Building a Shed on a Budget

He Shed, She Shed

I have a shed. It sucks. Not because it’s old (that’s ageism), or because it’s broken (which it is). It sucks because it’s a cheap shed and you get what you pay for; a crappy shack that’s too small for an adult to stand up straight in, with cantankerous doors that are always looking for a fight, and metal walls that sound like high-school-theater-thunder when you accidentally (on purpose) run into them with the lawn mower. This crappy shed was an appropriate sidekick to my crappy house back in the day, but the time has come to kick it to the curb. My Crappy House is too classy now to associate with such basic trash.

(Tin roof. Rusted.)

I had considered building a shed from scratch, but who are we kidding? I would procrastinate the hell out of that project. So, last weekend, we went shed shopping. We found ourselves at a specialty shed store that sells seriously sick sheds. These structures are no joke. They’re custom built and super solid.

Super solid sick sheds.

We found one we really liked and asked for a quote. I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised that our dream shed would only cost us around six thousand dollars. That’s a lot of freaking dollars. Of course, that price did include delivery via robot, but still.

I’m not saying the shed wouldn’t have been worth the money (they’re seriously solid), but we ultimately decided that My Crappy House isn’t that classy. We just need a place to keep the lawn mower and some garden tools. Nothing with a pulse is going in there. A seriously super solid sick shed is senseless.

(That last sentence could’ve cured Cindy Brady. Just thayin.)

Our next thought was that maybe we could save money by hiring a guy to build one for us. I mean, the shed selling store must have a ton of overhead. They have to pay all of their employees and robots. We don’t need a robot, so we reached out to a contractor friend of ours to see what it would cost for him to build it by himself. What he told us was shocking!

No, not really. That was just fake internet drama. He did give us some great advice, though. He recommended we buy this basic pre-fab shed from Lowe’s and then customize it ourselves. He told us he rarely builds sheds for his customers from scratch anymore because this method comes out so nice.

In fact, that’s what he did for his own shed, shown above. He built a super solid floor out of pressure treated lumber and upgraded some of the materials in the kit during construction to make it more sturdy. The total cost was around two thousand dollars, which is just the right amount of “classy” we’re looking to spend on My Crappy House.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress. The Lowe’s shed is out of stock at the moment, so we have to wait. I’m totally OK with that because waiting has all of the perks of procrastination, but carries none of the guilt.

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  • em

    I will hang on every detail of this project when it unfurls. We have so much yard equipment, we park our cars outside all year long. In Buffalo. Which mightily ticks off the driveway plow dude.

    Been checking out sheds for years, and haven’t pulled the plug yet. If you have a Home Depot near you, they often sell their display models for mucho savings. Maybe we’ll copy your idea with one of theirs when the time comes.

    SO…thank you for doing all the heavy lifting here. I’ll show up for dessert.

    • My Crappy House

      Ha, the poor plow dude. I can’t imagine that’s thrilling for you guys either though. Getting plowed in SUCKS. We live on a pretty busy road and, when it snows, they plow us in real good. Years ago, we had a particularly bad snowfall. I had about four feet of dirty, icy, packed snow at the end of my driveway. The snow was so bad, the town had backhoes out clearing the road. Since this was pre-Schmoo, I was out there myself, hacking away at the berm and crying. A guy in a backhoe was driving by and saw little me out there alone, crying, and must have taken pity on me. He stopped and motioned me to back up… Then he dropped the bucket down in my driveway and backed up, scraping the berm right out into the street. It was one of the most beautiful things that’s ever happened to me.

      And that’s how Schmoo and I met.

      (haha kidding…)

      As for the shed, I hope our plans go well and, of course, I will share it all. Schmoo is chomping at the bit to get started…

  • Joan

    Looking forward to seeing the new shed! My crappy shed has good bones, but it’s in serious need of some TLC. When I got my house, the roof had a big ol’ hole in it. Took a few years, but I was able to get the roof redone. The contractor fell through a spot it was so rotted. (not all the way, thankfully, but it was scary to watch!) I need to re-side the shed and do something different for the doors. Currently, I have to find a way to do the soffits. Half of the front was rotted and torn away when the roof was redone and that’s been a few years ago. Birds and wasps love to try to live in my shed and I need to put a stop to that.

    • My Crappy House

      Oh, I wish I were in your shoes! I love good bones! I actually really like putting up siding now. It’s one of those projects that looks challenging (which is why I procrastinated on it for seven years), but really isn’t, and it’s very satisfying when you’re all done. You can totally rock that project!

  • Joan

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, but my main issue is being able to afford it. If I figured things out right, it will cost me around 370 bucks to just get the materials for the soffits! The other issue is being able to lift the materials I’ve decided on for when I can afford to re-skin the shed. The siding is rotting (looks to have been made from particleboard by the way it’s flaking apart) and won’t be a problem to remove, but my replacement material for the bottom third or so of the shed is going to be cement fiber board. I figure that will hold up better to the elements. The top portion will be a vertical siding. Haven’t decided on what I’ll use for the corners for finishing. It will likely be a composite material. We’ll see. I gotta be able to afford it, first!

    • My Crappy House

      Yeah, cost is a huge factor for me too. I hear ya! Is cement board cheaper than plywood? If it’s cheaper, then great, but my house was only wrapped in Tyvek over plywood for like seven years with no leaks at all. It held up awesome against much rain and snow. Just a thought.

  • Joan

    The reason for cement fiber cement board is because the bottom of the shed touches the ground. Over the years, water and snow have wrecked the “wood” siding” at the lowest level. Plus, I was getting mice in the shed and by using the cement fiber stuff, the mice won’t be able to chew through it and it will be more resistant to the elements. It’s the outside that’s bad. The plywood on the walls seems good. The fiber cement boards aren’t overly expensive, but they’re not huge sheets, which is what I want. I just want to cover the bottom third with that stuff. The kind I want is about $9 a sheet. Dimensions are 1/4″ x 16″ x 48″. It’s pre-painted, so that would save me time. Unpainted, it’s about 7 bucks a panel. So it’s not horrible. I think I’d need 9 sheets for what I want to do, so that means 81 bucks for just that bottom “third” of my shed. Yes, I could go with plywood siding or even vinyl, but the idea I got in my head won’t go away and I can’t get it any other way. This is what I’m looking at for my eventual shed “re-do”:

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