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How to Renovate an Old Garden Shed Into a Food-Storage Area

My aim with DIY projects around the home is to look for innovative space-saving ideas and save costs on materials by recycling.

Converted Food-Storage Shed (Using Kitchen Units for More Efficient Storage)

Converted Food-Storage Shed (Using Kitchen Units for More Efficient Storage)

An Easy Way for More Food Storage

We save £400 ($600) a year by buying food in bulk when it’s on offer (genuine offers) and storing it in our garden shed (e.g. buying several crates of tins of baked beans when a supermarket slashes the price to half price for a week).

This article gives an overview of how we revamped an old shed to create a modern storage system (using kitchen units) to make food storage more efficient and easier to manage. In addition to doubling our storage capacity, this system helps us manage cycling, stock-taking (so we don’t overstock on particular items), pushing the new stock to the back, and moving older stock to the front. I also demonstrate how we saved money on this DIY project by recycling and upcycling building materials, e.g. doors, windows and tiles.

A Cost-Effective Way to Shop

We’ve been bulk-buying food and storing it in our shed since I designed and built a purpose-built double shed in 1998. One part of the shed is my workshop and the other section (with its own entrance) is a storage shed (with freezer) for my wife. Initially, I put an old cupboard (which a friend gave us) and some shelving in my wife’s shed so that when she did the shopping she could store a few surplus items that she bought because they were on offer.

However, these days shopping has got a lot easier in the UK. With free online shopping (food delivered directly to your door from the supermarket) and price-comparison sites that (with the press of a few buttons) allow you to compare prices between different supermarkets for any product, it's become much easier to spot the bargains.

Consequently, in recent years, our old food store had become too cumbersome to manage for efficient storage of food supplies; hence the need to radically upgrade it to what is effectively a mini kitchen (minus the kitchen sink) at the end of the garden.

The Project Objectives

Using my project management skills and the three cornerstones to any good ‘Project’ (Time, Cost and Quality), at the beginning of the ‘planning stage’, I set myself a number of goals and objectives.

  1. The ‘Cost’ should be kept to below the savings we make on bulk storage of bargain-priced foods over a five-year period e.g. budget set at £2,000 ($3,000).
  2. The ‘Quality’ should focus on ‘durability’ of the build and materials used, so that the new build will last for years to come and not fall to bits within just a few years through wear and tear; and focus on ‘functionality’ and ‘efficiency’ e.g. ease of use, to make stocktaking and storage easy and convenient.
  3. The ‘Time’ to compete the DIY ‘Project’ within one month to minimise on disruption and inconvenience e.g. for the duration of the build (renovations) the surplus food normally stored in the shed would have to be stacked in our dining room and the two freezers we have in the shed placed outside in the garden, with tarpaulin over them to protect them from the elements (weather).
  4. Finally, but just as important, a crucial aim of the ‘Project’ would be to increase the storage capacity by at least 50%, allowing us greater capacity to store bargain-priced food and save even more money; so that over time, the cost of the ‘Renovations’ would eventually be recouped; not that money is our prime concern (being British), the prime concern to us is to just make storing the food easier and more efficient (any eventual financial return on the costs of the is just a bonus).

The Importance of Good Planning

Spending quality time in the planning stage for any DIY project like this is critical to better ensure a successful outcome. Skimp or rush the planning or get it wrong, and the whole project could end up a disaster (or at the very least not meet your expectations). Without proper planning, the project can end up too costly, take too long or yield disappointing end results (e.g. poor-quality build and or materials, and or not be fit for purpose).

In the planning stage, ‘risks’ should be taken into account; hence the importance of understanding good ‘Risk Management' to help you identify the likelihood and potential severity of risks and take provisions to mitigate against those risks should they occur.

Other elements of good planning include getting the design right, doing proper research e.g. costs and availability of materials, and thorough preparation. All this takes time, and in my case, it was 12 months from concept to start of the build.

It was while standing in the shed looking at how cumbersome it was trying to stack surplus bargain-priced food into an old cupboard not designed for food storage, and the stacks of food crammed together on inadequate shelving, that I had the conception to renovate the whole shed and transform it into a proper food storage area; suitable for our needs.

Scale Drawings of Proposed Food Store

Plan view of proposed food storage shed drawn to scale

Plan view of proposed food storage shed drawn to scale

Side Elevation view of proposed food storage shed drawn to scale

Side Elevation view of proposed food storage shed drawn to scale

From Concept to Preparation

Early one spring, the first thing I did when I had the concept (while having a cup of coffee to help me think) was to visualise in my mind's eye what was needed; that vision was a mini-kitchen with proper kitchen units and worktop, but less the kitchen sink.

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