Building a shed isn’t just throwing together a few planks of wood and a roof to create a storage space for your gardening tools and never used badminton rackets. It’s a proper undertaking that can go very wrong if not done properly.
Thankfully, there are simple rules to follow when constructing your shed. Your key areas are foundation, space and water.
Image Source: Better Homes and Gardens
Unless you live in a listed building or conservation area, you won’t need planning permission for a shed under 30 metres square (sq) and four metres high. Anything smaller is acceptable, though there are rules: sheds should be at least a metre away from any boundaries and they cannot connect to the main building in any way. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to check with your local council before buying-in your goods.
When it comes to divvying up the tasks, some can be done yourself but others need to be left for the professionals. Ultimately, think of your shed as an extension of your house. Doing so means you’ll treat it with care and come out with a small construction that protects your garden paraphernalia, looks good and leaves you feeling shed-proud.
Water is a shed’s worst nightmare, so make sure you choose a good spot for your shed. It should be dry, preferably elevated and not anywhere where rainwater can collect. Also, make sure you don’t tuck your shed away where it’s hard to get to. Remember that once a month you’ll have to lug the lawnmower out – don’t make it more of a painful task!
Image Source: the Wood Grain Cottage
Small-to-medium sheds sit happily on solid concrete blocks or pressure-treated woods that lie directly on the ground. Anything bigger, such as a shed larger than 200 ft sq in size, will need permanent foundations – concrete piers – that go below the frost line. (If you need to find out what your local frost line is, check with your council.) It’s best to get a professional to mix and pour your own concrete in these cases.
For smaller sheds, your concrete blocks should be level and properly spaced. Use solid blocks as hollow ones will crack over time, leaving you with a lopsided construction blighting the end of your garden.
How much equipment do you have? How often do you use it? What’s your biggest piece? These are crucial questions almost always ignored. Get out a tape measure and see how long your lawnmower is. Then work out how long your shed needs to be, whether your lawnmower can pass through your proposed door width and whether you have enough space to walk inside and push it out.
Not doing so will lead to sour scenarios where your shed becomes awkward and cluttered, a mess of cobwebs, rakes and wiry hoses. Order can be maintained by hammering nails into the walls as hanging posts. Remember that the point of a shed is to offer up more space, not complicate it.
Image Source: Natalme.com
It’s also very important to think about door size and placement. While a door at the front of your shed, meaning the gable end, looks rather sweet, it means you’ll have to go deeper inside to pull out your stuff. If you put your door on the longer wall, you’ll have better access to the right and left insides of your shed. Remember that inset hinges take up space.
Windows are a great addition. They offer natural light, which means you don’t have to get an electrician in to wire up your shed to your house. A windowsill can also be used as a little bit of extra storage space.
As mentioned already, water is a shed’s nemesis. Any excess moisture can cause wood to rot, warp floors and doors, rust hinges, blister paint and encourage mould and mildew, not to mention damage the property inside over time.
Image Source: Houzz
The easiest and cheapest way to keep your shed dry is to ensure good circulation. Build your shed with the mudsill at least six inches off the ground, which gives air room to blow underneath and keep things dry. Leave a good clearance space around the outside of the shed, about two to three feet, to ensure a breeze can get through and dry off those tucked away parts.
To protect your floor from rotting, use treated exterior-grade or pressure-treated plywood as floorboards, preferably those that lock together to prevent any flexing. Make sure any nails are rust resistant. If you’d prefer a concrete floor, you’ll need to dig about 15cm into the ground, before laying on your concrete. Your floor should be 15cm wider than planned to accommodate the wooden walls that will be going on top.
Finally, it goes without saying that all exterior materials should be thoroughly weather resistant. Untreated lumber will simply rot over time.
Need help building your garden shed? Post your job in our Gardener/Garden Designer category. Up to three tradesmen can contact you to quote and you’ll be able to view their profile pages, complete with customer ratings, to help you decide who to hire.