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Buying a shed is often a long-term investment, not something you do every few years. You’ll want to ensure that your choice stands the test of time, so making well-informed decisions is crucial.
This guide zeroes in on the top eight key considerations you should keep in mind during this process. Take a look, and you should be better equipped to make choices that you won’t regret later on.
1) Space and Sizing
Firstly, assess the available space in your garden. Make sure the shed won’t be too big or too small for your needs. Additionally, consider the height of the shed, especially if your property has any height restrictions or you have overhead lines or trees to think about.
The Importance of Accurate Measurements
Before you even start shopping for a shed, measure the area in your garden where you plan to place it. Factor in any slopes, trees, or other garden features that could obstruct the installation. Accurate measurements will help you avoid purchasing a shed that doesn’t fit the available space, which is an easily avoidable mistake.
Practical Space Considerations
When it comes to the size of the shed, think about its primary purpose. If you’re merely storing garden tools and a lawnmower, you might not need an enormous space. However, if you plan to use the shed as a workshop or garden office, you’ll need to account for more square footage, not just for your work area but also for storage, circulation, and potentially furniture.
The height of a shed can be an overlooked aspect. A tall shed can provide extra headroom and storage space, but it could also be subject to planning permissions or could interfere with overhead lines and trees. On the flip side, a shed that is too low might make it uncomfortable to stand in or limit what you can store. Balance your need for space with any external height constraints.
Remember to allow for some empty space around the shed for maintenance tasks or for walking around. A cramped garden can make even a small shed seem obtrusive.
Modular or Fixed Size?
Some sheds come in modular forms, allowing for future expansions. If you’re unsure about your long-term needs, this could be a good option to consider. However, these tend to be more expensive initially.
Door and Window Placement
Also, think about where the door and any windows will be. If you place the shed in a corner, make sure the doors and windows are accessible and make sense based on how you’ll move around the garden.
Space and sizing aren’t just about making sure the shed fits; it’s about ensuring it serves its purpose effectively without overwhelming your garden. Make this the first step in your shed-buying process, and you’ll find that subsequent decisions become much clearer.
2) Purpose and Functionality
Define what you’ll use the shed for. Are you looking for simple storage, a workspace, or perhaps a garden retreat? Knowing the purpose will help you decide on features like windows, flooring strength, or built-in shelving.
Aligning Purpose with Features
Understanding the primary use of your shed will significantly influence the features you should look for. A shed intended for storage alone would require vastly different considerations than one intended as a personal retreat or workshop.
If your primary need is storage, then the interior layout might be your most significant concern. You might want to have built-in shelving or hooks for tools and other smaller items. In this case, windows might not be as crucial, but good ventilation could be necessary to prevent mildew.
Workspace or Workshop
If you intend to use the shed as a workspace or workshop, then the sky’s the limit in terms of what you could need. Built-in workbenches, tool storage, electrical outlets, and even plumbing might be considerations. Good natural light and ventilation will be more crucial here, so more and larger windows might be on your list. You’ll also need to consider stronger flooring to withstand the weight of tools, equipment, or even vehicles.
Perhaps you’re looking for a personal space to relax, read, or pursue hobbies. In this case, you might want a shed with insulation, heating, and perhaps even plumbing. Windows and perhaps even skylights would make the space more inviting, and you might even consider a porch or an additional outdoor seating area.
A versatile or multi-purpose shed can offer a combination of these features. You might want a space that can double as both a workshop and a place to relax. The challenge here is ensuring that one use doesn’t compromise the other. Modular interior options might work well in this case.
Customisation and Future-Proofing
Many sheds allow for later additions and modifications. Even if you only need storage space now, think about whether you might want to repurpose the shed in the future. Buying a shed that can adapt to different needs can be a smart, future-proof option.
Accessibility and Ease of Use
Regardless of purpose, you’ll need to consider how you’ll access the shed. If it’s a storage space for bulky items, make sure the doors are wide enough. If you plan to spend a lot of time in it, you might want to invest in a ramp or even a small deck.
Clearly identifying the purpose of your garden shed will streamline your decision-making process and help you zero in on the features that matter most to you. So before you make any decisions, have a clear vision of how you want to use the space.
