When you want a backyard office, you have three main options: (1) build it from scratch, (2) buy a ‘flat pack’ (ready to assemble) kit or (3) buy an already assembled building – known as a prefab. Whilst (1) and (2) can sound fun, scratching your head in your backyard looking at dozens of screws, bolts and wood panels and not having a clue how to assemble them is downright annoying. The solution to this common headache is (3): pay for a prefab building which will be conveniently delivered to your backyard, practically ready for you to start working in.
A prefabricated backyard building comes ready-assembled on a truck, and is ready to use as your dedicated office/studio working space the moment it arrives. This is assuming that you can easily get the finished building into your backyard, of course…
What Are Prefab Backyard Offices/Studios?
‘Prefab’ is short for ‘prefabricated’, meaning a building which is assembled in a factory before being transported (in a finished state) to the particular site where the building is situated. A prefab backyard shed (or one big enough to use as an office workspace) will therefore arrive to your house already built, with doors and windows pre-hung and it will already be painted. As you can imagine, this is very convenient because instead of having to spend ages sourcing materials and building a backyard studio, a completed one will literally arrive on the back of a truck.
Prefabs can also be cheaper than the other options, because the factory will be specifically geared up to build, finish and paint your backyard office – meaning that the fixed costs at each building stage will be lower. Labor costs will also be lower because there will be an element of a ‘production line’ to speed up time spent on each building, compared to building on-site which will invariably take longer per building.
As mentioned earlier, prefabs will arrive on the back of a truck. They will already be assembled, meaning they are not too easy to move into position. Therefore it is crucial that there is an easy path to your backyard, which might involve moving fencing and trimming back bushes as needed.
Assuming that getting the prefab building into your desired place will not be too much work, a prefab might be the perfect option for you. Our roundup below shows dozens of companies and shops that sell prefabs which are perfect for dedicated backyard work areas.
Ultimate Prefab Roundup
There are hundreds of prefab sheds which are suitable as a professional backyard work area, so our list below only covers our favorite model from each company. If you like the look of it (or the company), we suggest that you click around their site to see more prefab options for your backyard office:
Kanga Room Systems
Kanga are a well known Texas based backyard building company who also offer their buildings to most other American states. Their Kwik Room is specifically designed for use as a simple yet professional backyard office:
An installed 8’x10’ shell will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on your exact requirements and location, whilst they also offer a handy ‘turnkey’ solution which offers everything: electrics, flooring, lighting (etc) which costs $7,000 – $8,500 extra.
Their installed shell and turnkey options are unfortunately only offered within Texas right now, but Kanga also offer a shell kit which starts at just $5,000 for non-Texans. The kit includes pre-cut timber and is panelized, meaning that on-site installs should be fairly straightforward for DIYers.
In terms of reviews, Kanga have 3.5/5 stars (21 reviews) on Yelp and 4.2/5 stars (6 reviews) on Google, although some Austin residents on Reddit have reportedly had some negative experiences with Kanga:
- “On my route to work there is a Kanga Visible from the street. Near Shoal Creek/ Richcreek. Its been there about 5 or 6 years. I have watched parts fall off it over the months….” – /u/insureventures
- “What are you thinking as far as size and budget? I have friends who had decidedly negative experiences with Kanga.” – /u/designstudiomodern
- “I did that exact model from kanga maybe 8 years ago. They did not do a good job with the foundation and stopped answering my calls and emails when I complain about it buckling. The structure itself is level, but the floor they put in wasn’t.” – /u/chadio11
- “Avoid Kanga. Their idea of foundation is 16”x16”x4” blocks stacked/leveled on grade, not a good idea on a sloping lot! The damn thing started tilting/sliding downhill after the first hard rain” – /u/Frodo79
Having said that, Kanga are fairly well known (especially in Texas), so as always: do your own research before placing an order.
Fifthroom has over 21 years experience in the home and garden furniture area. They offer both fully assembled garden and office sheds as well as easily assembled kits.
Their Deluxe Estate Shed with Vinyl Siding is available in 17 dimensions, starting from 8’ x 10’ up to 12’ x 14’. It comes with two vertical sliding windows and a large door as it can also be used as a shed.
Fifthroom offers a wide range of customization options from additional windows, different door types a skylight and much more.
The basic version is available for less than $4,000. The price varies depending on your customization needs.
