It doesn't look like much, but we will probably be seeing a lot more of this. It is the frame for a Yardpod, a new small prefab that isn't coming from some young architect with a dream and a backyard, but from some serious heavyweights. Architect Malcolm Davies was CEO of Michelle Kaufmann Designs and knows prefab, and Marvin Muaer was CEO of Houseplans.com and a VP at Mattel. They worked together at GE and Autodesk. Kent Griswold of the Tiny House Blog caught it sitting in a parking lot.
The sheds come in a range of sizes, and are "are pre-fabricated, steel frame backyard rooms individually configured using a large catalog of modular, eco-friendly parts and materials. Pre-assembled in precision engineered panels at our factory and fully assembled on your site --permit free in most areas."
Material selection is pretty green; they make a case for steel framing , insulation is cotton fiber, woods are formaldehyde free, floors are cork or bamboo and their factory is solar powered. It is shipped flatpack and being steel framed, installation should be fast and easy.
The Tiny House Blog has a guide to pricing that I couldn't find on the YardPod Website:
-DIY Galvanized metal frame (floor, walls, roof) cost between $2,800 and $4,250 when collected from our factory.
-FIY 10ft x 12ft YardPods will normally cost between $10,000 and $15,000, smaller sizes will be less.
-Completed 10ft x 12ft YardPods will normally cost between $15,000 and $20,000, smaller sizes will be less.
There is an infographic with detailed information of each component. More information at Yardpods.
Is there a market for this kind of thing in North America? Perhaps. I was interviewed for the UK website We Love Sheds (and they do seriously love sheds over there) after being asked to be a judge in the Shed of the Year Competition, and gave them my opinion of the shed market in North America; why it might be a tougher sell than in the UK, but why it might just start catching on. I reprint it here.
"There isn’t much of a shed culture yet in North America; most of us who have houses have garages that do much of the work of a garden shed. Houses are generally larger, so there was little need for a separate workspace, just take the guest bedroom or den or a bit of the basement.
In much of the continent it is much colder in winter or hotter in summer than in the UK, and everyone has been conditioned to only be comfortable within a range of about a degree on either side of where they set the thermostat.
People also move a lot in North America; if someone needed another room, they would often just sell and move up to a bigger place, as big as they could afford, because hey, your house is your bank and your savings.
So much for that idea. And so much for going to the bank and getting a loan to add a room.
That’s why sheds are such a great alternative and opportunity:
They are cheaper than a renovation.
You don’t need to bust up your house to add something that you may need for just a couple of years until the kids go off to college; they let people stay in their houses and adapt .
They allow a lot more opportunity for creativity in design. They don’t have to fit into the style of the house; they can be simple, modern, eccentric, a real expression of the individual without affecting the dreaded lowest common denominator that is perceived to maintain property values, the cause of so much housing mediocrity.
For the designer, it is a whole new market to display their talents and start a career.
If the kids move home, you have a place to get away.
You can only drink so many lattes at Starbucks. Writers huts worked for George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain, and can provide a great place to work for you as well.
They are testbeds of new building and energy technologies; I would not be surprised if some of the best solutions for sustainable green design come out of the shed revolution. Seth Godin has written that these are probably the best of times to start a business; It is also likely that it is the best time to build a shed."