Dan Gregory of House Plans shows us their new Flexa Studio, designed by Casper Mork-Ulnes, the creative director of Modern Cabana. It is a 120 square foot garden shed made of green materials (FSC certified framing, lumber, and siding, recycled denim insulation, bamboo flooring, and lasting materials) and starting at $ 8,950, or $ 74.50 PSF.
It is a lovely, simple design that is available either fully assembled or in a flatpack panelized version that a purchaser can assemble themselves. And, at under $ 75 per square foot, it seems reasonable. But is it?
Here we come up against the big problem in the business. It is a very simple design, and the construction is not very challenging. I spoke to someone on the West Coast who is in the market for a shed like this; he priced out the material at about $ 1500 and figures it will take a carpenter less than two weeks to build the whole thing.
It probably won't be certified lumber or ultratouch insulation, but nobody's going to know but him. One can also go to the big box lumber store and get a basic shed package for under two grand. The market of people willing to pay more for a refined design and green materials is, unfortunately, small.
It is what Ellen Rupell Shell blames on Gresham's Law, in her book Cheap: If people do not know the value of say, FSC lumber vs uncertifed, or denim insulation vs fiberglass, if people don't care about proportion or refinement, then bad money pushes out good and only the cheap survives. She writes that "In America today, Gresham's Law rules."