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Old 2009-08-17, 7:16pm
Val Cox's Avatar
Val Cox Val Cox is offline
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Join Date: Sep 13, 2005
Location: Newport VA
Posts: 678
Default My Backyard Studio Shed!

Well it’s taken about 6 months of planning, prep, and some undoing, but I finally got my backyard cottage studio built. The inside is empty, the exterior needs paint, and the electricity has not been fully run, but at least it’s up!

I took some photos along the way, so here they are. I settled on a post and beam design from and they sent a building crew from Massachusetts to my place in Pennsylvania to build it last week. I was told later this was the furthest they have traveled to construct one of their buildings.

I had a few setbacks along the way, and many weeks of delay while I gathered the proper paperwork and workmans comp certificates required from our town building department.

The single biggest and most costly mistake I made was in jumping the gun to level the ground before I had done all the research for foundation requirements, or had my permits (where the specs were made pretty clear). It cost me an extra couple of thousand dollars (and some tearful/sleepless nights) to undo the foundation work that was not done properly, and caused a delayed as I missed my building schedule while finding another company to dig the foundation. In the end however, it all worked out.

My little studio (12”x14”) won’t be used for flameworking, as I have a space for doing that already, but rather it will function as an artist studio for painting, resting, writing, hiding from the kids, and hanging out! It was a gift from my sweet husband for my 50th birthday (last May). Perhaps it will inspire some of you to build a little studio in your own backyard!

First, in May we staked out the space, although the ground was pretty sloped:

Then ‘landscape Bill’ ran the electrical underground line and leveled the ground nice and flat with this heavy equipment. I made a mistake of going along with his plan to create a foundation for a ‘shed’, using cut stone and timber. (He didn’t fully understand this building was more than a little premade ‘shed’, and I didn’t know enough to advise him otherwise)

The town inspector said no way, we needed nine 36” deep x 10” diameter concrete piers. So I collected more bids and settled on ‘Joe’ and his helper who took out and hauled away the timber and rebar that Bill installed, and dug holes to install Sono-tube frames:

(sorry for camera change)

The town building inspector liked this a lot, and I got a sign-off on my permit (Then Fred and I had champagne).

Concrete 'Joe' came back the next day to pour the concrete tubes:

Then we had a bunch of rain storms, and I cancelled every summer plan I had made to keep my calendar open, and I waited and waited for a building date to open up… And then about a month later, I got a date and the building crew and my materials arrived!

Ralph and Morgan left from Massachussets at 3am, arrived in Pennsylvania by 10am with the plan they would stay in a hotel one night and finish construction the following evening. It worked!

Their truck was a little too wide for the gate opening (the mirrors!) so they hauled the lumber 130 feet to the site a little at a time. (I didn’t mind the lack of truck tracks on the back lawn!)

They approved of Joe’s pier foundation job and got right to work cutting and measuring:

This is my special pine floor that I later had to scrub every inch (on my knees) with a copper pad and strong soap to get those black shoe skids marks off:

I feed them lunch, then it rained really hard and I stayed inside while they worked, so I didn’t get many photos.

Then the skies cleared and I ventured back outside:

The back side:

Then they finished for their first day and went to their hotel and dinner.

The next morning, early, they installed the doors, windows and started nailing up the cedar siding.

They started on the backside to lay the cedar shingle roof:

And they had a lot of little scraps to clean up before they finished that second night, before driving back to Massachusetts. But they cleaned every bit and loaded it in their truck!

Now I just need to paint (the blue tint is primed wood), I’m planning a very pale yellow/cream shade with a white trim. I’ll have a patio outside the French doors and we’ll landscape the front and have a step of some sort. (All in due time!)

The black circle next to the door is a dart board that was the first ‘vintage decoration’ to find it’s way into the cottage. It might find a place somewhere within. The floors still need to be sealed. (this shows them very dirty, before I cleaned them and covered them with contractors paper.

This little loft is where I plan to set up a day-bed for taking a nap. I fit up there perfectly! I’ll just need a little rope ladder or something! I’ll get the electrician out in the next week or so to finish his part and then get the final inspection.

Thanks for looking! ~Val

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