How to build your own shed from scratch

A question I’d asked myself for some time was, can you build your own shed cheaper than you can buy a flat pack one?  In short, yes you can, and you can even make it a lot nicer. In this post I’m going to show you how I achieved this, including the tools required and where I sourced the materials.  Read on if you want to learn how to build your own shed from scratch.

(If you’re in the wrong place and need help to build a flatpack shed then I have a guide on that too!  Click to learn how to build a flatpack shed)



How to build a custom garden shed from scratch

Building a shed from scratch using your own materials and not using a flat-pack is totally achievable.  If, like me, you love woodwork and DIY then it’s really not that tricky a job to build your own garden building to your exact dimensions and style.  This is the great appeal of a self-built garden shed – you can build it to the exact size you require and you’re not limited by pre-made sized sheds.

Of course, I didn’t just make the whole thing up.  I regularly partake in DIY around the house and garden and this has evolved into me building other things out of wood such as a veranda in our garden, floor to ceiling wardrobe and many other items.  I spend hours and hours each week reading articles online and watching tutorials to teach myself how to build these sorts of things, as well as conversing with tradespeople when I can to pick up helpful tips and tricks.  Read on below to find out how to build your own DIY shed.

Learn how to build your own shed online

For this build I had a lot of the knowledge already and I envisioned in my head how it would all fit together and look.  If you are a beginner then you should definitely check out an online guide on how to build a shed before diving in.  It will help prevent silly mistakes and wasting money.  It’s also handy to learn about different types of shed, the types of cladding, roofing and framing, for example, so you can choose how you want your bespoke shed to look.  To do this you can search online to view the various styles or take a look at this shed guide which has lots of useful information.

Is a flat-pack or self-built shed cheaper?

As I purchased and built a flat-pack shed last year, I have recent pricing and build experience to share as a comparison.  Both measure 12 x 10 feet (360 x 300cm) approx.  The two key differences and probably the biggest saving was the base.  One a solid patio style base and the other a lifted wood frame base.  Read on to discover how I built my own shed from scratch and see the breakdown of the full costs for each shed type.

Planning Permission for garden sheds

Before you get started you’ll need to be aware of any building restrictions so be sure to check the UK planning portal.  Further more you can always check with your local planning department to double check these restrictions and get relevant guidance.  Here is a quick breakdown for outbuildings that are considered permitted developments.

  1. On designated land, outbuildings to the side of the house are not permitted development.
  2. Outbuildings are not permitted development within the grounds of a listed building.
  3. In national parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the total area to be covered by any outbuildings more than 20 metres from ANY WALL of the house must not exceed 10 square metres to be permitted development.
  4. Outbuildings are not permitted development forward of the principal elevation of the original house.
    The term original house means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date).
  5. Outbuildings and other additions must not exceed 50% of the total area of land around the original house. Sheds and all other outbuildings (see intro) and extensions to the original house must be included when calculating this 50% limit.
  6. To be permitted development, any new building must not itself be separate, self-contained, living accommodation and must not have a microwave antenna.
  7. Outbuildings must be single storey with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of 4 metres with a dual pitched roof, or 3 metres in any other case.
  8. If the outbuilding is within 2 metres of the property boundary the whole building should not exceed 2.5 metres in height.

Step by step guide of how I built my own shed

So here we go, how I built my DIY shed in detail:

  1. Measuring and clearing the space.  The first task was to clear debris and begin to level the ground.  I marked out the size of the shed (12×10 ft.) to start just using a tape measure and four stones.  I then began to shift soil and dirt manually from one side to the other until it looked level-ish.Shed Build 1
  2. With a relatively flat area to work on I began to mark out the ground using a tape measure, 4 sticks and string.  To make the rectangle equal and evenly square I measured from corner to corner until each length was the same.  It was at this point I had some further levelling to complete.  Using a long piece of wood and large spirit level I was able to shift more soil to make a nice even surface to work with.Shed Build 2.JPG
  3. Using reclaimed slabs from a friend I placed one in each corner and one in between each of these.  These slabs would form the main support for the base and shed.  To ensure a solid surface that wouldn’t shift I dug a 6 – 10 inch square hole under each slab.  This hole was then filled with hardcore, sand and then topped with cement before gently laying the slab on top.
  4. Mixing cement – this is quite simple.  You can mix this in a wheel barrow, cement mixing tray or a cement mixer if you have access to one. (Click HERE to hire mine if you live near Gloucester and get £20 off your first hire.)  You’ll need some cement, sharp sand and water to complete the mix.  Start by mixing the cement and sand. (Look for about 1 part cement to 4 parts sand, this doesn’t have to be an exact science, just roughly)  Finally start adding bits of water whilst mixing until you have just enough pour the mix.  Too much water will weaken the mix.  Google it if unsure.  For this build and enough cement to secure 8 slabs I used 1 X 25kg bag of cement and 4 X 25kg of sharp sand.Shed Build 4
  5. I used the long pieces of wood and spirit level whilst laying the slabs to ensure an good level frame for the base.Shed Build 5
  6. Leave the cement to go off for 24 hours before adding any additional weight.
  7. I then added an additional 6 slabs for further support but didn’t cement these in. Just laid on a nice level hard surface (some spare sand I had lying around mostly).Shed Build 6
  8. The next task was to screw all the lengths of wood together with 75mm x 5mm screws.  I then worked into the night to strengthen the base support even further.Shed Build 8Shed build 7
  9. I had to ensure the cross supports were in the right place to fit along the edges of the OSB board I was laying as the floor.  These measure 2440mm x 1220mm and are 18mm thick.  I went for 18mm rather than a thinner 11mm board for extra stability.

