A shed used to be a simple outbuilding where you could tend to potted plants, prepare other plants for the garden, store yard tools and equipment, and maybe get a little peace and quiet from the household. But now, there are many shed ideas for almost anything you want. (Read: Top 15 Landscaping Trends)
Some simple sheds combine the traditional potting area with other projects, such as sewing and crafts, painting, playing music or other hobbies and interests. And some people use these small buildings as a quiet place to write, read and daydream. Whatever your heart desires, a small building detached from the house gives you some solitude where you can pursue any interests you like.
Here are a few tips for creating these great shed ideas in the backyard:
Shed Building Code Requirements
First things first. Depending on where you live, you might need a building permit before you can start construction. In some areas, the building permit requirement depends on the proposed finished dimensions of the building and whether it will have plumbing and electricity. But in others, most structures will need one.
To be on the safe side, check with your local residential building inspector before you begin. Whether you plan to build a new shed from the ground up or buy a prefabricated one and assemble it, it's better to ask about a permit and ultimately not need one than to find yourself on the wrong side of the building inspector after you've already broken ground.
Shed Ideas: Prefab Versus Stick Built
Most home building centers have several different styles and sizes of outbuildings for sale. Some are assembled, but most require at least some assembly on site. While the idea of a structure that someone else designed might appeal to some, since it's a lot less work, you might want to create your own. A prefab shed may or may not have a floor, but you can add one later if you like.
A quick Google search will turn up countless styles of shed building plans, many of which you can modify at least somewhat. For example, if you like the dimensions of one shed but want it to look older, Sunset magazine explains that incorporating repurposed materials will help you get the right look. Just remember that even though it will be a small structure, a DIY job means you'll need help with some parts of the project, such as raising the walls and setting the roof.
Shed Ideas Include Amenities
The building's framework is only its shell. What makes it special is how you choose to finish it and then set it up for part-time occupancy, which is part of what This Old House explains in their article, “Beyond the Basic Shed“. The type of siding that you choose can help determine whether your building looks rustic, adorable or modern. And the roofing material can too, since you have the same choices as you would for a house.
To finish the interior walls and ceiling or not is a personal choice. If you want your shed to look more like a miniature house, drywall gives you the finished appearance. But if you prefer the idea of a less-than-perfect shed, leave the wall studs and ceiling joists exposed. You can still paint them without losing any of that rustic character. If you start a design idea board, your plans might come together more quickly. (Read: Create a Design Inspiration Idea Board)
Your backyard shed can be anything that you want it to be. Add bookshelves, seating, or even a spot to nap. If you'll need electricity and running water, you'll probably need an electrician and a plumber. A better idea might be skipping those conveniences or saving them for a later addition.
Do you long for a place where you can be by yourself? A spot where the phone doesn't ring, there are no dishes to be done, and all that you have on your agenda is a project or a little peace and quiet? A backyard shed might be the perfect vacation spot you can visit any day of the week.
Check out our ebook, Finding and Hiring Home Contractors, when you're ready to start your shed project. A contractor can do all or part of the work, and can even help you modify existing plans or create original ones all your own. And be sure to share your project once it's done. We'd love to see the results!