Wilshire Accessory Dwelling Unit

Backyard Office Ideas

With more people working from home these days, spare bedrooms are becoming popular candidates for office makeovers. But if you need a space that a bit more separate, you may want to consider an alternative. Here are some backyard office ideas to take remote working to the next level.

Backyard office options

When it comes to creating a backyard office, you typically have 3 main starting points:

  1. Convert existing structure. Do you have a garage or shed that you’re just not using all that much? Or even a pool house? Any of these spaces can be converted to a backyard home office and can help save you time doing so, as you’re not building a structure from scratch.
  2. Prefabricated shed. Another option is to purchase a prefab shed, which would basically be the shell of your office, then convert that to meet your work needs.
  3. Total custom build. If you want the most flexibility in terms of design and options, and something that will be tailored to your lot, then you can opt for a completely custom-built backyard studio office. This may be a more costly option, but you can design it to meet your specific requirements.

Property line planning and common restrictions

backyard office ideas: modern
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Among the considerations when building a backyard office is your property line and how close to it you’re allowed to build. This can be especially important if you have a smaller lot.

Within the city limits of Portland, near where Lamont Bros. is located, homeowners are allowed in some cases to build right up to the property line. But there are some specific requirements:

  • It needs to be a custom built structure
  • It must have a fire-rated wall (a wall designed to contain a fire for a specified amount of time), with no windows facing the property line
  • Certain height restrictions will apply

If you live outside of Portland, or you want a taller structure for example, you’ll likely need to stay outside of the setback. To learn what restrictions may apply in your area, check out your local planning and zoning rules, typically on your city’s website.

Apart from government rules, there are other things to keep in mind, depending on where you live. For example, you may need to adhere to regulations from your Homeowner’s Association. If you live in a Historic Preservation District, other restrictions and reviews may apply. If you decide to work with a builder on your project, they will be able to help navigate all of these regulatory hurdles

Backyard Office Comfort and Connectivity

Along with the location of your backyard office, you want to make sure it’s a place you feel comfortable working in. You don’t want to be freezing in the winter or melting in the summer. That’s where the right temperature control options can make all the difference.

Heating and cooling

We often recommend small, ductless mini splits for these types of spaces. They provide both heating and cooling, are reasonably affordable, and usually quiet enough to work in an office setting.

backyard office ideas: ductless mini split heater and cooler
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Other options include ceramic heaters and cadet heaters, which are very affordable, but don’t come with a cooling function. That can be an issue, especially if you’re converting an existing structure to your backyard office and aren’t able to install the amount of insulation you may be able to with a custom build.

Internet connection

Creating the right work environment also includes having the right tools to make it productive, especially a reliable internet hook up. No one wants to wait forever for webpages or documents to load.

With a backyard office, your best option is to hard wire it to your home’s internet. That will likely give you the strongest and most trustworthy signal. But depending on how much speed you need, connecting to the home’s existing wifi or using a wifi booster may be sufficient. Though keep in mind, it may also be slower.

Backyard office costs

backyard office ideas: custom build
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So how much should you budget for a backyard office? Costs can vary widely depending on what type of backyard office you’re looking for.


If you’re looking to convert an existing garage or shed, you’re likely looking at a price tag in the $25k-$65k range, depending on how much you update it and how big it is.

Prefab units

If you’re looking at turning a basic 10’x12′ prefab structure into an office, you’re looking at a cost in the $55k-$75k range. The type of foundation, electrical hook ups, heating and cooling, and other factors will play into the overall price.

Custom build

A completely custom backyard office may start around $55k and can go up from there into six figures. It all hinges on how much customization you want to do and how many amenities you’d like to add.

Backyard office case studies

To give you a better idea of what a backyard office project can cost, let’s look at a couple of real-life case studies. These are projects that we’ve worked on for clients of ours.

1. Pool house conversion

backyard office pool house conversion

The first project involved converting a pool house to an office on the second floor, and adding a kitchenette to the lower story. An existing bathroom was also remodeled. The result was a separate backyard office unit, along with an integrated living space. This project cost around $95,000.

2. Custom office

With this project, we’re demoing an existing garage and building a brand new one with an office above. This entirely new office-garage combined structure will cost around $255k-$270k to complete.

As with any home remodeling project, the costs can vary depending on your particular needs and tastes.

Are you thinking about building a backyard office? We’re happy to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!

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