With the right kind of construction skills and compliance knowledge, you can DIY a backyard pod and save money. This was an appealing prospect for a family living in a suburb of Canberra. They needed a studio space to suit the various needs of a couple and three children. How did they accomplish their plans for a cost-saving DIY structure? We take a look at their build-it-yourself pod project to reveal the answers and offer some helpful information.
Roberta and her family wanted a tranquil area away from the house that could be used as a studio, study, or craft room. “Basically we wanted a peaceful, flexible space”, said Roberta, “Somewhere to work, study, play, and be creative. We needed a structure that was more than a shed but not as elaborate as a granny flat.” Roberta teaches visual art, design & technology – textiles in secondary schools. She’s also a jewellery designer and needed a place to create her beautiful unique pieces for online sales. Her husband and children had their own requirements for a flexible space so a studio was the ideal solution. Fortunately, Roberta’s husband had enough building skills to enable them to tackle the project themselves.
Why a Backyard Pod?
Roberta and her husband decided a 3m x 7m shed type construction would be suitable. They had an unused area in their backyard that provided an ideal location. While researching various types of structures they came across Backyard Pods. “We liked that everything was pre-cut and delivered similar to purchasing a flat-pack”, Roberta recounted. “There was no wastage which can sometimes occur when you purchase your own materials. Overall, Backyard Pods offered an efficient, cost-saving construction method for our studio.”
“We wanted assurance that we met building regulations, particularly as we had an electrical easement located near our intended construction site”, said Roberta. “By securing planning approval and building certification, the studio would also add value to our property and be covered by insurance. It would be an asset and not a liability”. Roberta and her husband contacted ACTPLA (ACT Planning & Land Authority) for the relevant information.
As the couple was undertaking the project themselves, they needed an owner-builder’s licence. An owner-builder takes responsibility for domestic building work carried out on their own land. They are responsible for obtaining building permits, supervising or undertaking the building work, securing any necessary insurance, and ensuring the work meets building regulations and standards.
In order to become an owner-builder in ACT, you must complete an approved owner-builder course. The course provides you with the educational requirements mandated to apply for an owner-builder’s licence. Roberta completed an approved online-course then obtained her licence.
“My suggestion is to never work backward”, said Roberta. “If circumstances require building certification don’t go ahead with construction then try and get approval. You might end up with a very costly liability on your property. Be diligent and always undertake thorough research.”
Before starting their project, Roberta and her husband needed structural drawings. – “Backyard Pods put us in touch with 3 Corners Architects in Melbourne. The drawings were produced by JNA which is a division of 3 Corners Architects. Overall, everything was very cost-effective. We received a lot of help and quite a bit of useful information”, said Roberta.
The couple invested in the appropriate tools and equipment so they could better handle specific construction elements. Some of the structural building work they tackled included gyprocking, plastering, and tiling. When it came to the footings, Roberta and her husband used anchor points (mega-anchors) to secure it to the ground, rather than foundation piers or skids.
The studio was fitted with a toilet, basin, shower, cleaning sink, air-conditioning, lighting, and power. As plumbing and electrical work were required the couple needed the services of some tradies. Roberta and her husband gathered a few quotes from plumbers and electricians then made their decision. “We also found it important to find someone who was flexible and willing to work within our parameters and time frame”, mentioned Roberta.
Click and lock vinyl planks were used for internal flooring as the planks were better suited for wet areas. The couple cleverly outsourced the windows through a second-hand builder. A successful trip to Bunnings led to the purchase of tiles, flooring, architraves, skirting, paint, bathroom shower tray, shower glass, basin, and sink. Ikea was the destination for blinds and curtains.
“We did the labour with some help from kind neighbours and friends”, said Roberta. “In the end, all the hard work paid off and we’re very happy with the end result. The friendly people from Backyard Pods were always on hand for guidance and advice. A pod is a great way to go if you need a cost-saving, extra-space structure”.
If you’re looking to create a separate area for study purposes, craft or art pursuits, meditation, or even a home gym then a cost-effective, functional backyard pod is a fitting structural choice. Backyard Pods will coordinate your pod kit options and delivery logistics, and can often help owner-builders to find installers in their local area or professionals to help with documentation and compliance if requested. You can start with options for your structural solution and get in touch with us today at
Please note, if you’re thinking of doing a self-managed DIY project like the above, you should research local Council guidelines and other legislation online for preliminary information and seek advice specific to your property, zoning, location, and intended use. Contact your local Council and any other consenting authorities relevant to your project