Home Addition Made Simple

It's a shed. It's a work studio. It's a bedroom for your mother-in-law. Yes!

We're talking about pre-fabricated home additions by the Seattle-based Modern Shed. These structures are unattached to the primary home and can range from uninsulated traditional storage sheds to the more finished 'modern shed' complete with glass doors, windows and maple plywood walls. This company is filling the void for consumers who don't want the headache and, often, higher cost of adding on to their existing home.

Architect Ryan Grey Smith, 37, started the business by his own necessity. A decade ago, he and his wife needed more space but didn't dare mess with their lovely ranch-style mid-century Seattle home. "In Seattle, with these older homes, the last thing you want to do is tear apart your home," Smith says. Not finding any on the market that he liked, Smith decided to put his design background to use and build his own. A few years later, a client was over but scratched the plans in favor of Smith's shed. The business was born.

The Modern-Shed boasts clean lines and architectural touches such as a raised roofline for more sunlight. The basic studio shed is 10 x 12 feet. They're insulated and depending on size, are priced from $15,000 to 30,000, with or without the option of assembly, which takes the Modern-Shed team usually 3-5 days. That's potentially a cheaper alternative than a traditional home addition, which can run tens of thousands of dollars more. The eco-conscious buyer even has options for recyclable and formaldehyde-free materials.

Modern-Shed's sales range upwards of $500,000 a year, which Smith surmises is relatively good, given the general state of the housing industry. And he's sold his sheds all over the United States, from Texas to New York.

"People aren't buying 400,000 houses much anymore. They're staying where they are and adjusting where they live."

The sheds also give people the option to work from home, as Smith has, from his office shed. He's a mere 20 steps from his home but says it feels more like a block. He says just having to go outside to get to the shed can give people the separation from home they need to fight cabin fever. Another trick?

"A separate phone line," Smith says.

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