Outbuildings and Your Property

Outbuildings and Your Property
  • Opening Intro -

    Buildings on your property that are not attached to your home are called “outbuildings.”

    In most older homes, garages are separate from the house and theoretically fall under this classification.


However, garages are just one of many structures homeowners may have on their property, buildings which can add value to the property and provide a place of respite or storage for homeowners.

Let’s take a look at various outbuildings and how you can make good use of such structures:


— Nearly every yard in suburbia has a shed, but its uses can go beyond storing the lawn mower, garden tools and yard items. Sheds come in various sizes and shapes and range from the typical aluminum or polymer shed costing a few hundred dollars to the wood building built on your property and made of treated wood siding and offering shingles, steel hinged doors and constructed to conform to local building codes.

Sheds have gone beyond general storage use and are now often used as offices, guest quarters and living rooms. Electrical and plumbing hook ups are possible. Check with your town’s building inspector to see if restrictions apply.


— Take a standard shed and put in windows and a porch and you have a playhouse. Well, not exactly — there are differences, including shelving at eye level for small children and furniture. Most come equipped with wood flooring while elaborate units include lighting fixtures. Consider kid friendly options including safety latches on windows and on doors.


— Why have a garage when you can have a barn? This all in one building is often designed to match the main home, just like a garage, but at a much larger scale. Barn construction may rival main homes except for the basement and interior finishing. Your barn can serve multiple purposes including storing your cars, equipment, providing a place for farm and domestic animals to call home, and serve as guest quarters complete with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area.


— Found in gardens, large backyards or where it suits the homeowner, the gazebo is one of the simplest structures found in the yard after a shed. Gazebos serve to provide a place for people to rest, read a book, admire the flowers, spend time with family, play a game of cards or enjoy a nap. Add in electricity to include a ceiling fan, a perfect addition for those days when oppressive heat and bugs are a problem. Furniture including tables and chairs or cushions for built in seating areas are some considerations.


— Fresh cut flowers and hothouse tomatoes in the midst of a tough winter are among the reasons why homeowners choose to build greenhouses. Hobby greenhouses are about the size of a shed and include thermoclear angle wall windows to capture sunlight. Easy to assemble, you’ll be able to make use of a limited area to get your spring seedlings going. Electrical and water hookups provide much needed heat and water.

On a larger scale, a gothic arch greenhouse is for the serious hobbiest who insists on having the room to grow what he needs throughout the year. Taller specialty crops and plants can be grown due to its higher roof. Wind and moisture are not an issue too as snow slides right off the roof.

Outbuilding Considerations

Will you be able to obtain bank financing to build an outbuilding? Maybe not directly, but as part of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, you may be able to include an outbuilding as part of your home improvement or renovation project. Explain to your banker what you want to use the funds for and be prepared to show building plans if required to do so.

For more elaborate structures, consult with a home contractor. You’ll want an outbuilding that complements your main home and can add value to your property. If you live in an area prone to violent weather, you’ll want to build a structurally sound building able to withstand high winds, snow and rain.

Finally, notify your homeowner’s insurance company of your plans. You want your building to be covered in the event of a catastrophe and that may include taking out an umbrella policy or obtaining a rider to ensure adequate coverage.

See AlsoOutdoor Building Structures

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Categories: Outdoor Structures

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".