I think all of us at some point have seen something and thought, “I could build that.” Your wife may send you a Pinterest idea and you think to yourself that it couldn’t be that hard. But is it? In this post, we’ll explore some of the hidden costs of DIY shed building.

Hidden Costs of DIY Sheds

Anytime you build something, there are almost always costs we don’t think about. The first step to cutting expenses is identifying them. Shigeo Shingo said once said, “The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we don’t recognize.” So let’s walk through some of the costs we may not think about at first.

1.   Time

This is probably one you’ve thought of already, but it’s likely one we all tend to underestimate. We think, “Oh, I could get a couple buddies to help me and knock that out on Saturday.” But how much time does it really take for a DIY Shed?

Most of us do not have a fully-equipped arsenal of construction tools set up in place and ready to go. Even if we have all the tools, we will have to put a few hours into gathering all our tools and materials. We’ll also need to get all the saw horses set up and extension cords run through the back door. (Not to mention, there’s also the task of picking everything up when we are done.)

The average shed manufacturer has anywhere from 12-35 hours of trained, professional labor hours in a wood-framed shed. Of course, this greatly depends on the size and complexity of the shed. But let’s be realistic and say that in our own backyard, it’s probably going to take more like 2-4 Saturdays, not just one.

2.   Material

A great shed starts with great materials, and great materials can be hard to find when you are only buying a small amount. I remember the last time I was buying 2x4s at the local big box store; I must have picked through 10 boards for every good one.

Another hidden cost of a DIY shed is material waste. You need to think through this when you design your shed. If you make your shed an 8×16, you’ll be able to use full length lumber and not have waste from cut-offs like you would if you made it 10×15. Of course, we can’t completely avoid waste. There will always be those half sheets of plywood and partial boxes of nails. Don’t let this deter you, but if you don’t have other projects in the near future or you aren’t building multiple buildings, you should count on having to deal with leftover materials.

3.   Logistics

My wife often laughs at me because we live only two miles from a great hometown hardware store, and sometimes I may run out to get “one more part” two or three times during a weekend project. This adds up fast – especially if your hardware is 20-30 miles away and one trip could take a whole two hours out of your work time.

Making a complete list of materials is one way I often combat this problem. I also purchase extra and return what I don’t use. Be sure to factor this in as an expense and don’t be surprised if you do forget something and have to run back a time or two.

DIY Shed Costs

So how much does a shed cost? Let’s look at three different kinds of DIY sheds.

1.   Plastic

Yes, they make everything out of plastic, even sheds. These come in a kit that you assemble yourself; the kit has large plastic panels that fasten with provided hardware. (Kits make an easy DIY shed; you’re still assembling it yourself, but the hard work is mostly done.) These type of sheds are typically very small – anywhere from 16-150 square feet. The most common brands are Lifetime and Keter. These are both readily available at your local big box store such as Home Depot.

Plastic sheds have other advantages, too. If you live in an apartment high-rise or even just a very tight duplex, these can easily be carried to your house in pieces, set up quickly, and bingo – you have your shed. They also can be disassembled in the same way if you move and want to take it with you. The assembly time on these varies greatly by size and complexity. Most reviews say it’ll take two people about eight hours for a larger 100 square foot building.

Average cost per square foot: $12-$17

2.  Metal

Those of us that are old enough probably remember the craze of little metal sheds sold at Sears! Well, you can still buy them from many suppliers including Sears, Walmart, and many others online.

But the most well-known manufacturer is Arrow. Arrow sheds come in kits that contain sheets of tin and packs of screws with little rubber washers. You assemble the shed using step-by-step instructions. These sheds do not have a floor, but you can purchase one as a separate kit.

The unfortunate thing about metal sheds is their tendency to be blown away in high winds. You would definitely want to anchor them securely. In addition to that, they are on the smaller side (20-140 square feet) and don’t come apart very easily.

Finally, even though these metal sheds come as a kit, they do take a fair bit of time to assemble. Count on a full day with two people to get the job done.

Average cost per Square foot: $5-$10

3.   Wood Frame

The conventional wood frame building is by far the most common and most durable. A DIY wood-frame building can be a great opportunity to try out your carpentry skills. It is time-consuming though, so plan on two, three, or maybe even four Saturdays depending on the size of your shed. Also plan on needing a much more complex set of tools than the typical metal or plastic shed kit requires.

Average cost per Square foot: $17-$41

Not sure if building your own DIY shed is right for you?

There are some great benefits to building your own shed; we’ve done a blog post about this, and you can check it out below.

DIY Sheds | 4 Reasons to Build Your Own Shed

You may decide that a DIY shed is just too much work or bother. That’s fine! As a matter of fact, we’d be happy to help you with that.

Byler sheds are manufactured inside a controlled, indoor environment; we have great delivery guys that will set up your choice of shed right in your backyard. I have personally seen Byler barns that are thirty (or even older!) years old and still look great. They are solid buildings that can be built to match your house or personal taste.

Want to know more?

Shea Alexander

Shea Alexander

Director of Manufacturing

Shea works directly with the VP of Operations to oversee manufacturing process improvements and product development. He also works internally across all departments helping department heads develop and integrate solutions to problems while championing innovative improvements.
Personally, Shea’s creative streak stands out as he is always building something or traveling somewhere. But by far, his favorite things are coffee, mountains, and beautiful wood.