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What to Know before You Build Your Shed

Published October 07, 2021

Nine Important Things to Consider When Building

 

The classic garden shed is one of the most versatile parts of the home.

It can serve many purposes: a place to store lawn equipment, a messy and productive workshop, a craft area, or perhaps even a little getaway from the hustle and bustle inside the house – like a She Shed.

However you plan to use your shed, you'll want to make sure to build it correctly. This article will go over all the considerations you need to make when you’d like to construct one.

Shed that's 10 feet wide by 14 feet deep  perfect option for narrow storage shed

This design is a perfect option for a narrow storage shed (Plan #100-1361).

 

1. Costs

The true cost of building a shed can vary, depending on the design choices that you make. However, there's no need to get stuck in a chicken-and-egg situation when setting a budget based on what you want or trying to fit what you want into your budget.

It’s easy enough to do both.

A typical shed might be about 10x12 feet in size. When budgeting, this could be anywhere from roughly $2,000 to north of $4,000, and the variations can come from many factors including the following:

  • Choice of materials (metal, wood, vinyl, etc.)
  • Size of shed
  • Inclusion of amenities (electricity, insulation, plumbing, etc.)
  • Local permit costs (can vary by state and county)
  • Contractor fees

In addition to the above, there are the so-called “hidden” fees that can really add up, such as tool rentals, heavy trash pickup costs, etc.

 

2. Materials

The materials you choose to build your shed will affect the price of the project. However, your long-term plans for the project, rather than the upfront costs, typically should be the greatest influencing factor on the choice.

  • Siding / Wall Materials

Metal sheds are a very cheap and popular option. This is because they are durable and low-maintenance. Sheds made from resin and vinyl are also easy to maintain and last ages because the different types of plastics can endure extreme weather.

On the other hand, wooden sheds are stronger than metal and plastic, durable, and stylish (perfect for a She Shed!) but require periodic maintenance like laike painting.

  • Foundation Materials

Consider what type of foundation you prefer to use for your shed. Concrete slabs and blocks, as well as large-dimension pressure-treated timbers, are the most common options.

  • Roofing Materials

There is a great selection of roofing materials available, all at different price points and offering different levels of durability.

A few examples are:

  • Corrugated metal
  • Colorbond standing-seam steel
  • Concrete tile
  • Ceramic, metal, or composite tiles
  • Slate
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Wood shingles

Your final choice will likely be based on both the look and price point of the material.

 

3. Tools

While the list of tools below is not exhaustive, this is a starting point for the ones you’ll need to build a shed as you begin to make preparations and set your budget.

  • Electric and/or Cordless Drills
  • Drill Bits
  • Measuring Tape
  • Hammer
  • Hand and/or Power Saw
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrench
  • Ladder
  • Pencils and Permanent Markers
  • Tin Snips
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Gloves
  • Protective Eyewear

In addition to these tools, consider the cost of the building materials and labor as well.

Array of hand and power tools, including handsaw, drill, plane, hammer, square

The right tools and fasteners make it easy to set up your shed, left to right from top: handsaw, screws, drill, hammer, hand plane, square, measuring tape, pencil, nails, level (photo credit: Eugen Str on Unsplash).

 

4. Door Type

Shed with gable roof, blue clapboard siding, and sliding glass door

This shed has been turned into an elegant office with sliding glass doors (Plan #100-1362)

 

The type of door you chose for your shed is an important consideration, especially with security in mind. For example, intruders might attempt to target your shed for a break-in instead of the main house as they might see it as more vulnerable.

Depending on the contents of your shed, the door is not something you want to skimp on.

That said, there are still a few different secure options to choose from.

  • Rolling doors
  • Double swing doors
  • Automatic doors
  • “Home” doors (wooden, glass, etc.)

No matter which door you choose, consider ease of access. For example, on a larger shed, a heavy rolling door might be easier to use if there is mechanical assistance.

 

5. Amenities

If you’re building a simple shed for storage, “amenities” might not need to be on your list.

However, if you plan to use your shed for hobbies such as carpentry, pottery, painting, and the like, then you’ll also need to consider the amenities you would like to have. This is especially true if your shed will function more as a social space, like a She Shed.

