Introduction: Better Than My House Shed

Picture of Better Than My House Shed

I needed a shed suitable for year-round use. The "Better than my house" shed described here in pictures and video fits the bill. The wall studs are 2x6 and the spaces between are fully filled with fibre glass insulation. The ceiling insulation meets the R40 specification. The shed is mounted on a pressure treated skid foundation. Additional foundation support is achieved with blocking between the floor joists and a concrete walkway that runs under the shed.

I started out with a 12x16 floor and decided to add an extra four feet to get 12x20. Now I wish it was 12x30.

Other features include pressure treated sill plates, pressure treated plywood floor deck with solid foam insulation between it and the plywood interior floor, roof underlayment, roof ridge vent, and sealed double-paned windows and insulated doors. Because we almost always end up getting the tail end of hurricanes coming up the eastern seaboard I also included galvanized hurricane brackets between the top plates and the roof structure.

The Steps that follow consist of photos taken during the construction phase of the shed. The Steps are more or less arranged to show construction from foundation to roof, and then on to some frills.

I made up a video My shed building story that includes most of these photos and many more related shots.

Step 1: Foundation and Floor

Picture of Foundation and Floor

I went with pressure treated skids for the foundation with one skid under each side of the floor. I first dug out the existing sods and soil and replaced it with runs of 3/4 inch gravel. I then set the skids in the gravel. An existing concrete walkway running right under the middle of the shed gives substantial extra support by means of blocking between the walkway and the floor joists.

The last photo in this step shows how I used the shed floor to design and size the roof rafters. Playing around with the roof pitch and notching, etc. is a lot easier at the floor level rather than working on it from the top of the erected walls.

Step 2: Erecting the Stud Walls

Picture of Erecting the Stud Walls

2x6 studs and pressure treated sill (sole) plates are featured in the wall construction. I wanted to have the shed easy to heat with thick walls, and good sealing to reduce air infiltration. The pressure treated sill plates should prevent any wood rot due to any standing water on the shed floor (mainly from tracked-in snow).

Step 3: Rafters and Roof Sheathing

Picture of Rafters and Roof Sheathing

A few sheets of 1/2 inch plywood temporarily laid on the ceiling joists gave a good working platform to help with the installation of the ridge board, rafters, and eventually, the roof sheathing.

Step 4: A Simple Scaffold for Safety and Convenience

Picture of A Simple Scaffold for Safety and Convenience

Even if I wanted to use a regular metal scaffolding to work on the roof I didn't have space enough between the shed and the fence to erect one. The temporary wooden scaffold worked just fine and was not a big deal erecting in terms of time and materials. I first installed the aluminum fascia and then got to work installing the roof underlayment. The roof underlayment will prevent water damage from any ice dams and provide a good leak prevention backup for the asphalt shingles.

Step 5: Shingles and Ridge Vent

Picture of Shingles and Ridge Vent

It's common practice around here to glue down asphalt shingles with roofing cement. The underlayment, cement, roofing nails, along with the built-in shingle adhesive, should give a long lasting, windproof and waterproof, roofing system.

I went with a plastic ridge vent on the roof rather than louvered gable vents. Ridge vents are generally less inclined to let horizontally travelling snow and rain from getting in. I nailed the roof vent in place and then covered it will nailed on, overlapping, shingle sections.

Step 6: Exterior Wall Sheathing, Windows and Doors

Picture of Exterior Wall Sheathing, Windows and Doors

I picked up the two doors and two windows early on as I found good deals. That approach also made sense in terms of sizing, laying-out, and building the stud walls. The two doors have lots of glass and they are double-paned sealed units that have foam insulation between the metal/wood cladding. (I wanted a shed brightened with as much natural light as possible). Both vinyl windows are double-paned horizontal sliders.

Step 7: House Wrap and Vinyl Siding

Picture of House Wrap and Vinyl Siding

House wrap and associated tape keeps the shed air and water tight so I took a lot of care with that part of the project. Vinyl siding is by far the most used siding around here (and in all of North America) so that is what I went with. It's the same siding I installed on my house, so now I have a perfect match.

