The Best Way to Build a Shed

Summer is shed-building season, and not just because the weather is great for working outside. Most storage shed are built in the summer for a more practical reason: At the end of the season, no one wants to haul all the summer gear and belongings that have been brought out and back into the already packed garages, basements, and homes. .

So, many DIYers wisely decide to build a storage shed before summer ends.

These seven tips and techniques will help you get the perfect shed for your home and yard. And many of these tips are useful whether you build the shed from scratch, hire a contractor to build it, or buy a pre-made outbuilding online or at a local home center or lumber yard. From the yard.

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The Best Way to Build a Shed

Step 1: Get permission to build.

Before building anything on your property, including a shed, you should go to the local building department and apply for a building permit. You may also need approval from the Inland Wetlands Commission, the Department of Health and the Zoning Board. In fact, in many towns, the building department will not consider your application until you first receive approval from these other agencies.

Once you’ve run the gauntlet and gotten all the necessary approvals, then apply for a building permit—and to speed up the process, be sure to submit a set of shed plans. You can make plans yourself or buy plans from any online source, including Better Barns or Shade King.

A building inspector will review the plans to ensure that the shed complies with all local and national building codes. If there are any violations of the code, the inspector will identify them and propose solutions according to the code.

Step 2: Sit the shed

Siting simply means identifying the exact spot on your property where the shed will be placed, or set up. It sounds like a simple enough task, and depending on your yard, it just might be. But if you choose the wrong location, you’ll end up with a short-lived, unusable outbuilding.

Keep these three “don’ts” in mind when deciding where to put your shed:

Do not build a shed at the bottom of a hill or in a low-lying area where water collects. Excessive moisture will rot the wood, blister the paint and rust the hinges. It will also promote the growth of mold and mildew on items stored in the shed. Also, the ground near the shed will turn into a wet, muddy swamp after every rain.

Do not take the shed deep into the forest where it will be completely surrounded by trees and ground cover. The shed will receive little sunlight or air flow and will be dark and damp, creating the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. In addition, woodland sheds are under constant attack from falling branches, acorns, leaves, pine needles, and other types of canopy debris. A furry forest creature is more likely to go into or under a shed built in the forest. And there is always the possibility of damage caused by a fallen tree.

Do not violate code-required setback distances. The building inspector will determine how far your shed must be from, for example, side, front, and rear property lines; streets, driveways, and sidewalks; house, garage, and deck; septic tanks and leach fields; Wetlands and easements. Setback distances vary widely from city to city, but generally range from about 10 feet (from the rear lot line) to 100 feet or more (from wetlands). Contact the local zoning board or building department for specific information, and be sure to follow the law to the letter. If you violate the restrictions, the town can legally move you to the shed in compliance.

Step 3: Get the toolup.

Building a shed, regardless of its size, will require a full complement of carpentry hand tools and power tools. And if you collect tools ahead of time, you won’t have to stop working to buy tools. For hand tools, you’ll need all the obvious carpentry tools, including a hammer, tape measure, framing square, combination square, 2-ft. and 4-foot level, chalk rail, handsaw, and flat pry bar.

For power tools, you’ll need a perfect cordless drill and impact driver for drilling holes and driving screws. (Be sure to keep at least one extra battery so you don’t have to stop while the battery recharges.) A job site table saw is very helpful, but not absolutely necessary. You can make long cuts with a portable circular saw. And if you don’t have a compound meter (shown below), definitely consider getting one. Although you can make cross cuts with a circular saw, a miter saw is much faster and more accurate.

Also, get yourself a tool belt with plenty of pouches to keep tools and fasteners handy. (A tool belt with a suspender attached is especially comfortable.) And don’t forget protective gear, including goggles, hearing protection, dust masks, hard hats, and work gloves.

Step 4: Start with a solid foundation.

A shed will not last long if it is placed on a weak foundation. Most sheds can be supported by an on-grade foundation, with solid concrete blocks or pressure-treated lumber laid directly on the ground. Concrete blocks or timbers (aka: skids) should be level and close enough to support the frame of the shed floor. And to protect foundation blocks or skids from soil erosion, place them on a 4-inch-deep bed of compacted gravel. If the base is relatively small, compact the gravel with hand tamping. But for any shed larger than about 8×10 feet, save yourself a ton of time and sweat by renting a plate compactor, which is a large gas-powered machine.

If you plan to build a shed larger than 200 square feet, the building inspector will likely require you to install a permanent foundation that extends to the frost line. This type of foundation is usually made of poured concrete piers or compressed pressure-treated wood posts. Check with the building department for specific code requirements and frost line depth in your area.

And be aware that if you’re buying a pre-made shade, it doesn’t come with a foundation, which you should make before delivery.

Step 5: Build a weather-resistant floor frame

The shed floor frame includes mudguards, floor joists and perimeter band joists. Because the frame is relatively close to the ground, it is most susceptible to rot and wood-boring insects. Therefore it is very important to frame the floor from pressure treated wood. And don’t even consider a prefab shed with a floor frame made of untreated construction-grade lumber.

For shed floor decks, use ¾-in. exterior grade plywood; Any thin will bend between the joists. (A double layer of 1/in. exterior plywood is also fine.) If you plan to store heavy items, such as lawn tractors or woodworking machines, consider using ¾-in. Tongue and groove plywood. It costs a bit more and is difficult to install, but its edges are sealed tightly, creating a rock-solid floor. If you live in an area with high humidity, use pressure-treated plywood for the floor deck. It is particularly resistant to moisture and insects.

Step 6: Simplify the Roof Framing

For most DIYers, the hardest part of building a shed is building the roof, which requires many repetitive, angled cuts to be made precisely. To make this task easier, it is very easy to assemble the rafters and ceiling joists into the roof pieces, which can then be erected on top of the walls. This process is much faster and safer than building the roof frame one board at a time. And once the plywood floor deck is attached to the floor frame, you can use it as a large workbench to assemble the ceiling pieces.

Step 7: Knowing the importance of door type and location

The two types of doors commonly used on storage sheds are hinged and sliding, and both work well on all styles of sheds. Hinged doors take up less space and close more tightly and securely. Sliding doors are easy to install and move completely out of the way. However, keep in mind that sliding doors require additional wall space on either side of the opening to open.

Door placement is also important. You often see doors placed at the gable end of the building, which look nice, but make it difficult to access items stored in the back of the shed. A better alternative is to install the door on a long side wall, so you can access items to the right, left and back. Another option is to install doors on both gable end walls, so you can easily access items from either end of the shed.


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