Garden Shed

Since buying our house almost five years ago we have been in desperate need of storage for our garden tools.  I have been meaning to build a garden shed for awhile but other projects have taken priority.  But, with the COVID lockdown and the end of spring semester classes I have had a little more time on my hands, so I finally decided to have at it.

Now while I have had the time, I still don’t have a ton of space for shed construction.  This is largely due to the amount of exposed ledge behind our house.  So, I needed a shed of modest dimensions.  Unfortunately, most of the plans available online for small sheds lacked aesthetic appeal.  The look of the shed is important as it is sited on our property line and in clear view of my neighbor’s living room window.  My neighbor was cool with me building it, and so I wanted to be sure I was respectful of the fact that he was going to have to look at it, a lot.  A lean-to type shed clad in T-111 wasn’t going to cut it.  So, I had little recourse but to design the shed myself.  Not exactly a great architectural challenge given that it is only 3 1/2 feet by 6.  Nevertheless, taking the time to do a scale drawing–whether it is a piece of furniture or a garden shed–helps to make sure you have proportions correct.  It also helps when it comes time to estimate and order materials.

A simple scale drawing with three views (front, side, and top) makes all the difference during the process of design, materials estimating, and construction. In this case, 1 inch = 1 foot.

I started by spreading, leveling and compacting a base of gravel. The gravel will also help facilitate drainage, especially important as this shed sits atop pressure treated 4 x 6 timbers.  The floor is laid out in pressure treated 2 x 6 secured with corner brackets and joist hangers.  The floor decking is 3/4″ pressure treated plywood (and holy hell is that stuff heavy in 4 x 8 sheets).  The rest of the shed is framed in standard KD 2 x 4 and sheathed in 3/4 inch CDX plywood.

I got my lumber, roofing, flashing, and trim delivered from my friends at Gilbert and Cole

I will never order lumber from Home Depot–half of it winds up being unusable.  The stuff I get from Gilbert and Cole is always straight and flat.

The framing was pretty straight forward.  The wall are 5″ tall and the roof is gabled with a 5/12 pitch. I slightly increased the pitch over my original plan to give me a few more inches of height inside to accommodate longer handled tools.

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Framing underway.  One small change from my original plan was that I increased the roof pitch slightly to a 5/12.

Once framing and sheathing were done I moved on to finish the exterior.  Again, the aesthetics mattered, so I opted for cedar shakes to match our house.  The trim boards are all PVC and will never rot and don’t require paint (assuming you are OK with white trim).

Shingling under way

I tacked a layer of 30# roofing felt to the exterior before starting the shingles.  The PVC trim board along the bottom and the top of the door are capped with a Z flashing.  The back of the shed also has an 8 x 8 gable vent installed.

I used asphalt shingles on the roof and PVC for the soffits. I built doors out of 2x 4 covered in tongue and groove PVC bead board.

The finished product

I used some leftover off-cuts of plywood and 2 x 4 to make some shelves inside.  The shed filled up fast, but does hold all of my garden tools including my reel mower and wheelbarrow. There is enough room to store the window boxes and garden lighting over the winter.  She should last many, many years given the quality (and rot resistance) of the materials I used. Yes, this was a very expensive shed given its size–I’m into this project for $1500.  The main drivers of price was the PVC trim and the cedar shakes; the latter is up in price due to tariffs. It was worth it though to have a shed that looks like this and that will likely last 25 years or probably even more and require only occasional jacking and leveling.