• 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/

  • 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.    

  • 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

  • Cottage/ Tiny House by Historic Shed Florida

    We were approached by someone in the historic Duckpond neighborhood in Gainesville looking to add an accessory cottage in her back yard. After some design iterations, we ended up building a 16'x20' version of our Starlet cottage with elements that complemented her historic home. The design was approved by the Gainesville Preservation Board.

  • Historic Shed will host a one day workshop on Saturday, March 21 starting at 10 am at 1212 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Brooksville, FL 34601 to discuss designing and building both site-built Small Homes/ Cottages and Tiny Homes on Wheels (THOW). REGISTRATION NOW CLOSED. See you Saturday! The morning portion of the Workshop will focus on Zoning and Building Codes for Site Built Small Homes in Florida. This session will be presented by Historic Shed president and licensed Florida Building Contractor, Jo-Anne Peck. What you can build, where Research a property's zoning Uses Building Planning Florida Building Code Minimum room sizes Habitable rooms Egress requirements Lofts/ Stairs Required clearances for fixtures Utilities Wind maps/ meeting load requirements Shutters Construction drawings Permitting process Inspections during the build And more... We hope to take some of the mystery out of the design/ build process for both the DIYer and those considering hiring a contractor to build their little dream home. The afternoon sessions will include:  Downsizing your Life (including Children) to fit in a Tiny House with Pat Dunham. Pat Dunham, tiny spaces coach and speaker, will outline ways you can live comfortably in your own small space.  Her ideas work for space-challenged living environments from tiny homes to efficiency apartments to RV's and boats. Long before the tiny house movement began, Pat lived that life aboard a boat with her husband and six children.  She will speak on the many benefits of living small while offering practical advice for downsizing and useful tips for creating storage solutions. Container Homes Jarrid Dotterer, co-founder of the Container Division of Chocolate Peach Construction, a company that focuses on sustainable building, will speak on container homes.  He will cover the acquisition of the container to the construction process and the potential that a container has.  Jarrid will share the challenges unique to containers, including the type of steel, as well as the special skills and tools needed to turn them into your own tiny home.  His background in the construction field and his passion for repurposing materials qualifies him to share his knowledge with individuals wishing to explore their options. Building Your Tiny House on Wheels with Andrew Bennett of Trekker Trailers . Shorty Robbins on Tiny House Building with SIPS/ Finding a Place to Live in Your THOW. Ms. Robbins has also graciously offered to bring her THOW to the Workshop to tour! More info to follow on these portions of the Workshop. Some other topics may also be added. Registration for the Workshop is required so we can plan appropriately. Lunch will be provided. The Workshop will be held in a well ventilated covered space, but that does not have air conditioning. A small house will hopefully still be under construction at the shop for touring. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

  • 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. Hyde Park_Feb15 (dragged) For advertising info for your own company, contact Bradley Hassen at 813-494-0130. While this building will not be on the upcoming Historic Hyde Park Home Tour on February 28, Historic Shed will have a booth there and you can see the exterior of the two-story garage-apartment from the street, in between touring the fabulous historic homes. Stop by the booth and we will give you the address.

  • Historic Shed was contacted by a couple who live in the Hyde Park historic district in Tampa to design a garage and guest room for a very unusual lot. Triangular in shape, their small lot was just over 4,500 sf and contained a lovely one-story Craftsman bungalow with less than 1,000 sf. The atypical lot was further constrained by a large protected oak tree on the site, and one on a neighbor's lot, just over the property line. With Tampa's strong tree protection ordinances, this left little space to build. Building up was the only real option to maximize the remaining lot space. After tweaking the design to fit the lot and meeting with Tampa's Historic Preservation Office and Forestry Department, the resulting project created a 12'x20' one-car garage with apartment above. A 6'x8' one-story shed allowed additional storage while accommodating the lot's shape and giving a visual step down from the two-story volume to the street. The stairs were placed at the rear of the building for privacy with an exterior design that allowed them to encroach within the required oak tree setback. The garage design itself took its cues from the main house which had a low-sloped front-gable roof and very wide eaves. Walls were clad in lap siding and an existing skirt board was inspiration for a belt course on the new building. The new outbuilding was kept simpler in architectural detail, but clearly complementing the main residence. See more about the Two-story Garage-apartment options. A two-car version is in the works as well.

  • A couple of weeks ago, my friend and fellow backyard businesswoman, Lisa Burns, of Backyard Getaway suggested that we visit the the Braden Castle Park National Register Historic District. She knew I'd love the diversity of tiny cottages found in the neighborhood. So, the next day, I happened to be heading south to Sarasota and made a detour on my way back north to visit this unique 55+ community. The centerpiece of the neighborhood is the ruins of the house of Dr. Joseph Braden. Dr. Braden settled in the area in the 1840s, establishing a large sugar cane plantation. In 1850, he built a two-story house of tabby, a cement-like material made of crushed burned oyster shell, sand and water. Dr. Braden eventually lost the property, and subsequent owners occupied the building until 1876. The house was extensively damaged by fire in 1903 and allowed to fall into ruin. In 1924, the estate was purchased by a group of northern "Tin Can Tourists" seeking a permanent place to winter each year. The property was laid out in 200 small lots, and cottages, no bigger than 34'x34' were built as seasonal homes along narrow dirt roads. Small office buildings, rec centers and other support buildings were also built to serve the community. While the buildings certainly have been altered over the years, and even fell into disrepair during the 1960s and 70s, the charm of the historic cottages can still be seen while visiting the area. To learn more about the history of the neighborhood, go to the Story of Braden Castle and Braden Castle Park website. The neighborhood serves as great inspiration for anyone interested in creating a small/ tiny house village, showing the diversity and charm small cottages can have, and how a collection of them can create a lasting community.The neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.