In the process of installing siding on my house (that was before the shed project) I came up with a "siding hammer" invention. It was so good :) that I applied for and received a Canadian and US patent. My Vinyl siding hammer inventionInstructable gives more details.

Step 8: Strapping, Insulation, and Interior Sheathing

Picture of Strapping, Insulation, and Interior Sheathing

Fibre glass insulation in the ceiling and walls and solid foam insulation on the floor combine to make an easy to heat and comfortable shed setup. I laid the solid foam insulating boards over the pressure treated plywood floor deck. I topped that with 1/2 inch exterior grade plywood. I installed the same plywood on the walls and ceiling because I wanted to nail, screw or drive whatever I wanted, without having to worry about not having a solid surface to work with. I installed plastic vapour barrier between the insulation and the sheathing on both the walls and ceiling.

I made up a four legged wheeled working platform to help me install the plywood sheets for the ceiling. A simple system of plywood support brackets and a car jack mounted on the platform held the sheets securely while I nailed them in place.

Step 9: Shelves, Shields, and Finishing Up

Picture of Shelves, Shields, and Finishing Up

I made simple built-in shelves to take care of my hoarded junk. Outside the shed I built a couple of high-backed garden chairs to give some extra privacy and wind shielding. I was working on my front and back decks and a garden pond in the same time frame as the deck - the photos give a glimpse of those projects too. Overall I am very pleased with the final outcome of it all.

Step 10: Wintertime

Picture of Wintertime

A cozy shed at wintertime!


jompon2547 (author)2017-11-10

can i add the AC to the shed

since Texas is darn hot

themhs65 (author)2016-07-02

Hi there,

Very good job despite some minor failures if you had on building the shed. After all you have a sturdy and good place near your house. I can't have one like this in Greece due to the rules for constructions and the the huge taxes you have to pay if someone do it by the rule.

nlinventor (author)themhs652016-07-02

Thanks and I understand what you mean by the rules and taxes. I'm getting good use out of the shed since its been finished.

NitroRustlerDriver (author)2015-03-15

For a cheaper alternative to plywood on the walls/ceiling, OSB works nice. 4x8 sheets are under $10 and you can drive screws into it just like plywood.

Unlike plywood, OSB will pull out under weight unless you screw into a stud. With plywood, you can place your screws or nails any where without worrying about hitting a stud.

I've screw lots of stuff to OSB and never had a problem with it pulling out. Are you sure you aren't thinking of MDF or particle board?

The >$#10 per sheet you mentioned describes OB so thin that a paper calender screwed to it may not stay up

The stuff I'm talking about is 7/16" thick and is more than adequate enough to hang most things on. Basically anything that could hang from a screw, you can hang in this stuff. I also use it for garage shelving as the decking.

nlinventor (author)2015-05-09

Thanks - Yeah it's pretty hard to post an article here or a video on youtube (for example) without some kind of non-constructive criticism. But for the most part positive comments far outweigh the negative and that's why we all keep posting.

vincent7520 (author)2015-03-18

Photos are great ! You've got a photographers eye. Definitely.

Congrats for your achievement… I just wondered why you didn't make it bigger as a shed ALWAYS become crowded and too small at one point.

Well… maybe you are an optiomistic fellow !…

Cheers. ;)))

nlinventor (author)vincent75202015-03-19

Thanks - I mentioned in the introduction that I should have made it bigger than it is... but no plans to expand at the moment. I made the roof overhang on the "far" end of the shed longer with the intention of making a small deck for doing some outside work. Not done yet :)

ashnman2 (author)2015-03-18

Just wondering why there is no Wood burning Fireplace in there???? I think its time for another Instructable. Just Sayin...

nlinventor (author)ashnman22015-03-18

Think I have enough trees to make it self-supporting so you never know :)

Nikiniku (author)2015-03-17


That's true, but in order to decide on how much insulation to provide, you'd have to consider many variables. I started to make a list of them, but things got out of hand. You just have to consider many things, unless, of course, just building a shed is the most important thing. If that's the case, you can forget about cost or efficiency. I've been there. Supposedly, I was undertaking a project for its benefits, but I finally realized that it was the project itself that was most important to me.

