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! This post will detail how to build a shed and even better, how to build your own shed.
I’d like to show you how I built my own shed, including the tools required and where I sourced materials. You’ll find a step by step guide, packed full of photos, of how to build a garden shed from scratch so you can create your own custom garden shed.
Use the following links to skip to sections of this post
- Tool List
- Material List
- How to build a shed – Step by Step Guide
- The Base Build
- The Shed Build
- Flat Pack or Self Build Cheaper?
- Planning Permission
- How to Save Money on your Build
- Other Projects
(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) A shed is just one idea in a long list of garden ideas to help improve your outdoor living space. Take a look at my Summer Garden Makeover post for more amazing DIY projects.
Building a shed from scratch using your own materials is totally achievable. You can build it to the exact size you require and you’re not limited by pre-made sized sheds.
Researching thoroughly 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 so you can choose how you want your bespoke shed to look. To do this I searched online to view the various styles using websites such as Pinterest and even just Google images, as well as looking at this shed guide which gives you an idea of the different types of sheds available and what they look like.
I did a lot of research online and I already had a lot of the skills required. I spend hours each week reading articles online and watching tutorials to teach myself how to build these sorts of things, such as checking out online guides on how to build a shed as well as conversing with tradespeople when I can to pick up helpful tips and tricks.
Before I get into the step by step guide lets get a couple of the most common FAQs out of the way.
You won’t need a long list of complex tools to complete this job but here are some essentials that will make your life a lot easier. I’m a fan of the Dewalt XR range of tools because I can use the same batteries across the range and product quality is second to none.
- Jigsaw – Avoid budget jigsaws and look to spend around £70
- Chop saw / Mitre Saw – Anything with a 160mm cut length
- Hand saw – Panel saw with about 9 Tpi
- Circular saw – Makita or Dewalt is a sensible choice
- Drill driver – (My personal preference is a Dewalt drill like this)
- Impact driver – (Try a Dewalt drill and driver set here)
- Set square – 10″ rafter square is ideal
- Tape measure – (5m – 8m)
- Long ruler (or straight edge) – one of these are useful
- Spirit level – The bigger the better
- Basic staple gun – don’t go too cheap
With any construction project, it’s important to protect yourself from injury. Consider investing in some safety equipment to protect your eyes, feet and hands. Companies like unigloves often offer a great range of gloves to protect your hands, ideal for most kinds of construction projects. Look for safety glasses to protect your eyes whilst cutting materials and a decent pair of steel toe-capped boots should anything fall on your feet.
Here’s a list of materials I’ve used for my shed including links to where I purchased them:
- CLS C16 timber 38x63mm x 2.4m (Quantity 60)
- LogLap cladding 125mm x 22mm (224m total length) or Shiplap cladding 119mm x 14.5mm (244m)
- 3×2 C16 construction timber 45x70mm x 3m (Quantity 8)
- 3×2 C16 construction timber 45x70mm x 3.6m (Quantity 6)
- OSB3 18x1220x2440mm (Quantity 5)
- OSB3 12x1220x2440mm (Quantity 6)
- Corner/fence posts 90x90mm x 2.4m (Quantity 4)
- Cement 25kg (Quantity 1)
- Sharp sand 25kg (Quantity 1)
- Waterproof sheeting (Quantity 1)
- Roof felt 10m (Quantity 2)
- Door hinges (Quantity 4)
- Mix of screws – 80mm – 50mm – selection box
- Window – FB Marketplace purchase (optional)
See the comparison chart near the end of this article for costs. (Costs may have changed since I wrote this post.)
Save money on tools and materials
I’ve been using a cash back site like Topcashback for all my tool and material purchases which has generated me about £950 since joining a couple of years ago. That’s quite a reasonable saving bases on purchases I would have made anyway. Here’s a screen shot of my savings to date:
My wife has also been using Topcashback for all our day to day household spending and has generated over £1200. More than enough for a great holiday for us both. We added to Topcashback browser extension so we never miss a deal.
So here we go, how I built my DIY shed in detail…
How to build your own shed – a Step by Step Guide
The shed size I decided to go for is 12×10 ft. or 3×3.6m and 2.4m tall. (To the top of the eaves.) I’ll kick things off with the base and move onto the shed build after.
How to build a shed base
The first task was to clear debris and begin to level the ground. I marked out the size of the shed (12×10 ft. or 3×3.6m) 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.
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.
You can use a long piece of wood and/or large spirit level to make a good level surface.
The shed footings
To save money I used reclaimed slabs which I got from a friend. I placed one in each corner of the shed and used a tape measure and some of the timber to fins the correct locations.
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.
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 for a wet mix. Too much water will weaken the mix. Google it if unsure.
I used the 3m & 3.6m C16 timber and a spirit level whilst laying the slabs to ensure an good level frame for the base.
