Most Americans seem to be experiencing a real lack of storage in their homes. The self-storage business is booming, and hardly anybody has even an inch of extra space in their closets and garages. If this condition is cramping your style, it may be time to build a storage shed in your backyard.
Select Site and Size
Your first step will be to determine the site of your new shed. You’ll want your shed to be easily accessible and close to any activities you’ll use it for. For example, if you’re storing garden tools in it, you probably should place it near the garden.
Keep the size of the planned shed in mind as you scout locations. It obviously has to fit in the space you choose. Think not only of what you specifically want to use the shed for, but what it may also be used for. You may be planning it only for storing your children’s outdoor toys, but maybe you’d like to store holiday decorations in it as well? The larger the shed, the more it will cost, but a shed that’s too small will be frustrating to use.
Sketch out an idea of what you want the shed to look like, including a floor plan. Use resources in print or online to develop plans for the building. Make sure to check your local building codes as well! Your building plans should provide you with a tidy list of materials to buy.
At the Store
Now that you’ve got a site and a plan, you can head to the home improvement store. While you’re on the way, think about going with a prefabricated unit. Many stores such as Home Depot display a variety of prefab storage units (usually in their parking lot) that you can check out. These units are partially built in advance, so all you have to do is stand up the walls and fasten them together and put the roof on. These units greatly simplify the process, but you may pay a premium for the convenience.
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself person, take your list inside the store, grab a big cart, and get shopping! Your shopping list will vary depending on your choices, but your list will certainly include lumber for framing the structure, outer wall coverings, roofing material, and foundation or flooring materials. You’ll also need a copious amount of nails or screws. You may want to look at a nail gun or electric screwdriver if you don’t already own one.
Stabilize the Building
Your shed needs some legs to stand on. Prefab sheds almost always come with a floor, which stabilizes the walls and frees you from the necessity of laying a concrete foundation. (This also makes it possible to move the structure if necessary.) If you are building from scratch, you can choose either method: solid foundation or flooring. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure to follow the directions from the manufacturer and from your building plans.
Erecting the Structure
Next up are the walls. These are already built for you in a prefab unit, but you get to build them yourself if you’re following a plan. If this is your first attempt at framing, you would do well to look up a tutorial for this process. You will be building a rectangular skeleton, with the “bones” (the studs) spaced every 12 inches. Make sure to leave an appropriately-sized gap for the door!
You have a choice of wall coverings. Corrugated metal is a common choice because it is lightweight and simple to install. You can also choose HardiePlank, or wooden or plastic siding.
Arguably, the most important part of the structure is the roof. Roofs are usually framed differently from walls, so make sure you do some research and get it right! You’ll also need to pay attention to the grade or angle of your roof slope; this is important to ensure runoff and reduce the weight that snow delivers to the structure. Roofs can be built on the ground and then lifted into place and secured, and can be covered by corrugated metal or traditional shingles.
Last but not least, it’s time to fit the door. You’ll probably just buy a door and hinges and install it. If you’re planning to store, say, a lawnmower inside, you may spring for double doors, for easier access.
You may want to install a ramp, especially if the floor of the shed is raised, for your own convenience. You can insulate the interior of the shed to better protect your items, and you can even finish the walls if you like. You’ll probably want to install your choice of shelving and storage racks in the shed to accommodate the items you’ll be storing inside. Unless you’re certain that no shady characters will have access (or don’t value the contents too highly), you’ll want to install a secure lock on the door. If you included windows, those need to lock too.
Building a backyard storage shed from scratch is not a task for the lighthearted. It’s a complicated project for a skilled DIY craftsman. But it’s also quite a bit of fun and extremely rewarding.