage as a shell-only package with all required architectural plans: https://historicshed.com/cottage-packages/

  • This is the slideshow created for a talk I did at the 2017 Historic Homes Workshop in Tampa. The subject was designing a modern kitchen for historic homes, with an emphasis on 1920s era inspired kitchens as that is the time period reflected in many Florida neighborhoods. The slideshow is missing my witty commentary, but the images should still be interesting.

  • Small guest cottage

    We are often asked if we can provide just a building shell that the owner can then finish out on their own. The answer is, of course, "Yes!" We don't often get to see the end results, but one of our historic homeowner customers recently sent us some photos showing how wonderful his new space is.

  • Several years ago I was contacted by a woman who was in the process of buying a house in the historic Gillespie Park neighborhood in Sarasota. The 1920s house came with a detached garage in not-so-great shape, placed awkwardly in the middle of the yard and she wanted to replace it. Then she had a few big life changes, including moving out of the country, and the plans for the garage were put on hold. When she called back last year, she no longer wanted to just replace the garage. Instead, since the main house was being used as a vacation rental, they wanted to add a garage apartment that could also be rented out. Historic Shed™ designed a two-story, two car garage apartment with details that complemented the main house with a one bedroom, one bath layout. We also included a large porch for a private sitting area for visitors, accessed by an exterior stair. The cottage is available for rent at: https://www.vrbo.com/811457 So far, it has some rave reviews.    

  • I got a little over-excited about the 2016 Florida Tiny House Festival and applied to speak on two topics. Surprisingly, both were accepted, leading me to a little extra stress as I prepared for our weekend in Elkton, FL. I both love and hate speaking in front of groups, as I imagine a lot of people feel. Saturday afternoon I was scheduled to speak on Tiny Houses & Historic Districts, but unfortunately the location for my talk wasn't conducive to a Power Point presentation. After a little confusion, speaker Brian Kennedy and I were able to switch locations and we progressed just fine. Below is the presentation that I used for the talk. You can also see the presentation for my Codes & Tiny Houses talk on Sunday morning. Feel free to email or comment below with any questions.

  • I was privileged to be able to speak at the 2016 Florida Tiny House Festival this past weekend near St. Augustine, FL. The Festival turned out to be much larger than anticipated, and every bit as good as promised. I spoke twice; once on Tiny Homes and Historic Districts, and then again on Sunday about Codes and Tiny Houses. Both talks seemed well received (no booing, no walk outs) and several people asked for my presentation notes on Codes when I was done. Due to that request, here is the Power Point I had prepared for the Zoning and Building Code presentation, albeit without my witty commentary and expansion on some of the outline items. The focus of the presentation was Tiny Houses on Foundations, but many of the items are also applicable to building a THOW. I am available to speak on this topic to any groups that might be interested in Florida.

  • Over the last few months, Historic Shed has been slowly adding products that complement our outbuildings in a new online store. Some of the products we have been using for quite some time on our buildings, like Abbey Trading's Heavy Duty Hinges, and others we have discovered through searches for our customers. I will be posting info about some of the other products in future posts, but today I want to write about something we are really excited to offer: a DIY Mini-Split HVAC system. When we design home offices, artists studios and cottages for customers, we are always asked about AC systems. In the past, we typically told them that a window/wall unit AC would be adequate to cool the space although they can be noisy and not always very energy efficient. Units in the $600-800 range are often large enough for many of the finished interior type buildings, but require that a hole be cut in the building wall or they take up precious window space. The other option we would mention is a ductless HVAC system, also know as a Mini-Split. The units are quieter, more efficient, and have a smaller, sleeker design that have minimal wall penetration; however, the price tag quoted was typically $3,000 or more from HVAC contractors for the unit plus installation. In spite of the cost, many of our customers opted for this system. Mini-Split systems consist of two main parts: a condenser unit that is located outside and an evaporator unit that mounts on the wall inside the building. The units do not require any ductwork and are either hardwired or plugged into a standard 120 outlet. Some systems can be used in multiple rooms, with one condenser serving up to 4 evaporator units, known as a multi-zone system. More typically, they serve a single open space, suited for many of our Historic Shed designs. About 6 months ago, we chanced upon a website touting a Mini-Split HVAC system by ClimateRight that claimed that anyone could install it. Curious, we read further and learned that the difference was that the system line-set came pre-charged and had an easy connection system that snaps right into the compressor. Since charging the system and making the condenser/ evaporator connection is the part of the installation that requires an HVAC technician, we were intrigued. Adding to the desirability was a low price of only $899 for the unit. Adding to the entertainment value, the company also makes AC units for doghouses. As it happens, we have a downstairs room in our house that is not connected to the main central AC system. We installed a wall unit AC about 8 years ago that was increasingly noisy, left the room feeling damp, had mildew growing in the filter and generally was just not up to the task of cooling the room anymore. We decided that the ClimateRight Mini-Split AC was perfect for a trial installation, although the room is a little bit larger volume (due to high ceilings) than the system is recommended for. After ordering, the unit sat in the box for a week or so before I got a call from Craig saying that he and Max, our 15 year old son, were installing the AC. I asked Max to take photos as they went since I wanted to document the process, but to no avail. This is what I came home to and the subsequent process: The whole family gathered around when we first turned the AC unit on and oohed and aahed. It is operated by a remote control and it cycled up just the way it was supposed to. It was worlds quieter than the wall unit and pretty soon we noticed that the room was much drier than it had been when the other unit was on. It's now been up for a couple of months and we leave it on all the time as it has a thermostat that . We have absolutely no problems with the unit, although we have not had to try the heat yet. The unit fan does stay on all the time, but since it is pretty quiet, it is actually less noticeable than if it cycled on and off. Since the ClimateRight Mini-Split DIY AC has passed our test for both installation ease and function, we now are pleased to offer it and 3 portable HVAC units also by ClimateRight that are suited to our Historic Shed projects. The first customer that purchased one and installed it themselves had this to say: "We installed it! Super easy. Idiot proof really and it works great!!! Thank you :) " Things to know: The ClimateRight Mini-Split system is designed for between 150 to 550 square feet (up to 4,000 cubic feet maximum). The system will automatically adjust to the requirements of your space size. It is a single zone system, so if you have multiple rooms that need to be cooled, it may not be right for you The system is portable, meaning you can disconnect it and reinstall it elsewhere if need be. 1200 BTU Cooling/ 14000 BTU Heating, 15 SEER Good for Home Offices, Studios, Cabins and Cottages, Tiny Houses or rooms where ductwork can't be installed easily There is FREE SHIPPING on any orders right now Historic Shed offers installation of any of the HVAC units we sell for any of our buildings if you aren't feeling very DIYish More information and specifications on the units can be found at: https://historicshed.com/store-4/hvac/ Some examples of Mini-Split AC units that have been installed in Historic Shed projects (various brands):  

  • Presentation given at the 2016 Historic Homes Workshop in Tampa and the Lakeland Historic Home Workshop. The presentation touched on the history of outbuildings in historic neighborhoods, preserving existing outbuildings, and designing new compatible accessory buildings, including accessory dwelling units (aka Tiny Homes). Outbuildings for Historic Homes from Historic Shed