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How to Build a Shed - Our Experience

Updated on January 13, 2017

Building Our Backyard Storage Shed

We were running out of storage space in our small carport tool shed and decided to build a simple 7 ft x 8 ft storage shed in the backyard. Though my husband is an electrician, we opted to build a storage shed without electricity which made the task much easier (and cheaper). No building permits were required because the zoning in Honolulu county allows you to forgo the permit if the structure is no larger than 10 ft x 10 ft.

We built this shed on a "pay as you go" basis, meaning we worked on it when money and time allowed. We've always done DIY jobs and have accumulated a lot of tools and knowledge over the years. Still, there is always something new to learn on most projects. Check your local building codes, take advantage of online DIY resources, and get to know the most knowledgeable of the staff at your local home improvement store if needed.

We don't claim to be experts in this building process; the purpose of this lens is to share our experience. You should do whatever works for you and what is allowed in your area. Good luck, always work safely during construction and wear your safety goggles!

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Using a Carpenters Square
Using a Carpenters Square

Build a Shed With Accurate Measurements

Measure twice. Cut once. Use a good carpenters square as a guide to make accurate cuts. Note the big X on the board.....we mark an X on the section of the board that will NOT be used in the project.

This marking comes in especially handy when the cut pieces are close in size. It can also indicate a section of board which may be a little too warped or knotted to use.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Building Lingo and Terms

Learn the meaning of words like header, footer, toenailing, roof pitch, etc. It will help you to understand the basics of building and when you're constructing something, these are good things to know. :)

Craftsman's Illustrated Dictionary of Construction Terms
Craftsman's Illustrated Dictionary of Construction Terms

It helps to know proper building terms in case you need some help at the home improvement or hardware store.

 
Making the Form for Shed's Foundation
Making the Form for Shed's Foundation

The Form for the Concrete Slab Foundation

To create the form for pouring the cement slab, we used 2x4s held up by steel spikes driven into the ground. It took a total of 17 batches in a small concrete mixer to make the concrete slab foundation 3 1/2" thick. Of course, we don't have to worry about freezing temperatures here in Hawaii, so our foundation doesn't need to be as thick as it would if we were building in some parts of the mainland.

Our major points of concern before we began mixing the cement was to make sure the form was square, the ground was tamped level and our wire mesh was in position.

There are some great how-to diy books on working with cement available if you've never worked with it before.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

From the Builder's Bible....

MEASURE TWICE - CUT ONCE!

Tools and Equipment You May Need to Build a Shed

Tamper with Ash Handle

5 Cubic Feet Wheelbarrow Portable Cement Concrete Mixer

4 piece Concrete Trowel Set

30-Feet Measuring Tape with Magnetic End

DEWALT 18-Volt Drill/Driver Kit

Bostitch Framing Nailer

Porter Cable Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit

DEWALT 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw

Stanley Xtreme Box Beam Level

Caulking Gun

Framing the Shed Walls
Framing the Shed Walls

Framing the Walls of Our Shed

Constructing one of the side wall frames for the shed. The pneumatic nail gun really makes the job go quickly.

Note: we built the frame to accommodate the dimensions of the odd-sized windows we got at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Positioning the Shed Walls
Positioning the Shed Walls

Positioning the Shed Walls

This is a two-man (or one man and one woman as in our case) job. It also helps to have some extra 2x4s around to serve as temporary supports while the walls are being placed into position.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Securing the Walls Into the Foundation
Securing the Walls Into the Foundation

Securing the Shed Walls

To secure the walls to the foundation, we used large bolts that had been previously placed in the cement when it was leveled out, but still wet enough to manuever. The bolts' postitions were marked on the bottom 2x4s base plates and cooresponding holes were drilled into the wood.The framing was then lifted over the bolts, (that was fun - NOT!) and each section of the bottom plate was secured into place by a large washer and nut.

Remember to lay a strip of roof waterproof vapor barrier between the plywood and concrete before setting the wood down over the bolt. It helps to protect the wood from excess moisture (and we do get a lot of winter rain here.)

