Are you wondering how to build a shed? 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 your own shed from scratch whilst keeping the spend to a minimum. My shed measures 12ft x 10ft (3m x 3.6m) which is a pretty good size for most requirements but you can easily adapt the structure to suit your ideal size.
Table of Contents
- Shed plans
- Materials list
- How to build a shed from scratch – Step-by-Step
- More shed plans
- Here are some questions I’m regularly asked about my DIY shed build
- How to save money on your DIY shed build
- Turn your shed into a garden office
- Readers sheds
- Further reading
Having built a number of garden buildings I’m happy to say this is one of the cheapest ways to build a shed. In this post, I have included a detailed step-by-step guide with pictures, a list of required materials (including where I sourced them), and the ideal tools for the job. I hope this ‘how to build a garden shed from scratch’ post is inspiring.
Here is my shed which was completed with a log lap cladding finish. You can see to the left a flat pack shed I built previously of the same size. Further in this post, not only will you find a detailed cost comparison between the two builds, but I’ll also guide you through the most effective methods for staining the shed.
I’ve recently finished creating my own 3D shed plans for this build. It’s taken me quite a while but I’m finally able to share them with you.
The document includes a detailed 20-page step-by-step guide, a complete materials list, a cut list and detailed 3D drawings of each section of this build. I believe these to be the cheapest, most detailed plans on the Internet.
You can use the links to see where I’ve purchased these materials and the current costs.
How to build a shed from scratch – Step-by-Step
I decided to go for the shed size 12×10 ft. (or 3×3.6m) and 2.4m tall. I’ve restricted the height to 2.4m to fit within the permitted development rules. Any higher (when within 2 m of a boundary) and you’ll need planning permission.
Step1. Building the shed base
The first task was to clear debris and level the ground.
- Using a tape measure I marked out the size of the shed and placed a paving slab in each corner.
- To level the ground I used a shovel and rake to sift soil from one side to the other. To keep the ground dry and solid I poured sand and gravel over the surface and flatted it.
- Using a large spirit level and some of the timber I levelled the ground as much as possible.
The shed footings
To save money I used reclaimed slabs which a friend gave me. 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.
This is quite simple. You can mix this in a wheelbarrow, cement mixing tray or cement mixer. I used 1 X 25kg bag of cement and 4 X 25kg of sharp sand which was enough to secure 8 slabs. 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.
- Start adding bits of water whilst mixing until you have just enough for a wet mix. (0.5 parts water)
- Add the mix to the surface and place the slab on top.
- Level the slab and check for the correct height. Adjust as required.
- Leave the cement to go off for 24 hours before adding any additional weight.
Building the shed base wooden frame
I used the 3m & 3.6m C16 timber and a spirit level whilst laying the slabs to ensure a good level floor frame for the base.
I then added an additional 6 slabs for further support but didn’t cement these in. I dug down and filled the hole with gravel and sand to provide a good solid footing.
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 floor joists.
- Secure all the pieces of the outer fame together with 75mm screws
- Complete the same for the three inner 3m pieces
- Brace each section with additional timbers ensuring the OSB board joins fit over the timber sections. This will prevent movement between each board. The boards measure 18mm thick & 1220x2440mm.
- Secure the boards into place with 40mm screws.
Complete the base and trim off any additional OSB with a circular saw.
This completes my budget DIY shed base.
Alternative shed base ideas
If you are building your shed on an uneven surface or would like to build a solid concrete base then take a look at these other guides for some step-by-step instructions:
Step 2. How to build a shed wall
The 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 520mm apart. Use the 80mm screws to join the timber. Don’t forget your pilot holes to prevent splitting. You could also add a double top plate to the frame for additional strength but I didn’t think this was necessary.
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 the 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 not going to be insulated in any way. If you are thinking of insulating your shed then I would advise using a breather membrane.
Adding 9mm plywood to the frame will add loads of 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 an angle to hold the walls into place.
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.
Step 3. Adding the wall cladding
On with the cladding. I purchased my log lap cladding from a company on eBay. Click here to go to the listing. If you fancy something a bit thicker then you can find a similar 38mm loglap here: thicker 38mm loglap.
The great thing about the loglap cladding, it just slots together. You can secure them to the frame using screws or nails. I used 40mm x 4mm screws but lost head nails would look nicer.
Each piece was cut to length using a mitre saw. I started from the bottom and worked my way up each wall. ensure there are no gaps as you add each piece.
I stopped adding the cladding near the top of the wall as I had to build the roof before continuing.
Step 4. Building 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 2.5m (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. I’ve used the same timber as the walls.
