While men have been able to escape to their garage or man cave – stocked with everything from basic tools and bikes, to poker tables and other boys’ toys – women are now increasingly finding solace in their own space too.
“We are seeing a huge uptake of women buying sheds and turning them into home offices and studios, where they can work without distraction from what is happening in the house,” says Daniel Rutland, Head of Purchasing at EasyShed, Australia’s largest producers of backyard sheds.
“We have seen 450 percent growth in the last 12 months alone, especially in the cities and outer suburbs, where space is at a premium,” says Rutland.
Gold Coast mum Lesa Lambert loves her ‘hobby hut’, which she built during COVID.
“I make candles in there and whitewash furniture in which I share on my social media account, @mossandtwine,” she says.
“It’s multi-use and can be converted into an office, or bedroom when my son and daughter visit. I really utilise it – I’m in there all the time, at least five hours a day!
“I also do a bit of reading in the shed, light candles and crack a bottle of wine when my friends come round.”
“When I spend time there it makes me feel relaxed and it’s a great place to unwind – it’s my own little sanctuary.”
According to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two in five people with a job (41 per cent) worked from home at least once a week in February 2021, compared with 24 per cent at least once a week before March 2020.
Meanwhile, employed women (17 per cent) are more likely than employed men (11 per cent) to want to increase the amount of work done from home.
With real estate prices on the rise, Daniel Rutland from EasyShed doesn’t see this shed boom trend changing any time soon either.
“We are also seeing sheds being repurposed as separate living spaces, guest rooms, man caves, bars, aviaries, home offices, gyms and even home distilleries, home cinemas and pool rooms.
“The sheds are cheap to purchase – so they are often customised and kitted out. We’ve seen windows installed, skylights and soundproofing. One guy turned his shed into an astronomy room, where the entire roof retracted back to provide viewing for his huge telescope.”
Top 5 things to do when creating a SHE SHED
Do determine the type of material most suitable for your shed needs
There are several DIY shed material options – plastic, steel, and timber. Plastic sheds require low maintenance but tend to fade with time. Timber is prone to rotting but is built to last when treated properly, whilst steel is durable and low cost. Plastic and steel sheds are also immune to pest-infestation and rotting. Choose shed materials with low maintenance costs.
Do determine the dimensions of your shed
Measure the site’s dimensions first before purchasing a shed online. Ensure that your chosen site is large enough for the shed you intend to purchase. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to fit in everything you need in your shed due to space constraints.
Choose the right site for your shed
Building a shed next to a tree or under overhanging leaves and flowers can cause problems; a tree branch could fall on it and damage the structure. The area should be level, secure, safe, be free from flooding, be accessible on all sides to make maintenance or repairs easier and have some natural light, but not too much that it feels like a hot oven inside. You'll also need easier access to electrical supplies if you plan to light and ventilate the shed.
Do check local council planning guides
Building restrictions vary throughout Australia and you can cop fines up to $30,000 for illegal structures. Most councils will have their rules easily available to you on their website. Find out more here.
Customise your shed
Extra windows, a roof pitch and cladding doors are all possible and aren't just going to improve the appearance of a basic shed, they can also make it more functional and don’t have to break the budget. Also, if you decide to sell up, a beautiful and well-maintained shed will also factor into the asking price. It really is an investment!
Top 5 shed you shouldn't do when creating a SHE SHED
Don’t forget to lay down an even foundation
Whether you choose a custom-built or prefab garden shed, it needs a steady foundation. Prefab sheds do not come with a floor so the walls need to be anchored with concrete to stand, which is why a stable foundation is a must. A good garden shed foundation will set the structure slightly off the ground to help with proper water drainage. Never choose a location where the foundation needs to be laid out in a wet, sloping, or low-lying area.
Don't underestimate the need for storage
Before deciding what size shed to get, list every item you plan to store, especially large tools and equipment. Measure the space in your garden and account for door and window openings and roof overhang when you add up how much area the shed will take up. If possible, consider getting a shed or shed kit that can be extended so that if you do need more space, you’ve already prepared for such provisions. Also, use a design that makes use of the extra space inside the shed for storage. For instance, you can put or hang items above a shed with a ceiling that's at least 9 ft tall. You can also install built-in shelves and tool racks on the wall to maximise space.
Don’t forget to weatherproof
The floor is the immediate link from the foundation to the rest of the shed. A sturdy floor that never gives in to harsh weather conditions, especially rains, storms, or floods, is good. It is prudent to build weather-resistant floors and floor frames to avoid the deterioration of any piece of structure. Also weather-proof the rest of the shed’s assemblies to ensure it lasts longer.
Don’t rush the shed construction or installation process
Allotting ample time for the planning and construction of your DIY shed ultimately saves time and money and allows the chance to correct any minor miscalculations (if any) and do the job right.
Don’t forget to keep the shed clean and well-maintained
Use your garden shed’s space properly by avoiding clutter at all times. Organise all tools, equipment, and other items in an orderly manner by using shelves or racks. Regularly sanitise and maintain the shed to make sure it’s clean and free from any hazardous chemicals.