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Keep your bikes cozy in a (locally made) bike shed – Updated

Posted by on November 6th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Portlanders like to take care of their beloved bikes. Here are a few locally made examples; some by an entrepreneurial builder and one sent in by a reader who did it DIY style.

Local artist and craftsman Brennan Conaway has found yet another niche to serve in Portland’s fast-growing population of bike lovers — bike sheds.

Conaway’s bike sheds — which he designs and builds in Portland along with other small backyard structures under his Micro-Structures brand — look like an attractive way to keep your bikes secure and out of the weather.

Here are a few of his designs:

Conaway makes each shed custom and says he can build them for any budget. I caught with him on the phone at his workshop in Southeast Portland this morning. “I can work with people, but I’d say anywhere from a few hundred bucks up to a few thousand.” What makes a bike shed a bike shed? Conaway says it’s all about ease of access. “I’ll either do a ramp, put it at ground level or add extra wide doors. I like sliding doors because they’re easier to manage when you’re also holding up a bike.”

Check out his ad on Craigslist and find his contact info at Micro-Structures.com.

Reader Tim L. sent us info on his homemade bike shed, saying it cost him about $400 (a “great deal” to preserve $3,000 worth of bikes). Tim’s shed features an awning made from corrugated plastic and cedar timber and also has electric lighting “for those dark winter mornings”. Check it out:

Grape vine “adds a nice touch” says Tim.

From above.
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20 Comments
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    Tiny November 6, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    That is super rad.

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    AaronF November 6, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    That’s just creative marketing.

    Shed + Ramp = Bike Shed… c’mon.

    They look like nice sheds though… and I dig the Ultra Modern Treehouse.

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    Todd Boulanger November 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    And what would the typical permit costs for such a structure in Portland?

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    carye bye November 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Brennan is super easy to work with! While I don’t have a bike shed (yet…) I do have one of his art sculptures, the bathtub house, in my back yard.

    If you don’t have time, aren’t a builder, need a place for your bikes badly, give Brennan a try!

    Glad you are posting this story Jonathan!

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    carye bye November 6, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    no permit under 200 feet…

    http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/index.cfm?c=38156

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    vanessa November 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    No permit is needed for such a small structure.

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    Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I’m with Todd here. Though it’d be a lightning strike if you ever got busted. But from a home-owner’s insurance perspective, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss. The reason we have to pull permits for stuff like this is that it can serve as a residence. Which is the true criteria for requiring a permit.

    If a building inspector saw you putting that in your driveway, bet your bippy he’s gonna cite you, if you don’t have a building permit. That’s a blanket I don’t think I should throw, though, as it differs so much county to county.

    Awesome implementation though. I’m happy for the guy earning some bread. I just wish it didn’t take a whole tree to cover a few bikes.

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    Brennan Conaway November 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks, Tiny and AaronF! — The Ultra Modern Treehouse was fun to build, and my “client”, 11-year-old Riley, was really excited about it.

    Hi, Todd Boulanger — Usually there are no permits required, because the bike sheds are so small.

    Carye — Thanks! That was a great project!

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    hey folks,

    i just updated the story with photos and info on a DIY example that was sent in to us from a reader a few weeks ago.

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    Brennan Conaway November 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Yes, Carye and Vanessa are correct. No permit is required for bike sheds. Thanks for the link, Carye!

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    Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    #5 – Has a good link. It says 200 SQUARE feet though. None of these are bigger than 10×20? Plus, look at the language accompanying the dimension regulations. It says, “non-habitable”.

    Im not poo-pooing folks. But seriously, I’d check my Home-owners ins, and talk to the Planning folks prior to doing this. I’ve worked installing Tough-Shed brand product before, and I had to pull a permit for each, and every one, on account of the, “habitable”, angle. Those ranged from 80 squares to several hundred. Because of the roof, and the locking door, they were, “habitable”.

    Which isn’t to say Mr. Conaway hasn’t worked something out with the authorities. Or that I know better than he does. I’m just REALLY surprised these qualify as uninhabitable.

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    Ben Foote November 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I can’t say enough good things about Brennan. He’s a really wonderful artist and craftsman. I’ve enjoyed hosting his art in the gallery and have admired his work as part of nowhere (with Charisa Niles and Matt McCalmut) for many years. Really wonderful stuff. I feel that it’s apparent that his years of work in structural form and sculpture coming from the Oregon College of Art and Craft allows him to bring a great deal of skill, depth of knowledge and creativity to his projects.

    http://ongallery.org
    http://nowheregallery.org

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    JR November 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    “Habitable” space typically refers to a place people can live in, and as such would have insulation, plumbing, heat, and electricity. There shouldn’t be any confusion here..

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    Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Judging by the pictures, all of those are smaller than 200 square feet.

    Vance, to be considered “habitable”, it has to be enclosed and have at least one window or mechanical ventilation.

    Those considering this, be aware that it’s possible they might require a zoning permit, even if they don’t require a building permit.

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    Anonymous November 6, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I’d like to know what is possible to put in to the planting strip in front of our house for secure bike parking. Like many Portland homeowners, we live in a house on a slight rise with a flight of stairs that makes transporting bicycles a real pain. Would the City allow us to install a bike shed on the planter strip? I think this is an important issue, as lack of easy to use bike parking is a real hindrance to everyday bike usage at our house.

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    Tony Pereira November 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Oh look, Vance is making constructive, positive comments again. So nice of him.

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    peejay November 8, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Now look who cares about trees used in bike shelters? Did Vance join the “Church of Green”?

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    Doug Klotz November 8, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I would say that the city will not allow you to put a bike shed in the planting strip. The city has allowed homeowners to put a bike rack in their planting strip (there’s on on Salmon at about 32nd). The planting strip is in the public right-of-way, and needs to be open for people to walk through, etc. Another issue, which applies to trees as well, is keeping the sidewalk area visible from the street for personal safety of people walking. (Trees should be pruned up high enough to be seen under) A shed would block views to and from the sidewalk.

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    Doug Klotz November 8, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Regarding structures in your yard and the Portland Zoning (not Building) Code (sec. 33.110.250(C)4: “Covered accessory structures” are not allowed in the side and rear setbacks in single-family zones, unless they are less than 6 feet high. If over 6 feet, they must meet setback requirements. In most zones, the setback is 5 feet from the side and rear lot lines (and it’s usually at least 10 feet from the front lot line). It’s hard to tell, but Conaway’s sheds appear to be set back, and the owner-built shed appears just at 6 feet.

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    AC. November 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Great sheds! Outbuildings are a bargain. Think about what equivalent square footage in your home costs. Plus, you don’t have to bring all the drippy winter gear inside your house. Build em’ strong enough and sheds can be moved if necessary. As for codes, it isn’t all that complicated; don’t be intimidated.

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