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The Pros and Cons of a Lean to Shed

The Pros and Cons of a Lean to Shed

When considering building a shed, one of the options you may be thinking about is a lean to shed. A lean-to shed is usually connected to another building. It features a roof sloping down in one direction, usually toward the front.

Many people use this design to store firewood, sometimes leaving the front open for easy access to the wood. They are often preferred by people who don’t have a lot of large lawn or outdoor equipment such as riding lawnmowers or snowmobiles.

Since many are built with the back against an existing building or fence wall, these sheds are less expensive and easier to build than standalone models. They also can be ordered as kits to make it easy for those with limited carpentry experience to assemble.

Is a Lean to Shed Easier to Build?

Lean-to sheds are easier to build simply because you’re building three walls instead of four. In addition, many kits are available as well as pre-built ones. You can easily find something with a color that will go with your home if not match exactly.

Ryans Shed Plans

The only parts of a lean-to that take extra care are the attachment to the house or garage, ensuring that the roof joists are attached at the proper angle, sawing the ends so that they will fit snugly against the ledger board attached to the standing building, and cutting the siding at the proper angle to fit the roof slope. The actual wall frames don’t need to follow the roof slope, only the siding.

What’s the Difference Between a Lean to and a Shed?

Lean-to sheds are so named because they often “lean” or are connected to an existing wall, either another building such as your home or garage, or a solid brick or wooden fence that is at least as tall as the shed you want. What we think of as a shed is usually a free-standing building placed anywhere in the yard that is convenient and fits into any zoning restrictions.

Lean-to sheds are usually wider than deep and are most often used by people who need extra storage for yard tools, lawn chemicals, and the like, but don’t need a large shed. They are good for the storage of bicycles, tillers, walking mowers and other yard equipment. They often feature double doors, and since they are usually not as deep as free-standing sheds, they don’t have windows. Check out my article How to Choose the Right Lean to Shed Plans to find paid and free lean to shed plans.

Can You Put a Lean to Shed Against a House?

This is a common place for a lean-to shed. There are, however, things you must do before you start building.

One thing you must keep in mind is the possible need for a building permit. Many municipalities don’t require a permit if the shed is under a certain size, but some require one for any size building. A permit may be required simply because the shed will be attached to the home. There may also be requirements limiting the types of foundation you’re required to have for the shed, whatever the size.

Some authorities may take a different view of a shed attached to your home versus a free-standing shed. Even people who attach a pergola to their homes must follow certain rules as to how the roof is attached to the home. Of course, if you live in an area governed by an HOA, there may be rules or restrictions from them as well.

Ryans Shed Plans

You will also need to contact your homeowner’s insurance agent. You may not think that you need extra insurance on a small shed, but since it will be attached to the house, your agency may require that it be insured, resulting in a higher premium. In addition, the insurance company may have restrictions about any structures added on to the insured house.

For instance, if you plan to build a lean to shed attached to your house to store your firewood, your insurance company might not allow this, citing it as a heightened risk of fire. Storing anything flammable, such as paint thinner or gasoline for your mower, might also be considered a risk.

If your insurance company allows you to attach a lean to shed to your home with restrictions, it would be a good idea to follow those. In case of fire, if it is discovered that you didn’t follow their restrictions, the company could disallow payment for all or part of your loss. If it was discovered that flammable materials were stored in the shed, the company could cite this as something that encouraged the spread of the fire, even if it didn’t start in the shed.

You’ll need to contact the local agency that handles real estate taxes as well. Since the shed will be attached to the house, it may be considered to add to the square footage of the house, and the space may result in additional taxes.

How Do You Attach a Lean to Shed to Your House?

The foundation is your first consideration after all the phone calls to appropriate agencies. Putting down landscape fabric with a layer of gravel over it will keep weeds from growing up underneath the shed. Spread the gravel out on the front side to catch water running from your future roof overhang.

For flooring, a good choice is pressure treated CDX plywood. It’s resistant to rot and moisture. You may need only a sheet or two, making installation easy. When considering roofing and siding materials, you may want to try to match the materials on the house as closely as possible or you may like a bit of contrast.

If you live in an HOA area, they may have rules about the materials and colors you can choose for your shed. You’ll need materials just as sturdy and weatherproof as you would on a free-standing shed.

Ryans Shed Plans

To attach your shed to the house, you’ll need a 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 ledger board attached to the house the entire width of the shed. This will be the support for the roof beams. Many use lag screws to attach the ledger board. You then attach joist hangers to this board every 16 inches for the roof. You’ll need to angle the end cuts on the roof joists to allow them to fit firmly against the ledger board and slant at the proper angle to your outer corner posts.

Your local building codes may have specific requirements for the ledger board and how to attach it to the house and the joists to the ledger board. You may also need a visit from a building inspector for this step. Many localities want to ensure that anything attached to the house is well-built to prevent it from blowing away or damaging the house if it does.

Can You Build a Lean to Shed Off a Garage?

Many people with an enclosed garage find that the garage is getting too full of stuff that shouldn’t be in the house. Building a lean to shed attached to the garage is a great way to add extra space to store your walking mower, rototiller, rakes, shovels and other yard tools. It also makes it much easier to access those tools instead of dealing with an overcrowded garage.

Again, you should contact your insurance agent before starting construction. If your garage is insured, the same possible restrictions would apply to attaching a structure to your garage as they would if you attached it to your home.

What Type of Foundation is Needed for a Lean to Shed?

If you’re putting the shed up against your house, you may want to consider a concrete slab foundation, especially if your home already has one. In this case, it would be a sort of continuation of your home’s slab. Other choices include the same ones you could consider with a free-standing shed. A gravel foundation, deck block foundation, concrete block or concrete tile foundation are all good choices.

Some people prefer to just set the lean-to shed right on a level part of ground, but this can present problems. Any structure placed directly on soil is subjected to soil moisture. In addition, the type of soil can eventually sink, causing the shed to really “lean” and become warped and crooked. Even if the effect isn’t noticeable to the eye, it can cause the doors to become unable to close correctly.

In addition, a heavy rainstorm can cause water to run around your lean-to shed unexpectedly, washing away some soil from around the shed. Even the rainwater running off the roof will eventually dig a small ditch underneath the overhang just from the force of the water.

Ryans Shed Plans

Building at least a good gravel foundation and extending it a little past the roof overhang will provide drainage and take care of this problem. It will also keep you from having to step around puddles to get into your shed.

If you live in a cold climate, frost heave is a concern. Your locality may require a certain depth of foundation for your lean-to shed. An unheated space such as your shed may need to have an even deeper foundation than the house itself.


A lean to shed is a great solution for people who need extra storage space but don’t need a great deal of it. You won’t have to walk across the yard to get something from it and it will be more protected from the weather. It’s simpler to build than a separate shed. In fact, some kits can be assembled by people with limited construction skills and have all the parts clearly labeled and detailed instructions.

Many of the kits available feature colors designed to go with colors common on homes. If you need some extra space, look online to get ideas and plans or see what kits are available. You’ll be sure to find a style that fits your needs, with maybe a little extra space for future expansion.