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Can You Build a Shed Without Plans? 

There are many reasons for wanting to have a shed, extra storage out of the weather, a place to use as an office or exercise room. If you’re an avid gardener, it’s a great place to start your seedlings and to store tools and other garden supplies.

You certainty can build a shed without using any plans, the building process will depend on the experience, knowledge and tools you have and if you have these skills you can save yourself a lot of money building your shed yourself.

Not having plans you won’t know the size or the amount and cutting list of the materials you will need, sure you can get some info from your local building supply store, but remember there job is to sell material and if your lucky you will find someone with knowledge with building a shed that can help you out.

Also, with the high price of materials it can get really expensive if you make an error when cutting material and have to go back to the building supply store to get more materials. This is where having a good set of plans will be worth the extra money.

Can You Use Free Plans? The Pros and Cons

The Pros:

1] Free… The biggest pro is its not going to cost you anything to get them, that being said you can expect some problems with free plans.

2] Get Them Right Away… Nearly all free shed plans can be downloaded for use right away, expect to provide your email before you can download the plans.

3] Able to Get Several… On some sites you can download several different plans which can provide you more information.

The Cons:

1] Not Complete… Free plans don’t have many of the fine details needed and can be very difficult to understand. Without details and accurate material lists as well as cutting list you’re going to be left to figure a lot of things out yourself.

2] Inaccurate Drawings and Dimensions… Most of the free plans have information that doesn’t help a beginner. I had a friend get some free plans and asked me for help building his shed and I found the plans mostly useless and a complete waste of time.

3] Will Need More Plans… In a lot of cases, you’ll have to download several plans just to find some important information. The result will be frustration and wasting a lot of material and time and you’ll still not know how to complete the shed correctly.

4] Small Images… Many times, when you download free plans the images you get are quite small and really hard to see the dimensions and other details for building the shed.

Can You Build a Shed with Free Plans?

You can build a shed with your free plans, but you’ll need a lot of experience and knowledge to turn the plan into an actual shed. Most free plans don’t give you any information on where to put the shed and the type of foundation or base it will need to sit on. They also lack cross sections and good pictures of the completed shed.

Are Buying Plans a Good Option?

If your serious about building your own shed and wanting to save a lot of money, having a good set of plans will be the key to success. The shed plans you buy will depend on size, style and foundation that will be needed for your situation and of course your budget. Here are some things a good shed plan should have:

1] Easy to Use… Plans need to be simple enough for someone without a lot of experience to be able to understand. They also need to be accurate so you’re not wasting your time trying to figure out how to go from one step to the next.

2] Detailed Drawings… They should have cross sections, and blow ups of images of detailed construction areas, as well as images of the completed shed so you can see what it will look like as your building it.

3] Detailed Instructions… That show you how to progress with each step, and they need to be in the correct order of the construction process. Having detailed roof construction before you have even built the walls doesn’t help.

4] Material and Cutting Lists… A plan that gives you a detailed material list lets you go out a buy the actual materials you will need. The cutting list lets you know how many pieces to cut and a what length or size, which means you won’t have to buy more material because you cut it the wrong size.

5] Dimension Drawings… These show a breakdown of how the different framing members are attached together and how to lay out the floor, walls, and rafters so your sheeting fits without having to cut and waste material.

6] Used for Labels… The better quality plans will include labels or a list of materials and what each piece is used for, no using the wrong piece and having to buy more material.

7] Guarantee… Any digital product that you can buy and download should come with a money back guarantee if your not completely happy with the plans.

The average cost of a shed 8×12 shed is about $4500 to $5500 or more depending on if you have windows and doors and what type of foundation you will need. This includes labor and materials and can be much more if you hire a contractor. You can expect to pay $40 or more for a good set of plans that you can download and print.

Just be aware that many online shed plans will have several upsells that can raise the price, if you find these upsells will benefit you as well as the free bonus it can be a great deal for you.

As I mentioned in my about me page, I’ve been a Journeymen Carpenter since 1983 and have build a lot of house, garages, decks, and storage sheds. For research for articles, I have downloaded many free plans and guides. Some have been useful, but most are useless providing inaccurate information which only leads to frustration for a beginner.


If you don’t have the skill level or tools to build your own shed, it may be a better option to buy one already build or use a prefab kit. You could hire a contractor to build it. If you are handy and have the basic tools, then I’m going to recommend you check out Ryan’s Shed Plans and be sure to download the 4 free bonuses. You can get some free plans from Ryan to if your budget is tight. Good Luck.

Recommended Resources

In this area I will go over the best resources that I have found that you will find very helpful:

Here are my favorite eBooks for beginners as well as those of you who have a lot more experience with home projects.

I know how disappointing it can be to finally find some plans online only to find out after that theirs a lot of essential information missing making these resources useless and a waste of your time!

First is “Ryan’s Shed Plans”… Provides 1,000’s of shed plans, so there’s something for everyone with detailed cross sections and very easy to follow instructions. What I really like is the material and cutting lists which means you know how much material to get.

And if you act soon, you can also get some free books: Advanced Woodworking Tips, List of suppliers to get your materials even cheaper and for you woodworking types you also get 400 free wooding plans. Definitely worth every penny… Check it out here and get your free 8×12 plan just for looking.

Second is “Ted’s Woodworking” … You get thousands of woodworking plans and they come with step-by-step instructions, material and cutting lists, very detailed plans, something for beginners as well as the professional woodworker.

You’ll also get woodworking guides and a detailed book on how to start a woodworking business and how to sell your woodworking projects for profit. See for yourself all the projects you can do and start making impressive pieces right away. Check it out here.

Third is the “Ultimate Small Shop” … This guide walks you thru everything you need to get a small workshop set-up on a budget. Goes into detail what you need to set-up, organizing your space and laying out your work areas, tools list, safety and so much more. Covers everything you need to have a complete shop.

You also get some Free bonus: The workshop cheat list, shows you where to get cheap supplies and tools. You also get a lifetime subscription to the deal alert service and so much more, see it for yourself here.