The House That Almost Wasn’t Because of the Shed That Is About to Be

Buying a home with an outbuilding can be intimidating if you don’t know what you’re getting into.
she shed
Photo: Angela Hatem

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This series ends with the renovation of a shed, but begins with the search for a home. Maybe that reads more like the start of your daily horoscope rather than an opener of a before-and-after renovation story, but allow me to explain.

RELATED: How to Move a Shed

It was 2019, and I was like most early-stage home buyers: dumb, with a pre-approval letter burning a hole in my pocket. Okay, maybe dumb is a little strong. Insanely naïve feels more accurate, and definitely more kind. I had romanticized the entire home-buying process. In my brain, it was all floorplans, curb appeal, and cookies with realtors.

The reality of the situation? Home buying in 2019 was tough. The market had gone from jalapeno-warm to ghost pepper-hot. As a new mom fresh off of maternity leave, I was already overwhelmed. Throw a house hunt into the mix, and I was in the line of fire of an adulting avalanche.

I assumed finding my dream home would be easy given my fairly reasonable wish list of three bedrooms, two baths, wood floors, and a “oh man, wouldn’t it be nice” fireplace. Reasonable yes, feasible, sort of.

Within minutes of finding an interesting house on a real estate app, poof, it was pending. Thankfully, my Indianapolis-based Realtor Patty England, is the patient sort. She kept reassuring me something was out there, and we would find that something.

So the search continued, and one house continued to come back up. The home met all my “must have” criteria, but it had been on the market for a while, which in turn, made me a little skeptical. What did the other home buyers know that I didn’t? Curious and with reservations for two, Patty and I decided it was at least worth scheduling a showing.

As we pulled into the driveway, I was pleasantly surprised and near giddy. The exterior was just as the selling family had described, “cute as a button.” The interior was interesting and featured a cool floor plan, plus it had a fireplace. I dug it.

The paint color was a little drab, but the current owners had committed to repainting and brightening things up a bit. The wood floors looked good to me, but the owners had committed to sprucing those up as well. The bedrooms were a good size, and the bathrooms were recently updated. So far, everything was going amazing! Then Patty and I ventured into the backyard…

The yard was huge. Like “how am I going to mow this thing” kind of huge. Intimidating as the lawn was, I loved the idea of having a big yard in which my boy could play and we could host our friends and family. So I quickly got past my fear of landscaping and embraced the idea of a riding lawn mower.

That’s when I saw IT.

Nestled in a back corner of the property, looming over the yard and the ranch dwelling…

A shed.

she shed
Photo: Angela Hatem

Now, when I thought “shed,” I always thought of an outdoor broom closet. A place to keep a push mower and a rake. Maybe a few cans of paint.

This was not just any shed. This was a shed that gobbles up other sheds for breakfast and still has room for oatmeal. Some would call this behemoth a barn. I called it out of place. What in the world was this crazy structure doing in a suburban backyard?

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Once again curious and skeptical, Patty and I stepped inside. This shed was loaded with amenities and potential. It had insulation, electricity, a window, and a wood-burning fireplace. It was basically a second house in the backyard. I have always been a fan of more living space, but I didn’t expect it to be a partially finished structure just hanging out in my backyard.

This was a curveball I had not seen coming and one I had to really think about before taking a swing.

I proceeded to file this home in the back of my mind and kept going to showings. Lots of houses, all without barns, each with a little something I wanted in a home. Other homes I saw would have fit the bill, but none of them were THE house. I kept having dreams about the barn house. Something about that house kept drawing me in, so I scheduled a second showing. I went, I saw, I was on the fence again. I couldn’t get past the barn, and I wasn’t sure why. I needed to talk it out.

So that night, over dinner with friends (one of whom had a doctorate in psychology), we hashed it out. The dwelling hit all the marks: three bedrooms, two baths, wood flooring, fireplace. Check! The location, close to school/work and filled with families. A home run. Then there was that barn.

The barn was scary to me, but why? Was it because I was afraid of the upkeep? Nah, not really. It would be work, but I could probably handle it.

Was it scary because I didn’t know what to do with it? Ding, ding, ding!

she shed
Photo: Angela Hatem

Yep. That was it. It was the potential that was scaring me away. This barn could be a playroom for my son, a workspace/retreat for me, an entertainment space for the family, an Airbnb, or a living space for my mom when she retires! The possibilities were endless and overwhelming, and evidently, the root cause of my apprehension.

Once I understood what I was nervous about, the buy became a no-brainer. What to do with the shed became something I could, and did, kick down the road for two years…until now.

Now I am ready to face the shed, its potential, and all of the questions and work it will take to make a vision become a reality.

RELATED: So, You Want to… Build a Shed

In my next piece, I will work with my friends, designers, and contractors to weigh all the possibilities, consider important factors, and ultimately decide what the barn will become.

Stay tuned for part two in this renovations series.