So you’ve decided that you need an outdoor storage shed as a place for some extra storage. Depending on how much space you have to put a storage shed and what its use will be, not all storage sheds are used strictly for storage.
Deciding on the best location for an outdoor storage shed begins by determining what the storage shed will be used for, permits and bylaws, your property layout, size of shed you need, access to the proposed location and the design and appearance. In this article I will be going over them so you can be better informed on locating your storage shed.
What’s The Purpose of The Outdoor Storage Shed?
Many folks pick a spot for their shed without giving a lot of thought to the whole reason for having a storage building. Before you consider the size and the location figure out if the shed will be used just for storage or will it also be used as a workshop, kid’s playhouse or maybe even a small office away from the bustle of the busy house.
If it’s for storage of lawn equipment you may want it further away from your house and it will need to have level access to put equipment in and out. If it’s going to double as a small workshop or office space you’ll need to consider how you’re going to get power to it. You’re also going to want to have it insulated and heated.
Some things to consider if it’s going to be used as a workshop or office are power and possibly a phone line for your fax and internet connection. As well you probably want it to be in a quiet location and not too far from the house. Think about access for materials if you’re using it as a small workshop to build some projects.
If it’s going to be used as a storage place for a motorcycle or riding lawnmower be sure to leave enough room for a ramp to bring equipment in and out easily. You may want to consider a location near to the driveway so you don’t have to ride the motorbike on the lawn. Also locate it where it will be secure and easily seen from the house.
Will you Need Permits and Follow any By-laws?
Where I live you can build a shed under 100 square feet on skids without a permit, but you still have to follow the set-backs required for building out buildings. In my case its 4 feet from the sides and back as well as 25 feet in the front. There are also limits to height and the maximum square footage of your lot. Meaning you can only use so many square feet of your property for your home and outbuildings.
If I was going to use a permanent type of foundation I would require a permit and inspections. By-laws and regulations are different depending on where you live. I recommend you go to your city hall and find out what is required in your area. If you don’t follow the regulations and get the required permits they may make you tear down your storage shed.
If you live in a co-op that has a homeowners association they probably have rules about outdoor storage sheds and many of these types of residential housing complexes feel that outdoor storage sheds lower the property value. Make sure you take to the association before you build anything, and know what you’re allowed to do before moving into such a complex.
What’s The Layout of Your Property?
Another factor when determining the location of your outdoor storage shed is the property you will be building the shed on. Let’s look at different elements that will affect your storage shed.
– Soil Conditions… Depending on what type of soil you have can affect the stability of your shed as well the type of foundation you will need to have.
Sandy soil will tend to move around a lot and building on sand will require you to compact it properly. A good way to overcome this is to remove the top 12 inches and replace it with gravel and compact it, this will give you a solid base to construct your foundation.
Clay soil [the soil I have on my property] is ok to build on, just be sure to level it and remove all the grass prior to putting the foundation on it. Also clay doesn’t absorb moisture well and tends to allow the moisture to stay on the top, so make sure you build on higher ground so the water can drain away from your shed.
Rocky ground can be a challenge to build on; an elevated foundation works well on rocky ground especially when using piers or concrete blocks and will be much easier to make the foundation base level, remember to put the door to the shed where it’s closest to the ground for easier access to your shed.
Trees and roots can be a challenge and you should try to avoid locating your shed by them. There may not be any issues right now with roots, but over time roots grow bigger and can lift your shed and cause you many problems, best to avoid building there if you have a choice. Also be aware of large branches from nearby trees. One good wind storm and you could be having some roof and wall damage to repair.
Good drainage is vital, after a big rain do a walkabout and identify the areas on your property that have big puddles or are wetter than other places. Don’t choose to build your shed on low ground, higher ground is the best location.
– Other Conditions… There are many other things to consider when you’re choosing the location to build your outdoor storage shed.
Lighting this is especially important if you’re using your shed as an office or workshop, so locating it away from large trees that can lessen the light you’ll get, also consider sunlight which will make interior of your shed hot and not a fun place to work in.
Septic field or sewer line, you should know where the septic tank is and where the drain field is on your property as well as the location of the sewer line and water line. You don’t want to build a storage shed on top of them as they may need to be serviced or repaired over time.
Buried wires may be on your property, some homes have the hydro, phone and cable lines entering your home thru underground conduits. Just check before building, if you have overhead wires than you should be fine.
If you’re going to be using your storage shed as a place to store large equipment, such as riding mowers, ATV’s or snow machines you’re going to want to have good access to your driveway or back lane to get to this equipment, also consider the space needed if you’re going to need an entrance ramp to bring the equipment in and out.
Taking into consideration these points will save you a bunch of headaches and extra expense down the road.
How Big of a Shed Will You Need?
What size shed will meet your needs? Now we will talk about how the size and roof style can play a role on the size of the storage shed you build. You need to consider if the location is going to up-set your neighbors view or will it interfere with your view. If you have a favorite spot you like to sit will the shed become an eyesore when you look outside?
