Updated August 2, 2019 . AmFam Team
Have you run out of room in your garage and need more storage space? Or maybe you picked up gardening for a hobby and want a place to store your tools. Whatever the case, adding a backyard shed is an affordable and simple way to add more space — and potentially value — to your home. But there are a few things to know beforehand. Take a look at some important details about adding a shed to your backyard.
Adding a shed to your backyard doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure to keep these few things in mind:
Determine how much space you need and what you’ll be using it for. The type of shed you’ll be adding will depend on what you’ll be using it for and how much space you want. Knowing the main function of your shed will help you settle on practical backyard shed designs and how much space you’ll need to build it. Want to ensure your stuff — especially bigger equipment like a lawn mower — will fit in the space? Measure the belongings you plan on storing and consider storage growth for the future. The last thing you want is to build a space too small for the items that you have to store.
Know the cost. It’s important to have an idea how much adding a backyard shed costs. According to HomeAdvisor (Opens in a new tab), the average cost of building a shed is between $800 and $4,000, with the cost mostly coming down to what was spent on materials and whether you decide to go with a pro or DIY. Know your options, know how much you’re willing to spend and know your budget.
Make sure to get a permit for the shed. Sure, it’s your property and for the most part you’re able to do what you want with it — as long as you follow your local zoning ordinances. Find out what restrictions your municipality has for sheds. The size of your structure and distance from your property line(s) are often dictated by the zoning ordinance. And if you don’t follow the guidelines, you’ll likely be asked to take your structure down. So be sure to get the correct permits up front and you shouldn’t have any issues.
Find out your plat of survey. What’s a plat of survey? It’s a map drawn of a land area that defines the boundaries between properties. They’re used for a number of things, but as a homeowner, you’ll use a plat survey to help determine your exact property boundary lines. When you apply for your permit, you’ll submit your plat of survey to the local zoning department and they’ll use it to decide where/if you can build your structure.
Do your research. Once you know the size you want and what you’ll use the shed for, take the time to properly research a design and materials that will fit your budget. Can you build the shed yourself? Or do you want to hire a pro? Keep in mind things like a warranty, materials for your climate and what would look best with the exterior of your home.
Invest in good materials. Save yourself some trouble in the long run by spending a little more on good materials upfront. Find materials that resist things like rotting, splitting, cracking and termite damage, as well as proper roofing materials to protect the belongings in your shed from the elements. Finding high quality materials starts with researching your options — don’t hesitate to ask someone knowledgeable at a home improvement store or find out what people recommend online.
Properly prepare your site. Set your shed up for success by preparing a proper foundation. Start with a stable, level location. Avoid a wet, low-lying area or one that’s on a downward slope. A pro tip is to set the shed up just slightly off the ground so it can allow for water to drain and reduce the transfer of moisture.
As a homeowner, you might be wondering if adding a shed will increase the value of your home — after all, maybe you’ll be selling your home someday. While it’d be great if this answer was a resounding yes, the reality is that a traditional shed doesn’t increase the value of your home by much. This comes down to the fact that sheds are pretty inexpensive as far as a structure goes — you can often add one for less than $2,000. And because many sheds today are delivered in one piece and considered personal property, the owners can take them with when they move.
That being said, if your shed serves as a guest room for in-laws, or as a man-cave or she-shed, an appraiser just might bump up your home’s value.
Once you’ve built your shed and put all your contents inside, you’ll want to make sure it’s properly protected. You can choose to add other structures coverage to your homeowners policy, which protects detached structures on your property, like a shed, that are greater than 300 square feet. A shed that doesn’t exceed 300 square feet would be eligible for coverage as an unscheduled detached structure. Having other structures coverage protects your shed from the same types of events that your home is covered for, such as damages from vandalism, fire and falling objects.
Keep in mind, this coverage protects the structure of the shed itself — not the things you store inside. Your personal property coverage on your homeowners policy will cover the belongings inside your shed.
Not sure if your shed is covered? Connect with an American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to find out more about insurance for your shed. They’ll help ensure you’re properly protected from the unexpected.