Woodtex’s HQ is in Franklin, TN although they have sales offices in New York, Tennessee and South Carolina along with third party retail partners throughout America and Canada. In other words, Woodtex’s backyard buildings are fairly accessible to buy, especially since they have various finance options including a ‘Rent to Own’ scheme.
Their Heritage shed is well designed and will bring in plenty of light for use as a studio workspace:
You can configure all their sheds fairly easily via their website, and the default Heritage has a dormer upgrade which comes to a total of $9,647 (or $361/mo over 60 months via ‘rent to own’), for their 12×20’ prefab.
They have more than 4/5 stars on Google (with 22 reviews) and seem fairly well liked online, although they are smaller than Kanga so have attracted less reviews overall.
Sheds Unlimited know how to take an inspiring photo! If you had the space, just imagine how awesome it would be to work in a backyard office which looks like the following!
The pictured ‘Studio 1 Modern Shed’ is 12×18’ and starts at $11,482, although their smallest 8×8’ studio begins at $6,568. There are quite a few customization options as well, which includes electrics and entrance ramps.
Sheds Unlimited have a sales office in Pennsylvania and they cater to most of the Northeast coast, with their website saying “CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VA, and WV. On occasion, we deliver to ME, NC, NH, OH, SC, and VT”. Delivery can take anywhere from 2-10 weeks after ordering, and prices vary depending on your location.
Their online reviews are very positive, with 4.9/5 on Google (117 reviews) and 4.5/5 on Yelp (6 reviews).
Tuff Shed are well known in the world of sheds which require ‘minimal on-site assembly’, and their Premier PRO Studio starts from $6,407 delivered (for a random Colorado zip code) and it would be perfect as a small but professional backyard studio:
The 12-24” overhangs make the building feel bigger, and the various windows will bring lots of natural light in. The smallest is a 8×10’ model, but Tuff Shed offer up to 12×24’ which costs $11,921. Their online tool is also very customizable, and you can even supply paint to them – meaning your dream of a bright pink office with fluorescent orange trim can be realized!
Tuff Shed’s online reviews are more mixed than some other companies, however, with 3/5 on Yelp (115 reviews) – although as with all things, there is positive feedback on them too:
- “I have had both a tuff shed and another kit I bought at a local lumber store. I think both were equal in quality.” – RogerThat99
- “Have a tuff shed since we bought our house. Mine is on dirt has held up nicely.the steel framed door is great. We have 10×12.” – h20225
- “i have a tuff shed it has been at my house for years and is still like new. my fatherinlaw even had them build a custom garage behind his house with stucco finish very nice!” – namba860
- “Tuff Shed built us a 12X20 to go up against an L-shaped retaining wall. Very good quality and decent price” – U4ia
Tuff Sheds can be bought directly (either online or in one of their stores), or via third party resellers such as Home Depot.
StudioShed offer five sheds, of which the Boreas – starting at $9,900 – is best suited for a backyard office:
This is similar to the Tuff Premier PRO studio in that lots of natural light will be let in, and the roof overhangs gives a modern feel. Available in 8×10’ up to 10×12’, we like that their website gives different floor plan ideas for their use (i.e. whether you are using this as a home office, art/music studio or other purposes).
StudioShed offer a national network for installations, meaning that you can get a bare shed install up to a full turnkey solution (including painting, flooring and electrics) as required. They also offer a basic shell kit, which MrMoneyMustache – a well known money blogger who has built a few backyard offices – ended up going with. It is worth reading his DIY case study if you are interested in StudioShed’s shell kit.
In terms of reviews, StudioShed do not have tons of online reviews but they do have 3.5/5 on Yelp (5 reviews) and 4.9/5 on Facebook (8 reviews).
Modern-Shed have a few different sheds which are suitable for a backyard office, with prices being over $10,000 for the majority of their sheds which include the following 8’ deep ‘Small Modern Shed’:
ModernShed offer various customization options, including the ceiling and roof timber choice, interior wood paneling and exterior siding. They also offer electricity and plumbing options, with their panels being pre-drilled for electric runs (and the electrical work is then completed on-site).
Their website does not list their full shed line-up, but you can download a catalogue for free on the website. We have not found many reviews for them online, but there is the odd bit of positive feedback on people’s dealings with Modern-Shed.