Nikiniku (author)2015-03-15

Sorry, but I don't understand why you put so much time and money into this project. Don't you have a house? What were you trying to accomplish?

weish (author)Nikiniku2015-03-15

having a shed is nice for projects that are noisy, smell, or are crowded out of the garage by cars or stored stuff. it only makes sense to insulate it and build to last in a climate where snow and high winds can be a problem.

Nikiniku (author)weish2015-03-15

I should have realized that when a man talks about 6" of insulation he must have really C-O-L-D weather. On the other hand, wouldn't it have been more economical to have installed a heater?

inoble (author)Nikiniku2015-03-17

Without the insulation you just lose alot of heat the insulation help hold the heat so you don't have to run the heat as high so the insulation saves on heat cost same goes for cooling .

Pindell (author)Nikiniku2015-03-16

You can always install a heater. You need the insulation to keep the heat from immediately just leaving the building.

inoble (author)Nikiniku2015-03-15

For my self It is very nice to have a temperature control shop to work in so you don't get dust in your home . I have had in home shopes and know matter how much you try you still end up getting dust in the living area . So having a detached shop is very nice and also keeps the noise down to . Thank you Nikiniku

nlinventor (author)inoble2015-03-17

City rules required me to locate the shed "at least 6 feet" from my house. That is a big disadvantage during this time of year. Just took this picture :)

Nikiniku (author)inoble2015-03-15

Okay, that makes sense. Sorry if I seemed a little snarky, but I just couldn't understand what he was up to. Another thing that I didn't fully appreciate, living in San Diego as I do, is that he has COLD weather where he lies. When I say that it's really cold today, I'm talking about the 50s. Even so, I could easily work in my shed at that temperature, but below zero? He does mention 6" of insulation. You definitely wouldn't need that much around here.

weish (author)Nikiniku2015-03-15

i'm assuming the nl in his username is referring to newfoundland, which is one of canada's atlantic provinces. and in the winter, -40C temperatures are not exactly rare, so even with a small wood fired stove, you'd want some good insulation to keep comfy. i wish i only had to deal with temps as low as 50F. i've walked fifteen minutes to my bus stop in -39C weather this winter, it sucks living in the frozen north

nlinventor (author)Nikiniku2015-03-16

Nikiniku, here's a picture I just took with my security camera. It shows the front of my residence. The shed is behind the house and not visible in this photo. Hope it gives a better idea of why I wanted a well built and insulated shed.

Nikiniku (author)nlinventor2015-03-16

Nothing more need be said. You want to be able to use your shed year round, don't you?

YankInOz (author)Nikiniku2015-03-15

A simple answer is that every man needs a shed. It's in the "jeans" and in Australia it's a national tradition. My shed had the ability to hold a couple cars and had room to build out a small lab to do my inventing work. One area for electronics development, another area for woodworking and cabinet design, an isolated room for the CNC mini-mill, etc. It was a labour of love and many hours were spent developing some pretty awesome stuff. Other uses for a shed are - getting away from it all without having to go on a holiday and to have your mates over.

jshultz5 (author)2015-03-15

great instructable, awesome job as well Thanks

nlinventor (author)jshultz52015-03-17

You're welcome :)

midnightprophet (author)2015-03-15

a material list and estimated cost would finish this instructable nicely. Regardless, thanks for sharing.

Would be too much of a guesstimate for me to put a number on it now as I've hadn't had reason to price materials lately. I'm thinking that a friendly builder might take a quick look at this instructable and give you a pretty close estimate in terms of material costs.

Novali (author)2015-03-15

Ive been looking into building myself a tiny home. Didn't want to do it on wheels and anything above 200sq feet needed a permit. Your instruct-able really encourages me and yep I hear ya as far as what you wish you had as far as size. My thought there would be to build two 200sq feet buildings not attached to each other and with a covered walkway, not attached, between them so as to accommodate the bed/bath area and then the kitchen/living area and not have to permit.(All of this off grid, compost toilet and water from well, rocket stove etc.)

