By Erika Guess
Photo by Janice Marshall-Pittman
In 2019, Katie Williams told her husband Brandon she’d like to reclaim some space in their backyard for a home office. She had started a remote position with Aflac in North Carolina, and the transition to working from home had been a challenge. Once the pandemic hit and their two children were learning virtually from home, the need became even more urgent.
By the end of the summer, they had drafted a plan, and within five weeks her “She Shed” was complete. “Now I’m not looking at a laundry pile when I need to be working,” she says. “It was extremely helpful in separating work and home life.”
Brandon is the owner of BK Williams Construction and a contractor who specializes in EIFS (commonly known as stucco) and was able to complete the job by himself, with the exception of the electrical work. Hardwired with lighting and climate control, it’s a year-round space to get work done while keeping an eye on the kids via Nest cameras in the house.
Katie proved to be one of Brandon’s best clients. “Every decision was well thought through, and we were on the same page with design,” he says.
Mere steps from their back porch, the modern design complements the coastal architecture of their home. The stucco material and windows were left over from another project, and Katie chose the cedar planks for their rustic vibe. Now she can slip away to her office for meetings and when she needs quiet to focus on work. “It helps tremendously,” she says. “I needed this space.”
Here are some tips from Brandon if you choose to build your own she shed:
Know What You Want
“Save pictures of structures and materials that you like. Know where you want to put the structure, but also choose a backup location if there are issues with utilities. Prioritize what’s important to you. Is it the size, the exterior, the interior, the flooring, windows? A metal roof is great, but can anyone even see it?”
Be Honest with Your Contractor
“Find a contractor you trust. Understand the contractor works for a profit, but an honest, open relationship is key. If you want to squeeze your contractor on all of the numbers, you aren’t ready. You will resent the process and the outcome.”
Choose Where You Can Save
“Depending on your skillset, some of the finishes could be done yourself—trim, painting, etc. Choose an alternative material that has similar properties to what you want but is less expensive.”
Decide Where You Can Splurge
“We chose to splurge on certain materials, which saved us money on labor. Pre-painted shiplap meant we didn’t have to outsource drywall installation (or paint the shiplap).”
Do It Yourself With Care
“If you are going at this as a DIY, know your strengths and weaknesses. I couldn’t do drywall, so we chose shiplap. Hire out your weaknesses or use an alternative method or material to keep it as DIY as possible. Just remember, it’s going to cost more than you thought.”