15 Shed Building Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Updated: May 17, 2024

The Family Handyman editors have decades of experience building sheds. Here, they share their top lessons learned, so you can achieve the ultimate DIY shed.

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shed kit

Buying a Kit

Why spend money on a shed building kit when you can build your own shed for the same amount of money and get exactly what you want? When you build your own shed, you can also better match it to your house. Here are a few tips for assembling your shed kit.

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planning a shed build

Neglecting to Contact the City

It’s better to be safe than sorry! Remember to contact the building or city planning department to get shed regulations, and make sure you follow them. And knowing how to find your property lines is just one of many things every homeowner should know.

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marked utilities
Kara Grubis/Shutterstock

Forgetting to Have Buried Utilities Marked

Prevent major problems by having buried utilities marked before digging for the foundation of your shed.

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hauling materials for shed

Hauling All the Materials…

In several trips, on the roof of your car and into the backyard. Consider having materials delivered, it’s so worth the small fee. But if you insist on hauling stuff yourself, we’ve got tips for you.

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shed foundation concrete slab

Choosing a Foundation That Will Settle

Be mindful of the foundation that you build your shed on. Setting it on a few concrete blocks, for example, will no doubt cause problems down the road when the ground freezes, thaws and settles differently than when you first built the shed.

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low-maintenance shed siding

Choosing a High-Maintenance Exterior

Mostly, this means don’t make the mistake of using solid wood, which requires a lot more upkeep and has the potential to deteriorate much quicker than better materials available today.

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Underestimating Time

Everything takes longer than expected, and building an outdoor structure is certainly no exception. Plan for weather delays, a sore back, etc. Get plans for this metal-roof shed, one of The Family Handyman’s most popular projects ever.

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Family Handyman

Installing Untreated Wood Too Close to the Ground

Untreated wood siding or trim installed too close to the ground will likely rot. If you want your shed to last longer, opt for treated, durable materials close to the ground. Learn how to move a shed properly.

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big shed being built

It’s Too Small

No matter how big you build your shed, you’ll inevitably wish it was bigger. Here are some she shed ideas for building your perfect outdoor sanctuary.

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shed tall enough for workshop

Ceiling is Too Low

Oftentimes DIYers build a shed with too low of a ceiling, which will cause problems when you want to store large items inside. If you’re planning to use your shed as a woodworking shop, the ceiling should be at least 9 ft. tall for dealing with sheet goods. If you’re adding an overhead door, the ceiling should be at least 16 in. above the opening. Get to know about these different types of wood for sheds.

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2016 shed

Skipping the Soffits and Rakes

Overhangs not only look better, they also protect the siding and doors. Build and finish them to look like the ones on your house.

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adding power to shed

Forgetting About Power

In the age of cordless yard tools, don’t forget about a power source to recharge batteries. You’ll appreciate this feature time and time again.

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Not Providing Enough Ventilation

Sheds can get really hot inside, so make it more comfortable by installing ventilation such as a cupola. Follow this step-by-step guide to build a cupola for your shed.

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shed with red door
JOHN PAREJO/Shutterstock

Building Your Own Doors

Unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re better off buying a prehung steel door than constructing your own. Poorly constructed doors will warp and sag over time and won’t stand up to the elements. Learn how to replace any exterior door here.

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shed lighting

Forgetting About Lighting

Without a window or lights, a shed is a dark cave where you can’t find your stuff! Be sure to incorporate both of these helpful lighting elements, so you can work comfortably inside your shed. Learn how to run power to your shed with this step-by-step guide.