Sales of ‘She Sheds’ have spiked as Aussie women stake a claim on a patch of the garden once the exclusive domain of men.
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 [is there any chance of keeping this link in please?], 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.
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.”
Daniel Rutland from EasyShed’s 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.
People who have tried their own She Sheds
Gold Coast Bed Bath and Table merchandiser Lesa Lambert built a 3×3 metre hobby hut during the pandemic last year
What inspired you to create a ‘she-shed’?
I actually had a dream one night last year that I walked down the stairs of our house, out of the front door and to my own ‘hobby hut’ shed. I mentioned it to my husband, Greg, who is a concreter, the next day and he said ‘let’s do it’.
Describe your SheShed and the benefits.
When I spend time in the shed it makes me feel relaxed and it’s a great place to unwind – it’s my own little sanctuary. I make candles in there and whitewash furniture in which I share on my social media account, @mossandtwine. 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 do a bit of reading in there, light candles and crack a bottle of wine when my friends come round.
It’s big enough room for a queen-sized bed and bedside tables. I have the most amazing Indian teak day bed in there and two big bookshelves which I also imported from India. It’s also got power, insulation and speakers, making it the perfect retreat for all seasons.
Sydneysider Caroline Moss built a backyard ‘she shed’ in June, during the ongoing COVID lockdown “to escape the family, nagging husband and rowdy kids”
What inspired you to create a ‘she-shed’?
I needed my own space as I’m a voiceover artist, and am still mentally scarred from homeschooling and lockdown last year! My husband and children are all working and school from home, and we have two dogs as well, so it’s chaos in the house. It got to the point where I couldn’t even stand to hear their footsteps!
Describe your SheShed and the benefits.
My shed is ‘my space’. It’s a family-free zone where I can do my voiceovers, exercise, meditate and actually catch my breath when things are full-on. It’s also a cost-effective way of building an extra space. I’m also using it to get fit and although it’s still a work in progress, I have my bench and weights in there and a hula hoop. I’ve painted it sky blue and it makes me happy every day as I commute across my back yard.
Gold Coast mum Sally Wood built a ‘mini disco room’ shed as a retreat during COVID
What inspired you to create the shed?
My husband and I used to go to lots of festivals and clubs back in the day and we were getting lockdown fever during the last lockdown, so we built it so we could feel like we were going ‘out’ out during COVID, without actually having to.
Describe your Shed and the benefits
It’s a music studio slash disco space and fits four to five people in it, although obviously not during lockdowns. It also has a smoke machine, disco ball, LED lights, sofa, old club and festival posters on the wall, vinyl records and mixing decks. It’s a child-free zone and it’s not just my husband and I that use it as a retreat, everyone in our area is always asking to use it when they need to escape the confines of home.”