Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Turning a PodShack Into a PodHome

When we left our last house (2950 sqft victorian nonsense) and moved into our new house (1100 sqft Lego infill house) we found ourselves running into an issue. An issue of a large dog, a homeschooled child, and a guy who needs a space to work from home and record a podcast. Originally, I had an office in the house, but it meant everyone had to stay quiet in the house when I was recording or in a meeting. Downstairs wasn't going to work because everything is just as loud through floorboards as it is through the hollow doors of a former rental property. We needed a drastic plan. We needed a podshack.

But what goes into something like a Podshack? How do we create a space outside, detached from the rest of the house but also comfortable enough for a person to spend most of the day in it?

We had to talk to many different shed builders in St Louis before we found one that could do it in a reasonable amount of time. The company we eventually went with was Tuffshed. I can't say we're 100% happy with what we got. There was a different design we wanted which could slide under the eaves of the house, but the salesperson did not have accurate dimensions and said it wouldn't work. Design and layout aside, I can't complain about the quality of the shed itself. It came pretty bare bones, but that's what we wanted.

The first step was to lay a foundation for the shed. Anywhere else they would just pop it onto the grass itself, but the city of St. louis requires a concrete pad of some sort for a shed (yet required no permits so I cannot speak to the decisions made by local government officials). If you've ever looked into having a pad poured, it can cost in excess of 1-1.5K because it requires digging down about six inches, filling with gravel and then smoothing out the concrete. All things I cannot do myself. However what I CAN do is dig down about two inches, put down a base layer of sand, even it out as best I can, place down Polypropylene paver base panels and then put the stones on top.

In the photos, you'll also see me running electrical to the shed. I got a crash course in running wiring from the breaker from one of our handy neighbors, and ran the wiring through the conduits already created for the wires running to the garage. I put the shed on its own breaker so nothing else will overload it.

Next, I needed a window. After watching an extensive amount of YouTube videos I was finally confident enough to break out the Sawzall and cut a hole in my wall. If I had to do it all over again, I would have put in a bigger window, but there's nothing stopping me from doing a little demolition in the wall and upgrading my window. Currently, this is for ventilation purposes, as I have a portable air conditioner in the podshack that needs to blow out somewhere.

I don't have great photos of the electrical work in progress, but there's plenty of wiring in the walls. Once again, if I had to do it all over again I would have put the light switch closer to the door and maybe ran one more outlet to a different wall. Mostly what I'm saying is next time I wouldn't be so cheap and lazy when making a place I'm going to spend a significant of my day.

What you see in the above is the installation of ceiling joists and insulation. All the walls and ceiling are insulated with R-15 Rockwool which is perfect for our area. I hired a handyman to do the drywalling, but I took off a day and helped out to make it easier on him and to learn drywalling myself. I have a whole unfinished basement I eventually want to work on and wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to see how it's done.

And at last the finishing touches. I primed the inside and put down an easy peel and stick tile vinyl floor. I went with a a light blue wall accent wall on the south as that's where the sun comes in during the day and gives it a nice daytime sky effect.

The finished product: area rug laid down and wall hangings up. If I were to do this again there's a few changes I would make during construction, but overall the Podshack is everything we could have hoped for. A place seperate from the house, but not far away. A place that is quiet during the day and doesn't require special considerations when recording.

Final thoughts: While there are some changes I would make if ever I were to do this again, such as wiring and window placement, overall this is everything we needed for working from home. I have an exterior office, Lilly moved her room into my old office, and Beth moved into Lilly's old room so she too can have an office. Everyone has a door they can close, and in a small house where everyone is home all the time, that's a luxury we're all happy to have.

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