How to Build a Shed from Scratch When You’re on a Tight Budget

If you need more storage space for your chainsaws, lawnmower and other types of yard care gear, but financially, you just can’t swing it, then this guide designed to teach you how to build a shed from scratch when you’re on a tight budget is right up your alley. This shed is designed with money saving in mind. The overall design of the shed allows you to make the most efficient use of lumber.

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Get out There and Start Building

A custom door and arch-top windows give this shed a high priced look that belies its simple construction and low cost. Using a panelized construction means you’ll be able to build most of this in your garage and then haul it to the ideal site for assembly. Modest finishes like fiberglass shingles, composite trim, and OSB siding will help to keep the cost of materials low. You’ll also save hundreds of dollars by building the windows and door yourself.

Once you have decided where you want to place the shed, you’ll need to dig a couple of trenches that are twelve inches deep, sixteen inches wide and about thirteen feet long. The trenches should also be centered sixty-six inches apart. Next, fill them in using four-inch layers of gravel.

Now, you can cut a couple of six by six pieces of treated lumber to twelve feet, placing them on the gravel so they’re parallel.

The walls can be built on any type of flat surface. You’ll want to use chalk lines on the deck to mark three and a half inches from the platform’s edge.  Cut two by fours to fit inside these lines, toe-screwing them to the plywood in order to secure them in place while filling in the center studs and nailing on the siding. You’ll need to toe-screw from the outside in order to keep the screws accessible after the siding is put on.

When you’re nailing on the siding, make sure it hangs over the framing by three and a half inches on each side. The siding should be attached with two-inch stainless steel ring shank siding nails, which should be placed about eight inches apart. Once the siding is done you can remove the toe-screws and begin constructing the opposite wall following the same steps.

While unconventional, building the roof on the platform, upside down definitely has its advantages. Mainly, you’ll avoid plenty of ladder work. When working on the roof, make sure that the perimeter two by fours are straight before you nail on the soffit. Begin by cutting out rafters. Cut the two by fours for the sub-fascia and ride to the length, marking the rafter positions. Next, line up the rafters with the marks, nailing through the sub-fascia and ride using 16 D nails. Once the frame is complete the sub-fascia should be lined up with the chalk lines on the platform and tacked in a few places using toe-screws. The soffit should be nailed to the roof frame using the 6 D box nails.


Building a Shed

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Begin by moving an end panel into place and rest the bottom portion of the wall on the platform. Bring the wall up, securing it with a temporary brace. Then you’ll want to line up the bottom plate with the chalk lines, driving four three-inch screws through the plate to secure the bottom of the wall.

For the back wall, stand it up aligning the corner of the back and side walls, then nail them together. Continue around the structure, standing the opposite end wall, and lastly, the front wall. The corners should be nailed together. Make sure that the walls are flush with each other.

Now you’re ready to hoist the roof panels. These are somewhat awkward, so you’ll need a couple of helpers. The panels should be moved into position. Slide the panels up the roof until they drop over the top plate of the wall.  The two by four ride should be aligned with the peak of the wall. You can secure the panels with toe-screws.

Ordering a pre-hung door can cost hundreds of dollars, but it’ll be the easiest option, as long as you have the budget for it. If you don’t, making your own is a pretty simple process. We recommend building the door out of pine. Installing windows with this design is optional, however, this will significantly increase the overall cost of this project so we don’t recommend adding them to the design.

Your next step should be installing the exterior trim. Begin by mounting the brackets, lining up the edges of the lower brackets with the face of the siding, pushing them tight to the soffit, then screw them in. the top bracket should be centered on the peak and pushed tight to the soffit. Wrap the corners with the corner board starting with the pieces that go under the brackets. You can get ready for roofing by adding the shingle molding and the fascia boards.

Painting and Staining the Shed

The shed can be completed by finishing the exterior and installing shingles.  Once your door is complete, prime and paints it before installing it. If you’ve decided to add one or two windows they will also need to be primed and painted before installation. Then you’ll need to caulk and fill in any nail holes before you add an additional coat of paint onto flat surfaces.


This basic how to build a shed from scratch design can be perfect for any DIYer on a tight budget. If you want to add more flash to this design you can add windows, order or make a custom door and get creative when you’re painting the exterior.

This is a project that’s recommended for the intermediate or advanced builder. This is definitely a three-man job, at least when it comes to installing the roof. This is also a multi-day project that will take three to five days to complete, depending on how much time you have to devote to it and how many friends are willing to lend a hand.

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