Before you start buying materials (or hiring labor) for your custom backyard office project, it’s good to have an idea of how much you’ll end up spending. If you are buying a ready-made large shed for an office then you will naturally know the price up-front, but this is not the case with a custom garden room/office shed build.
Hence we have analysed the build costs from some recent backyard offices (some which hired out contractors, some who done the work themselves) and summarise them here to give you an idea of how much you can plan to spend. We will also include a breakdown of costs too (including individual materials you will need), so you can better plan out any non-standard adjustments you are planning to make.
In general, just for materials you can expect to pay $700-$2,000 for a basic shell which will then need weatherproofing and internal work (including electric and plumbing work). For the final building (excluding labor), you will pay anything from $1,700 to $5,490. As we will see below, a good quality 120 sq ft backyard office has clocked in at less than $3,500.
Judging labour costs is trickier because it depends on whether you wanted to hire a contractor to do everything, or just specific tasks. Getting a fair-priced electrician to do the main wiring might cost $300-$500, whilst a contractor to do most of the work could be a significant cost: anything from $2,000 for general ‘helping hand’ work to $5,000+ for doing the bulk of the build. So our advice is to try and do as much of the backyard office building work as you can, and only hire contractors for very specific tasks if possible.
Specific Material Costings
MrMoneyMustache did a great 120 sq ft (11.1 sq metre) office shed project which cost him $3,500 in material costs. The specific, itemized list of material prices for his build is below:
|Floor base/deck||12’ pressure treated 2×6||2||$29.00|
|Floor base/deck||10’ pressure treated 2×6||9||$108.00|
|Floor base/deck||Simpson A32 small angle brackets||4||$4.00|
|Floor base/deck||4×8 sheets of 3/4” OSB subfloor||4||$121.00|
|Floor base/deck||4×8 sheets of 1” rigid foam insulation||4||$96.00|
|Walls||1/2” OSB (11 sheets)||11||$198.00|
|Roof||1/2” OSB (6 sheets)||6||$108.00|
|Roof||2x6x14 feet (12)||12||$199.00|
|Roof||Simpson A32 small angle brackets (8)||8||$8.00|
|Roof||182 square feet wavy metal (10’x2’ lengths)||–||$100.00|
|UPVC||3 windows, 1 glass door||4||$500.00|
|UPVC||Schlage programmable door lock||1||$156.00|
|Exterior insulation||Foil-coated 1” polyISO board||11||$264.00|
|Siding||350 square feet of interesting siding||–||$350.00|
|Misc||General screws and nails allowance||–||$20.00|
|Electris||8 outlets, 1 double switch box, 2 round ceiling boxes,||–||$45.09|
|Electris||150 ft of 12 gauge wire||–||$46.00|
|Electris||6 super small recessed lights inside plus 3 outside||–||$90.00|
|Interior insulation||350 SF of R-15 batts (interior walls)||–||$114.00|
|Interior insulation||120 SF of R-23 batts (interior ceiling)||–||$115.00|
|Drywall||470 SF (15 sheets) of drywall||15||$180.00|
|Drywall||2 boxes drywall compound||2||$18.00|
|Drywall||1 roll drywall mesh tape||1||$7.00|
|Paint interior||Can of paint for walls||1||$30.00|
|Paint interior||White paint for ceiling||1||$15.00|
|Flooring||Sand, stain, finish the OSB||–||$70.00|
|Window/door trim||Make this out of 3/4” sheets of MDF, cut to 3” on the table saw.||–||$104.00|
This is for the following size office shed:
Interestingly, the two biggest costs are the UPVC windows/doors and the external siding trim. If you are willing to be creative with the siding you use, you could potentially get a bargain on both items on Craiglist and bring down the total material costs to below $3,000.
LessEverything made a much bigger 212 sq ft (19.7 sq metre) backyard shed office than MrMoneyMustache, and the total materials came to $5,490 (with $2,400 extra in labour, meaning a total outlay of $7,890). The breakdown is below:
|Cement blocks for foundation||$20.00|
|Wire, Outlets, Circut Box, Lights, Switches||$650.00|
|Siding, Soffits, Fascia Metal||$400.00|
|Plastic House Wrap||$80.00|
|OSB (wall shething, roof shething, floor shething)||$600.00|
|2×4” & 2×6” (wall studs, rafters)||$1,000.00|
|Hurricane Clips and Straps||$120.00|
|Floor Joists (reused old deck)||$0.00|
|Rental of metal break||$80.00|
|Caulk for windows, doors, metal roof||$30.00|
|General Labor Help||$2,000.00|
It’s worth noting that this build is also on cement blocks, compared to MrMoneyMustache’s which is wood on gravel. This doesn’t make any real difference to price however. LessEverything also had their doors for free, so we’ve added $200 to the prices listed on their website breakdown. This is for the following backyard office:
Switching to the UK, Roger Perkin built a 96 sq ft (8.9 sq metre) garden office shell for just £547 ($700) which includes floor and wall insulation, and a UPVC door and window. So finishing off the roof and then doing the internal kit-out is all that is remaining, and this will probably be another £500-750 ($640-$960) – leading to a fairly cost effective total material price of $1,660. In terms of a material cost breakdown (converting from Roger’s listed prices to $USD):
|UPVC French door plus 4 windows||–||$127.92|
|6×2 Floor Joists||–||$126.65|
|25mm Celotex Insulation||10||$63.96|
|Concrete Blocks, Cement, Ballast and some sharp sand||–||$23.03|
|3×1 tanalised roof joists||60||$76.73|
|4×2 tanalised roof joists||9||$12.79|
|18mm OSB for Floor and Roof plus 11mm OSB for walls||–||$245.58|
This includes buying reclaimed timber from a local builder, getting the UPVC windows from a torn-down conservatory and buying the Celotex insulation on Gumtree – in other words, it includes bargain hunting! But they’re all things that you can get on Gumtree or Craigslist, so keep an eye out and you might end up with a finished shell for $700 too!
Finally, HomeAdvisor gives a good outline of typical costs for a barn, shed or playhouse (aka or a backyard office!). The main points are:
- $3,007. The average price across America for a typical 120 sq ft (11.1 sq metre) backyard shed.
- $800-$4,000. The general range you can expect to pay for a shed, although a kitted-out office will almost certainly be more than $800.
- $30-100 per hour. How much you can expect to pay a contractor, which is $30-50 for more general contractors and up to $100 for specialist roles (like electricians) in expensive areas.
Let’s say that you DIY the build and end up with a total cost of $4,000. This will be for a slightly larger than average backyard office, maybe 150-200 sq ft (13.9-18.6 sq metre). Whilst it is hard to put a price tag on your dream tiny build, it is still worth asking whether this was a smart investment?
Well the closest alternative to your own backyard office would be shared (colocated) office space, of which you can expect to pay:
- $350/month with WeWork
- $299/month with Regus
- $200/month with some cheaper providers
Plus an extra $50 per month in gasoline costs for the commute to/from the office (but not including the wasted time each month commuting to/from the office space), we are looking at the following pay-off time for your backyard office:
- 10 months for WeWork
- 11.5 months for Regus
- 16 months for some cheaper providers
So financially, a backyard office shed is definitely worth it. Plus you will be able to focus a lot more on your work than in a noisy shared office space somewhere.