Building Your Own Shed: What You Need to Know and How We Made Ours

Updated on October 30, 2019
Amanda Buck profile image

Amanda has years of varied DIY experience, having owned and updated multiple homes, including her 1930's farmstead.

This article will break down how we put together our shed and what you need to know to build your own.
This article will break down how we put together our shed and what you need to know to build your own. | Source

Shed lots seem to be popping up all over the place! You may have seen a bunch of sheds, garages, or mini barns sitting in an abandoned parking lot or on the corner of an intersection.

These buildings can serve a lot of purposes and many of the manufacturers will build to suit your needs. Some will even finish the interior for you. If you have always wanted some extra space—perhaps for a craft room, office or home gym—a shed can give you the space you need. Read on to see how we turned a shed into a home office!

We turned this shed into a home office.
We turned this shed into a home office. | Source

How Much Does a Shed Cost?

Costs can range widely depending on the size of your building, your location, the builder and how much of the work you want them to do.

When we priced materials at a local building supply store, we found that it was cheaper to buy a shed and have it delivered than it was for the materials alone! Though we are big do-it-yourselfers, it certainly made sense to us to save ourselves the time and effort and just buy a shed.

Many shed lots have discounted buildings. These buildings may have been used as a model, repossessed, or traded in. Ask the dealer if he has any discounted buildings for you to consider. If you live in town, be sure to check your local zoning and HOA laws before purchasing a shed.

How to Recognize a Quality Building

Sometimes prices are similar between one builder and another, but the quality of the products and workmanship are very different. It is good to be vigilant and really inspect the models on the lot before you decide which builder to use.

Here are some tips to help you spot quality craftsmanship:

  • Are the windows single pane or double? Are they insulated? Do they slide easily up and down? Do they flip down for easy cleaning? Insulated, double pane windows are higher quality.
  • How far apart are the studs? Are they 2 X 4s or 2 x 6s? 2 x 6s are stronger. 2 x 4s are fine as long as they are good quality.
  • Is the lumber straight and of good quality or twisted and knotty? The 2x4s should be straight and not full of knots and holes.
  • Did they use nails or screws? Screws are best, but nails are more common. Check that nails are pounded in all the way and not sticking out.
  • Did they use metal plates to secure joints? These plates make the building stronger.
  • What is the quality of the floor? Does it feel secure? How thick is the flooring material? Does the floor sag when you walk on it? Do the floor boards fit tight together, or is there space between them? A tighter, thicker floor is best.
  • What is the thickness of the siding and floor material? The thicker the better here. Plywood generally holds up better than OSB (oriented strand board). Marine-grade plywood is very good. It can be easily recognized by its dark green color.
  • If they are insulating the building for you, what is the R-value and type of insulation used? The higher the R-value the better. The builder may use fiberglass batts or spray foam insulation. Spray foam is a good option for the underside of the building, as batts would hold moisture. Spray foam tends to be more expensive. Batts are good for the walls and ceiling. You might also see a thin layer of shiny foil when looking at the ceiling. This is good. This reflective material helps with heating and cooling as well.
  • Spend some time in the shed and see how it feels to you. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
We found this used building on a shed lot.The shed already had a door, slider, and two windows that let in a lot of natural light.
We found this used building on a shed lot.
We found this used building on a shed lot. | Source
The shed already had a door, slider, and two windows that let in a lot of natural light.
The shed already had a door, slider, and two windows that let in a lot of natural light. | Source

Important Questions and Points to Ask the Dealer About

  • How long are the materials and workmanship warrantied?
  • What options are there, and how much do they cost? This might include adding additional windows, upgrading materials, or finishing the interior. (Note: This would be a good time to ask about a leveling service and see if there are any additional fees for delivery and set up.)
  • Most shed lots will have samples of their materials and colors for you to look at in the office. Ask to see them.
  • Sometimes it is helpful to visit several shed lots. Viewing different products and options will help you decide on exactly what you want.

Make Sure You Fully Map Out Your Plan Before Starting

Visit several shed lots and look at lots of different products. Sample many different materials and colors. Consider the costs of potential upgrades like windows, insulation, and various interior elements.

Why We Needed a Shed

In our case, our little 1930s bungalow gets a bit tight, and we needed an office that afforded more quiet and privacy than our home allowed. We visited several shed lots and happened upon this little 8 ’x 10’ metal building. It already had a door, two windows, and a slider, which saved quite a bit of money.