State Specific Prefab Companies
The following are prefab companies who only tend to ship within certain states (or just the state that they reside in), as opposed to most of the other companies we have examined which are America-wide:
- Alan’s Factory Outlet – Virginia. Alan’s Factory Outlet come highly recommended from Virginia’s citizens, and they come with a wide range of wooden sheds, and their prices range from $1,200 to $10,000 depending on what you are looking for.
- Jamaica Cottage Shop – Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachussets. They have a wide range of sheds and cabins, both as kits, pre-built models and also the basic construction plans (for you to DIY build from scratch). Prices for fully assembled buildings start at $5,000. Fully assembled kits are only shipped in and around Vermont while pre-cut kits are devlivered free of charge throughout the U.S. and Eastern Canada.
- Backyard Eichler – California. Eichler produce a nice range of backyard buildings, including a “backyard studio” which they specifically build and deliver to the Bay Area of San Francisco (presumably for trendy tech start-ups)?
- Pine Creek Structures – CT/RI/MA and Long Island. One of Connecticut’s largest shed providers, with a range of outdoor prefab buildings and a range of stores through the state. They aim for quality, without being ‘too expensive’ (as much as that is possible).
- Walsh Country Store – Connecticut. Walsh’s store has cheaper prices but without low quality: many of our readers have had good experiences with them.
- Northland Sheds – South Dakota. Northland also come highly recommended, and their prefab sheds are delivered with a device called a ‘shed mule’ to easily move the shed to where you would like it:
Benefits of Prefab Backyard Offices/Studios
Prefabs can make sense for a wide range of people and circumstances, for the following reasons:
- Convenience. Having your backyard office turn up pre-assembled and already painted is very convenient, because you can potentially start working in it straight away. This is better than having to spend countless hours building a backyard building from scratch, or trying to decipher the instructions of a shed kit.
- Cheaper. As mentioned at the start of this article, a factory which makes prefab buildings will be specifically designed for this purpose: meaning that there will be economies of scale at play, leading to your prefab backyard building costing less than buying the materials and building one yourself. It can often cost a fair amount less, especially when labor costs (and time) are included.
- Perfect for temporary workspaces. If you are planning on moving to a separate office space in the future, a prefab can work well as a temporary backyard office space. This is because prefabs are usually a little less durable and sit on a crushed stone (or cinder block) base, meaning that it should not be a mammoth task if you needed to dispose of it in the future.
Prefabs do also have their critics, however:
- People point out they have a lower lifespan. Whilst you can get ‘premium’ prefabs, in general they are made with lower quality timber and they have a wood floor which will sit on a base of crushed stone or cinder blocks, which is slightly more susceptible to wood rot than a backyard building which is designed around sitting on a concrete foundation.
- Difficult to get into your backyard. Because your prefab office will already be assembled (and hence will be too heavy to lift!), you will need a direct path between the road and your backyard for the truck. This might involve removing fencing, trimming bushes and even felling trees as needed. If your backyard is only accessible on foot, your only option is to try and find a company which has a crane truck – but many do not.
- Smaller than you might expect. Prefabs are transported on the road, meaning that they might be smaller than if you built your backyard studio yourself (otherwise the trucking company might need special permits to move the prefab on highways, which would increase shipping costs further). This is not always a bad thing because a dedicated workspace does not need to be massive, but it might limit you if you wanted to have a multi-purpose backyard building (such as an office which can be used as a guest house from time to time).
- Limited customization and size options. Some prefabs are made in a factory which has already been setup to produce buildings in a particular way, meaning that customization options will be limited. Equally, there will only be fixed ‘shed’ sizes in the range – you will not be able to ask for your backyard building to be 1 foot longer or 2 foot wider, for example. We try and recommend companies that do offer customization where possible, however: such companies take factory-produced panels and timber and manually modify them before the assembling stages (for an extra cost).
- Still need modifications. The difference between a backyard shed and an office space is that your office will need electricity to power your computers and provide lighting (and maybe water/plumbing for a toilet). This might be as simple as running an extension lead to your office, but to appear professional (if you have visitors) you might want to run electrical cables into your prefab – and then wire up sockets and lights. The prefabricated nature of the building will mean that making such modifications (to a completed building) will be harder than planning on electrical runs whilst building it from scratch.