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How To Build A Shed: Cost Guide & DIY Tips

We discuss how to build a shed, the cost of building a shed and when to hire a contractor for the job. Free quotes included!

Most homes suffer from a shortage of accessible storage space. When moving into a new house, the garage and closets are often more enough to store all your belongings but the clutter builds up over time, and the cabinets can no longer hold all your belongings. Take a look inside any home’s garage; the odds are you will find it cluttered with sports gear, bicycles, garden tools, outdoor power equipment, etc. Yes, spring cleaning and yard sales might help reclaim some of the space, but it is just a matter of time before the storage spaces are cluttered again. What you need to end this incessant lack of space is more storage space. A simple backyard shed, will go a long way to alleviate your storage problems.

When looking to build a shed, there are various options available to you as a homeowner. First, you can DIY with moderate construction tools, you can hire an expert to put up the shed for you, or finally, you can purchase industrial sheds. For each, the costs are different and so are the factors influencing the value.

Factors Influencing the Cost

The amount you pay to erect your shed boils down to the size and materials used for construction. Size in that more massive sheds will consume more materials and time thus more money. The per square foot construction cost of larger sheds is lower though than that of tiny outhouses because the tools are already on site, and the economies of scale. As for materials, they are not the same. The price of wood is different from the amount for vinyl or metal. Other influences include:

Fabrication Style

Fabrication style affects the cost of industrial sheds. There can be a noticeable price variation between identical industrial sheds that had different fabrication. Most times, storage spaces assembled on site cost more than prefabricated sheds. The reason is that it takes up more billable hours to join the structure. Conversely, prefabricated structures only need a machine to lift the walls into place.

Soil Structure

Soil structure features in every construction and is bound to influence the amount you pay for your shed. The type of soil will dictate the amount you spend as it will affect the foundation you lay. Expansive grounds command that you put a robust foundation that can accommodate the ever-shifting grounds. Often, you will have to invest in screw piles to support the slab. The amount you spend in screw slabs is avoided when you are constructing on a soil that has a high load-bearing capacity.

Fire Rating

Local authorities will influence the amount you spend on your outhouse by dictating the fire rating of the materials you use. Stricter fire ratings will only increase the amount you pay. On the other hand, it will be cheaper erecting a shed in areas with relaxed fire rating regulations.


The final aspect that will influence the amount you pay is the quality. Quality is often determined by how long you mean to use the shed. Be sure of this only to invest the required amount.

What to Have Ready

There are some things you should have in advance before construction begins. One is whether the project is a DIY or you are engaging a professional to help with erecting your outhouse. Having the following ready will ensure your project runs smoothly.

Permits – You need to check with the local authorities whether you need authorization to set up a shed.

Size and style – Before you purchase any materials you need to have a design ready. Having a model ensures that you only buy what you need.

Also, you want something that is in line with your taste and preference. Something else you want to look at is the functionality vs. style, and finally, your needs to determine the best design for you.

Location – You ought to have already figured out where the shed should go. Again, this is subject to your needs and desires. However, two familiar locations are one is close to the house which makes access easier and cheaper to run water and power lines, and the other is tucked away in the backyard to make it less obtrusive.

Budget – The final thing you must have ready is a budget. A financial plan dictates what you can or can’t do. If you are on a budget, you might want to consider a simple structure that gets the job done. However, if you have some wiggle room, why not put in some shelves and decorative trim.

DIY Costs and Tips

Most homeowners prefer to DIY some construction projects so that they can get to save some money. As a result, the tips below are designed to be pocket-friendly. The entire project will set you back well over $1500, will take two or three days, and is moderately complex. Ensure you are handy or you have somebody handy on your team.

Before we get into the guide, there are some cost-saving tips you should familiarise yourself with first.

OSB siding – As you are only looking for extra storage space, you want to avoid extravagance and reduce the cost. OSB siding is one way you can achieve this. An oriented strand board can save you about $500 compared to using wood or plywood panels. Also, it is structural, removing the need for a layer of sheathing under the board, and pre-primed reducing the labor and saving you money.

Wood foundation – Yes, concrete foundations are durable, but the costs involved are too high to lay in a shed. A concrete foundation can set you back upwards of $1,000 while a lumber foundation will only cost you about $250. Also, a wood foundation is easy to construct on a ground that slopes, unlike concrete.

Composite trim – A composite trim will save you time and money. Unlike solid wood, it is inexpensive, and you don’t have to deal with knots and defects. It is ready to paint and pre-primed. Also, as it holds paint longer than wood, it will save you money in the long run.

