Selecting a Shed
Is your basement or garage overflowing with tools, sports equipment and gardening supplies? Sometimes you just need a little extra space for stowing all those outdoor extras, and a storage shed may be the answer. Whether you choose a shed that’s custom-designed for your needs or decide to go with a pre-designed kit, you can create a new, well-organized space for whatever it is you need to stash outdoors.
An outside box
The material is one of the first decisions to make when picking out a shed. “The two most popular materials for storage sheds are aluminum and wood,” says Jim McMahon of McMahon Construction Inc. in Dacula. Both types have advantages. “Aluminum siding requires no maintenance or painting, and it will last a very long time with no rust,” says Bryan Hudson of Superior Buildings and Carports Inc. in Powder Springs.
One popular siding material for sheds is the T1-11 variety. “The standard T1-11 siding, a 3/4-inch exterior plywood that has to be painted and primed, has given way to a modern approach—either Hardy Company concrete composite board or the more popular SmartSide paneling,” says David Parsons of Bradley Buildings in Douglasville. “Both are home-quality boards, but unlike the standard type, they are primed.” One advantage of this type of siding is that it can be matched to your home’s current siding to create continuity.
Many people prefer the natural look of wood. “A wood building is easier to heat and cool, has more aesthetic appeal and has a more substantial construction,” says Joseph LaFlamme of Conestoga Builders Inc. in Covington. While wooden sheds are generally more expensive and require some maintenance, they remain popular for their customization options and sturdy construction.
Custom or kit?
You can choose either a custom-built shed or a more standard shed that is built from a kit. Custom-built sheds usually cost between $2,000 and $4,000, while kits, or pre-fabricated buildings, tend to range from around $500 to $1,500, depending on the size and materials. Most people who choose kits do so based on the lower cost and do-it-yourself construction, while those who choose the custom option are looking for professional construction and a space that fits their needs more precisely. “A kit is an inexpensive way to create more storage space without the cost of a custom-built shed; however, with a custom-built shed, you get peace of mind knowing that your shed was built by professionals with knowledge of the proper building and safety codes,” McMahon says.
Don’t forget to consider your neighborhood when choosing a shed. “If you live in a neighborhood where the plans have to be approved by the home owners association, a custom-built shed is the answer,” Parsons says. “The builder can match the trim and other aspects of your home, incorporating them into a true work of beauty. Let your imagination soar!” Some of the custom aspects people are including now are French doors, roll-up doors, lofts, skylights, ramps, custom windows, cupolas and weathervanes. “Let your budget be your guide, because a custom-built shed has few limitations,” Parsons says.
You can make your shed into an extra room by adding a few amenities like electricity and climate control. “Most aluminum buildings come pre-wired with a light and an outlet,” Hudson says. Because adding electricity to a shed changes the building code of the shed, some people may choose to skip it, but it depends on what you are planning to use the shed for. “People that plan on spending large amounts of time in the shed do tend to add electricity and climate control,” McMahon says.
Adding air conditioning will keep your items in top shape, and it will be more comfortable if you plan to work in the shed. “A through-the-wall air conditioning unit is most desirable,” Parsons says. “While the window-type AC unit works well, it is not recommended to place this in a modern vinyl window; the window is simply not designed to support the heavy unit.”
Pick your purpose
When choosing and designing your shed, it’s important to know ahead of time what you plan to use it for so you can fit the design to your needs. Sheds can serve a wide variety of purposes, from protecting your items from the elements to providing additional workspace. “We find customers using storage sheds in a multitude of ways,” LaFlamme says. “Most often, a family has run out of room in the house and needs an outbuilding to reclaim their living space.” Some of the items people are storing in their sheds are:
• Lawn mowers and yard tools
• Gardening supplies
• Extra items when a new family member moves in
• Bicycles or motorcycles
• Holiday and seasonal decorations
• Pool supplies
Sheds can also be used as extra rooms, or personalized spaces separate from the home. Some homeowners are turning their sheds into workshops, playrooms, home offices, art studios or small businesses.
No matter how you choose to use your shed, organization is especially important in a small space; after all, you want to be able to find what you need as quickly as possible. If you’ve chosen a custom-built shed, ask the company about storage options. “Organization will certainly improve the worth of a shed and its ability to store multiple items,” Parsons says. If you have room for a loft, that will provide added overhead storage. “Custom wood benches or shelves are popular and will help organize the interior,” Hudson says.
There are many other options for customizing your storage that can be found at any home-improvement or organization store. Hooks can hold bicycles, rakes and shovels, while pegboards are handy for rounding up tools. Choose custom shelving that attaches to the walls for permanent organization, or opt for moveable bookshelf-style shelving if you want more flexibility.
However you choose to organize your shed, keeping it uncluttered will help you enjoy it for many years to come.
Small & Sturdy
If you have limited space and a tight budget but need a little extra storage, this compact shed by Brookstone, for $399.95, may be the answer. With two interior shelves, a weather-resistant roof and a heavy-duty latch, this spruce shed is perfect for stowing anything from garden tools to sports gear.
To make your shed a little more environmentally friendly, select products such as energy-saving
low-e windows, coupled with an insulated ceiling and walls.
—David Parsons, Bradley Buildings