Is it Cheaper to Build Your Own Shed?


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With the high cost of hiring someone to build you a shed, considering to build it yourself may be a cheaper solution for you. Also look at the other options available that may save you money, I go over some below.

Actually, it can work out to be cheaper to buy a shed than to build your own, if you’re talking about prefab sheds or shed kits. If you are thinking about ordering a shed built to your specification, it may be cheaper to build your own.

Much depends on whether you have the proper tools to build with. If you need to buy the power tools involved, it can add up to a large chunk of change.

Since you don’t have to pay yourself or any helper friends you may think you’re saving all the labor costs involved. However, one place you’ll spend more is on the cost of materials. Manufacturers can buy materials at wholesales prices and often with bulk discounts.

You won’t have either of these advantages when buying materials. Depending on the shed’s size, you may need to have it delivered, and they usually don’t do that for free.

Are Shed Kits a Cheaper Choice?

Many times, a shed kit is a cheaper choice, especially when you consider the manpower and time needed to build one. They have a cheaper cost because they are built more cheaply. You still have some of the same problems with these that you find in prefab sheds, namely, the materials and workmanship of the pieces.

Some kits reportedly have skimpy framing or other questionable items. However, if you’re not skilled in building or carpentry, a shed kit may be a good choice. It will be cheaper than a prefab shed of the same size, and you won’t have the problem of getting a prefab shed to your backyard and placed just right on your foundation. If you need help choosing which foundation is best for you read my article What’s The Best Shed Foundation Option For You?

Sheds built from kits from home improvement stores reportedly often have an average lifespan of just five to ten years. A shed built correctly from the ground up can last well over 30 years. Other problems can crop up, such as siding being sold as vinyl actually being rubber siding.

This siding expands and contracts more than actual vinyl, causing leaking and cracking. Some kits don’t even include a floor, especially those with plastic or “vinyl” siding.

Since shed kits are built in volume, each piece should be built exactly the same as all the others of its kind. However, that’s not always the case. If you happen to get a kit with a piece that’s off, it may hinder getting it fastened securely with no space for moisture to get through. If a piece doesn’t fit because it turned out to be a little too big, you really have a problem. Forcing pieces to fit can throw other pieces off.

Building Your Own Shed vs Buying a Shed

Some manufacturers offer sheds built to your specifications in various sizes. This gives you a lot of choice as far as size, types of materials used for siding and roofing, and other considerations. The build quality is often better than that of the sheds you find at home improvement stores.

Some manufacturers even offer free delivery, and will even set it up and make sure it’s level on your foundation so you can start moving in your stuff. If you want better quality than you find in the prefab or kit scenario, this could be the solution for you, especially if you don’t have much carpentry experience.

You may think building a shed is easy, but just picture yourself up on the roof trying to stand on rafters to nail the shingles or trying to place a truss and you may just think twice about it.

All this does come at a cost, however. You are still paying labor costs, and this type of shed may end up costing more than if you do it yourself, even considering the fact that they can get materials more cheaply than you can. Much will depend on the manufacturer’s pricing, which varies by location and market.

Another thing to think about is how good you may be at building from plans. Shed plans are available on many websites, both free and paid. The best ones are actually blueprints, with all the measurements laid out for you. If you’ve never worked from blueprints, you may well be lost when looking at one trying to figure out where to start. Some plans have step-by-step instructions with diagrams and a materials list. If your interested in the best shed plans check out Ryan’s Shed Plans.

You might try downloading some free plans from a few sources. The size doesn’t matter. It’s just a way for you to see what’s included in the plans and see if you can follow them easily. Whether free or purchased plans, if you are doubtful about being able to follow these, you may be better off having your shed built.

Prefab Sheds vs Building Your Own

When you build your own shed using good materials, your shed should last longer than a prefab shed. Most prefab sheds use untreated wood throughout, even in wood flooring and joists, which can lead to deterioration, for instance.

Also, with a prefab shed, you are limited to the sizes and styles you can find. You may not want the window where it’s placed. You may have trouble finding one with the size doorway you want. Another consideration is that with a prefab shed you have no control over the building materials used. For instance, you may find that all the sheds offered by a certain manufacturer or home improvement store have the same shingles.

This is due to the manufacturer keeping things simple to speed up production. They are counting on prospective buyers not paying much attention to some things. They might use 2x4s in places you would use 2x6s, or they may use thinner plywood than you would. If you find yourself looking through pre-built sheds and thinking, “I would have done this differently” several times, that might be a sign that it would be better to do it yourself.