Custom cost-cutting door – This is an entry similar to a pre-hung door but without the flourishes, the robustness, and durability of the original. That is the reason it will only set you back $140 unlike a pre-hung which can cost close to $1,000.

Easy arch-top windows – The idea here is to simulate an arch top-window without the burden of having to invest in such expensive flourishes. Expect a price tag of about $60 per window. We advise you only put in one.


Erecting a shed calls on you to have some tools. It’s better if you have a place you can borrow or rent otherwise you will have to purchase. See the list below for the items you need.

Miter Saw$120 to $600
Circular Saw$60 to $120
Tape Measure$12
Clamps$5 to $40
Drill$50 to $100
Air Compressor$28
Framing Gun$25

The costs above will vary depending on the manufacturer, and size of equipment you purchase.

1. Foundation and Floor

We will be discussing the wood foundation here, but there are other foundation designs which are DIY friendly we would love to discuss.

For any groundwork, call 811 to identify where the utility lines are. Also, you might need to get a permit for any groundworks. The first foundation you can consider involves installing deck piers along a grid to prop the shed. After the piers, you need to string some support beams across the deck piers followed by rim joists. The beams are designed to support floor joists that will run in the opposite direction. You can use some metal straps which will set you back about $6 for a 10-foot roll to attach the beams to the piers.

When putting in joists, you have to start with rim joists which run parallel to the outermost beams. It ought to be the same length as the beam. Afterward, you run floor joists between the rims and need to be the same length as the distance between the edge joists. For the plywood which will make the flooring to fit appropriately, ensure the spaces between joists is 14.5 inches other than the one between the last beam and the one adjacent to it. This space should be 13.75 inches. You will want to put in some blocking between the joists running along the center beam to prevent the floor joists from moving. Finally, all that is left is to nail the plywood to the joists and form the floor.

You are also at liberty to use H-clips which lock the plywood together. These will set you back about $10 but will add structural strength. Misalign the plywood to avoid a single seam running across the entire structure as it can be a weakness.

If you don’t want the trouble of having to get permits for groundwork or worrying about utility lines, you can use cinder blocks to support the structure. Also, you might want to put down 4” bed of gravel. The bed of gravel will mitigate against any water that might make the ground soggy or worse yet erode it. Finally, for a stable structure, ensure that all the blocks are level. You can use asphalt roofing or cedar shingles to shim up any low blocks.

2. Walls

After laying the foundation, you need to create the foundation for all for walls. There is no one size fits all here. The back and front walls are different owing to the front door, and the side walls need to be sloping to prevent water from collecting on the roof.

Start with the framework for the back wall. The back wall is the least complicated of the four. Just ensure that it is shorter than the front wall to direct water away from the door. First, ensure that the top and bottom beams are the same lengths as the length of the floor. To maintain measurements, warrant the studs are spaced as the joists. You will want to construct the front wall next. The front door should be taller than the back and leave a door frame.

The side walls are a bit complex. The bottom plate of the side walls should be equal to the distance between the bottom plate of the front and back walls ensuring that the walls fit between the two. Also, ascertain that the top plate is angled so that the roof slopes.

Finally, nail the walls to the structure. If it’s possible, nail them to the floor from the bottom up. However, if it isn’t you can nail them from the top or toenail them.

Floor and Wall Costs

The amount you spend on your walls and floor boils down to the materials you use. In this case, we needed treated lumber ($35 – $50), plywood ($15 – $50) for the floor, and 3”exterior screws which will set you back about $15. You might also want to purchase liquid nails ($3 to $20) for the subfloor, framing pins for $20 and sheathing if you need it. The cost will obviously vary depending on the size of your structure.

One final tip, when framing out the door, ensure the bottom plate runs the entire length of the floor. You will cut out this part later so remember no to nail it to the beam.

3. Lean to Roof Beam

The lean is going to be the toughest part of the project. Be ready for obstacles and mistakes, but hopefully, this guide helps you to navigate. Getting the framing to sit correctly on the studs is the problematic bit. You need to cut a notch on each of the frames. For a DIYer, this will be difficult so seek the help of an expert here. Once the framing is in place, you have to put in the sheathing. This is a requirement for a roof.
Something else you might want to consider when constructing the roof is the soffits. It’s best you install them when the frame is still on the ground. Though it is unconventional, it has its advantages. First, you avoid ladder work which can be dangerous and you also avoid upside-down nailing in a cramped space.