Are you going to need a lot of space for storage? The size of the shed may overpower the backyard and it may also take up play space when your kids are outside playing. Most lots sizes are close to 60 feet by 120 feet, and if you have a garage you may not have enough space for a great big shed. If you have a big yard then the size won’t matter that much and you can go bigger.
I have another article “How do I Choose the Right Size Storage Shed?” in the article I go over the main factors that will affect the size of your shed. You can read it here.
Good Access to The Shed
Choosing the location should also have good access for delivery of the materials or kit if you’ve chosen to use a pre-fab building kit. It should also be handy to get stuff from and ideally close to the driveway or lane access.
Design of Your Shed
The design of your shed can affect the location, if the shed blends in with its surroundings and matches the homes design it will just fit in naturally. However if the shed sticks out like a sore thumb not only does it look out of place it can also devalue your home.
There are many different types of pre-built, per-fab kits that you can buy and some of them, especially the ones made from wood can have a lot features that sets them apart. Choosing an outdoor storage shed that’s already built will limit you to the ones that are available and may not be quite what you’re looking for.
If you build the shed yourself from a good set of plans you’ll have 1000’s of different designs and styles to choose from. Another advantage of building it yourself is you can customize it to suit your tastes. Each home and landscape is uniquely different and your shed doesn’t have to be plain looking, and that’s the perk of building it yourself…You decide on the colors and windows or maybe even a skylight.
Remember there’s a lot of choices so the only thing preventing your sheds size is the regulations and of course your budget. To help you decide if building your own shed or to buy one already made I have a couple of articles that you may fine helpful. The first is “Is It Cheaper to Buy a Shed or Build it Yourself?” you can read it here. The second article is “Is Building a Shed Something a Beginner Should Try?” you can read it here.
How to Draw a Site Plan
I decided to add this because you’re very likely going to have to have a site plan to take to the city hall or local building inspector’s office to see if you can build your storage building in the spot you have chosen. It also expands on the section “Will you Need Permits and Follow any By-laws?”
The whole purpose of having a site plan is to indicate where on your property you’re going to construct your storage shed. While not every site plan will require every bit of information there is certain necessary information the site plan needs to have.
What Needs to Be On a Site Plan?
Number 1]… You’re going to need to have your name and your address.
Number 2]… The legal description that’s on the deed and will also be on your tax notice.
Number 3] … The site plan needs to be drawn to scale, depending on the size of the paper you’re going to be drawing it on will dictate the scale, as well as the size of your property.
Number 4]… An arrow of some sort showing the direction north.
Number 5]… Your property lines.
Number 6]… There needs to be dimensions showing the property size and the size of any existing structures and the proposed sheds dimension.
Number 7]… Any wells on the property and the distance to the well of the proposed storage shed.
Number 8]… If you have a septic tank and drain field it needs to be shown on the plan and the distance from your proposed shed.
Number 9]… If your property has some major slopes you need to show the slope direction.
Number 10]… All the set-backs, which is the dimensions of existing and proposed structures, to clearly show the proposed structure and label it as proposed.
Number 11]… If there are any streams or ponds you have to show the dimensions to your proposed structure.
That’s basically what you need to show on the site plan to show the proposed location of your outdoor storage shed. Some authorities may not require this much information, some may also want to know the location of power lines too, if you’re not sure what they require give them a call and ask.
Example of Site Plan for a 10′ x 12′ Outdoor Storage Shed
I have an Example Site Plan of my property that you can use as a guideline for drawing your own site plan.
I have used a scale of ¼” equals 3’-0”. The scale I chose was to fit the ¼ inch drafting paper I used. Your scale may be different and will depend on the site of your property and the size of the paper you’ll be using.
I have not put my name or address on the site plan, you will need to add it to yours. I also added the street name in the front of 2nd Avenue.
The legal description is address and legal on your deed papers or on your tax notice, if you don’t know you can go to the municipal office and they can tell you.
I have indicated the direction of north with an arrow and the property lot size is 60’- 0” X 120’- 0”.
You will need to show the house and any outbuildings in scale and the dimensions from the property line. I have shown the house and garage with their sizes and distances from the property line.
You will need to indicate the proposed outbuilding either with dotted lines or shade it in as I did. You need to show the size of the proposed building as well as the distances from existing structures and from the property lines.
We have sewer here and it enters the home from the street as well as water lines. They enter the property in the front as the power lines are overhead I did not indicate them. It’s not that difficult to draw, but first you need to measure your building sizes and the setbacks from the property line.
My property lines are easy to find as most of the homes here are fenced in, if you can’t find your property lines you can check with the municipal office for help. Worse case is you may have to have your property surveyed to locate the property lines, but usually there will be marker pegs and pins in place.
Example Site Plan of Proposed Outdoor Storage Shed
I hope I have helped you with choosing the location for your outdoor storage shed. Just remember if you’re not sure your municipal office or local building inspector will be more than happy to help you with deciding on set-backs and If a permit will be required.
If you found this article helpful, give it a share, if you have any questions leave a comment or contact me and I’ll do my best to answer your question.