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Things to Know Before You Buy a Storage Structure

We've been in the shed business for so long that we sometimes forget what it's like when you're getting your very first storage shed. It may seem like a simple procedure, but we've found it can be a bit overwhelming for first time buyers. To help you get the most from your investment, we encourage you to read through this beginners' guide and consider each of the questions we pose. By the time you're through, we guarantee you'll have a crystal clear idea of the type of shed you want.

Download the Workbook

To make it easier to follow along with our beginners' guide, we've put together a workbook that you can print out to record your answers for each section. This will keep the important information you need all in one place. Bring your workbook with you when you visit our outdoor showroom and we'll help you find the perfect shed in no time...

  • Step 1. How will you use your new structure?Open or Close

    Basic Storage?

    Most of our customers don't wake up one day and say "Hey! I'm going to get me a storage shed today..."

    Instead, they first notice that they seem to be collecting a bit too much stuff. Their garage may be getting so full that it's difficult to park the car. They're afraid to open their closet doors because the things crammed inside often come out in a landslide.

    Whether you need to clean out your garage or basement, getting a new storage shed is like getting a brand new room with over 200 square feet, overnight.

    Lawn and Garden Equipment?

    If you're a property owner, you know firsthand how much lawn and garden equipment you need to keep your curb appeal fresh. Riding mowers, push mowers, potting soil, rakes, shovels....all that equipment takes up space. So rather than trying to squeeze it into your garage, or downstairs in the cellar where it's hard to reach, consider getting a storage shed to store it instead. A storage shed, positioned just where you want it, can make your landscaping much easier and more convenient. Make sure you ask as us about the specific options we've created just for lawn and garden equipment.

    A Workshop?

    The do-it-yourself carpenter, craft booker or sewer who truly enjoys their hobby almost always gets their money's worth out of a storage structure when they use it as a workshop. Instead of having to keep your tools and supplies packed up and dragging them out each time you want to get to work, having a workshop will let you leave your supplies out so you can come back to your projects with ease. Hobbies are supposed to be fun, right? By having a separate, designated area for your workshop or hobby room, you'll be more motivated to work on your crafts.

    Your Own Private Retreat?

    Adding a pre-made storage building to your property is a faster, more affordable option to create more living space than adding another room to your home. We've seen folks use their storage sheds as home gyms, an office, or a secret get-away. By choosing the right options you can create an exterior and an interior that won't look or feel like a shed at all.

    Are You Renting a Storage Locker?

    Investing in your own storage shed can pay for itself in a matter of months. And after you've stopped paying for a storage locker, your shed will actually be saving you money! Just think about how simple it would be to walk a few steps to the backyard to get your treasure, rather than wasting gas to drive 20 minutes to your local storage locker.

  • Step 2. How Much Space Will You Need?Open or Close

    After you know how you'll be using your new storage shed, the next step is to make sure you'll have enough space. The eye can play tricks on us. What you "think" will fit into your new storage shed may not fit well at all. This is why it's important to create a list of everything you'll want to put into your new shed and compare it to our Guide to Square Footage, below. You can also bring your list with you when you come to our display lot and we'll advise you on the amount of space that will meet your needs.

    Shed Secret #1: Buyers' Remorse In Shed Buying

    By far the most common "complaint" we get from our customers is "I should have listened to you and gone with something bigger." There always seems to be more stuff you want to put into your new storage shed than what you originally thought. It makes sense. By the 2nd or 3rd weekend, you really start to appreciate all the extra space you have in the house and in the garage. You'll start thinking about other things you could store in the shed. For this reason, we recommend buying a larger shed than you think you need to give yourself some room to grow.

    Guide to Square Footage

    Square Footage Range Good for storing... We Recommend...
    96 sq. ft. to 120 sq. ft. Garden Tools, Push Mower and a Snow Blower, a little bit of boxed storage 8' wide x 12' long good for small back yards, don't need a lot of storage. A Riding mower here would be a tight fit. The smallest structure- a 6' wide by 8' long are less than 50 square feet.
    140 sq. ft. to 180 sq. ft. Lawn Tractor and push mower and snow blower. Still room for a small workshop. Use wall space for garden tools. Space leftover for box storage 10‘wide x 16' -160 square feet works well for nearly all our customers. Most popular size. Fits all the important items but not a lot of room to walk around. Pay special attention to where you will you place your riding mower.
    240 sq. ft. to 280 sq. ft. Law Tractor with the attached bagger, and push mower and snow blower. Longer walls mean more hanging space for garden tools. Still have room to devote one end for 8' x 12' workshop 12' wide x 20' long is the best seller in the large shed category. If extra space to walk around is important, or you want some left over room for a functioning workshop, going with this larger size won't disappoint.
    280 sq. ft. or higher Vehicles- autos, trucks, small hobby tractors, ATVs, classic autos, boats, and all the items listed above 14' wide by 28' long are the dimensions for our popular 1 car garage model. Two car garages can be as large as 24' by 36'.
  • Step 3. What Style Do You LikeOpen or Close

    You've spent a lot of time and money making your home a real show piece. Make sure the shed you choose doesn't detract from the appearance of your property by choosing a structure that complements your property's unique features. We have over 11 styles to choose from, so you're sure to find a style that suits you and your property perfectly. Match roof lines, materials, door and window combinations and more. Be sure to ask us about all the free options you have to create a truly beautiful storage structure.

