A common question we are asked by clients is “I want to build a habitable shed, can it be any shed?”. As building a new house is an expensive exercise, habitable sheds are increasingly popular but not all sheds can be habitable.
On the surface, it seems straightforward and something you may be able to do with any shed company. However, there's more than meets the eye.
In this article, we provide more information on the different design standards for habitable sheds and cover the best habitable shed companies in New Zealand.
Different Design Standards for Habitable Sheds
When looking to build a habitable shed, some design standards may have an impact on what you can build.
A standard farm or lifestyle shed is built to a different standard than a habitable building. This means that a farm building does not need to include expensive features, such as insulation ratings that a habitable building would need.
The two different standards are called Importance Level 1 and Importance Level 2. The IL1 design is for structures such as farm sheds, workshops, and storage sheds, which are typically found on rural properties.
Importance Level 2 is for any habitable building such as a house, sleepout, or a commercial building on commercial land. These structures require a lot more compliance from the council with more rules and regulations around them to ensure they are safe, warm, and healthy to live and work in.
Important Level 1 vs Important Level 2
Below, we've listed what an Importance Level 2 building has that an Importance Level 1 building doesn't:
- Bracing: an IL2 building typically requires a lot more bracing as these structures have to have greater rigidity. All structures have an allowance of movement in the building factored in, however, an IL2 building has lower tolerances than an IL1 building.
- Insulation: All habitable buildings need to meet the insulation requirements of the building code. This is not as simple as adding bats to the roof and walls. External wall thicknesses need to meet the code and all joinery must meet insulation requirements for the structure's specific region.
- Moisture barriers: Habitable buildings need moisture barriers in the walls to limit moisture forming inside the structure.
- Floor and footings: An IL2 habitable structure needs a complex engineered floor and footing design, whereas a pole shed does not rely on the floor for strength. An IL2 floor would usually need a block foundation, structural mesh, thickened concrete in areas, extra reinforcing, and rebates in the concrete floor for moisture barriers.
- Detailed specifications: for an IL2 habitable building to be consented, everything has to be clearly detailed, right down to the floor coverings. This can be a painstaking process and many companies are not set up for it as it requires specialist drawing and detailing programs.
Common Habitable Shed Providers
Below, we have listed some of the common habitable shed companies across New Zealand. We share what each company has to say about their designs and what sets them apart in the market.
“We provide Habitable Sheds that are good enough to live in. If you are after a barn house or flat-pitched habitable shed, Waikato Sheds have built all types over the years.
At Waikato Sheds we will be able to supply and construct the external shell of a liveable shed. The internal fitout can then be done by a builder or the owner themselves.” - Waikato Sheds
Find out more about Waikato Sheds Habitable Sheds here.
Wide Span Sheds
“At Wide Span Sheds, our shed homes aren't your standard short-term accommodation option, instead, we work with you to design something unique, full of character and incredibly functional. Premium shed homes in New Zealand are a growing market due to their aesthetic appeal, large open-plan layouts and ability to be highly customised.” - Wide Span Sheds
Discover more about their premium shed homes here.
“Our steel shed homes are modern, long-lasting, and can be customised to suit your lifestyle needs. Whether you are a property investor, retiree, or about to be a new homeowner, a Coresteel shed home is an incredible option for you.” - Coresteel Buildings
For more information about their Shed homes, visit their website here.
“Built with hard-wearing steel, our habitable sheds and sleepouts promise strength, style and comfort. Every building can be finished with quality insulation and aluminium joinery, to ensure your private space is fully protected from the elements.” - KiwiSpan
Visit their website for more information on Habitable Barns and Sheds.
“The shed only limited by your imagination. Our range of lifestyle kit sheds is the ideal starting point for you to create anything from a sleepout to the comfortable family bach that you’re after. We supply and build a range of quality waterproof sheds, which can be built to your particular specifications with an array of optional features to choose from.” - Sheds4U
Discover more about their lifestyle shed range here.
Can Alpine supply habitable sheds?
Unfortunately, at Alpine Buildings, we don’t do habitable sheds. While we appreciate some clients think our buildings are nice enough to live in, Alpine Buildings specialises in standard clearspan farm workshops and storage sheds. We are not set up to design and supply buildings that are compatible with the Importance Level 2 building code.
For more on the finer details on why Alpine doesn’t supply habitable sheds, read our blog “Is an Alpine Shed a good fit for a lifestyle block?”.
As you can see, not every shed across New Zealand can be built to both Importance Levels, therefore, it pays to check with your shed suppliers what is achievable with their design. A habitable shed is a complex shed so you need to work with a specialist to get an outcome that is designed and consented for the appropriate use.
While Alpine may not be the right fit for your habitable sheds, if you are looking to build a farm workshop or storage shed, reach out to our team today to discuss your project. Alternatively, download our brochure to discover our full range of available kitset sheds.