• Historic Shed offers a unique product that was designed specifically for owners of historic Florida homes (not that we won't build them for owners of newer homes). We fill a special niche that was previously unserved in our area. When we were asked recently to write an article for the Hometalk website on advice to others in the building industry, we decided to focus our article on how to market as a niche business. While certainly not experts in the area, we have learned some things as we've been building Historic Shed. Read the tips here.

  • We've been thrilled to get some press recently in some great magazines and blogs in the past couple of months. Here's some highlights: One of our sheds was selected for an article in the May/June issue of Fine Gardening on "Stylish Sheds". There was a feature article in the March issue of Coastal Contractor on our Ybor City Cottage project. We were interviewed for an article on Tiny Homes in the Sun Sentinel prior to the Tumbleweed Tiny House Miami Workshop in April. We were featured in the May issue of Lux Magazine in an article called "History in the Making". We wrote a guest blog post for Tiny House Blog on building small homes in historic districts that was picked up by Mint Magazine and quoted in "Growing Movement: Americans Buying More Tiny Houses (Under 500 Sq. Ft.) To Avoid Foreclosure". We were featured in the May/June issue of Florida Creative Living Magazine with a company history profile.

  • This week's Let's Blog Off title is If you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford the meal and the topic is Price vs. Value, or "what are we willing to pay for products and services, and what do we expect to get in return?" Like all small businesses, it's something we think about often here at Historic Shed. Clearly we are not your typical shed maker, but how specialized can we afford to be without pricing ourselves out of our market or not being able to afford to cover our expenses?  It's a balance we are always trying to maintain, and one that will get more difficult as we continue to grow. Some thoughts on value added, or what extras you get from Historic Shed: We are sticklers for authentic historic detail. Even if you are not an old building specialist, you can tell when windows have been replaced or an addition has been built onto a historic house incorrectly. Our outbuildings make architectural historians do a double take (and no, it's not faking history or going against the Secretary of the Interior's Standard for Historic Preservation, but that's for another post) and we take great pride in this. Our buildings look right at home in any historic district. We offer design services for all our products at no charge, even for customization. Construction drawings even for small outbuildings can cost from $500 to $3000, and are needed whenever a permit is required. Sometimes we forget to emphasize this service. And the quality and experience of our designer. We choose to build with quality materials that will last. We could built a shed with lesser quality wood for framing and roof sheathing, which reduce our costs (and be much lighter for delivery) but we wouldn't feel good about the longevity of our product. We received a call not too long ago from a woman who bought a manufactured shed from another company. The doors were rotting in less than 2 years and she hoped to install a pair of our doors as a replacement. I told her we'd gladly sell her new doors, but we'd have to look at her existing shed to see if it was built sturdy enough for our much heavier-duty shed doors. Less than 2 years of service from her shed seems like a poor return on her investment. A few months ago we added an "economy" shed to our product line. The shed looks like a historically accurate board and batten shed, and is as durable as our regular sheds, but we use exterior grade plywood sheathing instead of true boards for the exterior. We have slightly lower material costs, but much quicker assembly so we can offer it for substantially less than our regular shed line. The trade-off is that the shed may not have the same exterior materials as the main house on the lot. We choose to build our sheds in a warehouse instead of on site. This gives us much better quality control during construction, allows us to service a larger area from our central location, and reduces set-up time on site. This gives us an advantage over site built contractors who would show up at your house every day for weeks, or even months to build structures like ours. We typically take 2-3 days to set up a shed, 1-2 weeks for a garage , and 2-3 weeks for a finished cottage. We are very amenable to customization. We know every old house is unique and our sheds, cottages and garages reflect this. We paint our outbuildings to your color choice at our shop. Not only does this give you a completed shed, ready to use as soon as we finish set-up, but it helps the longevity of our product by applying a proper protective coating on your building under a controlled setting. Our business model from day one has been to create attractive, historically appropriate outbuildings that will last as long as the historic buildings they complement. We hope to be in business for many years with many happy customers who feel like they got a good return on their investment.  

  • We think sheds make the perfect home office, but it isn't an overly common phenomenon among US workers. However, in the UK, there is a daily blog dedicated to those who work out of an outbuilding at home. From shepherd's huts to ultramodern designs, check out the Shedworking blog, the self-proclaimed Lifestyle Guide for Shedworkers to see how they do it "across the pond" (and sometimes around the world). Not only will you see great design ideas for your shed exterior, you'll see plenty of interior images to help you visualize yourself eliminating your vehicular commute and settling into your own backyard office.

