The Studio Shed by Modern-Shed was recently featured in Dwell magazine and I was impressed that these stylish dwellings with their clean lines and Japanese design do not look like your typical backyard shed.

Modern-Shed is simply about storage, fun, space, architecture in your backyard. It gives you the chance to have an office away from home, a small art studio, guest or rental quarters, or to free up room in the garage.



The Modern Shed buildings are available in five styles: Basic, Studio, Designer, Dwelling and Play. The goal for all Modern-Shed sheds is to be able to be assembled quickly and with few tools. All models are packed flat with all the panels pre-built and finished. The Studio Shed comes with pre-insulated walls and roof panels.

For tiny house lovers who want a little more space, the Dwelling Shed may be what you are looking for. The Dwelling Shed comes in multiple configurations, is shipped with pre-painted parts, insulation in the roof, walls and floor, tongue and groove wood ceiling, and a metal roof. However, the kitchen and bathroom fixtures are not included and the plumbing and electrical will need to be installed on site.

Modern-Shed builds their sheds under one roof, which cuts down on waste and travel time and fuel. The company purchases their supplies from local manufacturers in the Seattle area. They also offer a variety of exterior and interior materials and colors and some eco-friendly options such as:

  • Denim wall insulation
  • Cork floor tiles
  • Linoleum Floor Tiles
  • Tex Decking
  • Structurally Insulated panels (SIPS)
  • Sustainable wood
  • Green roofs

The Dwelling Shed starts at $39,900 for the 475 square foot model and $69,900 for the 750 square foot model. Each model comes with exterior french doors and wall-mounted sliding interior doors.

Re-visit their site for upcoming photos and information on the very cool looking Designer Shed.

By Christina Nellemann





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Patrick - January 19, 2009 Reply

May we see some pictures of the 750 square foot sheds?

Christina Nellemann - January 20, 2009 Reply

Patrick, the best thing would probably be to contact Modern-Shed directly. I think the Dwelling is one of their newest sheds and they don’t have many photos of it on their website.

Justin O. Goldberg - December 3, 2009 Reply

I’m experiencing trouble viewing your site properly via the latest version of Opera. It’s fine in Explorer 7 and Firefox however.

Christine C - September 14, 2011 Reply

Trying hard to get a place like this on my rural property in WY. Amazed at all the hoops you have to jump thru if you are going to “inhabit” the place full time. Guess “no convenants” doesn’t really mean anything.

    just saying - October 16, 2012 Reply

    “Covenants,” “zoning restrictions,” and “building codes” are entirely different things.

    Covenants are usually created by a property owner, prior to selling to others. Modern covenants are usually administered by a neighborhood association or HOA on behalf of the property owners collectively. Older covenants usually have no enforcing body and have to be enforced directly by the courts. Covenants, mostly, are an agreement between adjacent neighbors (frequently created before the land is sold to any of them) to keep the neighborhood a certain way. Examples of covenants: “You may not build a main house smaller than 2000 square feet, or paint your doors red, or use *any* modular building techniques.” Covenants can be QUITE restrictive and/or invasive, and will be enforced so long as they are not against public policy or expired.

    It is possible to have a covenant that is not law, for example, it could be legal to keep chickens in your city, but against the restrictive covenants to keep chickens in your neighborhood. Newer HOAs may enact new covenants without the agreement of all landowners in some states. There are very few older HOAs with that power, except for historical neighborhood associations.

    Historical neighborhood associations are neighborhoods where an HOA has been essentially legislated into existence to protect the historical character of an otherwise unprotected neighborhood (most neighborhoods created prior to the 1990s are not properly protected, most since then are over-protected).

    Historical associations are *always* about protecting the historical integrity of the buildings/neighborhood. You will not find historical neighborhood restrictions against chickens where chickens are legal in the municipality, for example. But you will find restrictions against certain paint colors or window panes, and even entire buildings, where that style was unavailable before a certain time period, which is rare in regular HOAs.