The building had been used as an office for a dog boarding facility. People would enter through the smaller door and sign their dog in. Then the dog would be taken through the slider, which opened up to the kennels. The owner traded the building in for a larger one.

The interior was finished but poorly done, and it lacked insulation. It was a little smaller than what we had been hoping for, but the price was right. So, we bought it.

The Hard Part: Tips for Finding, Transporting and Arranging Your Materials

Sheds are built on skids, but they need to be set on a level surface of stone. With smaller sheds, it is OK to place cement blocks underneath to level them up—2” thick square patio pavers are good for this.

With larger buildings, however, it is better to set them right on the stone. You can use crushed stone 53s or road pack. Your stone should be 2” thick at the lowest point and should be at least a foot wider than your building on all sides.

Calculating How Much Stone You'll Need and Where to Find It

You can find a calculator online that will tell you how many yards or tons of stone you will need for your pad based on the footprint size of the shed and how high you need to build up the stone.

Then you need to find either a place that sells stone, or a local hauler. I recommend looking for a local hauler (AKA, a guy with a dump truck), because he might know where the cheapest place is to get the material you need.

Moving and Setting Up Your Stone

Stone is not easy to move. So if your dump truck driver can spread it as much as possible as it comes out of the truck, that will save you a lot of back-breaking work. You can use a stiff rake to move the stones around.

Depending on the size of your building, you may need to buy or rent special tools to make sure your stone pad is level. Some shed places offer a leveling service. In our case, the pad was small enough that I could use a long 2 x 4 and place the level on that. I built up places that were low and knocked down places that were high. I had to move the 2 x 4 and measure in several places and different directions, including diagonally.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our shed is being delivered. You can see the stone pad and the stack of  2" pavers, ready in case the driver needs them to level the building.The building is in place on the stone pad.Rear view of the building on the stone pad.  You can see the water hydrant and electrical we brought up beside the building.
Our shed is being delivered. You can see the stone pad and the stack of  2" pavers, ready in case the driver needs them to level the building.
Our shed is being delivered. You can see the stone pad and the stack of 2" pavers, ready in case the driver needs them to level the building. | Source
The building is in place on the stone pad.
The building is in place on the stone pad. | Source
Rear view of the building on the stone pad.  You can see the water hydrant and electrical we brought up beside the building.
Rear view of the building on the stone pad. You can see the water hydrant and electrical we brought up beside the building. | Source

The Easy Part: Tips for Having Your Shed Delivered

Once your stone pad is ready, your shed can be delivered.

Do note that if you plan on running plumbing or electricity to your shed, you may want to have that roughed in first as well. In our case, we ran plumbing and electric next to the shed, but not under it.

You also want to leave room for the delivery driver to place your shed. The trucks and trailers they use to deliver these buildings are amazing! They’re like transformers. I’ve never seen a truck and trailer bend, move, and come apart in so many different ways! The driver had something that looked like a game controller to make it do its magic. It was very interesting watching it be set into place.

Delivery and set up are usually free, or included in the price of your shed, unless you have special circumstances that make it harder to place.

Questions to Consider Before Transporting Your Shed

Before you arrange to have your shed delivered, be sure to look around your property and consider questions such as:

  • How will the driver get the shed to the location?
  • Will a fence need to be taken down?
  • Are there trees or limbs in the way? What about low power lines?
  • Do you have a driveway gate that is too small to fit the building through?

If you have concerns, you can ask the dealer to come out and take a look at your property to see how everything will fit.

Get a Professional to Take a Look at Your Space

You might want to ask the dealer or another professional to come out and take a look at your property to see how everything will fit.

Why We Had to Gut Our Building

Now that your building has arrived, you can get to work!

If you had the builder finish the inside, you are closer to done than we were! If you did not have the builder finish the inside, you are still closer to done than we were! You see, we had to gut our building.

