The Cost of a Shed: Building vs. Buying 

cost of a shed

Is buying a shed or building your own better? This comprehensive guide will outline the cost of a shed, covering everything you need to know to make the right decision, including how to prepare for shed installation.  

What is a Shed and Its Purpose?

Most people use sheds for storage. You can design them as small buildings without insulation or utilities.

Your shed doesn’t need to be fancy.

Sheds are a practical solution for storing items that can’t go in your house, like lawnmowers and string trimmers, and they are much less expensive per square foot than indoor living spaces.

As the cost of homes has increased, more people are using sheds in other ways.

For example, you can customize a shed to make it more habitable by adding electricity, air conditioning, and interior walls and use it for storage, an extra bedroom, an office, a hobby space, or an entertainment area.

Uses of a Shed

Sheds are versatile structures, and people use them for almost anything you can imagine. You can customize a simple shed to serve a variety of purposes.

Here is a list of the top uses for sheds:

  • Storage areas for landscaping supplies and garden tools
  • Man caves or she-sheds so you can have personal space
  • A place to start a business, including a barbershop, pet salon, or music lessons
  • Outdoor mini bar
  • Children’s playhouse 
  • Arts and craft studio or sewing room
  • Recording studio or place for jam sessions
  • Home gym
  • Pottery shed

That’s just a sampling of ideas, but as you can see, you can use sheds in various ways.

The Cost of Building a Shed

cost of building a shed

The average cost of a shed is $3,500, but it can be much lower or higher, depending on the size, materials, and labor. Building a shed is often less expensive than buying a prefabricated one, especially if you do the work yourself.

Understanding the Cost Factors in Building a Shed 

Sheds can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as $30,000, depending on the size and materials that you use. Consider the following factors to determine the cost of a shed that fits your budget and style.


The average cost of labor for building a shed is about $75 to $150 per hour, depending on the regional labor market where you live and the level of experience that a contractor has. However, that doesn’t include the cost of plumbing and electricity.


The larger your shed, the more materials are required and the longer it takes to build. The cost of a shed per square foot ranges from $15 to $175.  


The type of foundation you choose will affect the cost of your shed. A gravel pad is the most popular option. Gravel pads cost about $1 to $2 per square foot.

Here are some other foundation types you can consider:

  • Railroad tie skids
  • Metal foundation kit
  • Concrete blocks or pavers
  • Deck blocks
  • Concrete piers
  • Concrete slab
  • Concrete foundation


wood and composite building materials
Garden shed using wood and composite materials

Manufacturers often build sheds out of wood, but they also make them from vinyl, metal, aluminum, and brick. One of the biggest expenses in building a shed is the siding materials.


If your shed needs a window, that will raise the price. Should you want a window or two but don’t plan on heating your shed, check with building material recyclers near you to find inexpensive single-pane windows. 


Some sheds have barn doors with a large enough opening for a riding lawn mower, and others have regular-sized doors. Look for doors when shopping for windows at the local building recycler.

Roof Type

A single-plane sloping roof, known as a shed roof or skillion roof, is the least expensive type of roof you can make. You’ll spend more time and money if you have to build trusses for your roof.

Roofing Materials

roofing materials

The type of materials you choose for your roof will also affect the price. Corrugated metal is one of the least expensive, and you can install it without sheathing to reduce your costs.

Electricity and Plumbing

Electricians and plumbers charge about $100 to $200 per hour. Depending on where you live and what type of fixtures you add, adding electricity and plumbing to your shed can raise the price by about $600 to $4,000. 


cost of insulating a shed

Moreover, you don’t need to insulate your shed for a simple mower or garden tools. Insulation will sometimes attract rodents, so don’t worry about insulation if you don’t plan on heating or cooling your shed.

Interior Walls

If you decide to insulate, you’ll also need interior walls, which will increase the price even further. You may also want interior walls for aesthetic reasons. 

Here are the most common types of interior wall materials for a shed:

  • Drywall
  • Textured MDF board
  • Plywood
  • OSB
  • Shiplap
  • Upcycled pallet wood
  • Other recycled building materials

Painting or Staining

Any paint or stain that you use will also add to the cost of your shed, but it’s worth the extra cost. For instance, painting and staining improve your shed’s visual appeal and protect the wood from the elements and insects.

Average Cost Estimates for Building a Shed 

There are many different ways to build and customize a shed for your use. The average cost to build a shed is $3,500, but the price can range from $1,700 to $10,000. 

gravel pad for shed foundation
Gravel pad for a shed foundation

You can save money by using recycled building materials, but here are the costs associated with building a shed with new materials:

Materials to build a shedAverage cost
Gravel pad for foundation$1 to $2 per sq. ft
Wood frame$17 to $40 per sq. ft.
Door$150 to $1,000
Windows$50 to $70
Bracket kit for a shed$350 to $450
Exterior siding, metal$3 to $8 per sq. ft.
Exterior siding, engineered wood$5 to $10 per sq. ft.
Exterior siding, vinyl$3 to $15 per sq. ft.
Exterior siding, HardiePlank$4 to $8 per sq. ft.
Roofing, asphalt shingles$1.25 per sq. ft.
Roofing, cedar shingles$5 per sq. ft.
Roofing, metal shingles$3 to $18 per sq. ft.
Roofing, clay tiles$6 to 8 per sq. ft.

