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You may not have set foot in it for years, it may be full of tools and garden equipment. But did you know that wooden shack at the bottom of your garden could make you some extra money?
We delved into the intriguing world of shed-working and the results surprised us. There are many possibilities for transforming your dilapidated shed into a lucrative source of income.
- Shedworking revolution
- Shed-based businesses to consider
- A few tips for transforming your shed
- Case study
- Ask your money making questions
Using your shed for anything other than storing gardening tools may seem strange. But many people have turned theirs into a productive alternative workplace. There are even whole websites dedicated to doing this!
Alex Johnson, writer of The Independent’s Home Front property column, operates Shedworking.co.uk, a daily updated guide for people who work in garden offices and other spaces.
Johnson started the site in 2006 after moving back to the UK from Madrid with a growing family.
“As we liked where we lived and didn’t want to move. I investigated the then very tiny garden office market and decided that was the way forward. After a couple of months, it struck me that there would probably be other people in the same boat. So I started ‘The Shed’ PDF magazine and then the Shed-working site (which inspired the book),” he explains.
More than a decade down the line, the whole idea of shed-working has increased exponentially and so has Johnson’s site. Since his very first post in October 2006, Johnson has covered every aspect of shed transformation, interviewed an array of shed-workers from all over the globe and published an inspirational illustrated book called Shed-working: The Alternative Workplace Revolution.
Perhaps one of Johnson’s most interesting articles to date, however, was a 2010 post in which he shared the fact that Shed-workers contribute a whopping £6.1BN to the UK economy.
Based on findings from a poll he carried out, Johnson also revealed a few interesting statistics surrounding shed-based businesses:
- The average turnover of a shed-based business in the last financial year was £76,449
- An estimated 80,000 workers are thought to be based in garden sheds and outbuildings in the UK
- More than half of shed-based businesses (61.3%) are run by sole traders, with 32.3% employing 2-5 workers
- Of the more than 500 shedworkers polled for the study, 74% said that they planned to remain in their sheds indefinitely
Seven years later, shed-working has been growing steadily more popular. While Johnson hasn’t had the opportunity to gather more recent statistics, there’s reason to believe that its impact on the UK’s economy is even more impressive.
“I think we’re returning to a more natural way of life with better work/life balance, more like the cottage industries that were once the main way people worked, rather than the mindless commuting that we’ve become accustomed to in the last century,” comments Johnson.
Finally, he believes that this frenzied way of life we’ve become accustomed to will soon slow down.
“Essentially, technology was used to herd us into factories. But the way it’s developed now means we don’t need to go into a central office. At least not all the time” Johnson concludes.
Shed-based businesses to consider
Here are a few ideas of businesses you can run from your shed:
Hop onto the craft beer bandwagon by turning your backyard shed into a bespoke brewery. If you don’t actually have one, you could always invest in this fully-kitted Brewery Shed by TigerSheds.
Whether you’re a designer, jewellery-maker, artist or writer, you’ll know that having an inspiring place to work in does wonders for the creative process. And what better setting than your very own garden? In fact, if this Guardian article is anything to go by, transforming sheds into studios has been popular among creatives for a very long time.
List it on Airbnb
As with pop-up restaurants, people are always on the look-out for something quaint and interesting when trawling Airbnb. Give your shed a good spring cleaning and then kit it out for guests. Bear in mind that this would require installing at least a toilet and shower, but possibly also a kitchenette. Read our article on how to make and save money by renting.
Urban chicken coop
Firstly, this is probably not a good idea for anyone with neighbours living very close by. However, if you have a larger garden with some extra space, running your own chicken coop and selling ‘farm’-fresh eggs could become a roaring business.
Read our guide on how to keep your own chickens and this post by Simple Living Country Gal for a few tips on converting your shed into a coop.
Location for shoots
If your shed is full of character, maybe it’s cute and well-kept or run-down and creepy, you could offer it as a location for film sets or photo shoots. This would involve a lot of foot traffic through your house and garden. But the money earned can be well worth it.
Read our guide to renting out your home as a film set for more details.
Toying with the idea of working from home full-time? Instead of trying to have your guest bedroom double as an office, you could always repurpose your shed.
Dog grooming business
This is a great idea if you love animals and have a big, secure garden where dogs can roam around freely and safely. In order to set up a doggie parlour in your shed, you will need a reliable water supply, a large bath/basin or two and a sturdy table for drying, cutting and trimming their coats.
Yoga studio & retreat
If you’ve always dreamed of running your own wellness retreat, you don’t have to look much further than your back garden. Since you probably won’t be able to accommodate too many people at a time, your unique angle can be exclusivity. The main objective here is to create a space that is airy, welcoming and serene. Consider adding a window or two, as well as air conditioning and heating to keep the temperature mild throughout the year.
Finally, you can always make money by using your shed for its intended purpose; storage. However, instead of stashing your own stuff away in there, you will be helping other people out by keeping theirs safe.
Read more about making money by renting out parts of your home for storage.
A few tips for transforming your shed
Before you can start making money from your shed, however, you’re probably going to have to spend a fair amount on transforming it.
Here are just a few things to consider:
No matter what kind of business you run from you shed, you’re going to need electricity. Unless you’re a qualified electrician or have a natural affinity for these sorts of things, it’s probably best to get professional help. After all, you don’t want ongoing power troubles to interrupt your work or, even worse, an unfortunate accident to cast a shadow over your new venture.
Unless you’re running something like a yoga studio, installing heating/air-con is more of a nice-to-have. For most businesses a heater will do the job in winter and a fan in summer.
If you’re running any desk-based business, you’ll definitely need an internet connection. However, if the whole idea is to escape distractions, you may want to avoid it altogether.
Tools of your trade
Of course, you’re going to need to kit your shed out fully in order to your business. So, if you’re using it as the base for your catering enterprise, you’ll need a safe, clean and spacious kitchen setup. If you’re designing and sewing wedding dresses, you’ll need a large sewing table, good lighting and plenty of storage space for fabrics.
The best thing to do is make a comprehensive list of all the necessities, followed by a list of things that could add value. Once you’ve ticked off all the former, you can move into your new shed-working space and add the rest as you go.
Rules & regulations
Finally, if you’re going to be running any sort of retail/catering/food/beverage business from your home, you may need to check with your local authority about any zoning regulations. Also, if you’re going to be working with food at all you will need to comply with health and safety regulations, as well as apply for certain licenses. The Food Standards Agency has a comprehensive start-up document to help you out.
We caught up with Dawn Fry from The Melting Pot to find out more about the chocolate workshops she presents in her garden shed.
This is what she had to say:
Can you give a quick summary of what it is you do at The Melting Pot?
What did you use your shed for before it became the home of The Melting Pot? Also, how big is your shed?
How did you decide to transform your shed into a working space?
How long did the transformation take? Can you name a few of the changes that had to be made? What was the hardest part?
What do you love most about your working space?
Would you recommend RE-PURPOSING your shed into a working place to other entrepreneurs? If so, why?
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