4. Trim and Siding

If you used sheathing on your walls, you will have to put in some house wrap to keep water out and protect your sheathing. However, sheathing isn’t a requirement, and you can move on to the siding if you did not put in the sheathing. Something else you should consider at this point is a window flashing tape. It will help keep water out. You can add a Z-bar flashing metal piece to keep water out. If you are planning on installing vinyl windows, now is the time. Put them in before the siding. Nevertheless, wooden shutters can come after the siding.

Other than OSB siding, you can use LP smart siding. LP smart siding has with tungs and grooves during installation. You will want the siding to overhang the door frame but not excessively. 3 inches is enough.

  • You have to prime any cut LP siding or OSB before painting.
  • You will have to nail the siding to the studs and using the correct nails. Use a chalk line to mark the location of all the studs on the siding before installation.
  • Be mindful of the grooves. Nailing too close to the slots can create problems.
  • Finally, you have to install the door before the trim (see below).
  • The trim can only be installed after the door. You will need it so water can drain appropriately. Just seal the holes and seams after the trim is in place. Use a paintable exterior caulk for this. Afterward, prime all exposed cuts and get painting.
Paint & Primer$35
Composite Trim$30 - $100
Window Flashing Tape$17 $100
OSB 8ft by 4ft$100
LP Siding$110

5. Simple Cedar Door

Before you erect your doors, it’s best you know that the cedar boards will shrink once they are exposed to the sun. So it is best you first allow them to dry out before you use them. When constructing your door, start with the base as you will need good solid support. Measure the door opening and ensure your base is at least ½ inch less than the opening. Cut the plywood to the required size followed by 6” cedar boards of the same length, then cover the plywood with the boards. Allow the boards to sit for a day to let the liquid nails dry, and then hang the door. We recommend you seal the door with sealant though it is not a requirement when using cedar. Once the door is in place, check to see if the door opens and closes properly then add the latch.

Cedar DoorCosts
Gate Latch$10- $20
Hinges$6 - $12
Door Handle$10
Cedar Board 1 ft$5.62

Costs According to Material

As pointed out earlier, the cost of a prefab, a DIY, and hiring a professional is different. Materials too will influence the price.

Metal Sheds

Metal sheds are mostly pre-fabricated. Manufacturers produce the parts and either offer free installation, a thorough guide to setup or deliver the completed structure. The cost will vary depending on what you choose.

Metal sheds have a ton of benefits over other outbuildings. First, they are made of aluminum or galvanized steel and thus aren’t affected by rot, or infested with insects. The materials are also very durable and will last longer than other sheds. Now depending on the size, style, and features you choose, the price of your metal shed will fall between $300 and $2,000. Remember that pre-assembled sheds will be more expensive than sheds you assemble yourself.

The only shortcoming of metal sheds is their lack of appeal. If the style is essential to you as the functionality, we advise you avoid metal sheds.

Wood Sheds

Wood sheds will set you back between $600, and $3,000. The amount might sound like a small fortune, but it is worth it. First, the reason why wood sheds are more expensive than metal sheds is the high cost of lumber. That aside though, if you are looking to increase the appeal of your home, you might want to consider erecting these.

Being the most used material, it does come with its benefits. First, wood is flexible, unlike metal. You can effortlessly add shelving to your shed, modify your outhouse to add windows, skylights and other aesthetic preferences.

However, wood sheds do have their shortcomings too. First, they lack durability. Yes, these sheds will enrich your home’s atmosphere but only for a limited time. Most wood sheds will only serve you for 20 or so years before you have to erect a new one. Also, you need to consider how susceptible they are to insects, decay, and fire. Finally, they are expensive to maintain. Unlike, metal sheds, wood sheds will cost a fortune to sustain. You have to conduct regular checks to ensure there is no decay or insect infestation.

Vinyl Sheds

Finally, we have vinyl sheds. If you are looking for a durable shed that is maintenance free, we advise you install a vinyl shed. Vinyl provides unmatched quality with superior durability. Better than a metal shed and trumps wood. These sheds will withstand any weather elements without damaging any content in the shed or suffering any damage. They can also accommodate heavy loads of snow without cracking. Therefore, if you reside in areas that experience heavy snowfall, you might want to consider these.

However, for such exceptional quality, expect to pay more. Vinyl sheds will cost an arm with the price averaging between $800 and $8,000 depending on the size features, and style.

Metal Sheds$300 - $2,000
Wood Sheds$600 - $3,000
Vinyl Sheds$800 - $3,000

Costs of Hiring a Pro

We insisted you only DIY if you have the necessary skills. Otherwise, you will have to hire professionals. If you engage them, expect a charge exceeding $2,500. You will need to hire carpenters who often charge around $70 an hour and electricians who will set you back between $65 and $85 an hour.