    Shed Styles:

    Name Description Ideal for Photo
    A Frame or Cottage Named for the Roof line

    Limited overhead storage
    Most popular style
    This style is our "can't go wrong" pick. Good storage capacity with a fresh look.
    Quaker A full 15" overhang on front gives this style a more finished look

    The sloped back roof line does limit the head room in the back of the shed.
    Our customers usually buy Quakers for the look; other styles give more storage space
    Dutch Barns The most overhead storage of any style

    Most functional and best value for the money
    combination equipment and boxed storage

    Consider a Dutch barn if you have a lot of smaller boxed items that can fit on a loft.
    New England Classic Cottage or Quaker Top of the line in appearance.

    Higher pitched roof sets it apart in looks from other sheds
    When the appearance of your structure is just as important as its function.

    Wise choice when the shed will visible from the road
    Dormer Sometimes called a Victorian, the only style that has the third gable on the front above the door.

    Comes standard with double doors and 3 foot front door.
    Easy to match the roof line of your home with this style. Double doors make it easy to drive your lawn tractor in and out
    Mini Barns Simple appearance; more popular because of its usefulness and not necessarily its look Fast and simple storage, when appearance is not as important as function
    Garages Free standing garages pre built and delivered to your site for a lot less than having one built. The Single vehicle garage can be set up on your property to store the extra car sitting in your drive way. Many of our customers purchased a single vehicle garage to store their classic car or boat.
    Garden/Potting Sheds Already set up for the Gardner- comes with a 6' work bench for potting plants and 2 sky lights and 3 oversized windows. The home gardener who wants to organize all their lawn and garden tools/supplies in one place
    Lean-To's One side wall is slightly higher so the roof slopes down Those that have limited space to place your shed, you can position this right against a building.
    Hip Roof Four sided roof gives you a cathedral ceiling feel on interior. Matching homes that have the same roof design
  • Step 4. Select Your Color CombinationsOpen or Close

    After you've chosen the shed style you like, it's time to review your choices for the different parts of your structure. We suggest starting with the roof and working down from there.

    Choose Shingle Colors:

    Our 30-year architectural shingles come in 9 colors including black, charcoal gray, dual gray, dual brown, earth-tone cedar, weatherwood, national blue, forest green, and Williamsburg slate.

    Choose Your Siding:


    Our most popular wood siding is called Smartside and is manufactured by LP building products. Smartside carries a 50 yr. limited warranty.


    The vinyl siding we use is from Georgia Pacific Co. Other brands are available for an additional cost.

    Specialty Siding

    Want to give your shed a truly unique look and feel? Choose pine board and batten, cedar, Smartside lap, log or hardie plank siding. These options are more expensive, but provide a very nice look and feel. Some of our customers also choose these options in order to match their home's exterior.

    Siding Comparison Chart:

    Difference Wood Structures/Painted Wood Structures Vinyl Structures
    Range of Sizes no difference no difference
    Style Choices no difference no difference
    Shingles no difference in choices no difference in choices
    Ability to Customize no difference no difference
    Maintenance repaint every 10-12 years None
    Color Choices Ability to match any color 11
    Trim Color Choices Ability to match any color 14
    Price Can run about 15% below Vinyl Can run about 15% above Wood
  • Step 5. Choose Your OptionsOpen or Close

    In step one you decided how you plan to use your new storage shed. Not it's time to add options that will provide the best value for your investment.

    At Backyard Sheds, we already include these standard features with every shed we sell:

    • Large windows
    • Gable air vents
    • Pressure-treated 2x4 floor joists
    • 30-year architectural shingles
    • Over-sized doors
    • Pressure-treated ramp
    • Double top plate
    • Window and door jacks

    Will you be storing gas or paint cans?

    Our ridge vents and end vents will give you much needed circulation.

    Storing a riding mower?

    Make sure to measure the full width of your tractor against the opening in the doors of your shed. You may also want to ask about the different ramp options we offer.

    Double-duty Structures

    If your structure will be used for multiple purposes, such as part storage, part pool changing room, find out how much adding a partition or wall will cost to make your shed more functional from the beginning.