The Cost of Buying a Shed

cost of buying a shed

When buying a shed, you can choose prefabricated sheds, shed kits, and custom-built sheds. Learn how the type of shed influences the price and the average cost estimates for each.

How the Type of Shed Influences the Price

The most significant factors that affect the price of a shed are the type of materials and the complexity of the design. Metal sheds are usually the least expensive. Complex roofs, extra doors and windows, and floors will add to the cost of a shed.

Average Cost Estimates for Buying a Shed 

The average cost of a prefabricated shed is between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the size of the shed. There are shed retailers nationwide, and they will deliver and install a prebuilt shed in your yard

Shed kits can be purchased online and from major retailers. Kits start at $400 for small metal sheds and go up to $12,000 for a sophisticated shed kit with dormers and windows. You can assemble them yourself or hire a professional to install them. The average cost to have a shed professionally assembled is about $10 to $20 per square foot.

You may want to explore what major hardware stores like Home Depot , Lowe’s , Ace , and Tractor Supply have to offer.

Making the Decision: Building vs Buying a Shed

When deciding whether to build or buy a shed, it helps to consider the pros and cons of each. What’s right for someone else might not be best for you.

Pros and Cons of Building a Shed

When you DIY a shed, you can save a lot of money and customize it to your personal tastes and needs. You can build your shed to match the rest of your property, and it can be a fun and rewarding project.

However, building a shed is also time-consuming, and it’s easy to go over budget if you keep adding new features. You also need the right DIY skills and experience to construct a shed that looks good.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Shed

It’s faster and easier to buy a shed vs building a shed. On the downside, buying one compatible with your home’s architecture and landscape may be expensive, and you could be limited to certain colors, designs, and sizes. You’ll also have less flexibility in customizing your shed, and extra features could cost more when you buy than when you build.

Preparing to Install a Shed: What You Need to Know

Whether you buy or build, learn how to install a shed by choosing the best location and getting it ready for installation.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Shed

When you’re selecting the best location for your shed, consider the following factors:

  • Size
  • Drainage
  • Levelness
  • Aesthetics
  • Security
  • Accessibility

Don’t forget to check local zoning regulations regarding setbacks.

Preparing the Ground for Shed Installation

Installing a shed may require some preparation. For some, it’s a simple matter of installing a gravel pad. Other homeowners may need to make a spot by clearing land or leveling an area. 

The cost to clear land depends on how much area you have to clear and how much debris there is. You must also account for those costs if you need a tree or stump removed. Also, you’ll need a flat spot with good drainage, which could require excavation.

You can install most sheds on a gravel pad without any foundation, but if you build it yourself, you might want to make it more permanent by using a foundation. 

Considerations for Local Regulations and Permits 

Whether you need a building permit will depend on the local regulations in your area. However, one thing to remember is the shed’s size. 

For example, in California, you don’t need a permit for a small, single-story building if it’s 120 square feet or less. A 10’x12’ storage shed is adequate for most people’s purposes, and it would cost you as little as $1,800 to build one.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of a Shed

frequently asked questions about sheds

How much does it typically cost to build a shed?

There is a wide range of prices when it comes to sheds. Simple DIY sheds built with recycled building materials could cost as little as $300, while large, expensive sheds cost up to $30,000. The average cost of a shed is $15 to $175 per square foot.

Is it cheaper to build or buy a shed?

Generally speaking, if you DIY a shed, it will be much less expensive than buying one that’s premade. You can also buy a shed kit, but you’ll have to assemble it, which requires DIY skills.

When you build a shed from scratch, you have the advantage of choosing your materials and customizing the features of your shed.

What is the lifespan of a typical shed?

Most wood sheds last about 20 to 25 years, while vinyl sheds last about 25 to 30 years. One thing to consider when choosing materials is shed maintenance. Vinyl or metal sheds require much less maintenance, but they can also fade over time.

Furthermore, a new coat of paint on an old wood shed can make it look new, and you can even revitalize a wooden shed by adding new exterior siding. 

How can I reduce the cost of building or buying a shed?

When you build a shed yourself, you have more control over the materials used, so you can reduce the cost of building it. If you’re buying a shed, look for sales or find a used one in good condition online. 

What factors should I consider when installing a shed?

The first thing to consider when installing a shed is local permits and regulations. Then, consider your location and the size of the shed that will fit there.

Finally, the intended purpose of your shed will help you make many other decisions, including things like whether you need windows, interior walls, and utilities.

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