Leave the cement to go off for 24 hours before adding any additional weight.
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).
The next task was to screw all the lengths of wood together with 75mm x 5mm screws. As you can see above I have used two of the 3.6m C16 and five of the 3m C16 construction timber to build the base frame.
Some people may wish to use a thicker timber here to reduce any flexing in the base. I found this size was perfect and with enough footings there is no flex whatsoever.
I then worked into the night to strengthen the base support even further with some of the CLS timber.
I had to ensure the cross supports were in the right place to fit along the edges of the OSB board. These measure 2440mm x 1220mm and are 18mm thick. I went for 18mm rather than a thinner 12mm board for extra stability.
These were all screwed into place using 40mm screws.
I used a circular saw to cut the OSB board to the correct size.
So that’s pretty much it for the base. Before installing the walls ensure you cover the base with a waterproof covering. Wrap it around the edges and tuck it under the base to provide a water tight seal.
How to build the shed – Step by step guide
The shed wall frames
The first step was to create the wall frames using the 3m and 3.6m C16 and the 2.4m CLS timber.
My walls measure 2m tall so simply measure, cut and screw the parts together. Each baton should be spaced roughly 600mm apart. Use the 80mm screws to join the timber. Don’t forget your pilot holes to prevent splitting.
Shed corner posts
I used the 90mm square posts for the corners (2.4m in length). We can cut the posts to the correct height later, when the roof goes on. The posts are not fixed to the floor. They simply act as fixing points for the walls and roof.
Use 4 or 5 60mm screws to attach the walls to the posts. Using the same screws secure the wall frames to the base of the shed. Use about 5 or 6 screws per wall.
The wall frame should be mounted flush to the edge of the frame. This is so the cladding can be secured all the way down the wall and cover the gap between the wall and the frame.
Waterproofing shed walls
You can see here I have started to add the waterproof sheeting. This will add an extra layer of protection from rain etc.
You may choose to add a breathable membrane but this will add about £90 to the final price. For a shed like this it isn’t really necessary to have a breathable membrane as it’s only going to have cladding. If you decide to add a layer of 9mm plywood then I would add breathable waterproofing.
Adding 9mm plywood to the frame will add some stability. Just remember to mount the wall frames 9mm in from the edge of the base.
Above, you can see I am using a piece of timber on and angle to hold the walls into place. Using a spirit level I could ensure the walls are straight.
3 wall frames up, now onto the front and entrance. Below, I have added the front outer frame which is simply to ensure all the walls are now lined up correctly. This is required for the roof build.
The great thing about this stuff, it just slots together. You can secure them to the frame using screws or nails. I used 40mm x 4mm screws.
(Remember to get cashback by clicking here when shopping on eBay. It will save about 1% on your purchases which might not seem like a lot but it all adds up.)
Each piece was cut to length using a mitre saw. I started from the bottom and worked my way up each wall. Use a spirit level on the first piece.
I stopped adding the cladding near the top of the wall as I had to build the roof before continuing.
The shed roof
I decided on a 15 degree angle on a dual pitched roof for my shed. This would allow me to keep the overall heigh just under 2.4m (as per building regulations).
This pitched roof needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the roof and also my body weight.
You can set your mitre saw to 15 degrees to ensure each cut is the same. Cut the same CLS timber used for the walls to construct the roof.
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 (using a hand saw) to sit into the top of the wall frame. These were screwed in with 75mm x 5mm screws.
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 keep everything dry.
I decided to extend the roof 600mm out the front. This would add a small element of protection from the weather. See images below.
These battens were secured using 75mm screws. Two for each side of each batten.
Now it was time to cut the top off the 90mm square posts. I used a Black & Decker Scorpion Saw for this but you could also use a hand saw. Simply cut along the roof rafter.
Boarding and felting the roof
I used 11mm OSB board for the sheet materials on the roof. 6 in total were used to cover the roof. Some of the boards had to be cut to size using a circular saw. They were all secured into place using 40mm screws.
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. Used 10mm tacks to secure. Tacks should be no more than 5cm apart.
The front and entrance to the shed
Building the front wall for the shed 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. However, you can also consider an insulated glass panel for extra thermal and acoustic protection.
I measured up for the door and window next. I built a custom door but if you are fitting a pre-made door then ensure you build the frame to the correct size.
The window was easy enough to fit. I first decided on a suitable height and built a frame using the CLS timber to the correct size.
The Window is simply screwed in from the side. Open the window and drill some pilot holes before setting in the screws. I secured it in place with some 60mm screws.
With the window in place I added the cladding.
I complete the cladding on both the front and back of the shed. You will need to add some additional timber supports to finish off the back wall.
I had to cut some of the cladding to fit around the window and door frames. I used a jigsaw to accomplish this.
