There are few additions to a backyard that are more useful than a shed. The thing is, sheds can get large and expensive before you know it, sometimes involving thousands of dollars spent. And, if you aren’t careful, a shed might get too large and be considered a new building on your property, increasing your taxes.
With a kit you can get a fixed cost shed, and easy build, and you’ll have no surprised about the size or build quality.
Kit or DIY Shed?
You can, of course, build a shed yourself. A couple of 2x4s, some T1-11 plywood, some singles, a door kit, a ramp, some bricks to stabilize the ground, some sand to the foundation, an air compressor and nailer to hold it all together… actually it’s a pretty involved project.
Does Your Shed Need A Permit?
This is probably the most confusing question you’ll need to answer during the buying process.
Most people believe that if a shed is over 100 square feet (10′ by 10′) then you will need to get a permit from your township or local municipality. This is often true, but isn’t always true. In some places any accessory structure like this will need a permit. You may need to consult your HOA association as well.
Some places make it very easy, others make it more confusing. You’ll have to do your own research and figure out the rules. In NYC (not exactly a backyard shed hotspot) the laws are very simple:
- No permits necessary up to 120 square feet
- Maximum height of 7.5 feet
- Any shed made of a “flammable material” have to be 3 feet or more from your property line
- A shed may not be “permanently affixed” to the ground (no foundation)
A larger shed will be more useful but also more expensive. It may also trigger zoning and permit considers. But, it would be a major disappointment to build a shed and not fit your lawn mower in there right? And what about your snowblower? Maybe the portable generator too. And of course the fertilizer spreader should do in there. How about a bike or two?
All of a sudden that 4′ x 6′ garden shed isn’t going to cut it…
Ultimately you’ll have to decide what is going on the shed and what stays in the garage. If the shed is simply a place for hand tools, gardening equipment, and maybe a gasoline can then you can get by with something small that will tuck into any corner. Any power equipment is going mean something larger because it’ll eat up square footage and not be able to be hung up.
Keep in mind, you don’t need a crazy amount of space. A 7′ by 7′ shed (49 square feet and about 300 cubic feet) can house a riding mower, 6-foot ladder, a set of tools, and still have room to spare…
Material And Their Implications
Most shed kits are made of plastic or metal. If you want a wood shed then you are likely going to have to stick build one or get it delivered from a local shed seller or lumber yard or garden center.
A few wood shed kits do exist, but they are rather expensive and their bulk can make delivery a challenge. Home Depot’s best-selling wood shed kit, the Majestic 8×12 is $1200, delivery is limited, and it’s still a considerable project when it gets to your house. Want it built for you? Then the price bumps up to $2600.
Typically today’s sheds are made of resin — plastic — but some are metal as well. Wood sheds are heavy but they are repairable, and they age well.
If you opt for a metal shed, make sure it’s fully galvanized — like the Newport line from Arrow — and then make sure you are ready to figure out the flooring situation as you typically won’t get a floor with a metal shed. You can either frame out a floor and put plywood on top or put down some stabilizing sand and a brick patio floor.
Any reputable seller will be really clear in their description about whether your metal shed includes a floor or not.
Plastic sheds are typically more expensive than metal but less expensive than wood. They are like giant puzzles that you fit together, but this is a quick process and it can almost always be done by one person, where metal sheds are usually a two-person job.
Plastic sheds are durable, but they fade over time, creating that worn-out, plastic look that makes a plastic shed look really sad. If your shed is kept out of the sun, then this can be limited, but inevitable temperature shifts and wind/rain will wear it down regardless.
Plastic sheds are great in that they are convenient. They will normally have windows and vents built in, as well as useful features like gutters. They will have floors and the walls will typically be lined in pegboard. The walls will also be compatible with accessories, like hooks and shelves, which will save space.