The Outbuilding


By simple definition the “outbuilding” is a building on the same property but separate from the house—for example a shed, barn, pool house, carriage/guest house, gazebo, or garage, etc. 

New Subdivisions:

In current times, it would be very rare to drive through a new subdivision and see a house without an attached garage.  On that rare occasion however, it is likely that the garage was actually expropriated and converted to additional living space in order to meet the needs of the current residents.  While changing the garage to living space may be necessary for the residents’ lifestyle, it could become a disadvantage in the resale market unless there is enough lot space to add a garage at a later date.  Many newer subdivisions however, have already maximized the size of each home on its lot, therefore it is not always possible to add on to the home or create an outbuilding.  In these areas an outbuilding is most likely to be a smaller pool house/cabana or a storage shed for the family’s lawn mower and snow removal equipment. 

Mature Areas:

A home without a garage is not that uncommon in older subdivisions.  Many homeowners over the years have already added an attached or detached garage in these mature areas, in order to transform the home into one that serves today’s lifestyle needs.   But there are still homes without garages, and there are still homeowners wishing they had one every time the snow flies.  Many of these areas have larger lots and municipalities can often accommodate permit requests to build an outbuilding or even an attached structure.  Adding on to the existing home, often allows for the addition of not only parking facilities but with careful planning, the addition of a mudroom/laundry area or powder room to the main floor. Adding a garage can also help with better planned entry to the existing home, or a bonus room above the garage.

The Existing Outbuilding:

In very mature areas or rural properties, old outbuildings/barns may already exist on a property.  If the integrity of the foundation and structure of these old buildings is sound, they can be modernized in purpose and aesthetics.  With creative design, the building can be repurposed to meet today’s lifestyle—it is simply a work, play or living space that is yet to be discovered.

A change of windows, doors, or some or all of the exterior façade could change your opinion of the building forever.  This old ‘shack’ or barn could become a he/she shed that you can’t wait to spend time in, an outdoor planting area, a lawn/snow maintenance shed, the ultimate playhouse, or a gym or yoga studio which would eliminate your ability to use the excuse that you can’t get out to the gym for a workout.  With the addition of a wall of sliding/folding glass doors an outbuilding could become a place for protected but open outdoor dining, a reading room, or a creative home office, art studio or music room.  Perhaps this existing outbuilding is the perfect spot for additional parking. The possibilities are endless. 

The Purpose:

With families amalgamating and multi-generational family dynamics leading to in-law suites, and children retreats for those living at home longer, there becomes a desire for additional garage and/or storage space as well.  An outbuilding can accommodate that need.  Storage of outdoor furniture, lawn care needs, or currently unused family belongings etc. can be removed from existing garages and relocated to sheds or outbuildings, opening back up that long lost parking space.  There may also be a need for additional parking in a detached garage or storage building.

Three or four car garages would be the ultimate in convenience, if a property allows for it, but the average home usually has one or two spots.  To get additional space, one will likely need to build a detached garage.   Regardless of the size of the building with a creative design an outbuilding could accommodate not only parking, but a loft or second floor for additional storage or living space. 

A detached garage does not necessarily have to look like a garage.  While it is recommended that the building be consistent in style and exterior finishes to the existing home, it may be possible to be set at an angle or back from the house allowing it to be less visible from the road.  With a larger home, a detached garage could look less like a garage and more like a carriage house or cottage. With the extension of the roof overhang and the addition of an outdoor fireplace on one side, one could create a beautiful outdoor living space.

With a smaller home an attached garage could over power the overall façade, while a detached one that is set back could provide a balance and improvement to the overall curb appeal.

Regardless of the size of the home, having vehicles or outdoor equipment stored in a detached garage or barn away from the home may help maintain the tranquility within the home during early or late work shifts or school days. If the space serves as a workshop, hobby house or office, it may be beneficial to be located in an outbuilding to ensure that odours or hazards, and noise are kept away from the main residence.  

But perhaps your outbuilding will serve as a charming poolside cabana providing not only a place for swimmers to change and use the facilities, but one with multiple French doors that guide the way to a pool side bar and a place to entertain your friends on a beautiful summer day. 

Maybe your ideal outbuilding is a gazebo allowing you to enjoy the summer evenings just a little longer because of screening that keeps the insects at bay.  Your gazebo could be the perfect touch to add awe-inspired architecture to your already exquisite landscape.

New or remodeled outbuildings can serve a multitude of purposes for today’s homeowners. If you are considering remodeling your existing outbuilding or creating a new one, call the experts at Vanderzalm Construction Inc., at (905)684-5823 or (905)562-4463.  We would love to build your dreams into reality.