• I have a confession to make: I can’t draw. At least I can’t draw architecture by hand. I can’t sketch out lovely elevations and I certainly can’t sketch perspectives from my head like real architects. I never fully developed the skill in architecture school, then went on to grad school where I studied preservation. At that point, and for most of my career after, I didn’t need to hand draw designs in order to work on historic buildings; I had to measure what was existing, enter it into CAD, then work on space planning from there. I’ve gotten good at it, and good at adding architectural details that have gone missing, all in hard lined 2-D CAD. Similarly, I have had no problem designing directly in CAD for our sheds, garage and cottages since the footprint is limited by our build/ delivery constraints and I can space plan in plan much in the way I worked on historic home remodels prior to starting Historic Shed. And boxes aren't all that hard to visualize. That said, I have always looked wistfully at nicely rendered drawings in 3-D, hand sketched or drawn in computer modeling programs. I, however, have always drawn/designed in 2-D AutoCad which doesn’t allow you to create those nice images (CAD programs were fairly new when I attended school in the late 80s, early 90s). I am very good at AutoCad (I even taught it at a tech college years ago) and can create good construction drawings in fairly quick time, but AutoCad is limited to 2-D and can be hard for people to visualize when you are showing them how their cottage will be laid out. I’ve been struggling with this for years. I pride myself on being pretty computer literate (although I will say I’ve gotten lazy since I have a teenage son that I can turn to for IT) so have spent a lot of time exploring various options to create 3-D renderings, convinced I can learn a new system. I tried SketchUp in the early years, and then again at various intervals, but found it didn’t work with my CAD-trained brain. I tried several other programs, all with similar results: tried them for a couple of days, got frustrated, and then went back to my comfort zone pumping out AutoCad drawings. One of these trials was Revit, which I had bought as part of a package deal with my last AutoCad update (2015). I tried it at the time, then let it sit on my computer unused for several years. About four months ago I decided that I was going to put the time and effort in and learn Revit once and for all. So I watched training videos and I followed step by step hands-on training every evening for months. In the end, I could draw a basic building, but found it difficult to draw certain items that are standard to our Historic Shed designs, such as exposed rafter tails. When, after months of seriously trying, I found my 3-D images constrained by the computer program and the steep uphill learning curve, I starting looking around again. This time I re-stumbled upon SoftPlan, a residential design program that I had purchased years before, but which wasn’t really right for the work I had been involved in at the time (a project that involved relocating and renovating 33 historic buildings). Now that I was working on new construction residential projects 90% of the time, it seemed worth trying out again. I downloaded the trial, starting playing around and found that it didn’t have the issues I had run into before with other programs. So I bought the online subscription upgrade. I have now been at it most evenings for about a month, received some free training from the company, and am feeling very confident that I will soon be turning out 3-D drawings, along with construction drawings, that will work for us. At some point, I may find it's not everything I need, but for now, I am very pleased at how quickly I have been learning it and by the powerful built in framing and materials take off tools. Here are some of my attempts at drawing our Ponce model, one of my favorite floor plans. They still have a ways to go, but I definitely see potential! Look for some new designs in full 3-D soon. Ponce model floor plan, 3-D model, and interior

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Like our fellow Florida residents, we have been extra busy and anxious regarding Hurricane Irma for the past couple of weeks. With images from Hurricane Harvey's impacts in Texas fresh in our minds, and constant news of the large size and tremendous wind speed of Irma, we were glued to the weather forecasts showing it heading up the east coast, or the middle of the state, or to our Gulf coast side, and being told it was going to impact us no matter where it hit Florida. The only questions in our minds were whether we expected three or twelve shingles to remain on our roof, and ankle deep or thigh deep flooding. Along with constantly checking the forecast, first there was prepping our existing jobs for the impending storm (we currently have a large shingle-sided shed installation, a garage apartment and a historic renovation in Brooksville going on), then cleaning up our shop and boarding our home, which is located within a flood zone and ended up under mandatory evacuation orders, which we heeded. The Historic Shed shop turned into too big of a project to prepare the way we'd like for the storm which has been a big lesson for us for future threats. We've nearly outgrown the shop building we've been in since 2007 and so we've had to store materials and equipment outside the main metal building. We have been building entire sheds outside under the front covered area and space is at a premium. Clean up pre-storm required removing a lot of cut-offs from siding to roof panels - things can really accumulate when you don't stay on top of it - and trying to fit all the things that had moved outside the building back inside. Since school was cancelled for hurricane days, we even made our kids help get things ready. We made great progress, but weren't as confident as we would have liked prior to the storm's arrival that things would say put in the projected high winds. Luckily, Hurricane Irma dropped to a Category 2 or even a 1 by the time it reached us here in Brooksville and we suffered no serious damage at our location and no items blew away (however, the City of Brooksville had lots of downed trees). The biggest hurdle has been not having any electricity at the shop since the storm, which makes it impossible to get much done in this age of power tools and internet communication, but it has also given us time to do necessary clean-up at the shop and at home. I think people with no AC and water in their homes are a bit more important than our shop anyway, so we have no problem being patient. The display shed we keep out in front of the shop came through with flying colors and we have heard from several of our customers who have let us know that their sheds, garages, and cottages had no damage as well. We know that at least three cottages were occupied throughout the storm, each located in diverse areas of the state. The one exception was from an owner whose shed we installed just this summer on Anna Maria Island who sent a photo of a 2" wide stick that penetrated his roof. It's seeing things like this that make you realize the force of the winds during the storm. We very much hope that each and every one of you impacted by the storm are safe and have had minimal damage. And that you have recovered from the anxiety as well.

  • 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.

  • 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.    

  • One of the perks of being in the preservation business is seeing all sorts of great historic sites that aren't always available to the public. When we worked primarily as historic preservation consultants under our Preservation Resource, Inc. mantle, we got to crawl in attics and private rooms of house museums, disused hotels, and even airplane hangers. Now, as we focus on making outbuildings for historic neighborhoods, we get to see private homes that aren't open to the public (I never say no when invited inside for a moment). One of the recent highlights was seeing a high-style Craftsman style bungalow in the Old Northeast neighborhood in St. Petersburg that was under rehabilitation. Known as the Sargent House, 806 18th Avenue NE was recently designated as a historic landmark by its newest owners, Sharon Winters and Kendall Reid. Originally built in 1923 by LeRoy and Marjorie Sargent, the house is significant for its architecture as a rare example of higher-style Craftsman design and construction in the airplane bungalow type. (See the full report at: http://www.stpete.org/committee%20packets/Community%20Planning%20and%20Preservation%20Commission/2016-04-12%20Reports.pdf). A local landmark designation recognizes structures or places that have historic value or that exemplify cultural, economic, or social value to the city, state, or nation. The benefits of this designation include neighborhood stabilization, increased heritage tourism through the maintenance of our historic character, relief from some of the requirements of the Florida Building Code, and an ad valorem tax exemption. Historic Shed was hired to design and build a small storage shed to be placed behind the house. The simple shed incorporated elements from the house such as the gable detailing, roof pitch, and outrigger design.