Ferndale Ave Framing Schematics 7

Now that we had a design, it was time to get a building permit. One of our neighbours had built her backyard shed without a permit but we knew that, with all the development in Westboro, chances are somebody would ask about ours.

Also, the neighbour to the south of our property was embroilled in a battle with the Ontario Municipal Board to get approval for the two four-storey monster homes he wanted to build.  Our shed right next to his lot was was going to get his attention so we wanted to be bullet-proof he challenged us.

We took our drawings down to the City of Ottawa to apply for permission to build what the city calls an “accessory building.” We had to make clear this was for a backyard office and was not a home someone would live in.

On the first try, we were told no-go. We needed more detailed drawings, site plans, cut-aways of the walls, a map of the concrete piers that would support the building and detailed specifications of insulation and and LVL beams we’d use.

Finally, joy. The city approved our revised plans.  Work could begin.


The City of Ottawa told us, based on our zoning, that we could build up to 55 square metres and as high as 4.5 metres (measured from ground level to the midpoint of the roof).

That’s huge. We decided to go big and work with a design that used the maximum dimensions.

Ryan warned us that there would probably be a lot of back-and-forth about designs. Got that right.

He sent us dozens of renderings of possible designs.

Flat Roof Shed 1 Bin Enclosure Shed 4 - 1 Lounger Shed 2.0 Retro Shed4 Rosevelt Backyard Office 4 view 2 Sleek Window Shed 1 - 2 Slide Shed 5 241 Patricia 2 Augmented Roof 2 14B Morris St Shed 2

We sorted through them and finally decided to use this design as a starting point:

Visor Window Shed 2

We sent back and forth with more modifications, with lots of discussion about the size of the windows and doors. Finally, we end up with this:

Bifold Window Shed 2

But then, after thinking about it for a few days, we realized we modified the design so much that it now looked boring and completely unlike the modern and creative design we were looking for.

We started over again. More back and forth by email and, finally, a design we all loved — now nicknamed the Mustard House or the Lemon Castle. It would have narrow front deck and sliding barn doors on one side to give access to a storage space to keep bikes and garden tools.


Meet our shed guy


When you hire a contractor, you’re supposed to get at least three quotes, ask for references and go see their previous work. We did none of that.

We found Ryan Ward’s website,, and immediately liked the aesthetics of his work and clean, modern designs.

We invited him over for an initial consultation. He understood exactly what we had in mind and the reason for building. It seemed like a good match. Ryan said he would send us some preliminary designs but warned that there’d be a lot of back and forth.

Ye Olde Shed


It was built in the early 1990 and has doesn’t done much since except store bikes, Christmas ornaments and a lot of stuff we don’t really need anymore and should have junked. And it smells like a racoon died under it. Time’s up.