Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the urge to “pretty up” your lawn and do some seasonal tidying. All of a sudden, you’re wondering what to do with all of your new gardening equipment, lawn supplies and extra “stuff” that’s been cluttering up your world. A shed might be just the thing…or will it? Before investing in an outdoor storage solution, here’s a few things you need to consider.
What Is Your Community’s Rule on Outbuildings?
Some planned communities and suburban towns don’t allow residents to erect sheds on their properties, so this is the logical place to start. Check with your homeowner’s association or local zoning board before making a purchase – you need to make sure you’ll be operating within the rules if you solve your storage problems with a shed. There may also be limitations on the size or the height of the shed, how closely it is placed to another resident’s property, or on the materials used to build it.
Penny Wise or Price Foolish?
You’ll also need to come up with a budget that works for you. While you’ll want to get the best bang for your buck, don’t immediately go for the cheapest model you can find. In most cases, an outdoor storage shed made from higher quality materials with solid construction will last much longer than the base priced model. It will also look better as it ages, which is a consideration not only for you, but also for your neighbors. To bring down the cost of a quality shed, opt for fewer fancy details and sturdy, yet basic materials. You’ll also need to consider whether you’re willing and able to construct or put the shed together yourself from a kit, or if you’ll need a professional to put it up for you. If you need assistance, factor that cost into the final total.
Easy In, Easy Out
Make sure the opening of the shed is wide enough to house your largest piece of equipment, such as a lawn tractor. Make sure the unit you choose has plenty of room to spare once your largest items are inside. You’ll want to have room to store smaller items and to move around easily when in the shed. If the opening to the shed will be above ground level, don’t forget that you’ll need a shallow ramp to get your equipment into the shed.
Blend It In
You’ll want to consider the presentation and design of the shed before making a purchase. If your home has a rustic, country look, carry that theme through on your shed, avoiding stark, square designs and materials with modern finishes. Look for a wooden shed with down-home details, and avoid plastic construction. If your home is more contemporary, clean lines and muted colors will fit the bill. A very formal home would require an outbuilding with similar styling. The smallest decorative details can also make a huge difference. Remember that you’ll be living with your choice for years to come, and you’ll want to be pleased with the final result. If you want to personalize your shed, you can add your own touches such as shutters, window boxes or cupolas. A few decorative details could make the difference between an attractive addition to your property and a neighborhood eyesore.
You should also consider you landscaping when deciding on a shed; plants and flowers can help a shed look like part of the plan, instead of having it stick out like a sore thumb. Plant beds around the perimeter, or if your shed has wood siding, add some trellises to support climbing vines.
Think About Maintenance
Sheds typically come in three types; metal, wood or plastic. Metal sheds are typically made of a simple metal skeleton sheathed in a skin of factory-painted or vinyl-coated metal. Both the walls and roof are typically made of the same material. Plastic sheds are often constructed of vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC) or another type of plastic. Wooden sheds typically feature stud-framed walls covered with plywood siding. More upscale versions have plywood sheathing over studs, with lap siding covering the plywood. Wood roof frames and standard roofing materials – such as asphalt shingles – finish off these sheds.
A wood shed requires maintenance similar to a small house. It will need to be painted regularly and will sometimes need to have sections replaced due to rot or disrepair. Metal and plastic sheds require much less maintenance. Keep in mind that metal shed materials can corrode if the paint or protective coating is scratched or damaged, and metal doors and other moving parts will eventually wear over time. Plastic sheds require the least amount of maintenance; the material is produced in the presenting color, so there’s no paint or coating to worry about.
To Floor or Not to Floor?
While some sheds come with a floor, others do not. Standard framed floors with plywood flooring are typically included with wooden sheds. Metal and plastic sheds tend to come without flooring, but manufacturers will sell flooring as an add-on. If you’re feeling handy, you can also build your own flooring. If the floor isn’t included with the shed, expect the floor to add $100 or more to the total cost of the shed. In any case, it’s best to install a shed on a foundation that keeps the shed off the soil. You can choose pressure-treated wood timbers, concrete blocks or a bed of hard-packed gravel. An elevated or well-draining foundation will help prevent rot and the destruction of shed materials.
If you think it through beforehand, you’re sure to find the ideal outbuilding for your home – one that will serve you well for years to come!