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Building Outside the Box

October 29, 2013

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Some of the most common remodeling projects involve space addition, often for an office, study, workroom, or studio.  Typically, most people look at adding on to their home, but another option is gaining popularity.

Outbuildings are small structures on the same lot as your home.  These buildings were common 100 years ago and used as potting sheds, icehouses, larders, and other functional purposes.  The modern version, however, is most often designed for personal or recreational use, and can become an integral part of your site and landscaping plan as well as an addition to your home.  One advantage of building a detached structure is that your existing home remains intact throughout the process.

A well-proportioned structure can even enhance the look of the primary residence.  Scale and style consistency are important elements to consider, and many neighborhood associations have deed restrictions requiring that any additional structures be constructed with the same materials as the existing home.  Also, be sure to follow any architectural committee approval requirements before you proceed with your remodeling project.

Another consideration is the distance from your main house.  Fortunately, the weather in South Texas is generally not a prohibiting factor, but other issues will come into play.  If your outbuilding will be an office, how will you feel about going outside to work?  Do you like solitude or do you prefer to be within close proximity of your family?  Your new structure may work better for you if it is relatively close to your house.  On the other hand, if it is your workshop, a little distance will help minimize the noise from power tools.

The purpose of your outbuilding will also dictate your plumbing needs, and zoning restrictions may come into play. The cost alone of running plumbing and sewage lines may be a reality check.  A guesthouse or office could be functional without a bath; however, if you anticipate having long-term houseguests or family members staying with you, or are serious about putting in real office hours, a cottage with a bathroom may be a worthwhile investment.

A professional landscaper can not only help you create positive space between your main house and the smaller structure, but can transform your site into a living work of art.  For best results, work with both a remodeling contractor and landscape designer from the very beginning to pull project together.  By designing a garden walkway, and even a terrace, in front of the new structure, you can expand both your interior and exterior living spaces.

Your remodeling contractor can work with you to design an outbuilding that complements your existing home, stays within any zoning or deed requirements, and provides the features that you need.  Your new structure can provide much needed work space, a quiet retreat, or a guest room.  Best of all, your remodeling project can be all of the above, changing with you as your lifestyle changes.

For a free brochure titled “How to Choose a Remodelor” and a current Remodelors Council directory, call (210) 696-3800 or visit

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