Custom built shed door
The shed door was made using more CLS timber and some of the left over cladding. I simply made a double door frame and secured the cladding vertically on this.
Hinges were added and the doors were secured in place with some 40mm screws. I didn’t add a handle but did add a lockable clasp for security.
Finishing touches for the DIY shed build
The final steps to build your own shed were to add some trim (facia) to the sides of the roof, fit a handle, lock, motion sensor light and paint the whole shed.
Finishing the shed with exterior wood paint will add a professional finish and ensure its protected from the elements. You can choose a stain to enjoy the natural beauty of the wood, or a coloured paint if your garden has a coloured theme.
As you can see I started with a stained shed in a natural colour, but you’ll see in this later post that I painted the shed black when I later extended it and turned it into a large home garden office. This helped it blend into the fences around the garden and match our black and grey theme.
Now all that’s left to do is add paving, a path or some decking.
Note – If you are planning to add significant weight to the sides of the shed, inside or out, it’s worth adding some diagonal supports to some of the wall to prevent the shed from leaning to one side. To do this simply cut a 45 degree angle on the 3×2 wood and cut to size in-between the horizontal wall posts.
Is it cheaper to build your own shed?
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.
See the breakdown of the full costs for each shed type below to see which was cheapest! Can you guess?
Cost comparison between flat pack and DIY build your own shed
Please note these prices were from 2018 when I built this shed.
Planning permission for garden sheds (UK)
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.
- On designated land, outbuildings to the side of the house are not permitted development.
- Outbuildings are not permitted development within the grounds of a listed building.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- To be permitted development, any new building must not itself be separate, self-contained, living accommodation and must not have a microwave antenna.
- 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.
- If the outbuilding is within 2 metres of the property boundary the whole building should not exceed 2.5 metres in height.
Here are answers to some of the common questions I get asked.
Q: What about rodents under the shed?
A: Yes you might get rodents making a home under your shed. I have a hedgehog living under mine which is fine by me. If you don’t like the sound of this then you can block up the gaps with large stones, cement blocks or something similar. You could also opt for a solid base which is fine but will cost you a fair bit more.
Q: I’m looking to build a 8m shed. What is the longest timber I could use for this?
A: Most timber will be limited to 4.8m and this will only be for specific thicknesses. Longer walls will need to be divided up into sections.
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!
How to save money when building a shed from scratch
Sheds are pretty expensive and you can definitely save a bit of money by building your own from scratch as my own experiment shows, but here are some more ways to cut the cost of building your own shed:
The most obvious way is to do it yourself. If you believe you have the basic DIY skills and woodwork knowledge required then you’ll save a small fortune completing the job yourself instead of hiring a tradesperson.
2. Use TopCashback
Whether you are purchasing your materials from eBay, B&Q or Wickes, there is nearly always money to be saved in the form of cash back. Simply click through to the retailer from the TopCashback website when making your purchase and you’ll get some money back at a later date.
3. Join the B&Q Club
If you’re not already a member then the B&Q Club is well worth joining, especially if you spend a small fortune in there on a regular basis like I do! Almost every time I shop and scan the card I receive an email shortly after with a discount code for my next purchase. Quite often I’ve had £5 off a £50 shop and £10 off a £75 shop. Nearly every time I shop there I have a discount code to use and the savings really add up. Click here for the B&Q Club.
4. Buy combo pack tools
If you don’t already have the tools for the job and can’t borrow them, then look out for great multipack and combo deals. For instance if you need to buy a drill and impact driver then it’s much better to buy them as a set like this Dewalt drill and driver set rather than buying them separately.
5. Use the same brand of power tools
Using the same brand of power tools means you can interchange the battery packs, instead of needing separate ones for each brand of tool. It makes things way easier and creates less hassle once one is knackered or if one runs out of power.
6. Buy in bulk
Rather than ordering bits and pieces from all over the place, see if it makes more sense to buy in bulk from one retailer and avoid delivery costs. For example, if you spend more than £300 in one go online on big and bulky items then you’ll get free home delivery from Wickes.
7. Finally, the most important rule of all to save money – measure twice and cut once!
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!
Turn your shed into a garden office
If you liked ‘how to build your own shed’, then you might like this. I’ve recently completed a post about how I extended this shed and insulated it. I’m basically turning it into a garden office or garden room to enjoy all year round. We will be able to use this space as an extension to the house, a quiet work space or a room to chill out and get away from the day-to-day.
The once humble shed no longer has to be used to store your garden tools, but you can actually make it a perfectly functioning room which becomes extended living space. For inspiration GardenRoom365 have the most stunning range of bespoke garden rooms essex with many ideas of how to use a garden room from home offices to home gyms!
Read all about our in-ground trampoline here.