To strengthen the roof trusses I cut some triangle shapes from 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, making sure it could support my weight 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 to the front. This would add a small element of protection from the weather.
These battens were secured using 75mm screws. Two for each side of each batten.
With the roof framing now complete 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 panel saw. Simply cut along the roof rafter.
Boarding and felting the roof
I used 11mm OSB board for the sheet materials on the roof. You could also use plywood sheets as an alternative option. 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. I used 10mm tacks to secure the felt to the roof. Tacks should be no more than 5cm apart.
Step 5. Adding a window
Building the front wall for the shed was the next step, having to make a slightly different frame to support the window and door opening.
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 completed 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.
While building your shed, you may not initially think about sound insulation. But what if you’re planning to use it as a workshop soundproof windows and soundproof glass to your shed can significantly improve your experience. C.U.in offers high-quality soundproof windows and glass solutions designed to reduce external noises by up to 90%. It’s an investment in comfort and privacy, making your shed not just a storage space but a functional room you can actually spend time in.
Step 6. Building the doors
The shed door was made using more timber and some of the leftover 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.
Step 7. Painting or staining the shed
The final steps to building your own shed were to add some trim (facia) to the sides of the roof, fit a handle, hasp and staple to the door, motion sensor light and paint the whole shed. It’s vitally important to ensure you protect the wood in your shed as soon as possible. Weatherproofing your shed will be vital for a long-lasting, secure structure.
Finishing the shed with exterior wood paint will add a professional finish and ensure it’s protected from the elements. You can choose a stain to enjoy the natural beauty of the wood, or a coloured wood paint if your garden has a coloured theme.
Check out my guide on prolonging the life of your shed here:
Now all that’s left to do is add paving, a path or some decking.
For specific measurements, full cut list and detailed step-by-step instructions take a look at my 3D shed plans and guides.
More shed plans
My shed build in a 2 minute video
Here are some questions I’m regularly asked about my DIY shed build
Here are answers to some of the common questions when it comes to building a DIY shed.
Q: Is it cheaper to build your own shed?
Here is the all important question. Can you build your own shed cheaper than you can buy a flat pack shed? As I purchased and built a flat-pack shed the year before, I have recent pricing and build experience to share as a comparison.
A: Yes, you can build a shed from scratch cheaper than you can buy a flat pack shed. You are basically saving money on the labour costs. The great thing is, a DIY shed built to these specifications is not only cheaper but built to a much higher standard.
Here is a cost comparison between flat pack and my DIY shed (12x10ft)
Please note these prices were from 2018 when I built this shed.
Q: How do I insulate my shed?
A: Insulating your shed is a great idea if you plan to use it all year round as a workshop or hobby space. It’s pretty easy but the costs can add up quite a bit. You can try and insulate your shed for free or on a budget but you’ll need to collect loads of free insulating materials before you get started. Click the button below to read my full guide on how to insulate your shed.
Q: Do I need planning permission for a garden shed (UK)?
A: Before you get started you’ll need to be aware of any building restrictions, so be sure to check the UK planning portal which outlines these key points:
- 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.
- 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.
You can read my full guide to planning permission for your shed here:
Q: What tools will I require to build a shed from scratch?
A: 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 – £120
- 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)
- Spirit level – The bigger the better
- Basic staple gun
With any construction project, it’s important to protect yourself from injury. Consider investing in some safety equipment to protect your eyes (goggles), feet (steel toe cap boots) and hands. (Unigloves)
Q: How much does it cost to build a shed in 2023
A: With rising material costs in the UK the expected price of this 12x10ft shed will be in the region of £1300. This should be enough to purchase all the materials covered in the list at the start of this article. You can save a little on the cladding by selecting a cheaper one. Material prices are still changing so this figure might change again. See below for some more top money saving tips.
How to save money on your DIY shed build
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
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 few 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.
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.
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!
When learning how to build a shed by yourself, researching thoroughly will help prevent making silly mistakes and wasting money.
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! For some more inspiration look at this shed guide which gives you an idea of the different types of sheds available and what they look like.
Turn your shed into a garden office
If you liked this article then you might like this. I’ve recently completed a post about how I extended this shed and insulated it. I turned my shed into a garden office or garden room to enjoy all year round.
Chris recently got in touch to show me what he had created off the back of this post and my shed plans download. He’s mixed things up a bit with an 8x12ft footprint and vertical cladding. He’s also up-cycled an old PVC door and windows (for £10 off Marketplace) to give this shed a professional-looking finish. I like how he has added some guttering to make good use of the rainwater for his garden plants. This is a great example of how to build a shed from scratch.