How To

DIY: How to build a shed you’ll love!

By Luke Carlino

Updated: August 24th, 2021

What is a classic Australian backyard without a shed?

Does your DIY itch need a scratch? Have a space in the backyard that is just asking for a project? Learning how to build a shed is a great, simple project that not only increases your storage space at home, but it gives you a place to craft even more projects!

Every backyard (that has space) needs a shed, so we’ve detailed the steps, some tips and techniques for the perfect shed. Whether you build the shed from scratch or get a little help from a contractor, this info will come in very handy!

While the specifics of shed building will be very particular to the type of shed you build, read on for some higher-level steps that are crucial to any shed build then tailor as necessary for your chosen plan.

How to set up your shed foundation

Step 1: Clearance to Build

Firstly, it is very important before you build anything on your property that you apply for a building permit. This will ensure you can pop a shed up in that area of your home legally. Even though it is your property, your shed may affect someone else’s view, and the last thing you want to do is go to the trouble of building a shed, only to have to tear it down.

Get all the necessary approvals and permits first, which may require you to submit a set of shed plans to ensure your project adheres to building codes. If you want to lower the risk of possible rejection, call ahead and determine what is and isn’t allowed on your property.

The biggest restriction will likely be height. If you understand your parameters first, you can design your shed around them and ensure the approval of your plans.

Step 2: Picking your site

You’ll want to confirm the exact spot where your shed will sit on your property. This is a crucial step that isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you choose poorly, your shed won’t be standing for long. 

Follow these simple rules to pick the best spot:

  1. Avoid building at the bottom of a hill or in a spot where water collects
  2. Don’t pick a spot where your shed will be entirely surrounded by trees and ground cover as this will restrict sunlight and airflow 
  3. Never violate code-required setback distances which determine how far away your shed must be from side, front, and rear property lines

Keep in mind that your location should allow for easy access when you need to carry heavy tools in and out of your shed. In some cases, your yard may not be that big, meaning the location is somewhat already picked for you. if so, keep access in mind when choosing the dimensions of your shed.

Step 3: Ensure you have all of the tools you’ll need

It’s always good to be prepared before you begin to save time (and frustration) when your project is underway. No matter how big your shed will be, you’ll need a range of carpentry hand tools and power tools, including:

  • A hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Framing square
  • Combination square
  • A level
  • Chalk reel
  • Handsaw
  • A flat pry bar
  • A cordless drill 
  • Impact driver 
  • A job site table saw (helpful not necessary)
garden shed with tools inside
Source: Shutterstock

Step 4: Create a strong foundation

The first thing you’ll need to create is a strong base. The most common foundations are solid concrete blocks or pressure-treated wood timbers that have been set directly on the ground. You’ll want to ensure that your base is perfectly level to support the shed’s floor frame. 

Protect the foundation from soil erosion by setting them on a 4-in.-deep bed of compacted gravel. You’ll be fine to compact this by hand if you are building a small shed, but for larger areas, you’ll save time by renting a plate compactor. Ideally, your garden shed foundation will be set slightly off the ground to help with water drainage. 

It is important to note that if you are buying a prefabricated shed, you’ll still need to perform this step to create the foundation. 

Step 5: Build a floor frame

Your floor frame should feature a mudsill, floor joists and perimeter band joists. It is crucial to weather-proof your frame as it will sit close to the ground, making it prone to rot and wood-eating bugs. Build your floor frame out of pressure-treated lumber, and if you are buying a prefabricated shed, ensure it has a floor frame made with treated construction-grade lumber.

For the floor deck, you’ll need at least a ¾-in. exterior-grade plywood. The thicker, the better. This may raise the cost a little and be harder to install, but you’ll be glad you created a solid floor down the track. Pressure-treated plywood for the floor deck is always a good idea for longevity.

Step 6: Roof framing

The hardest step of the process is framing the roof, as you’ll need to make a lot of repetitive, angled cuts. Start by assembling the rafters and ceiling joists into roof trusses, then raise them and set them on top of the walls. This will be much easier than building the roof frame one board at a time.

You can essentially use your completed floor deck like a giant workbench for the creation of roof trusses. Ensure you take the necessary time to get this right.

Step 7: Door placement

You’ll either have a hinged or sliding door on your shed. Hinged doors take up less space and are more secure, sliding doors are easier to install but require additional wall space on either side.

The best positioning for your door is on one of the sidewalls. this will allow you to access items no matter where they sit in the shed. there is nothing worse than having to dig through everything to get the shovel hanging at the very back!

DIY Sched: Materials List

Most materials lists will vary greatly dependent on the type and size of shed you are building. To give you a rough guide, however, here is a standard list of materials required to build a typical shed:

  • Corner/fence posts 90x90mm x 2.4m (Quantity 4)
  • Cement 25kg (Quantity 1)
  • Sharp sand 25kg (Quantity 1)
  • Waterproof sheeting (Quantity 1)
  • CLS C16 timber 38x63mm x 2.4m (Quantity 60)
  • LogLap cladding 125mm x 22mm (224m total length)
  • 3×2 C16 construction timber 45x70mm x 3m (Quantity 8)
  • 3×2 C16 construction timber 45x70mm x 3.6m (Quantity 6)
  • OSB3 18x1220x2440mm (Quantity 5)
  • OSB3 12x1220x2440mm (Quantity 6)
  • Roof felt 10m (Quantity 2)
  • Door hinges (Quantity 4)
  • A mix of screws – 80mm – 50mm 
  • A window (optional but recommended if possible)
lush garden with shed
Source: Shutterstock

Mistakes to avoid

It’s unlikely you are building a shed just for the aesthetic look. You probably have some functional ideas in mind for it as well, namely maximising the extra storage. If so, ensure you consider your storage requirements before building. Make an inventory of the things you plan to keep in your shed and account for a little room to move as well.

It is also important that you consider the climate. Some shed materials will not be able to handle the harsh weather. Steel seems like a durable choice for a shed, but in hot regions, a steel garden shed will be unbearable in summer.

Finally, ensure that price is not the most significant factor in the building of your shed. Cheap materials can become brittle in the heat, and you’ll spend more replacing sections or even the entire shed, far sooner than if you had opted for a more durable material.

Frequently asked questions

Can you build your own shed?

Absolutely! You’ll want to first get a permit to be able to build. Once you have that, you can often build your own shed for a lot cheaper than paying a builder. This even includes the slightly easier method of building your own shed with a flat-pack model.

The advantage of building your own shed is the ability to completely customise your design. You can fit to your space, or to the items you are hoping to store. So long as you have the tools required and the right quality materials you’ll be able to create your own custom garden shed.

It’s the DIY project that keeps on giving

You will get many uses out of your freshly built shed. It may even be a home that inspires plenty more DIY projects in the future! As long as you focus on sturdy construction with quality materials, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden shed for many years to come.

If you really want the shed but with less of the DIY input, there are plenty of expert taskers who can help with shed installationBunnings prefab shed installation and other garden shed repairs and builds to ensure you have a high-quality result that you can trust.

While you are at it, why not read our blog about a range of other backyard ideas that will boost the value of your home as well as the enjoyment of your outdoor areas? There are always new skills to learn and your home can benefit from some well-executed projects today.


Luke Carlino

Luke Carlino is a freelance copywriter, social media manager and content creator based in Melbourne. He works for a range of clients across a plethora of industries and is also an accomplished musician with solo and band works online.

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