Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Shed?

Building your own shed is cheaper, but buying a shed might suit your needs better!

August 25, 2021
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Whether you need a shed to keep your gardening tools, creating an outdoor shed office, or even a separate living space: you’ve probably realized just how expensive sheds can be. But now that we spend more time at home, having that extra space and storage can be a game-changer now more than ever.

According to the website HomeAdvisor, a typical 10 by 12 feet "prefabricated shed averages from $1,500 to $4,000 or more depending on the materials used and extent of the project." If you happen to have a strict budget, you might wonder - am I better off building my own shed?

Graphic of Building or Buying a Shed

In a previous article, we briefly looked at the advantages and disadvantages of building your own shed. Now, we will unpack whether building a shed is truly cheaper vs buying. There are several personal factors that you might first consider:

3 - Factors to Consider When Comparing Building Vs Buying A Shed

Graphic of Time

1 - Time it Takes to Build a Shed

Are you ready to commit the time and energy required to build your own shed? According to Solid Build Wood, assembling a pre-built shed, "a team of two somewhat handy people would assemble a shed in about 8 hours - that includes everything from anchoring to installing the roof boards and the floorboards."

If you’re going it alone, you can expect a total of 16 or more hours… and that assumes you’re “somewhat handy” to begin with. That’s a big enough time investment that you had better be sure you’ve got the skills before diving in.

After all, it’s easy to take on more than you can chew and have a mountain of unfinished projects piling up.  

2 - Access to Power Tools

Do you have the required power tools for such types of DIY projects? The tools required for a wooden shed can be rudimentary - hammers, screwdrivers, measuring tapes. However, if this is your first time building a shed and you don't have the required tools of a handyman, your choice of shed material might be limited. As such, a related factor to consider is:

3 - Materials You’ll Need

What do you want your shed to be built with? As mentioned, wooden sheds are a good choice for first-time shed builders. They can be quite simple and you can typically find the tools required for the project in your garage.

However, if you're hoping to build a shed made of metal or plastic, you would need specialized tools such as:

  • Welders
  • Angle grinders
  • Anti-fog safety glasses

The level of detail and features you want on your shed can also make a difference. Do you want your shed to be insulated? Would you want your shed to have a deck?

These kinds of design decisions might seem small - but they can add up when embarking on construction projects such as these.

On top of the required equipment, building your own shed would mean that you have to compile and collect:

  • Shed Plans
  • Detail Drawings
  • Build Instructions
  • Precise Dimensions and Cutting Lists

In this case, buying a shed typically already comes delivered pre-built - as with these options on Dwellito. When it comes as a shed kit, it usually includes:

  • Stud Wall Frames
  • Roof Trusses
  • Roof Sheeting
  • Wall Sheeting
  • Full Engineering Certification and Plans

This leads us to our next crucial factor when deciding between building or purchasing a shed - permits.

Graphic of Materials List

4 - Permits Required To Build A Shed

It might not be the most exciting aspect of this home improvement project, but permits are a critical point to consider. So do you need permission for an office shed?

The quick answer is - it depends on your location and the shed size in relation to your property. Generally, sheds don't require a building permit when it meets all of the following criteria as per stated in the Seattle Department of Construction website as an example. But make sure you check with your local jurisdiction.

Footprint: An area of 120 square feet or less.

Height: A single-story shed.

Foundation: If the shed "sits on a simple concrete slab, pier blocks, or soil".

Standalone: The shed is not attached to the house or a building.

5 - The Type and Purpose of the Shed

What do you plan to use your shed for? Is it storage space for gardeners? Or an extension of your property? Your shed's purpose can inform whether you should buy a shed or build your own shed.

For instance, a storage shed might be simple enough to build on your own, and hence cheaper to build. On the other hand, more sophisticated dwelling sheds - such as these homes on Dwellito, could require a professional to design and build.

6 - Cost and Budget of Building a Shed

While your dream shed doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg, whether it's cheaper to build or buy a shed can depend on its design, dimensions, and details.

Though prices can vary depending on where you are, these estimates can give you a rough idea of whether it's cheaper to buy a shed or build one.

Building a shed can cost as little as $800 and buying a similarly sized one can start at $1100. Here is a breakdown of price comparison for two similar 10 x 10' wooden sheds - one built and the other one bought.

Materials Costs

Wooden sheds are one of the most common types and can be recommended for beginner-level shed building. You would need:

  • Wall Framing
  • Plywood Siding
  • Floor Joists
  • Plywood Flat Roof
  • Wooden Door

These materials can average at around $600.

On the other hand, buying a shed kit such as this one on Sheds Direct totals at $1,779. The kit includes all the required wall framing, rafters, and wall cladding.

Labor Costs

When buying a shed, there is typically an option to engage professional independent installers. These services can range from $100 up to $250 - with an average of around $180.

When you build your own shed, the labor costs are zero unless you hire a professional to help you. However, you also have to consider the opportunity cost of your time. Remember - time is money.

Fixing Kits and Drawings

While many websites offer free shed plans, you can opt to buy complete shed working drawings. These cost an average of $300. But they might be worth it, as having well-detailed plans can save you not only time but costs that can come from making novice errors.

3 Advantages of Buying Over Building

1 - Warranty

When you build your own shed, it doesn't come with a warranty. This can mean that the lifespan of your shed might be shorter than a prefabricated one.

Meanwhile, buying a shed typically comes with a warranty of up to 10 years. This protects you from defects in workmanship or materials. It also saves you from the headache of worrying about the costs and risk of repair.

2 - Quality

Obviously, a shed built by professionals will be of better quality than one built by a novice. This does not mean that a shed you build would be of inferior quality. It simply means that years of experience and expertise matter.

A good quality shed can make all the difference not only in durability but aesthetics as well.

3 - Time

It's no surprise that buying a pre-built shed will require less time than building one. This means that you have more time to do things you enjoy.

The hardest part of the buying process might be picking a shed out of all the available modular home options. Then you can sit back as you schedule your shed delivery.

So should you build or buy a shed?

Like you, I often wonder whether it’s cheaper to buy something or do it on my own. What I’ve found is professional craftsmanship is invaluable. Building your own shed will save you an average of 40%. However, buying one has invaluable advantages such as a warranty, better quality, and time savings. So in the long run, buying a shed might be worth the outright cost. Check out these shed options at Dwellito to get you started with your shed buying process!