Backyard Shed

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Backyard Shed

Post by Kosmo »

I will be getting a shed in the near future. It's time to get the garage cleaned out and used for it's intended purpose of sheltering the cars. I plan to partition the shed into 2 areas: outdoor tools storage and a workshop/storage area. The outdoor tools consist of: lawn tractor, trailer, snow blower, wheel barrow, outdoor hand and power tools, and gardening tools/supplies. The workshop/storage area will house some larger tools like a table saw, drill press, ladder, and air compressor; some excess building material (wood, steel, tile, etc.); outdoor seasonal decorations; and also some outdoor kids toys. I'd like to keep sufficient open space to use this as a small woodworking shop. The shed will be custom built by a local carpenter and will have electricity. I'm thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of between 12x20 and 14x24. (For reference, the garage area I'm trying to clear out is roughly 10x24, but everything is on the ground.) I think an A frame roof will do with a large loft area. I have sufficient yard space for those sizes. Cost is essentially irrelevant, except that a 14 ft width is noticeably more expensive than a 12 ft width, with all else being equal.

So my questions to all of you who have sheds: What size do you have? Is that sufficient for your needs (what are your needs)? Is there anything you wish you had in your shed that you don't? Do you have an A frame or a gambrel (barn style) roof? How does that affect drainage and snow accumulation? What size doors and/or windows do you have? Vinyl siding? Am I overlooking anything? My wife thinks I'm dramatically overthinking I?
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by BIGal »

I purchased a 12 x 24 shed a year ago. I would opt for the larger size as you will always use the additional space. I have a single garage door at one end and added an opener. I store lawn mowers, snow blower etc and have an 8 ft workbench on one side. Definitely need electricity....Mine is not insulated or heated. I am very glad that I went with the 24 ft.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by nisiprius »

I wish we'd paid more attention to which side the doors open on. For our configuration it would have been much better to have had the doors in the end than in the side.

And since our snowblower has a 110VAC electric start, it might have been nice to put the shed closer to the single outdoor outlet we have.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Ged »

I have had a 14x10 shed for 22 years. It has has a fair amount of equipment in it - lawn tractor, cart for tractor, aerator, a couple of spreaders, wheelbarrow, storage shelf for a variety of power tools etc. I do not use it for a workshop. I've converted my garage for that including installing a mini-split ductless system for heating and cooling.

It's crowded, but it holds everything I need. It's barn shaped with a double door on one end. I am very happy with this design. I built a ramp for the tractor. I haven't really felt an overwhelming need for a bigger shed. I guess I got lucky and got the right size for my needs.

As you might think the door width is very important - it could determine how big a tractor/mover you can get.

It was delivered on sleepers and sits on a gravel bed. Proper drainage is important to the life of the shed.

One of the things you might run into is zoning - in my town there are limits to the size of shed you can have with running into issues. It can also affect your property taxes. There may also be restrictions on how close to your property line you can place the shed.

My only regret is not getting vinyl siding. It would have paid for itself in reduced maintenance.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Mingus »

I have a detached workshop/garage.

18' x 20'. Two stories.

I wish it were bigger. It is not sufficient for my needs. The stairway eats up a lot of real estate. And the ceiling is too low on the main floor, but vaulted on the second so more than tall enough up there. But because of the stairs, every thing I work on is on the ground floor. Plus the second floor is supposed to be a mother in law.

For a wood shop with the tools you listed, I would want it larger than 14' x 24'.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Aptenodytes »

That's more like a 2nd garage. We kept ours small to stay under permitting and inspection requirements. I would pay a lot of attention to resale considerations building something like you have in mind. Location and design will affect how future buyers see it.

The maintenance concerns people point out are valid.

Sounds like a nice structure! I'd love something like that.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Dandy »

I would go for a slightly bigger shed than you think you need. Ist shed was destroyed by a tree so I made the replacement the next size and it was much better. Also, I sort of divided my 1st shed and regretted it. It made two smaller "rooms" and I found that flexibility of space was more important than originally thought. If you are going to divide it I would say it makes a stronger case for a bigger shed.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by derosa »

What sort of building code / zoning / hoa considerations do you have?

Most sheds in the backyard look like crap after a few years. And when you look inside all there is is crap.

So if you are thinking of selling in the future consider what that might do to your curb appeal, etc. Not everyone wants what you are thinking of in the backyard.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Girino »

If you are going to use it for woodworking, then consider a ceiling higher than 8 feet so you can swing longer boards more easily. Some extra height also increases your storage space without enlarging the footprint. Consider extra ceiling lighting. You can never have too much light. I would also plumb it for a sink if you can, although I realize that might raise the cost substantially. Insulating it will greatly enhance your comfort, too, even if you don't heat or cool it. Have at least one 220 volt circuit.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I bought a Reed's Ferry Shed during their 10% sale a year and a half ago. I got a 12' x 20', which is the biggest size they do (they prebuild a lot of the shed, deliver on a flatbed plus a trailer and build on site). I use it only for storage as any shop work is in the garage (which is 24 x 36). For all the stuff you're talking about, you absolutely are going to need a 20 x 14 and you're going to feel cramped in that. You won't have as much storage as you think and will realize that you have more stuff to store than you think. In my shed, I have:

2x4 built shelves anchored to the walls and roof only. These have spare tires/wheels on them. I'll guess that at this point, I have probably 16 spares around.

