These small, well-designed little backyard houses are actually much better looking and more detail oriented than a basic box, without forsaking the modern, prefab style. Backyard Box, a company based in Seattle, designs and builds small prefab houses that can be used in many ways: as a rental income property, guest house, home office, mother-in-law apartment or a tiny house.
The smallest design is the MatchBox, a studio that packs a kitchen, living room and bath into 400 square feet. It can fit into a lot that is 17 by 27 feet and starts at $79,500. A larger design is the SandBox, a one story backyard cottage with kitchen, living room, bathroom and one bedroom. It is 600 square feet and is designed for simple and minimalist living on one level, and will fit on most city lots at just 17 by 37 feet. The SandBox starts at $86,500. Each of these houses are custom architect-designed and you can choose from three finish levels.
What I really liked about these designs (besides the sleek, cool look) was the space allocated for a mechanical area within the house, which is sometimes lacking in other small house designs. Backyard Box also offers several finish options they call Elements:
Essential – half bath, open floor plan, garage-style door – with basic finishes, this works for a retreat, office, studio, or future living quarters. Easy to upgrade to full finish package over time or do it yourself.
Complete – full kitchen, full bath, built-ins, one level – this is the complete finish package, move-in ready.
Luxe – upgraded kitchen cabinets, countertops, bath tile package, and diamond polished concrete floors.
Accessories – add these and more to customize your Box:
- Aluminum and glass garage door opening
- Smart Box – Net Zero Energy
- Rain garden
- Bega exterior lighting package
- Corten steel backyard firebowl designed by John T. Unger
- Interior LED lighting
- Solar hot water
- Solar electric panels
- Smart Home Energy Dashboard
- Green roof
- Hydronic radiant heated floors
Backyard Box also offers a larger design called the BigBox, and they can also create a CustomBox for your backyard or lot. All the Box homes are eco-friendly, and every Backyard Box incorporates sustainable features, such as pre-wiring for solar power, super-insulated walls and windows, non-toxic paints, and rain screen siding.
Founder Sloan Ritchie launched Backyard Box in response to the cultural shifts taking place today where consumers find themselves in need of a little extra space for a home office or studio, aging parents or boomerang kids, income via a new rental property, or a mix of these over time. Having developed his own backyard into a single family home, Sloan saw an incredible opportunity to help other local homeowners make the most of their home investment and living choices. And today, adoption of backyard cottage ordinances makes it much easier.
Sloan has been at the forefront of green and sustainable building in the Seattle area for several years, building some of Seattle’s first LEED certified homes. He and his experienced design team are dedicated to pushing the envelope in sustainability and energy efficiency, environmentally appropriate material selection, and innovative development practices – at affordable prices. Backyard Box homes reflect a personal commitment and passion for sustainable, quality living.
BLIP Design – Architect Jim Burton, AIA, LEED A.P., has 18 years of experience in residential, institutional, office, and other project types. He is a Certified Passive House Consultant, member of the US Green Building Council, Cascadia Chapter GBC, Built-Green, Solar Washington, Passive House Northwest, and the NW Eco-Building Guild. He is currently serving as the President of the Central Puget Sound (Seattle) Chapter of the NW Eco-Building Guild.
All Backyard Boxes are designed and built to Passive House standards, the most advanced energy efficiency practices anywhere in the world. That yields a 90% reduction in heating and cooling energy versus typical construction.
Pricing includes everything except foundation and utility hookups, as that will vary depending on your lot. They also leave appliances up to the customer since personal tastes vary widely. The base models come complete with high-end durability and sustainable features including rain screen siding, solar PV pre-wiring, standing seam metal roof, and the most energy efficient designs in the world.
Expanded distribution now includes the West Region: Washington, Oregon, California, British Columbia, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.