How To Analyze And Choose Which Shed Plans To Buy

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If you have never built a shed before then analyzing and choosing and which set of shed plans to buy can be quite confusing. There are thousands of plans for sale on the internet.

So how do you go about evaluating them and deciding which ones are the best for you and your situation?

Sometimes you don’t know what you need to know until after you have started to built your shed.

And by then it might be too late because you have already invested a few weekends and $800 to $2000 worth of materials.

So I will give you some pointers about analyzing shed plans before you start buying materials and building.

Price of the plans


Shed plans are pretty cheat so it’s not the price that is the problem. It’s the price of your time and the materials. You might get some free plans, or buy mine for $7.95, or buy a whole set of 12-16,000 woodworking plans for $30-$70.00.

But you will be spending $800 to $2000 for materials so the price of the plans only represent a small percentage of your total budget.

In fact you might wind up buying several sets of plans until you get the right ones. Because it’s hard to judge plans before you actually have them in your hands and can spend some time studying them.

Plan sizes

The first thing is size and dimensions of the shed you want to build. Some shed plans sell you just one size at a time so you have to decide ahead of time what size you want.

If you make a mistake you will have to buy a new set of plans, or spend the time figuring how to modify them to make the size shed you want. Sometime this is just a matter of adding or subtracting.

But that’s not the case for rafters or trusses or anything on an angle. So buy a set of plans that gives you many size options.

My shed plans give you 21 size options from 8×4 to 12×20.

  • 8×4
  • 8×6
  • 8×8
  • 8×10
  • This 8x12 shed is shown with 3 1/2 inches of overhang on all 4 sides.

    This 8×12 shed is 8ft across the gable end and 12ft deep.

  • 8×12
  • 8×14
  • 8×16
  • 10×10
  • 10×12
  • 10×14
  • 10×16
  • 10×18
  • 10×12
  • 12×10
  • 12×12
  • 12×14
  • 12×16
  • 12×18
  • 12×20

    • The first dimension is across the gable end and the second dimension is for the depth of the eave side. So for example an 8×12 and an 12×8 are basically the same shed but they differ in the direction of the roof line.

      Efficient shed sizes

      It is a good idea to build as large a shed as possible. Or as large as your budget allows. Building a large shed costs less per square foot than building a small shed. Sometimes it might only cost $50 dollars to build another 2 ft in length. And that is a bargin compared to the overall price of the shed.

      For economy and efficiency think about building a shed in 2 foot increments. 4 foot incriments is even more economical because floor, roof and wall sheeting materials come in 4×8 sheets. Any odd measurements like 9 ½ ft or something will generate a lot of waste. So try to stick with 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 etc lengths and widths for maximum efficiency.

      Size you want to build vs the law

      You will usually be limited by the law as to the size shed you can build. How you will use the shed and what you want to store inside will also dictate the size shed you want. Also your budget might limit the size and type of materials you use.

      The size of the shed is usually the size of the outside of the floor. This means that the outside measurement of the shed will be larger by the thickness of the siding plus any trim. And of course the amount of overhang you build.

      When the law limits you to so many square feet they usually mean the measurement of the floor area. But check with your particular government to see if they mean the under roof area or outside or inside dimensions etc.

      Read this article for more information on legal issues.

      Shed dimensions

      You will loose 3 ½ inches of inside space on all 4 walls for your framing. You can store stuff in between the studs if it’s small. But big items will have to sit 3 ½ inches off the wall and resting on the studs. If you build shelves they will be nailed to the inside of the studs.

      Height might also be governed by the law. This usually mean the highest point of the shed. But sometimes they mean the wall closest to the property line. Don’t forget to include the thickness of the foundation in the overall height calculation if you set your shed on skids or blocks.

      The inside height of the sidewalls determines how long or tall of items you can store, or how many shelves you can build. So check the plans for the inside dimensions if you have a particular use in mind. Build 8ft sidewalls if possible to use the full length of the 4×8 sheets of siding.

      My plans include the option to build 7ft or 8ft sidewall heights. 7Ft walls means no splicing the gable ends. But 8ft walls will give you an additional 12 inches of inside storage at very little additional effort or cost.

      Here are the dimensions of my sheds

      • Overall height at peak, not including foundation: 8/9 ft
      • Outside wall height at eaves, not including foundation: 7/8 ft
      • Door opening: 43 inches by 71/83 inches
      • Minimum inside height: 77/89 inches
      • Maximum inside height: 92/104 inches
      • Inside height under collar beam: 84/96 inches

      The first dimension is for 7ft sidewalls, the second dimension is for 8ft sidewalls. Add 2 inches to the overall height for 10ft wide sheds and 4 inches for 12ft wide sheds.

      If you need to shorten the wall height to make a shorter shed then you can just subtract the same amount from all vertical dimensions.

      Cost estimate

      Before you commit to building a shed you should know what it’s going to cost. The plans you are looking at should include a material list and cost estimate worksheet for every size shed. Print that out and take it down to your building supply store and calculate the cost of materials. And make sure they have everything you need in stock. If you have to special order something do it well ahead of time.

      If you have a truck you can haul everything yourself. If not ask them about delivery cost. Chances are they will just do a curb side delivery which means you will have to carry to the jobsite by hand. So factor delivery cost into the total cost to build.

      My plans include a material list and cost estimate for all 21/31/45 sizes.