    Storage Shelving / Lofts

    If you're planning to store boxes or smaller equipment, consider adding shelves or loft space to your new shed. We can install shelving and loft space when we build your structure, saving you time and hassle. Thinking about saving a few bucks and adding the shelving yourself? We applaud your great intentions, but we know that many homeowners never actually get around to installing them. We've seen so many sheds with stuff piled on the floor because the homeowner never found the time to install the shelving. So, when you go shed shopping, at least ask about the costs for shelving or loft space before you decide to do it on your own.

  • Step 6. Decide Between In Stock or Custom OrderOpen or Close

    Now that you've worked out some of the major details for your new shed, it's time to go shopping! We encourage you to stop by our display lot, so you can stroll through our displays to see if you find anything that matches everything on your list. Remember that anything from our large assortment of current, in-stock sheds can be delivered quickly.

    If you don't find exactly what you want from our in-stock selection, we can build a custom shed for you. There's never an extra charge for custom ordering a standard structure. The only thing you lose is time. It may take a few weeks to build your shed exactly the way you want it. If you aren't in a rush to get your structure and really want certain custom features, it could be worth the wait.

  • Step 7. Permits and Selecting Your Location on Your PropertyOpen or Close

    Most towns require permits for the installation of sheds. You will need to bring a copy of your lot plot plan (pencil in where you want to place the shed) and a copy of the construction details. It also helps to have a picture of your proposed shed.

    Your township or municipality will want to have insurance certificates from Backyard Sheds. We are on file with most towns in our area. If your township or municipality has any questions they can contact us directly.

    When you select the location for your new shed, be sure to consider what you'll be storing and how often you'll need to access the shed's contents. If you'll need to access the shed daily, we recommend installing your shed near your house. If you are just using it to store your mower, you might not mind walking out to your shed once a week. Your town will have setback and sideline requirements for the placement of your new shed. Be sure to take these into consideration when making your placement decisions.

    The site you choose should also be as level as possible. We always suggest placing your new shed on a bed of crushed stone. It is, by far, the best method for keeping your shed level. (Please see our Site Prep Form for additional details on preparing your site for your new shed.)

  • Step 8. Shed DeliveryOpen or Close

    If you've chosen a shed from our in-stock inventory (one that is on our lot), we'll be able to deliver your new shed in just a few days. If you place an order for a custom shed, expect a lead time of 2-4 weeks.

    The actual delivery of your shed should take less than one hour, so be ready to clean out the garage, attic, basement or closets to reclaim your valuable living space!

Free Bonus Guide: How To Clean Up That Garage and Set Up Your New Storage Shed

Step 1: Get Your Shed Ready

Install Shelving / Lofts

Be sure to put up additional shelving or install your loft space before you begin adding items to your shed. Trust us. If you don't do this first, you run the risk of never getting to it and your new shed will end up as just another unorganized mess. If you've chosen to have us install a loft or shelving for you, you'll be ready to start using your new shed minutes after our delivery truck pulls away.

Label Your Space

Label each shelf or loft to indicate what you will store there. Post-it notes or labels are perfect for this. Pay attention to the spaces that will be easier to reach. These should be the new home for items you'll use more frequently. Seldom used items, like outdoor Christmas decorations, should go in harder to reach areas of your new storage shed.

If you are storing lawn and garden equipment, consider storing these items along the interior walls to take advantage of every square inch of available space. Fill up smaller spaces along the wall and overhead first, before moving in larger items like your lawn mower or snow blower. This will give you enough space to move around while setting everything up.

Step 2: Clear Out the Garage, Closets or Basement

Get Rid of the Junk

First, throw away any junk that you never use. Only keep items that are absolutely necessary. If it hasn't been used for a year or more, it probably isn't necessary. Exceptions to this rule might be very expensive equipment or items and supplies for a hobby that you haven't had time for recently due to an illness or busy time at work.

Organize Your Stuff Into Piles

Go through all of your stuff and organize it into piles. Decide which sections or piles will go into your new storage shed. For example, tools, Christmas ornaments, collectables, etc. Be methodical, as the more things that you can place together in related groups, the easier it will be to see what you want to keep, what you have in duplicate and what you no longer want or need.

Move Items to Your New Shed

Move the piles that will go into your new shed. You may want to consider using oversized plastic storage containers if you have many smaller items.

Your garage (or closet or basement) should instantly look better! Now might be a good time to get the broom and hose for a thorough cleaning.

Step 3: Donate / Recycle / Throw Out Unwanted Items

Lastly, take your unwanted items to donate to charity, to a recycling center or to the garbage dumpster. Or use your garage to have a garage sale! Let someone give you money to take your unwanted stuff and put it in their garage.

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