Sheds typically come in wood, metal, or plastic (resin). Wood gives a classic look but may require regular maintenance like staining or painting. Metal sheds are durable but can suffer from rust over time. Plastic sheds are low-maintenance but may not offer the aesthetic you’re after.
Material Choices and Implications
The material of your shed isn’t just a matter of aesthetics; it has practical implications for durability, maintenance, and even cost. Each type of material has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that align more closely with specific needs and preferences.
Wooden sheds often top the charts in terms of visual appeal. They offer a natural look that many find attractive and can be painted or stained to suit your specific taste.
However, wood is susceptible to the elements. Moisture can lead to rot, and wood is also a target for pests like woodworm. Therefore, wooden sheds usually require a foundation to lift them off the ground and regular maintenance like staining or painting to protect the wood.
If you like the classic look and are willing to put in the upkeep work, then a wooden shed could be a good fit.
Metal sheds are durable and typically more affordable than their wooden counterparts. They’re also lighter, making them easier to assemble and move, if necessary.
The primary downside is the susceptibility to rust, especially if you live in a humid or rainy climate. To counter this, many modern metal sheds come with rust-resistant coatings.
The interiors of metal sheds can also become quite hot in the summer and cold in the winter, which might require insulation if you plan to spend a lot of time inside.
Plastic (Resin) Sheds
Plastic sheds, often made of resin, offer the advantage of being virtually maintenance-free. They are resistant to rot and pests and generally don’t require a paint job down the line. These sheds are often easier to assemble, with interlocking pieces that don’t require the same level of skill or tools as a wooden or metal shed might.
However, they can lack the robust feel of wooden or metal sheds and are generally not as modifiable. For instance, adding shelving or other internal structures might be more challenging.
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact, wood is renewable and can be sourced sustainably. Metal sheds can be recycled, but the production process is energy-intensive. Plastic, while long-lasting, is derived from non-renewable resources and is less likely to be recycled.
Choosing the material for your shed is about balancing aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and cost. If low maintenance and budget are your primary concerns, a plastic or metal shed might suit you best. If you’re looking for a more aesthetically pleasing option and are willing to invest time in maintenance, a wooden shed could be the best fit.
4) Weather Considerations
You’ll want a shed that can withstand the local climate. Features like strong roofing, water resistance, and good insulation could be essential depending on your location.
The climate in your location is a major factor that can’t be overlooked when choosing a garden shed. The local weather conditions will influence not just how often you’ll use your shed, but also how well it will hold up over time.
A strong roof is paramount, especially in areas prone to heavy snowfall or strong winds. In regions with lots of rain or snow, consider a sloped roof to allow for drainage. Some roofing materials offer better insulation against heat or cold, so keep your climate in mind when making a choice.
Rain is a common concern, so you’ll want to ensure the shed is designed to be water-resistant. If your region experiences heavy rainfall, make sure to choose a shed with excellent water-proofing features, such as reinforced seals and weather-resistant materials.
Moreover, consider the floor of the shed as well; raising it a few inches off the ground can prevent water damage from accumulated moisture.
Insulation is particularly crucial if you’re in an area with extreme temperatures, be it hot or cold. Well-insulated walls, roof, and even flooring can make your shed more usable year-round if you plan on spending extended periods inside it. This is particularly important if you’re considering using the space as a workshop or retreat.
In hot climates, good ventilation is essential to ensure that the interior of the shed doesn’t become unbearably warm. Look for sheds with strategically placed vents or the option to add windows that can be opened. On the other hand, if you’re in a colder climate, make sure that these ventilation features can be sealed to keep warmth in.
Materials and Weather
The material of your shed can also influence how well it stands up to your local weather conditions. For example, metal sheds can become extremely hot in sunny climates, and wooden sheds may require additional treatments to resist moisture in rainy locales.
Finally, consider the spot where you’ll place the shed. If your garden tends to pool water during storms, you’ll need to address this before installation. Level ground, proper drainage, and possibly even a concrete foundation can prevent many weather-related problems.
