Published : 3 February 2016

Shed, outhouse, shack, cubby, man cave - call it what you will but one thing's for sure, our love affair with these simple structures is unrelenting!

In Australia, the term 'shed' is used for any building that is not a residence - although shed 'living' is probably more prolific here than anywhere else! Originally a building where machinery, garden tools, livestock or crops were stored, these days, anything goes!

The evolution of the simple shed has even been documented, most notably in Mark Thomson's book, Blokes and Sheds (1998). In the same year Jim Hopkins teamed up with photographer Julie Riley Hopkins to bring us Blokes & Sheds, which profiled amateur inventors from across New Zealand. There's even been a TV documentary!

Today, sheds fulfil many roles, from storage to accommodation, with many folk living in a shed on their land, while they build a house. Or not - as some people so enjoy shed living they don't bother to build.


Shed or Shouse

But there are certain rules and regulations when considering a liveable shed - or shouse, as they are sometimes referred to.

Technically, in Australia, a shed is a non-habitable Class 10a building. It must be designed and constructed as such, under the Building Code of Australia. And in certain cases, it doesn't require building approval.

But if you have a room in your shed - or you use the shed as a bedroom, lounge, study, kitchen et cetera, it is then a Class 1 building and must comply with relevant building codes, and will most likely require permits and DA applications.

To build a Class 1a dwelling - or convert an existing shed into such - you will need to draw up plans, and comply with various construction elements, such as soil tests, energy efficiency, termite protection, minimum ceiling heights, minimum window sizes,  a septic tank system, certificates of compliance for electrical and plumbing work, and lots more.

Not as easy as it seems, is it?


Caves and dens

Another very popular use for a shed is the Man Cave. Increasingly popular in recent years, this is really what we used to call a den - it's a retreat for the man of the house and his mates.

Traditionally, this 'retreating' took place in the garage or tool shed, but man caves have evolved into something quite amazing. In some instances they are filled with 'boy toys', such as pool tables, weights and pinball machines, not to mention a keg or even a bar. And let's not forget the big screen TV for the boys to get together and watch 'the game'.

The interior design of these man caves vary from full blown themes - such as the Starship Enterprise (true story!) - to odd pieces of furniture that fall into the 'That's NOT coming inside the house' category!

But not to be outdone, the latest essential extra for any home is, of course, the She Shed - and there are stunning examples around. Generally much cuter than man caves, she sheds are usually done out like tiny cottages, creating the perfect space for reading, art and crafts, gardening, renovating old furniture, or just 'being'.

In fact, when you consider man caves and she sheds, they are really just cubby houses - for grown-ups!