Function is key to building shed

Ask the builder

Be realistic about space so storage is adequate

July 13, 2008|By Tim Carter | Tim Carter,Tribune Media Services

I am in desperate need of storage-shed plans, because the clutter in my garage has become unbearable. What should I be looking for? Is it really necessary to have detailed plans if I am going to do the work myself? How would you construct the shed to be both easy to build and long lasting?

Three years ago, I took back ownership of my garage for my vehicles. When I first moved into my home, we could easily park my truck and our car in the spacious garage. But, over time, we accumulated too much stuff, which forced the cars outside. When I showed my wife a set of shed plans that matched our Queen Anne Victorian home in every detail, her only question was, "How soon can you have it completed?"

The first thing you should consider when looking for plans for a woodshed, garden shed or any storage outbuilding is function, not form or looks. In other words, you need to make sure that the building is going to be big enough for the things you need to store. You can make the outside of any storage shed look like any style you desire. It is easy to make a storage shed match the style and character of your existing home.

The most basic component of your shed plans is the two-dimensional floor plan. This tells you how long and wide your shed will be. All too often, people think a storage shed is large enough when they see it on paper or pre-built in a home-center parking lot. But reality soon sets in when they start to cram all of the things in the new building.

The way to ensure your new shed will be large enough is to take the things you want to put in it and lay them out on your drive or lawn. Arrange them in a way you would like to see them in the shed. Be sure there is enough room around the items, so you can get to each thing without having to crawl over something. If you make a mistake and make your shed too small, you will be grouchy every time you have to pull out three or four things to get to something way back in the shed.

The needed detail on the plans is a function of what may be required by your local zoning and building department. Some communities have strict rules as to how a shed must look, the size of the building with respect to the size of your home, and even which direction doors must face. You absolutely must visit your local government offices to discover what guidelines you must follow before you purchase shed plans or even draw your own.

It is a good idea to have detailed storage-shed plans, even if you plan to build it yourself. Well-thought-out shed plans will minimize waste. The plans will help you produce an accurate materials list so you buy only as much as you need. By taking the time to think through modular design and economical building, it is possible to build a shed with virtually no waste. This is a green-building practice that all should follow no matter what the project might be.

For ease of construction, you should probably lean toward using wood. Masonry storage sheds require a unique skill set, as does working with metal. Many people have the simple tools to cut and assemble wood.

The floor of the shed can be made just like a wood deck that hugs the ground. Use treated lumber for the support posts, floor joists and the actual floor. You can buy treated lumber plywood. This is what I have in my own shed, and I never have to worry about driving my wet or snow-encrusted tractor into the shed.

Expert home builder and remodeling contractor Tim Carter has 20 years of hands-on experience in the home industry. If you have a question, go to askthebuilder.com and click on "Ask Tim."

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