Understanding your local weather patterns and choosing a shed designed to handle them will not only extend the life of the structure but also make it more functional and enjoyable for you. So make sure to take weather considerations into account—it’s an investment worth making.
Prices for sheds can vary considerably. It’s advisable to set a budget early on but be prepared to be a bit flexible. Often, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability.
Setting a Realistic Budget
Before diving into the myriad of options available, establish a budget that reflects both your financial constraints and your expectations for quality and longevity. Bear in mind that the initial cost of the shed is only part of the overall expenditure. You may also need to factor in additional costs like a foundation, installation, insulation, and any other modifications you plan on making.
Price Ranges and What to Expect
Generally, metal and plastic sheds tend to be on the lower end of the cost spectrum, while wooden sheds can be more expensive, particularly if you’re opting for higher-quality wood or custom designs. However, going for the cheapest option isn’t always the best move. If you’re looking for a shed that lasts, skimping on quality could mean you’ll end up replacing it sooner than you’d like, effectively costing you more in the long run.
Quality vs. Affordability
Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for.” This is often true for sheds. High-quality materials and construction will generally come at a higher price point, but they often pay off in terms of longevity and reduced maintenance costs. If your budget is tight, it might be worth considering sheds that offer modular upgrades so you can enhance it over time.
Optional Features and Accessories
Sheds can come with a variety of additional features like built-in shelving, windows, better roofing materials, and locking mechanisms. While these can significantly improve the shed’s functionality and aesthetic appeal, they can also escalate the price. Decide beforehand which features are must-haves and which you can live without, or potentially add later.
Some companies offer financing options, which can help you get a higher-quality shed without having to pay the full amount upfront. Be sure to understand the terms and any interest rates if you’re considering this route.
If your budget is really tight, consider looking for a second-hand shed. While it might require a bit of TLC, you could end up with a quality structure at a significantly reduced price.
Shop Around and Wait for Sales
Prices can vary considerably between retailers. Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it’s worth shopping around and even waiting for seasonal sales or discounts.
Budget considerations are not just about how much you’re willing to spend initially but also about understanding the long-term value of your investment. A well-planned budget will help guide you in making decisions that align with both your financial means and your long-term needs.
6) Local Building Regulations
Check if you need planning permission for the shed. Some areas have restrictions on the size and location of garden structures.
Understanding Local Building Regulations
Navigating the maze of local building regulations and planning permissions can be one of the more bureaucratic aspects of getting a new shed. Ignoring these rules can result in fines or even having to take down your newly installed shed, which is both frustrating and costly.
In many areas, smaller sheds considered ‘permitted development’ might not require planning permission. However, there are often conditions to meet for this. For example, in the UK, sheds must generally be single-storey structures with a maximum height of 2.5 metres if they are to be within 2 metres of a boundary. Any electrical or plumbing work might also trigger the need for permissions or inspections.
Local regulations may impose limitations on the size of your shed relative to the size of your property. This could include restrictions on height, footprint, or even the percentage of your garden that can be covered by buildings.
Even within your property, there may be restrictions on where you can place your shed. For instance, some regulations prohibit placing a shed too close to property boundaries, roads, or existing structures. Understanding these restrictions in advance will influence your decisions on the size and type of shed you can install.
Material and Design Guidelines
In some cases, especially in historic or conservation areas, there may be stipulations about the materials you can use or the design of your shed. It’s worth checking whether your local area has any such constraints to avoid any surprises.
Consult Local Authorities
The most reliable way to get accurate information tailored to your specific circumstances is to consult your local planning authority. They can provide information on whether you’ll need to apply for planning permission or any other permits.
Neighbours and Community
While not a formal regulation, it’s usually a good idea to discuss your plans with neighbours, particularly if your shed could affect their property in any way, such as blocking light or views.
Understanding local building regulations is a crucial step that should be tackled early in the planning stage. It will influence many aspects of your shed, from its size and location to its design and features. Therefore, it’s always advisable to do thorough research and seek expert guidance if needed.
Think about who will assemble the shed. Some sheds are easier to build than others, and you might want to consider professional installation.
