Outdoor Storage Sheds: Things to Consider Before You Buy or Build


A few accessories turned this storage shed into a cheerful and functional playhouse.

Are you thinking of buying or building an outdoor storage shed? Here are 10 things to consider before you spend your money.

  • Legal issues
  • Your budget
  • How you intend to use it
  • Location
  • Size
  • Style, aesthetics or function, roof line, porch, deck
  • Construction materials, metal shed, wood shed, plastic shed
  • Floor, wood, concrete, termite protection, ramp, critters, portable or permanent, drainage, grade
  • Features, windows, door (type, size, location), ventilation, wall height, shelves, ramp, electricity
  • Buy or build, used, build from plans, kit, hire a carpenter, pre fabricated
  • Build, experience, equipment, time

Legal issues

Most municipalities have rules about the size and placement of storage sheds. They usually call them “accessory structures” Check with your local county or city building services office to find if your shed will need a permit. . Sometimes they will require a building permit depending on the size, and sometimes not. Also look at the zoning code to find any setback requirements from the lot lines. This varies with the zoning of the property. And remember to check with your home owners association if you have one. They might have some additional rules.

Your Budget

How much money you have to spend will determine the construction, size and  features that you can afford. It might also determine whether you can buy or if you will need to build your own. Metal sheds that come in kit form are the cheapest way to go. And they are fairly easy to assemble with only minimum tools. But you will have to add the price of building a floor into your metal shed budget. Building a wood shed from plans is more complicated and time consuming, but will save you a lot of money. A prefab shed will be the most expensive. Though there are still ways to save money on a new wooden shed.


How you intend to use your shed will determine its construction, size and location. If you have lots of stuff to store, a small kit metal shed will not do. You will need a larger shed to hold several rooms of furniture. You will need a sturdier construction for a tool shed or a work shop because you will need to install shelves, work benches and hang stuff. So you need sturdy wood studs to attach things to. If you are going to store heavy things you need to make sure you have a sturdy floor.


What are the setback requirements? Do you need vehicle access for a workshop or something you will be loading and unloading often. Consider the drainage in your yard and make sure your shed is high enough so your contents will not get flooded. Sheds can be built on a slope with a little forethought about the foundation.