My apologies for the dust on the blog lately. Our baby is due in just over two weeks (and our son came ten days early…) and we’re in a mad dash to try to get all of the loose ends tied up on the various projects we have going on. We’ve been spending every weekend and a lot of our evenings lately working on our backyard shed, which we have nearly finished transforming into an office. In January, we had a 10 x 12 Tuff Shed installed. Then we added additional studs inside so that we’d be able to finish it with drywall, and insulated the whole thing. We drywalled the interior (including a vaulted ceiling with exposed rafters… it was slow going!), textured the walls and ceiling, and painted everything (we used the same wall color that we used in our bedroom at our old house, and used white for the ceiling and trim). We went to a local used construction supply store and found used baseboard and wood to make windowsills, and also scored nearly a full roll of flooring underlay while we were there. We put in laminate cherry wood flooring, and found some great deals at a thrift store and on Craigslist for a used futon, office chair, desk, and lamp. All that’s left to do is paint the inside of the door, which we’re hoping to do tomorrow. Whew! Projects like that always seem to take longer than we think they will, but at least we’re nearly finished. And now my husband will be able to go to work without having to spend his entire day in the basement, surrounded by concrete walls and no view.
The backyard office is completely solar powered, which we think is pretty awesome. It’s quite a distance from our house, so running electricity out there from our breaker box would have been a major process anyway. But we also really liked the idea of using solar power on a small scale, and figured this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. My husband found all of the various components online, and put it all together with a marine battery to store the electricity. The battery has to be stored in a sealed container that is vented to the outside (in order to prevent the buildup of hydrogen gas inside the storage container), and he also built a wooden cabinet around the battery/inverter area to keep everything protected and tidy. He connected it all to a regular light switch, so you can just flip a switch on the wall when you walk in and that turns on the inverter. The inverter we got is 400 watts, so we can’t run too much stuff out there, but it’s plenty for what we need: a laptop, a couple of lamps with CFLs, and a 250 watt heat light for cold days. It all works perfectly, and we’re both excited to put the finishing touches on the office so that he can start working out there during the day.
In addition to the shed remodel, we’ve also been getting things going for this year’s garden. We’ve got two beds of greens planted outside under our cold frames, and they’ve just started to sprout in the last couple days. We’ve also go 50 tomato seedlings and 25 pepper seedlings started in the house, and they will be going into the hydroponic system within the next week or two. We’ve been turning over the dirt in our garden beds, and will be adding compost to them soon so that they will be ready for seedlings in May.
Our basement has been on hold while we’ve been working on the shed and the garden, but we’re nearly ready to get back to working on that project too.
So that’s where I’ve been lately. Combined with running our business and taking care of our son, we’ve been busy bees. But everything is going well with my pregnancy, and we’re excited about all of our various projects… never a dull moment around here!
I liked the idea of using solar power and it’s really a green way to go…also selfsustaing. It’s expensive to do for an entire home and one can’t expect returns on capital investment unless one stays for atleast about 15-20 years. Would you be able to tell me the rough cost of your projcet?
Marnie - The UnBlogger says
The shed sounds great! Will you be posting any pics? Hope so!
Diedra B (GC) says
Wow, has it been that long?! congratulations on your forthcoming little one. . . all the best with your preparations too
We found that buying individual components and putting the system together ourselves was much less expensive than purchasing a complete system. My husband found the solar panel on eBay, the inverter somewhere else online (maybe Amazon?), purchased the wiring he needed from a store that was willing to ship the stuff to us, and went to a local battery store to buy a marine battery. The battery has to be in a container (a rubbermaid tub works fine) that is sealed to the room but vented to the outside, so it was a bit of a process to get pipes through the wall of the shed and into the tub holding the battery – thank goodness for caulk and foam insulation! He built the cabinet to hold the solar setup using scrap wood and a piece of plywood we got from Home Depot. All in all, we’ve got about $400 in the solar setup for the office. Obviously it will take quite a while to recoup that cost in terms of electricity usage out there. But it would have been expensive and time consuming to run electricity cable from our house to the shed, and we’d have had to bury a lot of line to get out there. So we’re happy with the cost, and we love the fact that the office is running on solar power.
Setting up a system for a whole house would obviously be much more expensive, although there are tax breaks and incentives from local utility companies that can help with some of the cost.
I love the idea of using solar power for your outdoor office! You’ve inspired me to clean up one of our sheds (ranch life…) for an office. Right now, when I want to work outside, I take a fold-up table (the kind you buy to eat in front of the TV on) and a lawn chair. After reading about your shed, my outdoor office seems rather pathetic. LOL
How exciting to be so close to having your baby! My husband and I are trying to get preggers, but no little bambinos so far. :(
Glad to have you back, and to hear that things are going well!
Wowzer!! so glad to hear about the solar powered office!! Way to go, FB and FB’s DH!!!
Keeping my fingers crossed for a safe and easy labor!
Molly On Money says
I’m such a freak I wouldn’t let them give me a due date!
Congrats on getting the shed all up and ready. Solar for a small space makes so much sense.
Glad all is OK — knowing the little one is due soon, I’ll admit I did wonder, and of course it’s best when they can for them to stay in until fully baked, glad yours is still safely ensconced!