The reason for the anchoring method is so I can put things under them. Lawn mower rolls right in, more wheels slide in. Outdoor tools are either hanging on the walls or on top of the tires or in some steel wire roll-around racks. I have a "normal" swing out door on one side and a double barn door at the other on the same side with double barn doors on the back. I drive a snowmobile into the double barn door and can drive it straight out the back. Rethinking now, I really didn't need the back doors as the sled has reverse.

I don't have electricity. If I need to charge a battery or do some work, I'll run an extention cord in. It's maybe 50 feet from the garage.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Parthenon »

Twenty six years ago I built a 16 X 24 ft. shed using plans I bought at a local lumber yard. It looked like a barn with a gambrel roof with a set of double doors each 48 inches wide at the end and a single door above on the second floor. Because of local restrictions I had to lower the 19 ft. height to a village approved 15 ft. When the village inspector came out for the final inspection he merely looked around and never actually made any measurements. I might have been able to get away with the original design but wasn't willing to take a chance.

The only windows in the original design were at the lower level on each of the long walls and one on the second floor at the end opposite the door. I ran a 240V line underground with a 6pr cable for telephone service which came in handy once I acquired a small welding machine. The foundation had to be contracted out but the rest I was able to complete with the help of my then 82 year old father. It took the entire summer but I was working at the time with only nights and weekends available.

The plywood in the double doors eventually rotted and had to be replaced, this time with a hardboard face which has weathered nicely. And a couple of years ago I added gutters to reduce the splash of mud onto the lower Masonite siding which was installed over 1/2 in. plywood glued and screwed to the 2 X 4 studs.

The 38 inch lawn tractor I bought in '88 finally gave out this year and I replaced it with a 42 incher so the 48 inch doors worked out well. I'd been able to get away with opening only one door and I wanted to keep it that way.

Just remember the larger the building the more stuff you will accumulate and eventually it will have to be disposed of.

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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by likegarden »

It seems this thread is for larger property. In my neighborhood of 1/2 acre lots in the suburbs rarely a property has a shed. I have a larger 2-car garage (25x23 ft), can store lawn mower and snow blower comfortably on one side. I do not need a riding mower. The other wall has shelves for gardening supplies. Since I am retired, I just downsized my stuff again, probably put into garbage 1/3 of my things stored there before. With a freshly painted floor things look neat. To have most used (duplicate) garden tools ready in the backyard I keep them in a large size mailbox at the deck. I do not keep spare tires, buy new ones when tires are worn out. I have a simple 10x20 ft workshop in my basement, used the garage temporarely for larger woodworking projects in the past.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by tim1999 »

Make sure you check any local zoning rules regarding "accessory buildings" in terms of lot line setbacks, etc. A quick call to the local zoning officer may reveal any permit applications that may be required. Also make sure you don't place it in a utility easement, if there is one on your property.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by WhyNotUs »

+1 to checking your local zoning code. Here you can go up to 120 sf w/o a permit.

Ours is barn-style 8 x 14 and was built by a franchise shed business owned by a Mennonite family. We also have an older 10 x 12 metal Sears shed that will go away in the next few years. It houses by recreation gear- embarrassing number of bikes, raft, kayak, camping gear, etc. It is everything that is wrong with a shed- no light, too low, poor quality doors, but was very cheap and I built it myself.

Best thing that we did in our newer shed was get one with a loft (number one recommendation). It takes the tubs and boards that would have clogged up the lower floor. It is very organized and easy to find things. Between purging and tubs, I was able to obtain enough space for a workbench for woodwork and file cabinet for old business files. I put the workbench under the window and it is really nice.

I have hangers on the back side for hanging 24' ladder and that is a big space saver. We paid a few extra dollars to get a window facing west and that was great since it has light most of the time. Window is pretty small 18 x 24 . Agree with 4' door on short end, it makes carrying stuff out easy. Our door is on south side which also helps with light. Hardly ever use the electric light. We also paid a few dollars to get siding and shingles to match our house and that is nice.

If it is built on site, then you would consider drainage in siting. Put it in a site that will drain away. If your door is on the short end of gable roof, then you will not have an issue with snow blocking the door from roof.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by pshonore »

Here are a few pics of a small shed (12X18 with loft; 12/12 roof pitch) I designed and built it a few years back. Timber frame construction using all native lumber from a local saw mill (1X flooring, siding, roof, etc and 6X6, 6X8 posts and beams and 2X8 for joists, etc.) Foundation is Pressure Treated 6X6 and 2X stock on grade. Not a piece of plywood anywhere.