We removed the panelling and saved it to reuse. We ripped out the floor. With all those dogs, it was not salvageable. We cut an access in the ceiling so that we could insulate the attic space. We added foam insulation to the walls and floor. We added wiring. Then we put it back together. The panelling went back up, and we added trim. Now we were ready for the finishing touches.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The old, green, poly-foam insulation did not have a very good R-value and did not fit tightly in the wall cavity, leaving gaps for cold air to get through.We needed to remove some of the green insulation to run wires and add 2 x 4 pieces to attach the wall-board to.We added spray foam and pink poly-foam insulation with a higher R-value to the existing green foam to fill the wall cavity.We reinstalled the wall-board and added trim. We also cut an attic access in the ceiling.With the wall-board reinstalled, we were ready for paint.
The old, green, poly-foam insulation did not have a very good R-value and did not fit tightly in the wall cavity, leaving gaps for cold air to get through.
The old, green, poly-foam insulation did not have a very good R-value and did not fit tightly in the wall cavity, leaving gaps for cold air to get through. | Source
We needed to remove some of the green insulation to run wires and add 2 x 4 pieces to attach the wall-board to.
We needed to remove some of the green insulation to run wires and add 2 x 4 pieces to attach the wall-board to. | Source
We added spray foam and pink poly-foam insulation with a higher R-value to the existing green foam to fill the wall cavity.
We added spray foam and pink poly-foam insulation with a higher R-value to the existing green foam to fill the wall cavity. | Source
We reinstalled the wall-board and added trim. We also cut an attic access in the ceiling.
We reinstalled the wall-board and added trim. We also cut an attic access in the ceiling. | Source
With the wall-board reinstalled, we were ready for paint.
With the wall-board reinstalled, we were ready for paint. | Source

Placing the Finishing Touches

The ceiling got a new coat of paint and a new light fixture. The walls and trim got painted. We installed laminate flooring. We placed a large white board on one wall.

Did you know that you can buy white board panels that are 4' x 8’? We just cut it down to the size we wanted. We chose insulated curtains for the south-facing slider and hung shades in the other two windows.

My husband found a pallet and added boards to make a little deck off the slider. And some little flowers volunteered to come up in the window box all on their own. Our office was finished and ready for move in.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
With the walls and ceiling freshly painted, we began to install the laminate flooring.Painting and flooring finished.Time for curtains. I bought the panels, but needed to sew them together so that they would slide more easily. We also wanted the curtains to be insulating—sewing them together eliminated the gaps between panels.Curtains hung and white board ready for installation.Finished view of the front door.Finished view of the white board.Finished view of the slider and deck.
With the walls and ceiling freshly painted, we began to install the laminate flooring.
With the walls and ceiling freshly painted, we began to install the laminate flooring. | Source
Painting and flooring finished.
Painting and flooring finished. | Source
Time for curtains. I bought the panels, but needed to sew them together so that they would slide more easily. We also wanted the curtains to be insulating—sewing them together eliminated the gaps between panels.
Time for curtains. I bought the panels, but needed to sew them together so that they would slide more easily. We also wanted the curtains to be insulating—sewing them together eliminated the gaps between panels. | Source
Curtains hung and white board ready for installation.
Curtains hung and white board ready for installation.
Finished view of the front door.
Finished view of the front door.
Finished view of the white board.
Finished view of the white board.
Finished view of the slider and deck.
Finished view of the slider and deck.

Some of the Challenges We Faced

  • When we removed the panelling, we found that the studs were not equally spaced. This made cutting insulation to fit a real challenge.
  • Heating such a small space has been easy with an electric space heater. But it does get mighty hot in the summer. We hope to remedy that next year.
  • The space is small. We really could have used the extra footage of a larger building. But sheds are fairly modular, and we could add another one and attach it to the existing. Or we could finish off the back porch to add space.
  • Insulating the floor did not leave us much clearance under the door. Over time, changes in humidity caused the floor to warp a bit and the door catches.

An electric space heater kept the office warm in the winter.
An electric space heater kept the office warm in the winter. | Source

Customize Your Shed to Your Desire

Overall, we are quite happy with our little shed! It is a great way to add that extra room you wish you had. And it doesn’t have to look like a shed in the end—you can make it look quite nice!

We are currently embarking on our next shed project: a much larger building that will serve as an exercise room, a quiet get-away, and added space for entertaining company. Stay tuned for updates on that project!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Amanda Buck

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Amanda Buck profile imageAUTHOR

        Amanda Buck 

        8 weeks ago from Rural South Central Indiana

        Thanks for the comments! Glad I could give you some ideas Linda, maybe we will see pictures of your project on here someday?

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        8 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        What a lovely result. The final version certainly doesn't look like a shed. Thanks for sharing all the information. We have a shed, but it's being used to store things at the moment and needs to be renovated. You've got me thinking about possibilities.

      • profile image

        RTalloni 

        2 months ago

        Nice tips on purchasing a shed and getting it placed. You guys did a great job of finishing your side office. Thanks for sharing the project.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)