Exterior photo of Mr Money Mustache's 'tiny home', a backyard office with dark red siding and downlights in the soffit.

How Much Will A Custom Backyard Office Cost (Materials & Labor)?

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.

The Basics

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:

Foundation/baseCrushed gravel$50.00
Floor base/deck12’ pressure treated 2×62$29.00
Floor base/deck10’ pressure treated 2×69$108.00
Floor base/deckSimpson A32 small angle brackets4$4.00
Floor base/deck4×8 sheets of 3/4” OSB subfloor4$121.00
Floor base/deck4×8 sheets of 1” rigid foam insulation4$96.00
Walls2x4x8 feet70$280.00
Walls2x4x10 feet4$21.00
Walls2x4x12 feet4$32.00
Walls1/2” OSB (11 sheets)11$198.00
Roof1/2” OSB (6 sheets)6$108.00
Roof2x6x14 feet (12)12$199.00
RoofSimpson A32 small angle brackets (8)8$8.00
Roof182 square feet wavy metal (10’x2’ lengths)$100.00
UPVC3 windows, 1 glass door4$500.00
UPVCSchlage programmable door lock1$156.00
Exterior insulationFoil-coated 1” polyISO board11$264.00
Siding350 square feet of interesting siding$350.00
MiscGeneral screws and nails allowance$20.00
Electris8 outlets, 1 double switch box, 2 round ceiling boxes,$45.09
Electris150 ft of 12 gauge wire$46.00
Electris6 super small recessed lights inside plus 3 outside$90.00
Interior insulation350 SF of R-15 batts (interior walls)$114.00
Interior insulation120 SF of R-23 batts (interior ceiling)$115.00
Drywall470 SF (15 sheets) of drywall15$180.00
Drywall2 boxes drywall compound2$18.00
Drywall1 roll drywall mesh tape1$7.00
Paint interiorCan of paint for walls1$30.00
Paint interiorWhite paint for ceiling1$15.00
FlooringSand, stain, finish the OSB$70.00
Window/door trimMake this out of 3/4” sheets of MDF, cut to 3” on the table saw.$104.00
Total  $3,478.09

This is for the following size office shed:

Exterior photo of Mr Money Mustache's 'tiny home', a backyard office with dark red siding and downlights in the soffit.

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
Roofing Materials$450.00
Siding, Soffits, Fascia Metal$400.00
Window Tape$70.00
Plastic House Wrap$80.00
OSB (wall shething, roof shething, floor shething)$600.00
2×4” & 2×6” (wall studs, rafters)$1,000.00
ceiling fan$70.00
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
Electrical Labor$400.00

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:

A work in progress photo of Less Everything's backyard office shed build, without the siding on.
Final version of Less Everything's backyard office shed building, with siding added.

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
Bullet Screws$23.03
25mm Celotex Insulation10$63.96
Concrete Blocks, Cement, Ballast and some sharp sand$23.03
3×1 tanalised roof joists60$76.73
4×2 tanalised roof joists9$12.79
18mm OSB for Floor and Roof plus 11mm OSB for walls$245.58
Total $699.69

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!

OSB roof sheathing has been added here, from Roger Perkins.

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.

Pay-off Time

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.