Total cost about 3K (1500 for native lumber, about 700 for PT foundation stuff and $800 for shingles, nail, screws, door hardware, paint etc. Definitely a fun project. Siding is shiplapped 1X8 stock (using a router; that took a few hours). Wish I built it bigger but locally I think anything over 16X24 requires a permanent foundation. (poured piers or foundation below frost which would have increased cost by at least 50%). Its been up 5 years now and hasn't moved an inch in our wonderful New England weather.

Steps in construction (interesting to note change in leaves as season progresses.)
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by MathWizard »

Zoning allowed up to a 100sq ft without
a permit. So mine is 9 feet 8in by 10

I designed and built my own shed to
match the house, same siding, shingles
and paint. It cost a little more that
way but looks like it was planned.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by whomever »

FWIW, the basement room that's my woodshop is 12x20, and it's completely full: tablesaw in middle, planer under saw wing table, router table on one end, hand bench/drill press/bandsaw on one wall, chopsaw bench on another long wall, jointer and dust collector on other short wall. I guess there's a 2 ft square furnace in one corner, so it's not all shop :-).

That actually feels pretty cramped for working on full size stuff (furniture, kitchen cabinets). The planer, jointer, bandsaw, and router table are on rollers, and I have to move them around to get clearance for longer boards. Or think about cutting a sheet of plywood with the blade in the center of the 12x20 room. You need 8 feet behind the blade, 8 feet in front of it, and almost a foot for the blade - and you want to be between the sheet and the wall to push. You have to move the jointer away from one end and the router table away from the other, and be skinny :-). Likewise, you want to crosscut a sheet - you have to have the workbench top lower than the saw table, and clear everything off the bench.

I confess it's a first world problem, but lotsa space is a Good Thing. It fills up quickly.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Ninegrams »

Kosmo wrote:
So my questions to all of you who have sheds: What size do you have? Is that sufficient for your needs (what are your needs)? Is there anything you wish you had in your shed that you don't? Do you have an A frame or a gambrel (barn style) roof? How does that affect drainage and snow accumulation? What size doors and/or windows do you have? Vinyl siding? Am I overlooking anything? My wife thinks I'm dramatically overthinking I?
Built my own 8x12 workshop ( have a separate smaller 6x6 building for yard tools and the like ), and for my purposes is more than adequate. I ran power to it, although do wish it had a plumbed in sink but that would have been a lot more expense/work. It has a "pent" style roof, which allowed my a place to store lumber up in the eave and out of my way. No problem with drainage or snow, just make sure you have the correct (minimum + ) pitch for your roof material type. It has a 74" x 30" door which was fine since I was not storing heavy equipment in it. The siding is 1/2" T1-11.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Chin00k »

Twelve years ago, a big limb from a neighbor's tree fell on my old Sears 8x12 ft metal shed and demolished it. I replaced it with a 10x14 ft wood structure with 6-ft wide door and single window. My garage is 27x18 ft and I had plenty of space for cars and other junk ... until I got married, now everything is pretty full.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by obgraham »

For me it was better to just build a second garage, at least 1.5 vehicles wide. The shop section is in the .5 part, and allows room to work on most ordinary projects. Then move out the vehicle and there is plenty of room for bigger jobs.
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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by oncorhynchus »

Another vote to check codes, permitting requirements, HOAs, etc.

Where I'm at, the foundation determines if the structure is temporary or permanent, and permanent structures add to the appraised value of the property, thereby increasing property taxes.

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Re: Backyard Shed

Post by Kosmo »

Thanks for the replies. Here's some more info.

I have checked the local building codes and talked to the building inspector/code enforcement officer. Here, what separates a shed (actually, they'd consider this to be a detached garage) from other structures is plumbing. Without plumbing there are no inspections and the only permit required is a "zoning permit", which actually means nothing and I presume is just a way to generate revenue. There are some size and height requirements, but the basics are single story (lofts permitted) and less than 700 sf. HOA concerns are a non-issue since I'm the president (I approve of this shed).

I'm generally in favor of "go with the largest possible, because you'll eventually use that capability", but in this case I'm leaning towards the narrower (12') shed. So I lied when I said cost was irrelevant, but it's not a high priority. 14' wide sheds cost about 30% more to construct, but they also require additional permits and escorts for the delivery trucks. A 12x24 shed should meet my storage needs and hopefully won't allow for too much excess accumulation. Also, my wife doesn't want a monstrosity in the yard taking up play area for the kids. Maybe I was a bit ambitious about using it as a workshop, seeing all the comments from more experienced woodworkers. So if I can get a shed that meets all requirements (but unfortunately not all desirements), costs 35% less than what I was willing to pay, and keeps the wife happy...I think that's the way to go.

I have a handful of takeaways from all the comments that are definitely shifting my views on a few things. Thanks again, and keep them coming.
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