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Shed lots seem to be popping up all over the place! You may have seen a bunch of sheds, garages, or mini barns sitting in an abandoned parking lot or on the corner of an intersection.
These buildings can serve a lot of purposes and many of the manufacturers will build to suit your needs. Some will even finish the interior for you. If you have always wanted some extra space—perhaps for a craft room, office or home gym—a shed can give you the space you need. Read on to see how we turned a shed into a home office!
Costs can range widely depending on the size of your building, your location, the builder and how much of the work you want them to do.
When we priced materials at a local building supply store, we found that it was cheaper to buy a shed and have it delivered than it was for the materials alone! Though we are big do-it-yourselfers, it certainly made sense to us to save ourselves the time and effort and just buy a shed.
Many shed lots have discounted buildings. These buildings may have been used as a model, repossessed, or traded in. Ask the dealer if he has any discounted buildings for you to consider. If you live in town, be sure to check your local zoning and HOA laws before purchasing a shed.
Sometimes prices are similar between one builder and another, but the quality of the products and workmanship are very different. It is good to be vigilant and really inspect the models on the lot before you decide which builder to use.
Here are some tips to help you spot quality craftsmanship:
We found this used building on a shed lot.
In our case, our little 1930s bungalow gets a bit tight, and we needed an office that afforded more quiet and privacy than our home allowed. We visited several shed lots and happened upon this little 8 ’x 10’ metal building. It already had a door, two windows, and a slider, which saved quite a bit of money.
The building had been used as an office for a dog boarding facility. People would enter through the smaller door and sign their dog in. Then the dog would be taken through the slider, which opened up to the kennels. The owner traded the building in for a larger one.
The interior was finished but poorly done, and it lacked insulation. It was a little smaller than what we had been hoping for, but the price was right. So, we bought it.
Sheds are built on skids, but they need to be set on a level surface of stone. You can use crushed stone 53s or road pack. Your stone should be 2” thick at the lowest point and should be at least a foot wider than your building on all sides. It is OK to place cement blocks underneath to level them up—2” thick patio pavers are good for this.
You can find a calculator online that will tell you how many yards or tons of stone you will need for your pad based on the footprint size of the shed and how high you need to build up the stone.
Then you need to find either a place that sells stone, or a local hauler. I recommend looking for a local hauler (AKA, a guy with a dump truck), because he might know where the cheapest place is to get the material you need.
Stone is not easy to move. So if your dump truck driver can spread it as much as possible as it comes out of the truck, that will save you a lot of back-breaking work. You can use a stiff rake to move the stones around.
Depending on the size of your building, you may need to buy or rent special tools to make sure your stone pad is level. Some shed places offer a leveling service. In our case, the pad was small enough that I could use a long 2 x 4 and place the level on that. I built up places that were low and knocked down places that were high. I had to move the 2 x 4 and measure in several places and different directions, including diagonally.
Our shed is being delivered. You can see the stone pad and the stack of 2" pavers, ready in case the driver needs them to level the building.
Once your stone pad is ready, your shed can be delivered.
Do note that if you plan on running plumbing or electricity to your shed, you may want to have that roughed in first as well. In our case, we ran plumbing and electric next to the shed, but not under it.
You also want to leave room for the delivery driver to place your shed. The trucks and trailers they use to deliver these buildings are amazing! They’re like transformers. I’ve never seen a truck and trailer bend, move, and come apart in so many different ways! The driver had something that looked like a game controller to make it do its magic. It was very interesting watching it be set into place.
Delivery and set up are usually free, or included in the price of your shed, unless you have special circumstances that make it harder to place.
Before you arrange to have your shed delivered, be sure to look around your property and consider questions such as:
If you have concerns, you can ask the dealer to come out and take a look at your property to see how everything will fit.
Now that your building has arrived, you can get to work!
If you had the builder finish the inside, you are closer to done than we were! If you did not have the builder finish the inside, you are still closer to done than we were! You see, we had to gut our building.
We removed the panelling and saved it to reuse. We ripped out the floor. With all those dogs, it was not salvageable. We cut an access in the ceiling so that we could insulate the attic space. We added foam insulation to the walls and floor. We added wiring. Then we put it back together. The panelling went back up, and we added trim. Now we were ready for the finishing touches.
The old, green, poly-foam insulation did not have a very good R-value and did not fit tightly in the wall cavity, leaving gaps for cold air to get through.
The ceiling got a new coat of paint and a new light fixture. The walls and trim got painted. We installed laminate flooring. We placed a large white board on one wall.
Did you know that you can buy white board panels that are 4' x 8’? We just cut it down to the size we wanted. We chose insulated curtains for the south-facing slider and hung shades in the other two windows.
My husband found a pallet and added boards to make a little deck off the slider. And some little flowers volunteered to come up in the window box all on their own. Our office was finished and ready for move in.
With the walls and ceiling freshly painted, we began to install the laminate flooring.
Overall, we are quite happy with our little shed! It is a great way to add that extra room you wish you had. And it doesn’t have to look like a shed in the end—you can make it look quite nice!
We are currently embarking on our next shed project: a much larger building that will serve as an exercise room, a quiet get-away, and added space for entertaining company. Stay tuned for updates on that project!
© 2019 Amanda Buck
Amanda Buck (author) from Rural South Central Indiana on September 20, 2019:
Thanks for the comments! Glad I could give you some ideas Linda, maybe we will see pictures of your project on here someday?
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 19, 2019:
What a lovely result. The final version certainly doesn't look like a shed. Thanks for sharing all the information. We have a shed, but it's being used to store things at the moment and needs to be renovated. You've got me thinking about possibilities.
RTalloni on September 13, 2019:
Nice tips on purchasing a shed and getting it placed. You guys did a great job of finishing your side office. Thanks for sharing the project.