The Installation Process
After you’ve gone through all the planning, budgeting, and choosing, you reach the point where your shed actually has to be constructed. Installation is an important aspect that, surprisingly, can sometimes be overlooked until the last minute.
DIY vs Professional Installation
The first major decision to make is whether you’ll assemble the shed yourself or opt for professional installation. Your choice will depend on a variety of factors such as your level of DIY expertise, the complexity of the shed, and your budget. DIY installation can save money, but it can also be time-consuming and potentially stressful if things don’t go as planned. If the shed is large, or if it includes electrical or plumbing features, you may find professional installation to be a wise choice.
Ease of Assembly
Some sheds are designed for easy assembly, particularly those made of plastic or metal, which often come with pre-drilled holes and clear instructions. Wooden sheds can be a bit more complicated and might require more advanced tools and skills. Always check what tools you’ll need in advance, so you’re not caught short halfway through the build.
Preparing the Site
Before any assembly can take place, the ground where the shed will sit needs to be prepared. Depending on the type of shed and local building regulations, this might involve anything from simply levelling the ground to laying a full concrete foundation. Failure to prepare the site adequately can lead to problems down the line, such as water pooling under the shed or the structure becoming unstable.
Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take to install the shed, especially if you’re doing it yourself. Even ‘easy-to-install’ sheds can take a full day or longer if you’re not experienced. Make sure to read through the entire instruction manual before starting, and it’s always helpful to have an extra pair of hands.
If you plan on making modifications to the shed, such as adding insulation, shelving, or a power supply, factor these into your installation timeline. Some modifications may be easier to complete as you go along, while others are best left until the main structure is in place.
If you opt for professional installation, remember to factor this cost into your budget. Prices can vary significantly, so it’s worth getting a few quotes. Also, some retailers offer installation as part of a package deal, which can sometimes save money.
Installation is the final but crucial step in acquiring your new garden shed. Whether you opt for DIY or bring in the pros, thorough preparation and a clear understanding of what the process involves are key to a smooth and successful installation.
8) Aesthetic Preferences
Finally, consider the style of your garden and how the shed will fit in. Choices like colour, texture, and architectural details could be more important than you think.
Aesthetic Harmony in Your Garden Space
Once you’ve sorted out all the practical aspects like size, materials, and installation, it’s time to think about how your new shed will actually look in your garden. The aesthetic appeal of your shed can have a significant impact on your overall enjoyment of your outdoor space, not to mention potentially adding value to your property.
First and foremost, consider how the shed’s design will mesh with the existing style of your home and garden. A contemporary garden may not suit a rustic, country-style shed, just as a traditional cottage garden might look a bit odd with a sleek, modern outbuilding. There’s a wide array of architectural styles and design elements available, from rustic to modern, minimalist to ornate.
The colour of your shed can make a significant difference in how it blends with its surroundings. Natural wood tones can be calming and blend well in almost any setting, whereas bolder colours can make a statement but should ideally complement the hues in your garden or home exterior. If you’re going for a painted wooden shed, remember that you’re not stuck with one colour forever; it can be changed to keep things fresh or match evolving preferences.
The texture of the materials can also contribute to the shed’s aesthetic appeal. For example, the rustic charm of weathered wood or the sleek finish of metal can be either complementary or contrasting design elements in your garden.
Consider how the texture interacts not just with your home but also with other features in your garden like fences, pathways, and furniture.
Small details like the style of the door, the type of windows, or even the hardware can make a big difference in how the shed looks. For example, barn-style doors might add a country touch, while clean, geometric lines could lend a more modern appearance.
If your garden has a particular focal point, like a pond or a sculpture, consider how the shed can be positioned or designed to complement that feature.
Planting and Landscaping
Remember that you can also use landscaping to help your shed blend in or stand out. Trellises with climbing plants, flower beds, or even just some well-placed shrubs can create a seamless integration between the shed and the rest of the garden.
Your shed isn’t just a functional addition to your garden; it’s also an opportunity to enhance the aesthetics of your outdoor space. Your personal taste should absolutely play a role in your decision-making process, helping you select a shed that you’ll be happy to look at and spend time in for years to come.