Basic amenities might include

  • Electricity (outlets and lights)
  • Built-in storage 
  • Insulation

More elaborate/expensive projects might include amenities like

  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Ceiling fans
  • Plumbing (sink, toilet)
  • Speaker systems

Individual needs will vary but will greatly impact the shed’s price and could make the construction process more intricate.

Gambrel-roof shed with white board-and-batten siding and double sliding barn doors

This double door shed provides easy access into and out of the shed, making it easy to move and to store items (Plan #100-1363).

 

6. Permits

Some counties and municipalities do not require permits for building a shed because a shed is too small a project. Many do, however, so it’s best to look into this possibility before building a shed. You can ask your contractor about the local requirements for assistance.

To find out what permission is needed to build on your particular property, it’s best to do a quick Google search for “permits needed to build a shed” followed by your city or county.

Man in blue shirt at a desk signing papers using a pen

Photo credit: Scott Graham on Unsplash

 

7. Location

It’s important to choose the location of your shed around the same time as applying for any relevant permits for starting construction. This is because many municipalities (and homeowner’s associations) have specific guidelines for where you can build anything on a particular plot of land, including the location of underground water mains, public gas lines, buried electrical lines, easements, and the like.

If you build over any of these utilities, you could be in for a real headache, in addition to putting your safety at risk.

Shed with white board-and-batten siding, gable roof, shed dormer, and double door

Perfect storage space for any house whether big or small (Plan #100-1364).

 

Aside from legal and municipal issues, there are also practical elements to consider. Do you have space for the shed with pre-existing landscaping, pools, etc., or will you need to move things around? Is there a nearby tree that could pose a threat to your shed (falling limbs, pollen, shade, and mildew)? Do you want your shed to be hidden from view? If you include windows, what will their view be?

Try to think of every possible pro and con about locations for a shed within your property to avoid running into trouble later on.

 

8. Hiring a Contractor

Although building a shed might be in the wheelhouse for many DIYers, you don’t have to go at it alone. For some, it might only take a long weekend to complete the mini barn raising, but others may soon find themselves way over their heads.

In this case (or if you really could do it yourself, but simply don’t have the time), it’s best to hire a contractor or handyman to build your shed for you.

Crew of construction workers on ladders siding a building

Get the right crew for your project to ensure a smooth process and a stress-free building experience (photo credit:  Jens Behrmann on Unsplash).

 

This way, you won’t have to find a crew (or recruit friends) to help you with the build, source the materials, or possibly throw out your back during construction.

 

9. Uses of a Shed

As mentioned, there are many ways to make use of your shed. While it’s great to have its final use in mind when constructing it for the best possible result, you don’t need to worry about the resale value of your property too much.

This is because most sheds can be used for – or at least easily converted to – other purposes, so future owners won’t be put off by your She Shed should they want a sculpture studio.

Board-and-batten-sided shed with gable roof, shed dormer, and covered patio with eating/drinking bar and chairs

Enjoy the outdoor experience right from this cozy shed. It is simple, yet stylish and can be used for various purposes (Plan #100-1364).

 

Speaking of, here are the most common reasons to include a shed in your house plan:

  • She Shed

Created in response to the ever-popular Man Cave, a She Shed is a place in the home that belongs exclusively to the women who live there. These cozy little cottages are usually less than 500 square feet and ready for your design ideas!

Here are our favorite She Shed plans.

Shed with wrap-around covered patio, table and chairs, gable roof, and gable dormer

 Want some alone time? This shed is perfect to use as a little getaway spot (Plan #100-1360).

 

  • Garden Shed

Gardening might be the most classic use of a shed. It’s the perfect place to store gardening tools like the lawnmower, weed trimmer, rakes, shovels, gloves, wheelbarrow, and the like.

It also makes a great home for a succulent or two, some bags of mulch, and even the family sports equipment.

  • Pool Shed

If you have a pool – either above- or in-ground – you might find it convenient to have a shed to house the associated equipment, such as the pool pump, filter, and heater if you have one. You’ll also have room to store the cover when it’s not in use, skimmer and other tools, and chemicals for treating the water during the season.

 

A shed is a valuable addition to any home, enhancing both the livability and resale value. If you are interested in building a shed (or home addition, new house, etc.) and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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