Building To Please The Lady Of The House
by Karen Knapstein
As a builder, you might be thinking, “What is it with she-sheds?” Granted, it doesn’t really matter … you build what your customer wants. But, if you have a little bit of understanding behind why these mini-buildings are popular, you may be able to use that knowledge to land more projects. If you understand why a prospective client wants a mini-building to call their own, it will help you give them what they want.
A she-shed is simply a building where a woman can go and relax. It’s a space that is customized and personalized just for her: a place where a woman can leave her stress behind and escape to her own little oasis — without going anywhere.
Set Yourself Apart: If you want to make an impression with potential customers, scope out the most popular she-sheds on Pinterest.com and build a model that shows what you can offer.
A she-shed reflects the owner’s unique personality. It may be a studio shed for an artist, or a dolled-up garden shed where she can enjoy a bit of luxury. Or it may be a quiet reading nook, or — on the other end of the activity spectrum — a wood- or metal-working shop. In the end, it’s a building that will be customized to suit the owner’s tastes and a place they can enjoy their favorite activities.
She-sheds have become increasingly popular over the last few years. So much so that big box stores have jumped in on the action and now sell kits for do-it-yourselfers. In order to compete with these generic kits, builders need to be able to set their designs and builds apart – i.e. customize their sheds to fit the unique personalities of the women who want their own, personal retreat.
One company that works hard building accessory structures is Stoltzfus Structures in Atglen, Pennsylvania. Dave Zook, a partner in the company, said his father, Gideon, is a pioneer in the Lancaster County shed-building industry. He said his father founded the family-owned business after he recognized the need for storage buildings in the area and building small mini-barns to fill that need. This year the company marks its 45-year anniversary.
Stoltzfus Structures Keys To Good Business:
1. You have to treat your customers right. Meet or exceed their expectations every time.
2. You have to have a great team. This includes the sales team and the construction team.
3. Deliver your product on time. You have to do what you say you’re going to do.
Lancaster County has grown into the hub of shed and modular building manufacturing on the East Coast, and today, Stoltzfus Structures designs and builds a wide variety of accessory structures. (At any given time, they have about 100 on display at their manufacturing plant in Atglen.) Zook said they build and sell far more storage and garden sheds, but there is certainly a demand for she-sheds.
They build she-sheds that are completely finished inside; they are wired for electricity and internet service. “It’s all insulated; you can heat it easily.” Some of the options they offer in their she-sheds include tongue and groove pine ceiling and walls, larger insulated windows, and vinyl flooring. “It’s set up to where you can plug in a small heater and be out there in the winter,” he said. “You can even live in there if you wanted to. We don’t have plumbing, but that could be added if somebody wanted to be creative.”
Stoltzfus Structures has many sizes of she-sheds priced out on their website; they measure from 10’x12’ all the way up to 14’x40’. They also offer their customers custom sizes and designs.
The company builds most of its mini-buildings at its manufacturing facility, so the she-sheds are built on 4”x4” pressure-treated skids with standard 2”x4” floor joists (16” on center). The floor is insulated, and 5/8” Smart Finish wood underlayment is used. It’s finished with vinyl flooring.
The conventional stud walls are 7’ tall and constructed with 2x4s, 16” on-center, and the walls and ceiling are insulated for year-round use. A tongue and groove pine interior with clear-coat finish is also standard.
The outside walls have 1/2” wood sheathing, which is then covered with either 1/2” painted Smartside Siding or Cedar Creek vinyl siding. The 7 pitch rafters are also constructed of 2x4s, 16” on center. The roof is enclosed with 1/2” OSB and covered with tar paper and 30-year architectural shingles. A ridge vent and vented soffit are included for proper ventilation.
Their standard features also include one set of 6’ insulated 15-lite house doors, three 30”x36” windows with trim and shutters, a transom dormer with insulated transom windows, plus an insulated transom window in each gable.
To power the comforts of home, a standard she-shed includes electrical service with a 100-amp breaker box, four outlets, a ceiling fan/light combo, two exterior lights, and two switches.
“We have the options available to really deck it out,” Zook said. The upgrades available are far too many to list here. Some of the exterior option upgrades include a broad selection of (upgraded or additional) wood or fiberglass walk doors (with or without windows), Carriage or Sunburst garage doors, and additional windows, shutters, and window boxes. They can even add an insulated 3’x6’ concession stand window with a vinyl shelf.
Other exterior upgrades available include: dormers, a hip roof, and a 40-year warranty metal roof. Stoltzfus will also equip a she-shed with gutters and downspouts, cupolas, weathervanes, outside outlets, vinyl “stone” or “brick” veneer siding (wainscot), even designer overhang bracing, if desired. In sum, Stoltzfus Structures has built their business by recognizing and serving their customers’ needs and wants.
Details like dormers, insulated and trimmed-out doors and windows, and tongue-and-groove finished walls help define the building’s purpose and give it personality. It’s the details (options) that add to the personalized feel and comfort of a she-shed. It is a living space, after all — make it feel like one.
Build a space with the comforts of home to make the lady of the house happy. As she’s lounging in the shed sipping coffee (or something stronger) with her friends, you can bet she’ll tell them how wonderful her builder is to work with. You never know: She may set you up with one of her friends for another project. GCSB