Storage sheds are really handy little structures to have around. They’re versatile, doing this for a few years then doing that as household needs change. They can be made in every size and shape imaginable and from an exceptionally wide range of materials.
Some people are lucky; they move into a home that has a shed tucked away somewhere just waiting to be put to use but often taken for granted. Other people don’t have one, think they could really put one to good use but don’t know where to begin getting one.
Sheds can be relatively inexpensive to build but can become a rather poor investment if it turns out the shed maybe shouldn’t have been built in the first place. These things to consider before building a storage shed will take some of the guesswork out of the process and bring the biggest return on investment.
Photo Courtesy: City of Riverside, California, USA
Why are you wanting a shed? What’s it going to do for you? Sheds are workhorses; we don’t build them to just look at them, we build them to put them to work. How will yours work for you?
Will your shed need a water supply? Plumbing? Electricity? What about heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer? Windows?
Photo Courtesy: WikiMedia
Where will you put the storage shed? Will it be on level ground or is dirt work needed for safety and stability? Will your home be in your neighbors’ line of sight, perhaps blocking a beloved view, or will it become a part of the street view of your home?
Photo Courtesy: Catawba County, North Carolina, USA
Before you begin, you’ll need to know how big the storage shed needs to be. How big the items are that it will hold. Will it need just one door or is a drive-through shed better suited to your needs? Some construction materials are better suited to some uses or some climates so it’s important to match materials with intended use.
Part of the design includes utilities such as electricity, water, sewer, and even telephone service. You’ll need to know if shelves on the walls and countertops and cabinets are important and, if so, how many, what size, and where.
Photo Courtesy: Fairfax County, Virginia, USA
A do-it-yourself project might seem less expensive than a storage shed built by a professional but that’s only if you have the know-how, the time, and the tool supply to get the job done effectively. If the DIY project is also a learning experience, it’s wise to plan on the project taking longer than your most generous expectation and at a cost greater than budgeted. Errors, re-working, broken parts and tools, and perhaps even injuries will contribute to the cost and add to the timeline.
Photo Courtesy: Los Angeles County, USA
Depending on where you are building the storage shed and what utilities you’ll hook up to it, you may need to plan on red tape becoming a part of the project. Local building permits will most assuredly be required if your storage shed will be connected to any municipal utilities such as water, sewage, electricity, or natural gas. There may be design concerns, too, that alter plans. Some municipalities and homeowner associations (HOAs) regulate the size, height, and placement of buildings in a city, town, or neighborhood.
Environmental issues might affect permit approval, too, especially if the storage shed is intended for a location in an area that’s known to be ecologically fragile or if it will affect groundwater quality, endangered wildlife habitats, or anything else that might raise red flags over green concerns.
With every permit comes a fee, which adds to the overall construction cost of the shed. It’s wise to check with local authorities before finalizing a construction plan to ensure compliance with all governing bodies. Penalties can range from fines to demolition.
Most permits are followed by an inspection, which generates even more fees and penalties if the inspection process is ignored or violated.
Image Courtesy: Missouri Department of Insurance
Check with your homeowners insurance provider to see if your storage shed will be covered under your insurance policy as written or if an addendum will be needed to safeguard the insurance you carry on your home. Addenda usually come with added premiums so be prepared to pay extra for insurance for fullest coverage.
Some issues that might affect your homeowners insurance include increased risk of fire if the shed is improperly wired or near a fire source; increased risk of flood if the shed is situated in a drain field or flood zone; and added risk of injury if dangerous materials or equipment will be stored in the shed or if it’s in a high traffic zone where people are at risk of getting hurt. Most residential-size storage sheds cannot withstand the force of a tornado and can damage the main residence and other buildings and vehicles if caught up in a twister, an issue that will surely affect a homeowner’s insurance coverage.
Photo Courtesy: North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
The finish of your storage shed will determine a substantial portion of the cost of building it. In some locations, the exterior materials are limited by city ordnance or HOA by-law. Exterior decor will affect cost, too. Exterior finishes that are plain and simple will likely cost less than a more intricate finish. Some HOAs will require any outbuildings such as a storage shed be finished in the same style and colors as the main residence. In neighborhoods of significant historic value, city regulations may govern the exterior finish of the storage shed.
Photo Courtesy: Govt of Oregon, USA
Once the shed is designed, permitted, and every element approved by all parties involved, it’s time to furnish the shed. Furnishings may be nothing more elaborate than a plywood floor to keep the dirt down but they can be extravagant, too. Plumbing and electrical fixtures, appliances, furniture, and other furnishings all add to the cost of the storage shed.
Image Courtesy: State of Delaware, USA
Once all factors are considered and all expenses tallied, a true cost of construction can be assessed. The numbers add up quickly but that’s exactly why these things to consider before building a storage shed will save you money in the long run. A solid decision to build or not can be made only after each devilish detail has been examined.
Once all the research is done, the budget tweaked, the parts and pieces ordered and in place, and your storage shed actually becomes a functioning reality, it will begin paying for itself quickly. Having adequate room to work, no matter the purpose of the work, means less clutter in the home, less time in frustrating searches for lost items, less inconvenience everywhere. Peace of mind that will come from knowing the storage shed was built to order, with wisdom and forethought, introduces added value to the whole process.
Christina is an accomplished do-it-yourselfer from London who loves constructing Garden Buildings for his friends and family. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge with others about his experiences building Garden Sheds, Log Cabins, Playhouses, Summerhouses, Wooden Sheds & More.