You also have no control over the workmanship. While the shed manufacturer certainly doesn’t want to build really inferior sheds and so ruin their reputation for the future, they are building these to make a profit, usually at wholesale prices. That means that they may not build a shed to be as sturdy as you would. You may find bent or crooked nails left in place instead of them being removed and replaced. You may well notice several little things that most people don’t. They add up.

When you build your own shed, you have charge of it all – the budget, the materials, the workmanship, the tools and the fastenings used. Another consideration is that whether prefab or do-it-yourself, you still have to put in a foundation.

How to Find Cheap Places to Buy Materials?

When searching for cheap prices on building materials, you have more options than just waiting for a sale at the local lumber company. Craigslist and various marketplaces on Facebook are usually good sources.

Besides the free section, check out sections on materials, farm and general. Some people have leftover lumber from a building they need to get rid of or want a small building torn down in exchange for the materials.

Places like Habitat for Humanity often run thrift stores that include building materials. Estate sales can lead to a barn full of stored lumber, boxes of shingles, paints, power tools or boxes of fasteners.

Moving sales are good, as the owners want to get rid of anything they don’t have to pay to move. Yard sales can be good for people finally giving up on a project and selling the materials. Many building and big box stores have great deals on discolored paint.

Can I Build a Shed Out of Pallets?

You can use pallets to build a shed. They don’t have to be nearly new, but should not have any damage, such as cracked or missing slats or missing chunks out of the skids. Make sure you use all the same sized pallets.

The standard size is 48 x 40 inches, but there are some variations. Some businesses that don’t use many pallets just put some out by the trash, but these usually have problems. It’s better to see if a business just wants to get rid of some they have to save space.

Smaller businesses that don’t have many large deliveries are your best bet for having some laying around. They probably won’t charge much, if anything. There are many places to get instructions to build a shed from these.

Can I Buy and Move a Used Shed?

It is possible, if the shed is structurally sound and will hold up to moving. Closely inspect the materials used and the types of fastening, along with the general state of the shed. Check to see if there’s any movement in the sides or flooring.

Some sheds are more easily taken apart and rebuilt at the new location. If the shed is attached to a foundation is it probably not movable, at least not without a lot of work and risking damaging the structure. Sheds built on skids are movable. Shed weight is a big factor, not only in ease of moving it but also in the cost. Location is another factor. If it’s going to be tricky to move it to avoid tree branches, fencing or utility lines, it’s probably not a good idea.

The method used to move the shed will determine the cost. Unless the shed is really small, you’ll need a flatbed truck with a forklift to lift it onto your truck. Depending on the size, a tilting flatbed trailer is helpful and negates the need for a forklift. You can rent these, but you may have to have somebody trained to operate them in order to rent one. You may be able to use car ramps if the shed is small enough to use rollers to move it.

To prepare the shed for moving, take off doors and windows to prevent breakage or warping. Put X-shaped bracing on the walls of plastic or wooden sheds and where the doors and windows were to prevent the shed from getting twisted during the move. Move anything that may be in the way, both to your moving vehicle and from the vehicle to your foundation. Dig around the foundation at least half a foot deep so you can get a jack underneath.

If the shed is too big to move with a few friends carrying it, you can use the roller method. You’ll need thick plywood sheets, some PVC or metal pipes for rollers and a few helpers. Use the plywood to set up a path to the vehicle. Place the pipes on top about three to four feet apart. Using a car or hydraulic jack, raise the shed high enough to be able to get the pipes underneath. Start pushing it over the pipes on the path.

One person has to take each pipe as it rolls free in the back, then place it on the path in front. You can use the pipes up the ramps if you have car ramps tall enough to get it on the vehicle.

Is a Pre-Built Shed Cheaper Then Building One?

Pre-built sheds can be cheaper, depending on what the manufacturers charge in your market for them and what you will have to pay for your materials. Remember that manufacturers pay wholesale pricing and often get bulk discounts on materials while you’ll pay retail prices.

One benefit of having a shed pre-built is that you can have options that you may not wish to tackle if building one yourself, such as a metal or shake roof. These take some special expertise which you may not have, even if you’re good at carpentry.

Conclusion

In deciding whether to buy pre-built or prefab, a kit or build it yourself, the bare pricing is never the whole consideration. Much goes into the decision, including your building skills, plan-reading skills, confidence in building a level foundation and working on the roof, how much help you’ll need and be able to call upon, and so on.

Even the pricing is contingent upon how much quality you are willing to pay for and whether or not you are set on certain materials or an odd size or configuration.

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