• 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

  • 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.    

  • 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

  • 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.