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Outdoor Shed Considerations



Outdoor barn style shed Inspired Organizers

Almost every organizing project that I take on presents a challenge when it comes to the space available. Most garages have at least twice as much in them as they can store and still be functional. Since the garage is often the last stop for a given item before it ends up in the garbage, this space in the home can be the most difficult to organize when the resident has an emotional attachment to a lot of their stuff.  For this reason, I often recommend a storage shed as an added storage option of all of those objects that are not sensitive to temperature and would otherwise live in the garage if there was enough space. 


There is no shortage of excellent shed options available, ranging from simple plastic 3x6 sheds to structures that are more than 25 feet long and 12 feet wide that can even be converted into a permanent residence once plumbing and electrical are added. The following considerations should be made prior to building a shed in your backyard or side yard:


Shed Size: When in doubt, go bigger. Unless yard size is major issue, you won’t regret building a unit that can hold more than you currently need to store. Few of us have permanently stopped shopping.


Floor and Foundation: Definitely the biggest potential issue before building a shed is ensuring a proper foundation.  You don’t necessarily need a concrete or brick foundation, but you do need to make sure the ground where you will be building is perfectly level. A leveling rake and construction level are enough to create a level dirt or gravel foundation for your shed. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding foundations before you buy.


Heat and Moisture: Whether you’re in the frigid mountains of Montana or the 7th layer of hell that is Phoenix, AZ in the Summer, consider the level of heat and moisture your shed will be exposed to. Even the best high density polypropylene plastic shed probably won’t last more than a decade in 110 degree temperatures, and even the best wood shed will likely become a magnet for mold in any consistently wet atmosphere. Understand the limitations of the product you buy. 


Windows and ventilation: Unless you’re wiring the shed for electrical, you’re going to need a little natural light on the inside. Most modern sheds include windows ore skylights to provide enough natural light to see your stuff. No matter where your shed is built, it will need some level of ventilation. Vents placed higher up are better for warmer climates to let out the hot air and are less likely to allow critters inside.


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Security: Thieves know you may be keeping anything from expensive power tools to ATVs and ride-on lawn mowers in your shed, so keep it locked and if possible, build it where it will be mostly out of line of sight from streets and alleyways. 


Floor weight limits: The required floor strength of your shed will depend on the amount of weight of the things you’re storing in it. If storing an ATV, motorcycle or other item that weighs a few hundred pounds or more, forget about a plastic shed. You need a shed built with two-by-fours and floor joists that are 12 to 18 inches apart to support the weight.


Door movement: The biggest functional problem that you’re likely to encounter with your shed is doors that won’t open or close easily. This almost always comes down to a level foundation, but improper installation of the doors can also create problems. Make sure the door moves freely and don’t continue construction until you’ve identified the issue. 


Building Experience: You don’t need to be 20 year construction veteran to build a shed, but successfully building a few pieces of IKEA furniture in the past doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily ready for this kind of project either. Save yourself a lot of time and headaches by finding the instructions for the shed you want to build online. Be honest with yourself about the difficulty of the construction and hire a professional if it’s outside your current skill level. I also recommend having a 2nd person available for the project, as you will inevitably need a third hand at times. 


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Matching aesthetic to your house: If you care at all about the aesthetic of your house and yards, consider how the shed you are conversing matches the exterior look of your house. Plastic sheds rarely match well, but many of the wood sheds available offer the same type of shingle roofs found on many modern homes, and have similar architectural features that help them blend well with their surroundings.


Warranty: Sheds take serious abuse, both from their owners and from the elements. Disregard any product with less than a 10 year warranty. After all the does only has one job…stands there for at least the next ten years.


The following are a few of the best manufacturers of sheds that I’ve built over the last two decades. They all have excellent websites that highlight their features and benefits in the market.



Pros: 

10 year Warranty

Costco’s Return Policy

Wide range of sheds to fit any need

From 3x6 ft to 11x21 ft

Most sheds can be constructed in an afternoon with basic hand tools

Construction does not require intermediate or advanced building skills

Lifetime offers a range of interior shelves and brackets to suit any storage needs

Nice aesthetic for the price

Expansions kit accessories which allow you to expand some of our sheds up to 26 feet long

Steel reinforcements in walls and roof mean sheds are stronger than they look

Larger sheds had double doors large enough to store motorcycles, atvs and ride-on lawnmowers.


Cons: 

Cannot paint to match house or garage exterior colors

Would not expect high-density polyethylene plastic to last more than 7-8 years in extreme heat or cold

Leveling of ground surface is important in order for doors to open and close

Not strong enough to mount metal shelves or other storage options inside




Pros:

Very nice finish details

Uses residential shingles making it very easy to match aesthetic of your home

Excellent seals to keep out moisture

15 year warranty means it will probably outlast how long you’re in the home

Built-in Work bench, pegboard and shelving options

High quality floor will withstand a lot of weight

Customizable Door location


Cons:

High price for the size

Bolt and screw holes are not pre-drilled

Requires a lot of nailing and some construction knowledge to assemble

Limited options available

No large options

Will have to disassemble to move



Pros:

Excellent Quality

Several styles and sizes available

High quality joists and hinges

Website offers good interior images of different shed sizes

Warranty on different parts of shed ranges from 25-50 years


Cons:

High price for the size

Will require some construction experience to assemble

Shingles are heavy and awkward, best assembled with two people



Pros:

One of the largest product lines of sheds in the world

Can see examples at Home Depot locations all over the country

Pre-hung doors

Smart siding makes it easier to assemble than other available wood shed options


Cons: 

Some smaller sheds lack windows

Larger sheds are more than $5000

Paint and Shingles are add-ons


Arrow:


Pros: 

Low-cost galvanized steel option

Sliding doors are ideal for minimal space

Panels come painted


Cons:

Low quality aesthetic

Even galvanized steel is easy to dent

High moisture environments will promote rust

No windows

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