My wife Jen is an awesome cake baker and decorator and her work has been generating a small amount of homestead income for us from family and friends. Requests have been slowly building and we decided that she needed to have her ‘own baking space’ so she can expand to become a real business. That means that the ‘space’ had to be all approved by the town and state. We looked at loads of options inside our existing home, but nothing would meet the requirements. And so we came up with building a kitchen in a shed outside.
Kitchen Shed Build
Now we have build structures before in the past, like our first barn when we lived in Colorado, so the actual building of a shed was not too daunting for us. However, making everything meet the local building codes required us to have master plumbers and electricians involved. We happen to know some excellent tradespeople – so we had that all lined up.
Some family members close by were upgrading their kitchen and offered us all their old cabinets. We snapped those up in a heartbeat. We were also donated a working refrigerator and propane stove. And we found a working dishwasher alongside the road in a ‘rich’ part of town (we love the thrill of scrounging). We were had most of the things we would need. All we needed was the space!
We spent some time looking at the size of space that Jen would need to comfortably be able to work in. We worked out that around 16′ x 10′ would be great and so I got to work calculating the costs for building a shed of that size. My estimate came out around $3500 for all new materials (not including inside work such as electrics, plumbing, drywall and fitout). We then found a place online that would deliver a shed of the same dimensions for around $500 more, and while money is tight, we decided that it would speed up our process so much having a shed already built that it would be worth it. And then we found out that the local building inspection would also be easier, so a double bonus.
So we bought the shed and it arrived a week later on a truck and two guys slid it into place. (For those in the US New England area, this is where we got our shed.)
So now we had a blank canvas to build a kitchen space that would be functional and meet all the codes for a home-based kitchen from which we could sell homestead items – including cakes!
Hooking up power and water
The hardest part of this project was getting the services to the shed. We placed the shed so it was close to the house, within all the town setbacks and able to be hooked into existing services. All it would require would be to dig a trench from the house to the shed. Easy…right??
Nope! We found that the short distance we had to dig sat right on top of an old farmhouse foundation make up of solid granite slabs that we had to wind around to get a trench deep enough to be below the frost line and up to code.
We hired a jackhammer to remove the smaller sections of granite, and dug around the others. We even battled with rain flooding the trench multiple times, and then needing to let it dry out before digging again. This was my least favorite job for this project.
Once the trench was in, our friendly electrician and plumber came and put in our service lines and we backfilled that trench!
The electricity required us upgrading our service so that the shed has 100 amps and the house had 100 amps. The plumbing required an upflow pump in the basement to enable us to pipe into the existing septic system. We also bought a propane tank and piping so we could have a propane oven in the kitchen. The costs of all of this came to $2,500.
Fitout of the shed
The first thing we did for the fit out was to install some windows. The shed company had quoted us around $200 a window, but we knew we could buy windows for around $50. A trip to our local dump (our treasure chest for the homestead) scored us a large window for free. So we did some basic timber work and installed the free window and three others to provide loads of light.
At this stage we also looked at the two items we were going to need – a hot water system and a way to heat the shed in winter and cool the shed in summer (cakes like to be cool).
We decided to get an instantaneous electric hot water service that we could install right under the sink. This meant that we did not have to pay for the costs of keeping a tank of water hot year round, and that when we turned on the hot water at the sink, only around two feet of pipe was between the heater and the sink, so the wait for hot water would be small. We searched the local box stores and online, and finally decided to buy this Eco Smart hot water service. This cost us around $190.
Heat and cool
We also decided to get a small heat pump (reverse cycle air conditioner) for the shed. This is an air conditioner that cools the shed in summer AND heats the shed in winter. Again we looked at the local box stores and even a local appliance store. But we ended up back online and found an awesome one that you can easily install through a wall. So again, some simple woodwork, and we had this installed. It cost us around $390.
Insulation and drywall
The next step in our kitchen shed build was that we insulated. Our goal was to make this shed as cosy warm in winter and cool and inviting in summer. So all the wall spaces were insulated with glass fiber bats. The roof space was also insulated with the same. Each and every space was filled and we used some spray foam in places around pipes and windows.
We then hung drywall. Lugging drywall around by yourself is never fun…but this little tool was a huge help. We rented a drywall jack to get it up onto the ceiling (best $20 we have ever spent) and then worked for a week or more on doing all the joins and sanding. It is a dusty job, but we took and time and watched a load of youtube videos on how to get it looking good. My strong advice is to watch the videos and take your time…it really pays off!
Insulation and drywall came to around $400 (including tools and materials).
I want to admit right out that I hate painting! Fortunately Jen does not mind it, so as a team we got the shed painted inside and out. Outside everything was caulked again and then again (and a then again) to make sure everything was water and airtight. We painted the shed to match the siding on the house (which is vinyl). Then all the trim is in white.
Inside is painted in a satin paint in white on the walls and trim and flat ceiling white. All the lights are LED’s that we scored on sale.
Paint cost us around $100.
Once all the painting was done and we had a completed ‘box’, we went and bought roll flooring from our box hardware store. We had to have one join, but it just rolled it out and we glued down along the join and around the edges. So easy! Cost of the flooring was around $250 when you add the glue.
I should point out that the placement of windows, electric outlets, plumbing and even the lights were all designed around the kitchen elements that we had. We drew up a plan of the shed floor and then made cut out of the shapes of the cupboard units, benchtops, sink, stove, fridge, and dishwasher. Then Jen worked out what the best way to arrange those to make the most of the space. At the end, we had to buy just one 8 foot countertop (cost $95).
Once the walls were all painted we brought in the kitchen items and started with the sink in the corner and started installing. It was sort of like grown-up lego! We then started to install trim and kickboards etc.
So what was the total cost?
We estimate that all included the project has cost us around $8000. We did a lot of comoponents for free.
So we hope this might help others realise their dream to do the same.