When more people lived on farms, the concept of an outbuilding was well understood. There was a barn and possibly other buildings that got added as more activities took place on the farm, as that's where people lived … and worked. Families would add structures when needed for space and/or activities that required their own space.
Today most people don't work at home and we don't live on large lots, so fewer people have an outbuilding unless it's a small shed for storage. That's changing for lots of reasons, especially as more people work at home … proven to be a viable solution during the Covid-19 pandemic.
So what is an outbuilding? It's any structure that is separate and detached from the primary residence on a piece of land. In fact your homeowner insurance policy covers most outbuildings but some require the structure(s) be listed on the policy.
Types of Outbuildings
So how many different types of outbuildings are there? We'll start the list but it's not going to be complete because people are getting more creative about their homes, both the main building and the outbuilding. For more ideas to spur your imagination, read our article Shed Ideas for Crafts, Hobbies & More.
- Barns are considered outbuildings, although they're usually bigger than the house.
- Detached garages are also considered outbuildings. If you're considering a garage addition, make sure to check how taxes and insurance will treat the garage.
- Guest houses are outbuildings, whether they're a separate structure or sometimes they're the second floor over a garage.
- Sheds are common in larger back yards, for gardening and other hobbies like horses, to store the hay they eat.
- Gazebos are listed as another structure, which works with a roof and open walls.
- Greenhouses qualify as an outbuilding, for serious gardeners.
- Granny pods are also gaining popularity, where you can take care of your aging parents without having them living in your home.
- Dog houses are an outbuildings, with four walls and a roof.
- Outhouse is one we can laugh about but it serves a purpose we can't ignore.
Outbuilding Kits, DIY Plans or Custom
Today you can buy a kit or have a small outbuilding delivered to your home. Alternatively you can custom build one. It' your choice based what you want to accomplish with your outbuilding and of course, your budget … both time and money.
Most people will tell you it's cheaper to build (or assemble from a kit) your own backyard shed. If you're considering this approach, here are a few tips to consider:
- Make sure you have the tools needed or that will add to the cost of the shed.
- If building from plans you'll need to budget for contingencies. Add at least 10% to the cost of materials as mistakes happen.
- Consider how much time the project will take. It's best to double the estimates you see online, based on my handyman experience finishing swing set installations because homeowners didn't budget enough time.
Here's one of the shed kit companies I found online, one that offers four options. Walking through the configurator on the JamaicaCottagesShop website, you also get to pick the flooring, siding, roofing, trim plus a hurricane package, amazing.
- Plans only if you want to pick your own materials … but you'll need the skills and tools to tackle this project.
- Frame only kit is an option I wasn't aware of. It's great because it covers the structural engineering which is key to safety, while giving you flexibility to use any finishing materials you want … like siding to match your house.
- A complete pre-cut kit is just that. You get the plans and all the materials needed to assemble your shed.
- Fully assembled means all you have to do is prepare the site and the delivery team will place the shed on your foundation.
For inspiration, here are a few shed ideas to inspire you …