    Covenants generally do not expire unless they are unenforced for a very long time (fifty years) or are against public policy (“you may not sell to black people”). Covenants with the government (say for an electrical easement) rarely if ever expire, unless the government specifically agrees. Historical associations must create “reasonable” restrictions, but most courts give broad leeway in a dispute, especially if the regulation was enacted by the neighborhood association before the owner purchased their house. You must go to court to get a ruling in any event. Some fully enforceable covenants are several hundred years old, but the vast majority of enforceable ones are less than 75 years old (AND have been regularly enforced/adhered to).

    Zoning codes are usually created by municipalities, and sometimes counties. (or rarely, even the state–for example nuclear reactors). They govern what kind of buildings may be built in what area of town or a county. This keeps rendering plants from being built right next to housing developments without a hearing, for example. This is why nearly all garbage dumps are outside of municipal boundaries where there is looser, or even no, zoning regulation.

    The reverse is not true: if you want to build your house in an area zoned for rendering plants, you may do so, and no one will stop you. Example of a building code: “You may build a single family house in this area of town, but not multi-family dwellings.” In other words, zoning codes are uni-directional.These rules may be suspended or waived after a public hearing if no one [powerful] objects. This is called re-zoning.

    Building codes are (these days) normally created by a non-govenmental entity, and then adopted by various governmental bodies to create a minimum safety and health “standard” under which building inspectors and contractors work. An example of a building code: “A home that will be lived in year-round must be connected to a functioning sewage system.” or “A residential structure must have two egress doors at least 36″ wide.” or “A commercial structure must have a sprinkler system that activates if the heat in the building exceeds x degrees.”

    You will almost always be subject to a building code of some sort, unless the building is quite small AND not being used for human habitation. Although tiny housers essentially ignore mobile home and RV building codes, standard codes do exist.

    If subject to a state or county building code, it may be quite antiquated and possibly easily worked around. Some county codes have not been updated in fifty years. Larger municipalities are usually quite up to date. Smaller municipalities vary from very antiquated to very modern.

    It is also possible to get a “variance” from a building code for very good reasons. For example, the building code may say that you must set back five feet on each side from the lot line. But if you are re-building after a fire in an inner city area and your lot is only 24 feet wide, that would limit you to a 14 foot wide structure. The building commission may prefer to grant a variance, particularly if the alternative is a mobile home and the neighbors do not object. However, it is unlikely that you’ll get a variance “just because”: if you want to build a 22 foot wide house on that lot, and the original house was 18, it’s unlikely they’ll give you the 22 foot variance. If you are a leading businessman who contributes to politics, it is extraordinarily likely you will get the variance–politics is a serious consideration in variances.

    Building codes are measurable standards. Either you have it or you don’t, either you pass or you fail. A building code is about health and safety, protection of the citizenry. They are a standard below which the contractor may not fall, because the inspector will not pass the work. This protects the future homeowner(s), usually not involved in the build.

    In the case of some residential and MANY commercial building codes, they protect not only the health and safety of the citizenry/workers, they also protect the governing body from excessive resource extension (we don’t have a large enough water plant, so we aren’t going to allow toilets unless they are low-water).

    A zoning code is about how the governing body wants to direct their municipality/county/state to grow. For example: “We don’t want factories, so we’re going zone all the land residential.”–sometimes happens in “bedroom” communities. or,
    “We don’t want a lot of growth north of town, because we would have to improve the roads.” If they want to encourage businesses, towns will be very open to rezoning, even in the face of strong public opposition, provided a large enough tax or job creation is forthcoming and/or the company is prestigious/powerful enough.

    Rezoning has become less prevalent in newer residential areas and historic districts as HOAs have become more organized and powerful.

    A covenant is about how a property owner wants his property to be used in the future (“I’m a farmer, and I want this used strictly for agricultural purposes, in perpetuity.”). A restrictive covenant has historically been the least powerful, least enforced, and most over-turned of all restrictions (particularly if a *municipality* wants to overturn the restriction). Courts frown on any agreement made long in the past about how property will be used in the future, especially if the landowners have been routinely ignoring it.

    So, in short: you almost certainly cannot avoid building codes, although they may be more or less restrictive. Zoning codes are less restrictive or possibly non-existent in counties, and low population areas may have antiquated codes (which may or may not be good for you).Land covenants have been fairly popular since the 1920s, but most pre-1960 or so are probably non-enforceable, and many much later than that are non-enforceable. Neighborhood associations have gotten progressively more sophisticated and powerful since the early 80s. It is unlikely you will break most covenants written since then (although I’ve seen many sloppily written which are patently unenforceable).