  • Many thanks to Ester at LocalShops1.com who featured us in her first in a series of blog posts for Sticks of Fire highlighting local businesses. The Sticks of Fire blog reports on news, events, and issues in the Tampa Bay area and is a big supporter of local businesses. Local businesses are the cornerstone of communities and are an important component in the revitalization of historic commercial areas. Whenever you make a purchase, more of your dollars remain within the local community if you chose to shop at an independent business than at a national chain. You'll also find more unique and interesting items at local shops and get friendly, personalized service. It's a win-win situation all around!Click here to see the blog post featuring Historic Shed.

  • When you go shopping, do you think about the local impact your dollars are making?More and more, we are learning that where we spend our money is an important part of stimulating the local economy. For example, according to a study conducted in Austin, Texas by Civics Economics, for every $100 spent at a local book store, $45 stayed in Austin. And for every $100 spent at a typical Borders chain store, only $13 went back into local circulation. Therefore, as we get tighter with what we spend our dollars on, it makes sense to think about where we are shopping as well.It is understandable that shopping locally strengthens your community. Individual businesses purchase more goods and services from other local businesses than chains. They employ local accountants, hire local graphic artists, and purchase materials from local suppliers. Local business owners also support community activities and groups, sponsor local sports teams, and tend to be active in community affairs.In addition, locally owned businesses are often located in walkable downtown areas, often in historic buildings, rather than located in isolated, parking lot-surrounded mega structures that are only accessible by car. As a result, local businesses are a vital component to revitalizing historic commercial areas. This gives our communities diversity and helps towns retain their uniqueness and authenticity while encouraging local innovation and creativity.One great way to learn about the great local shops that are located in the Tampa Bay area is to go to LocalShops1, a website with the area's largest network of local, independent businesses and independent-minded shoppers. In addition to listing and promoting local businesses and non-profits, LocalShops1 has now launched the 1 Card which offers discounts at many area shops. Historic Shed is proud to be a participant in the LocalShops1 efforts and will offer monthly specials for 1 Card carriers.For more reasons to shop locally, please see this well-thought out blog post on the benefits of shopping locally.

  • We are all seeking ways to reduce costs to help weather the current economic storm. This is particularly true for those of us in business for ourselves. One of the simplest ways to reduce significant overhead costs from many small business owners is to work from home. There are ample dollar-related reasons to work from home: working from home eliminates rent or mortgage payments on a separate office, eliminates commuting costs, and reduces electrical, water utility, and internet fees. In addition, working from home recovers time lost to commuting, avoids office politics and distractions, and can allow for a more flexible work schedule. However, the idea of working from home makes many business people worried about how it will affect the balance between their professional and personal lives. They also worry about the professional image it portrays, their ability to avoid distractions and resist the temptation to stay in pajamas all day, and the amount of space that the home office will occupy in the house. One simple way to mitigate these concerns is to set up your home office outside of your home in a separate outbuilding. By moving the home office just outside, and detached from the home, you can create a perfect setting that requires you to get dressed before leaving the house, keeps work (and that always nagging email) out of your personal space, and distances you from distractions found within the home. It also provides a professional setting for meeting clients and to have phone conversations without distractions in the background. While a standard home-improvement store type shed probably does not meet most people's idea of an ideal working environment, a custom shed can provide the perfect attractive and comfortable home office situation. A made-to-order shed can be designed to meet your exact home office needs, with ample day lighting, built-in storage and sited to enhance your backyard. Costs for a custom shed vary depending on size, details, and finishes, but generally start around $8,000 for an adequately sized and outfitted office space. Compare this cost to adding a comparable sized addition to your home, and the detached home office becomes an even more attractive alternative. When planning for a comfortable detached home office, allow adequate room for a desk with rolling chair, office equipment such as a printer, fax and phone, and storage along with any other items necessary for your office to function properly. Also consider taking advantage of common shed space-saving ideas such as loft storage and built-in cabinets and shelves. Plan electrical, phone and internet outlet locations to complement the space plan. Another important item to allow for is ample daylight; installing French doors and windows on at least two walls can make a small office feel more open and spacious. Heating and cooling requirements vary based on local climate, but a space heater or wall AC unit may be all that is needed if floors, walls and ceilings of the outbuilding are fully insulated. Finish the space off with pleasant interior materials, colors, and furnishings rather than standard institutional finishes and you will have a functional and satisfying home office. Couple this with some good backyard gardening skills, and your twenty-second morning commute can become the most anticipated part of your day.