Costs According to Size and Style

The amount it costs to build a shed can be classified according to the size of the shed you desire to erect.

Per Square Foot Price

Any construction cost can be calculated down to the value per square foot. All the contractor has got to factor in is the labor, materials, overheads, transport, and desired profit. With that in mind, most sheds per square foot boils down to between $17 and $24 with an average of $22.35. The variables considered here include the slope of the yard, the foundation, electrical wiring, and type of siding. It also takes into consideration the kind of venting, roof structure, and some doors and windows. Any extra features might add to the cost.

8*12 Square Foot Shed

Assuming you construct a wood-framed shed on stacked blocks, you will spend around $2,050. An 8*12 is a simple shed with one door and one window, a finely finished commercial trim, and sided with metal panels. Galvalume metal panels to be exact.

Of the $2,050, $1,150 will be spent on labour, and $900 on labor.

12*28 Shed

This is a shed with a shingle roof to match the roof, electrical supply, running water and painted. It will set you back about $8,200 with $4,700 going to labor and the rest $3,500 going to materials.

15*30 Shed

This is a double-story shed and will set you back about $15,000. It features a ground floor and the second story is an attic space. It will require four builders working straight for a couple of days.

Per square foot price$22.35
8* 12 ft$2,050
12 * 28 ft$4,700
15 * 30 ft$15,000

How to Get a Credible Contractor

1. Research

If you are looking for a credible contractor, the first best thing do is conduct some research. Minimal research will help you separate the wheat from the chaff. I.e., reliable contractors from cons. Ask colleagues for recommendations but take them with a pinch of salt. Remember what worked for them might not work for you. However, the endorsements are an excellent way to shortlist potential contractors.

2. Check if a builder is in a trade body

Trade bodies are an excellent way to select contractors. The rules and ethics that builders have to adhere ensure that you are only hiring proficient people. And what better way to guarantee credibility than to have the competition keep an eye out. Associated Builders and Contractors is one such trade bodies where you can look up builders.

3. Online reviews and ratings

The internet is many things, but thanks to it, we can now find good contractors from the comfort of your home. You can get a feel of a company’s work by checking their online reviews. The Better Business Bureau is one organization that is dedicated to ensuring homeowners hire legit contractors. You can check their website for customer reviews. Angie’s List is another such organization. However, avoid reviews on an institution’s site. The company has everything to gain by and only post positive reviews. We advise you use third-party review websites to shortlist contractors.

4. Estimates

You want to ensure that the company you hire is well within your budget. Asking for quotes is the only way you can achieve this. Most companies will provide free estimates but don’t overlook a contractor if he asks for payments. As a rule, always ask for at least three quotes when considering contractors for any project. Ensure they are bidding for the same job, and the quotes are in-person quotes. Finally, expect the estimates to be different owing to different expenses and overheads.

5. Get it in writing

The last thing you ought to do is ensure that you get your contract in writing. A binding contract should stipulate your agreements from the payment schedule to the expectations when the outhouse is completed.

How to Avoid Scams

The construction industry is one riddled with numerous fraudsters. You, therefore, need to take precautions to protect yourself.

Be inquisitive

Always want to know more about the contractor. Most homeowners consider asking a contractor questions about their trade uncouth, but it is an excellent way to tell if you are dealing with a legit company. Ask questions concerning their history, about the legal complaints that have been filed against them and how the responded. Ask why they think they are the best company. What’s more, pay attention to how they respond. Avoid any business whose representative responds to questions. Finally, watch how they carry themselves out. All representatives should carry themselves professionally.

Check credentials

If you want to avoid unscrupulous contractors, you might want to check their credentials. However, don’t take their word for it and check with the BBB or the state AG’s office to establish if there are any legal complaints filed against them. You can also check with the state contractors’ licensing board to certify that you are dealing with a reliable contractor.


Finally, check how you make your payments. First, you want to avoid the making lump sum payments. Such disbursements are a recipe for disaster. There is no assurance that the contractor will return after the amount. This goes concurrently with never paying upfront. First, ensure the builder is okay with a payment schedule and that his required deposit is less than 20% of the entire project.

Second, ensure that all payments are made to an institution and through the bank. Making payments through a financial institution leaves a paper trail, and thus you cannot be subjected to double payments while making payments to an institution gives you the comfort of knowing there is a company on the other end.

Remember that most scams are after your money and the best way to avoid them is to be smart with it.


Sheds can be stylish or not. They can be used to increase the appeal of your home or tucked away in the back. Either way, ensure they meet your requirements and are within your budget.

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