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Wood Shed Frame
Wood Shed Frame

Connecting the Shed Walls

All four walls are up and nailed together. We decided to build our own door (actually double doors) so a 4 ft wide opening was framed into the front wall. A 4 ft opening will make it easier to get bulkier equipment in and out of the storage shed.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Shed Truss Built
Shed Truss Built

Building the Truss

The truss was built and put into place one beam at a time. To build the truss, we had to figure out the height and pitch of the roof desired and then designed the truss around it.

truss: A rigid framework, as of wooden beams or metal bars, designed to support a structure, such as a roof.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Shed with Installed Windows
Shed with Installed Windows

Roof On and Shed Windows Installed

5/8 " plywood was nailed to the truss to form the shed's roof. The plywood was topped with roofing felt to help protect the wood until we pick our metal roofing.

The louvered windows are secured in the framed openings.

Back wall and one side of shed has T-111 exterior siding already up. There will be no insulation (none needed) so that saves additional time and money.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Outer Walls on Shed
Outer Walls on Shed

Exterior Walls of Shed

The T-111 siding is on. After this, the double doors were built, but I forgot to take pictures of that step. Sorry.....

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Double Doors on Shed
Double Doors on Shed

Finishing the Shed

The double doors are hung! Also, if you look closely on the one side wall, you can see the windows have been framed out with 1x4s with butt corners (no fancy miter corners needed). :)

The exterior was then primed, caulked and painted. (see intro photo for finished look)

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

Storage Hardware - to help keep a shed organized.

All-Purpose Storage Hook
All-Purpose Storage Hook

Great for hanging things like aluminum beach chairs.

 
Hardware on Shed Doors
Hardware on Shed Doors

Heavy Duty Hardware

The heavy duty galvanized door hinges were also purchased at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $1 each. We needed this very strong hardware to support the weight of the double doors to the shed. Hardware like this can be really expensive, so we were thrilled to get it so cheaply.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

DIY Shelves Inside Shed
DIY Shelves Inside Shed

Storage Inside Shed

Not hanging drywall or putting in insulation allows us more storage space inside the shed. We custom built extra deep shelves on the back wall of the shed. There is also a good amount of storage space available in the rafters overhead.

Note: the faded red portable cement mixer parked in the rear. It's saved us a lot of money over the years.

(Photo credit Pam Irie)

LeHigh Crawford Deluxe Overhead Storage Hook #13010
LeHigh Crawford Deluxe Overhead Storage Hook #13010

Use these in pairs to conveniently store long items overhead...like lumber, skis, etc.

 

Keep Cost of Supplies Low

We were already saving a ton of money by building the shed ourselves, but there were other things we did to keep to our tight budget.

1. We purchased the two brand new louvered windows at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a very economical price. In fact, we designed the side wall framing around the dimensions of these windows.

2. Some major hardware pieces were also purchased at the ReStore.

3. Because we do a lot of diy projects, we often have leftover materials. We always scrounge through these items first before purchasing new.

Rubbermaid 30-Tool Corner Tool Rack (FG5A4700MICHR)
Rubbermaid 30-Tool Corner Tool Rack (FG5A4700MICHR)

Place this tool rack organizer in the corner. No more stepping on hoes or rakes. :)

 

Do you have plans to build a shed someday? Or have you already built one?

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    • Pam Irie profile image
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      Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha

      @Doug48: Yes, we wanted the shed to be extra strong, so we set the studs at 16 in. and poured a concrete floor. This shed should be standing a long time. :)

    • profile image

      Doug48 3 years ago

      I do this for a living. You have a nice and well built shed there from what I can see in the pictures. However it looks like you put studs at 16 in. on center? Most are done at 24 in. on center and a treated 2X6 foundation with plywood floor makes it a little cheaper at least around here it does.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Now I just love seeing a page like this with original photos of a project from start to finish. Your 'how to build a shed' experience is very well documented. I'm so glad the previous owner at my home built a shed long ago. All I had to do was paint it and looks great, wish my shed had a window or two though.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 4 years ago

      Even if I have plan, I cannot build on my own, I have to engage someone..nice experience sharing here..

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      You make it look easy! I would love to do it, but it is still outside the realm of possibility for now. It's on my "Someday" list!

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