Building a garden shed

Garden sheds come in all different shapes and sizes: from small and basic designs for storing garden machinery to larger and more luxurious affairs with glass windows and electricity.

There are many choices to be made when looking for a garden shed and this article is designed to give an idea of the options available to you.

What are sheds used for and what sorts are there?

It is an old joke that men spend their weekends, locked away in a garden shed, tinkering with old tools but garden sheds have actually got many uses.

A traditional garden shed can be used to house items that you do not want to leave outside (like lawnmowers and garden machinery). Larger sheds may also act as a workspace for timber work or other such things.

There are, however, other uses than storage: many people opt to build a garden shed with electricity and mod cons. Recently, the BBC even ran a news article about people using hi-tech garden sheds as mobile offices, which suggested that these luxury sheds could even add to the value of a house!

Another common use for a luxury garden shed is as a form of extending the house. These 'live-in' sheds can be fitted with all the mod cons like electricity and a phone line and provide an extra bedroom for the house at a lower cost than building a traditional extension.

You can choose to buy an off-the-shelf shed at a local garden store or have a local builder design and build one for you.

When choosing where to install the shed, you should remember to think about general access to the shed and how much natural light it will get – if there are young trees or foliage all around a potential spot, bear in mind that when they grow it will lose some sunlight, for example.

What are the benefits of using a professional builder over a D.I.Y. job or a ready-made shed?

There is actually a wide range of ready-made sheds in the UK. There are several limitations to them, however: the main problem is that you cannot design them yourself and will probably have to compromise and the second being that you normally have to construct them yourself, which is a fairly difficult process that involves creating a base for the shed.

If you choose to appoint a professional builder, you save yourself a lot of time and effort and will get a better level of workmanship and choice of design.

Using a professional allows you to customise your shed and have it built to your exact specifications. In addition to this, a good workman will probably guarantee his work so you know that it will last.

What should I look for in a builder?

The single most important thing you should look for in a contractor is experience. Someone with at least several years’ experience in building sheds is ideal: they will know what does and doesn’t work and will have built several different types of sheds, which means they will be well-placed to advise you on yours.

Depending on the complexity of your project, you may need to install windows and electricity. If this is the case, you should check that the contractor has experience in both areas.


Naturally, the cost will vary on what you have done. If you just want a ready-made shed erected, you should look to pay between £130-330 for sheds with dimensions of 12x8ft-24x14ft.

If however, you are having someone design, source materials, and build your shed, the cost will vary wildly. The cost will be made up of two components: material costs and the labour rate.

Naturally, material costs will depend on the material, but – as a guide – you should look to pay around £14 per hour for a local handyman, although you will probably find that they will give you an overall bill instead of billing by the hour, which can save you money as it gives them an incentive to finish quickly.

It is very important to get multiple quotes as prices can vary wildly. It is recommended that you obtain at least 3 estimates. It is also worth asking if they will guarantee their work – and how long for!

What happens next?

Once you have chosen your contractor and decided on the design of your shed (or purchased an off-the-shelf model), they will come around and install it for you.

An off-the-shelf model will not take long to install. Depending on what sort of base and extra options you choose, it may be finished within a day.

If you have chosen to have a workman build you a shed from scratch, it will take longer. First, they will have to locate all the materials, treat any wood and cut items to shape. Once this is done and windows and extra parts have been ordered, they will build a base for the shed (often concrete or paving slabs) and build up from there. This length of this process will vary depending on your contractor and the design used.

Questions to ask your contractor?

  • What do you think would be the best design, considering our plot of land?
  • Does that price include everything (materials, labour rate)?
  • How long will the job take to complete?
  • Can you please give me a written quote with a full cost breakdown?
  • Will you guarantee your work?

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