    And finally, NEVER, under ANY circumstances, do you want to live in a registered historical district if you don’t clearly understand everything written here. They are singularly difficult because historical HOAs are legislatively empowered, and as a result, the committee frequently believes they can do anything they want(which is untrue, but do YOU want to go to court?).

      just saying - October 17, 2012 Reply

      I should add, because it is not completely clear from the last post, that buildings that are intended for long-term human habitation ARE SUBJECT TO BUILDING CODES. A lot of people think that if the permanent building is smaller than 120 or 100 square feet (a “shed”), they aren’t subject to building codes. This is WRONG. If the building will be inhabited by humans, you MUST get a building permit, and pass inspections. Period. Full Stop.

      The problem is that modern building codes as written are intended for fairly large (1500 sq ft+) homes, which *may* be unduly burdensome for smaller homes or backyard cottages. Also, backyard cottages for human habitation are frequently against zoning laws, especially if you live in R-1 or equivalent zoning (single family residential only).

      The reason tiny housers build on trailers is that a mobile building is almost never subject to local building codes, and frequently slides by zoning restrictions, especially in older, poorer neighborhoods. This is NOT because the tiny houses are SMALL, but because they are MOBILE. If you build a 120 square foot permanent shed/house without a building permit and move in, you are breaking the law. Everywhere in the USA. Period.

      If there’s an exception (and I seriously doubt it, since counties and states have fall-back building codes for non-municipal areas), it’s somewhere where no one lives or wants to. Love Canal comes to mind.

      Since most RV and mobile home “building codes” are intended for manufacturers, home-built trailers take a pass on the BUILDING CODES (not the zoning codes or the restrictive covenants). I’ll just point out as an aside that some of the people building tiny houses for profit probably ARE subject to mobile home or RV building codes as manufacturers, and are ignoring them. It’s possible they are exceeding them, but it’s highly unlikely they are legal counsel and have anyway to know that.

      Just because you avoided the local building codes as a home-built DOES NOT mean that tiny trailer houses are legally occupied in your municipality. A great many municipalities (maybe most) and many counties have rules against “camping” for more than 14 consecutive days, or more than 45 days in a calendar year. There may or may not be an exception for RV parks or campgrounds and/or rules regarding them may be very old or even ignored.

      There is NOT an exception if you are living in a neighborhood zoned R-1 or the equivalent (single family residence per lot only).

      It is *possible* that you may be able to get a legal occupancy permit for your home-built, especially if you kept very good records (excellent pictures of the build). It would depend on your jurisdiction. A permit for legal full-time occupancy (if you get it) gets you past the BUILDING code, but does NOT get you past the ZONING code or the covenants.

      So a city may say that it is legal for humans to live in the tiny house, but is not legal for the tiny house to be parked inside the city limits (for example). Or, that it is legal to park the tiny house in an area zoned for mobile homes, but that the home itself is unfit for human habitation (for whatever reason).

      And a city may say that it is legal for human occupation AND technically allowed in the city, and yet you may not be able to find anywhere to park it because of home owner association rules or pure human ornery-ness. MANY communities have no mobile home/RV parks and/or refuse to allow mobile homes/RVs on their land, regardless of legality, because they feel (probably correctly) that they lower land values.

      I’m just saying. It’s way more complicated than Jay Schaeffer makes out.

        just saying - October 17, 2012 Reply

        “it’s highly unlikely they are legal counsel” should read: “it’s highly unlikely they HIRED legal counsel”

Jen - May 1, 2012 Reply

Hi, Any idea where I can get building plans for a small 100 sq ft modern shed?

How To Build A Modern Shed - My Woodworking Guide - January 11, 2016 Reply

[…] Modern-Shed […]

Peter - March 9, 2016 Reply

Here is a DIY Modern shed with step by step pics:

How To Build A Modern Shed | Woodworking For You - March 10, 2016 Reply

[…] Modern-Shed […]

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