Building your own garden shed is something you can do, but it takes planning, persistence, and patience. To begin, think your way through these seven steps, then write out on paper for yourself what you need to do for each step and finally, go ahead and do each step. Remember, the best plans turn out the best work.
Step 1: Pick Your Building Site
The first step in building your own storage shed is to look for a site for the shed. It should be placed out of the way of other activities, like barbequing or backyard sports or gardening. However, your shed should not be built so far out of the way that it is an effort to use it. It should be 1) Near the normal traffic patterns in the yard, 2) handy to retrieve and store the items you will put in it. On the other hand, it should NOT be 3) under trees or in a wet place, where it will not dry out after rain, 4) not where wind could damage it, 5) not where zoning in your neighborhood doesn’t allow a storage shed to be built.
Step 2: Get Permission
Once you have selected your storage shed’s building site, remember to get any and all permissions you need to build it. This includes zoning but also talk to the neighbors on that side of your property. There is no need to surprise them unnecessarily. They might even be available to help you build it! Most places now days have some zoning regarding what you can or can not build. Therefore, find out ahead of time if they plan you want to build and the location are in compliance with local ordinances. If they discover you have built not according to code, they probably are within their authority to force you to modify or even destroy your new shed.
Step 3: Get a Plan and Materials List
Once you have the site and the permissions, these will put some limits on what you can or can not build. But at this point you can finalize and integrate what you ‘can’ do with what you ‘want’ to do as far as location and size of your storage shed.
Find or draw on paper a detailed plan of storage shed you want to build. Do NOT try to do it in your head-the outcome will be more punishment than you want to bear! Also, DO NOT modify your storage shed plan in the middle of building. Do your modifying before you begin, especially in a plan you buy. Write the modifications down on paper so a computer crash can’t destroy them and so you can take them out to the site. Correlate the plans with the tools and materials list, make changes to them as correlates to any modifications to the plans.
Step 4: Get the Materials and Tools on Hand
Now knowing location, size and shape of your new garden shed, go to the store and get the list of materials and tools you will need. This may seem childish to say, but the day you don’t have what you need because you ‘were going to’ but there is no truck or no money that day… Again, the ‘punishment’ is not worth it. Get all you need before you begin if at all possible.
As far as tools, buy, borrow or rent the tools you will need. If you won’t need a pneumatic nailer again in you life, don’t buy one for this project. Rent or even better, borrow one from a friend who did buy one. And if he knows how to use it, borrow him, too! Let him show off a little while you get some work done! While on this subject, power tools make work go faster only if you know how to use them. On the other hand, this storage shed project may not be the time to learn how to use them. You decide. If hand tools work for you, don’t be afraid to use them and don’t be talked into buying them ‘for show’.
Step 5: Prepare the Site and Foundation
Finally, it’s time to build. Almost! Before you get to cut or nail, you have to have a foundation of some kind. The site-the dirt the shed will be sitting on-needs to be level and dry and not likely to flood. This probably means spreading builders plastic and an inch or two of gravel over the building site. Check back to Step 1 to make sure you don’t need to move the site and begin all over again!
Best practice is to have gravel under the shed, and heavy plastic under the gravel, not plain dirt, to limit the moisture coming from underneath, moisture that will rot the floor and/or fill your storage shed with moisture and mold. Again, preparation is just that-pre, or before. Not after. Now place the cement blocks that will hold everything up, on the gravel. Try to hold the wood at least 8 inches off the ground to keep air circulation up and rodents out. Use enough blocks to support the floor so it doesn’t bounce or sag.
Step 6: Build in Pieces
OK, finally it’s time to build! With the blocks in place, build the sill and the floor joists overlapping the joints as much as possible. Lay the floor material and then you have a great place to work on the rest of the building! At this point you should have a fairly smooth, level platform to work from.
Construct the walls in panels, laying down and then ask a friend to help you raise them up to standing. Attach them, plumb them (straight up, all sides) and fasten them to each other. Also build the roof gables, separate from the walls, and likewise then fasten them in place with the help of a friend. The rough framing is done! If you ave not already, frame the openings for doors and windows. Make sure the door will fit any equipment you want to store in the shed. Check for overhead clearance as well.
Now to make it ‘real’: apply the siding and roof boards. From there, it’s all finish work – windows and doors to install, trim boards for that finished look, paint or stain all the raw wood, and send out invitations to a barbeque celebration!
Step 7: Hints
— Make sure your frame pieces are straight vertical-“plumb”–and that everything is at right angles before you add siding or roof boards. If the frame is not square, the building will always look ‘weird’, and no amount of cosmetic adjustment can fix a crooked building.
—If you need help, stop everything and go get it. Yes, it’s a pain. But do not get in such a hurry that you do a fast, bad job that turns out work you can never be proud of. Instead, wait and with help do the kind of work you really want done. Hey on a project like this, bragging is important, and you need a finished product you can indeed brag about!