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‘Shedding’ storage traditions

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published April 4, 2018

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METRO DETROIT — Even if you do have a garage, we all know a little extra storage space can go a long way for tucking away garden tools, bikes and that giant holiday display your neighbors can’t stand.

That’s where sheds can come in handy. But according to Larry Oehmke, sales manager at John’s Lumber in Clinton Township, sheds are falling by the wayside these days.

“They don’t sell as well as they used to,” he said. “Neighborhood associations and township ordinances don’t allow them a lot of the time, or the building codes make it hard to do.”

Oehmke called sheds more of a “luxury item.” The $1,000 to $2,000 average price tag might be steep, but when you add on the cement footing that many municipalities now require for safety purposes, the cost may be out of reach for many homeowners.

“Codes are just more stringent than they’ve ever been for building across the board,” he explained. “That goes for sheds, garages, additions, decks. The general theme, in their mind, is to make them better and safer.”

If a resident gets the OK from their local code enforcement office, they still might not make the cut past their homeowners association. Oehmke said associations that allow for sheds will likely have a very specific design in mind.

“The cookie-cutter shed look in the backyard has been the theme for the last 15-20 years. It’s really to make sure someone doesn’t build an eyesore in their backyard that they love but everyone else can’t stand,” he said. “Newer subdivisions go for consistency too.”

If the price tag, the permit or the HOA don’t trip you up, a shed could be in your future — or maybe a man cave, a she-shed or a pool house.

“Of the sales we still have for those 8-feet-by-10-feet and 10-feet-by-10-feet outdoor structures, many (customers) are looking for an outdoor retreat,” Oehmke said. “They wire it for electricity so you can have a TV in there or a bar, that sort of thing. Or you can put it poolside and have a cabana-type thing.”

Nick Britsky, the founder of the popular blog NickDrinks.com, said he’s heard murmurings of “pub-sheds” around the internet, though he hasn’t personally been to one. As something of an expert on metro Detroit’s bar scene, he of course has an opinion on transforming a shed into a personal pub: “Why not?”

“I think, largely, people are craving space and also kind of craving privacy. If you have an existing structure and you don’t have a green thumb or you have a lawn service so you don’t need to store those tools, hey — I fully support this.”

Many of the pub-sheds floating around the web feature amenities like neon lighting, high-top seating, and plumbing that allows for a sink, refrigeration or even draft taps. The personal pub concept is a way, Britsky thinks, for folks to kick back with a few drinks and a few friends without paying bar prices — or bothering their better half inside the house.

“It could be a great talking point, and you could get out of your significant other’s hair,” he said.