Designing and Building a Storage Shed
By: Danny Lipford
It seems like homeowners these days never have enough storage space. If your garage is bursting at the seams, it might be time to consider adding a storage shed to your backyard.
In addition to contributing Simple Solutions segments to Today’s Homeowner, Joe Truini is the author of a book that tells you everything you need to know about Building a Shed.
Shed Design Considerations
There are any number of designs and styles for backyard sheds, from simple to ornate. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when planning a shed:
- Use: While sheds are often used for lawn equipment and general storage, they also make a great workshop or gardener’s potting shed. Other possibilities include a writer’s cottage or backyard retreat for reading.
- Location: When choosing a location for your shed, take into account city or subdivision property line setback regulations.
- Size: Decide how big the shed needs to be, and whether larger items you plan to store will fit inside.
- Style: While many sheds mimic the style and color of the house, they can be given a totally different look as well.
- Openings: Consider the placement and size of windows, doors, and vents. Will they provide enough light and ventilation? Is the door wide enough for riding mowers and other equipment?
Building Codes and Covenant Restrictions
A shed can be located near the house for convenience sake, or hidden away in a back corner of the lot. Regardless of where you put it, a shed must comply with building codes and subdivision covenants, so it’s important to check the local regulations and obtain a building permit before construction begins.
Start by checking city codes and subdivision covenants to be sure a shed is allowed and what the setback requirements are regarding how close the shed can be to property lines. While setbacks are typically 25’ from side lot lines and 15’ from rear boundaries, local ordinances and covenants can vary. If there are no objections from neighbors, it may be possible to receive a variance to build it closer to the lot lines than normally allowed.
There are several possible ways to build a shed, including:
- Prebuilt: Smaller sheds can be delivered directly to the site by truck as a finished unit.
- Kits: Sheds are available in kit form as well. Putting them together can is a good DIY project, though the work can be hired out.
- Custom: Build your own custom shed to the dimensions and design you desire, or contract a professional to do it for you.
One company that has been making custom sheds for over 20 years is Better Barns of Bethlehem, Connecticut. In addition to constructing sheds, they also have plans, hardware, and accessories available on their website.
Better Barns prefabricates most of the components—including walls and roof trusses— in their shop. This allows the shed to be assembled on the job site in a matter of hours. Quality materials, like pressure treated floor joists and solid cedar siding, are typically used in the construction.
Foundations for a shed usually consist of a poured slab or concrete block piers. If building codes allow, an on-grade foundation may be used for smaller sheds (usually under 200 square feet). On-grade foundations use solid concrete blocks set directly on the ground—rather than poured concrete footings—making them easier to build. No matter what type of foundation you use, make sure the foundation is level, corresponding sides are equal in length, and the foundation itself is square.
Once the foundation is ready, pressure treated sills are placed on top. Floor joists come next, topped by a plywood floor. After the floor has been secured, the walls are framed up and put in place.
Rafters or roof trusses are attached to the top wall plates. The roof area is then decked with plywood and roofed. A vented ridge at the peak of the roof, coupled with soffit vents under the eaves, allow fresh air to be drawn into the building.
Other Tips From This Episode
To increase the capacity of a wheelbarrow, a shelf can be added to the space between the two handles. To make it, place a piece of plywood across the handles, and mark the position of the handles on the bottom. Cut the plywood to the width of the outside of the handles, and attach two cleats to the bottom of the shelf even with the inside of the handles to hold it in place. Holes can be drilled through the shelf to hold trowels and other hand tools.
This motorized tool sharpener can put a fine edge on every tool in your shop. The grinding surface has interchangeable disks to make it easy to switch between coarse and finer grits. An angled tool port under the grinding wheel allows chisels and plane blades to be sharpened at a consistent angle while the air cooled design helps to keep tools from burning. The Work Sharp 2000 is available online from The Home Depot.
Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Drip Irrigation Conserves Water
Drip irrigation is one of the most efficient methods of watering, since it is delivered gradually and targets plants directly. This conserves water by minimizing waste through evaporation and overspray. Systems deliver water by a slow drip or through microspray heads. Drip irrigation is also great for rainwater collected in barrels, since little pressure is needed.
Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® are provided by Ryobi.
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