    So that’s pretty much it for the base.

    On to the actual shed build…

  10. The first step was to create the wall frames using 2×3 structural wood and 90mm square posts for the corners (2.4m in length).  These frames were simple to create and will act as the supports for the log lap cladding.  My walls measure 2m tall so simply measure, cut and screw the parts together.  Each baton will be spaced roughly 600mm apart.shed1shed2shed3shed4My little helpers.  Couldn’t have done it without them.shed5
  11. I also stapled waterproof sheeting over the frame to add that extra level of protection from the elements.  You may choose to add a breathable membrane but this will add about £80 to the final price.shed6The reason I used 90mm posts for the corners was so that I could mount the walls about 19mm in to allow for the cladding to be mounted flush.
  12. On with the cladding.  I purchased my log lap cladding from a company called York Timber Products on eBay.  Each piece had to be cut to length using a chop saw and the angled pieces in the eaves using a jigsaw.  The great thing about this stuff is it just slots together and it’s then screwed to the frame in 3 locations on each board. 40mm x 4mm screws.cladding1cladding 2
  13. The roof was next and shaping the rafters the first challenge.  I decided on a 15 degree angle on a dual pitched roof so had to make a suitable join to span a 3m space.  This pitched roof not only needed to support the weight of the roof but also my body weight as I climbed up to attach the felt.  to strengthen the rafter join I cut some triangle shapes out of the off cuts of the 18mm OSB flooring.  Additionally I used the off cuts of the 2×3 batons to further strengthen.  I tested each one of the rafters by hanging from it before continuing. I completed 7 of these in total and cut out grooves either end to sit into the top of the wall frame, screwed in with 75mm x 5mm screws.roof1roof2roof3roof4roof5
  14. At this point I was running out of time.  I had one day before some heavy rain was due so I decided to crack on with the rest of the roof to ensure protection of the rest of the untreated wood.  I decided to extend the roof 600mm out the front to add a small element of protection from the elements. this was a straight forward process, as pictured.  This was also time to cut the top off the 90mm posts.  I used 11mm OSB board for the sheet materials on the roof and required 6 of these to cover the lot. Once all these had been cut a screwed into place it was time to add the felt.  I required 2 x 10m rolls to cover the roof and this was cutting it fine.  In hindsight I would have shortened the eaves on either side to allow a greater overlap on the felt.  Used 10mm tacks to secure.
  15. Building the front part was the next step, having to make a slightly different frame to support the window and doors.  To save money on a window I searched locally on Facebook Marketplace and found something suitable for £30.  Bargain!  the Window is simply screwed in from the side.  Open the window and drill some pilot holes before setting in the screws.front1front2front3front4front5front6front7front8
  16. I’m almost there with the final step being the doors.  I kept this simple with a frame and some vertical mounted log lap. Easy!

    So that’s it so far.  I still have some pieces to complete but they will have to wait for another day… payday!

Below is a tool and materials list and an overall comparison in cost between the two builds.  Hope you found this useful.

Tool list

  • Jigsaw
  • Chop saw (Mitre Saw)
  • Hand saw, Table saw (not essential)
  • Circular saw, Drill driver
  • Impact driver (not essential but helps to have two drills)
  • Pencil
  • Set square
  • Tape measure (5m)
  • Long ruler (or straight edge)
  • Hammer
  • Spirit level
  • Basic staple gun

Materials, retailers and cost comparison

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 20.45.13

More about the BillyOh flatpack shed

This blog post is all about how I built my own shed from scratch, but if you are interested then the flat-pack BillyOh shed was purchased from Garden Buildings Direct.  To read more about the flat-pack shed you can see my build process by clicking here and here is a handy link for a BillyOh discount code!


I hope you have found this article helpful and good luck if you are building your own custom shed.  They can definitely look a lot better and make you feel more proud!


Read these next

How to master safe DIY without DYI (doing yourself in)

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Hate gardening?  These tips for a low maintenance garden will make your life easier

My recent handyman projects and examples


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