At any rate, not being a construction worker, I really appreciate this instruct-able as I have wondered and worried about insulation and the like and DO NOT want to talk to any beurocrats at a permit office! The use of piers is going to be my choice rather than skids or any other type foundation. I live on clay and the house will be put in the woods where there is a slight slope and a creek yards away. Most of the building will be recycled materials. Anyone who can yea or nay the piers or has more input, please speak up!

jfluckey (author)Novali2015-03-16

Better check local jurisdiction. The residential building code exempts buildings less than 200 sq ft, but locals may require structures greater than 100 sq ft get a building code. That is the reason my shed is not bigger than 10'x10'.

Novali (author)jfluckey2015-03-16


I live rurally (outside city limits) but I called the building inspector and after half an hour of talking to him he finally answered my original question. "No permit needed if its under 200 square feet." It was like pulling teeth to get that one answer! I am very secluded with 15 acres of property, much of it woods. But I wasn't taking any chances, I finally pinned him down!

A 14x14 square foot building put together as nicely as you did yours will be my objective...

Oh! And I have already re-thought the thing, I want to dig a root cellar for under it as I have a huge garden and want to save the bounty. Just a hole in the ground that is lined with cinderblock and a drain, and then a trap door inside the building to get to it. So it looks like I will have the cinderblock underpinnings rather than piers.

I live in Upstate SC so we do get snow but we also get HOT! I want to be comfortable and you are showing me how.

Thank you!

nlinventor (author)Novali2015-03-17

I too have been thinking about a root cellar lately but never gave a root cellar basement a thought when I was building the shed.... Too late now but I bet others looking at this will jump on the idea.

uncle frogy (author)2015-03-16

nice work the last picture really shows why you made the wind shields

I did not see any fire-blocking was that because of the heavy insulation?

uncle frogy

nlinventor (author)uncle frogy2015-03-16

uncle frogy, will you explain what you mean by "fire-blocking" for the shed. Is it horizontal blocks between the vertical studs to prevent heavy up air/fire flow?

uncle frogy (author)nlinventor2015-03-17

yes sir, maybe I did not see them
uncle frogy

uncle frogy (author)nlinventor2015-03-16

yes sir, maybe I did not see them
uncle frogy

jfluckey (author)2015-03-16

A sheathed wall to resist racking is called a shear wall. Yes, after squaring your walls, one sheet or bracing should be added to each wall to prevent racking during the rest of construction.

thebeatonpath (author)2015-03-16

My dream shed. *SIGH* Care to come to Tennessee and make me one? I really need a place like this and insulation is a necessity both summer and winter even in the South.

nlinventor (author)thebeatonpath2015-03-16

Well I could use a little "south" right now as you can see from the picture (below) this morning :)

And I know what you mean re insulation needed for both the hot and cold seasons... can be a big money saver in cooling and heating costs.

uncle frogy (author)2015-03-16

seeing how the walls are plywood on both sides as with a plywood floor and plywood roof I do not think the building will warp too much it is a ridged box it may shift out of level but should stay pretty square. around here there are some houses that were built on what turned out to be a slow landslide some here eventually put up on what were a new support frame that could be easily adjusted to level so that they could still be occupied.

it's a shed after all different code

uncle frogy

twall2 (author)2015-03-16

If he is living in cold weather, this is going to fail without a proper foundation. Any construct built on a foundation that does not go below the frost line (about 30" into the ground depending on location) is going to experience heave. In a few seasons, the floor is going to be wonky, the walls will crack, the door will stick, and all manner of other issues will arise.

Please don't build occupiable spaces without studying proper code for your location and having an inspector verify your adherence to the code. Or better yet, hire a licensed contractor.

Please trust me on this. I am a board certified architect.

HowardSternisBatman (author)2015-03-16

More of a constructable... :-) Well done.

Yoron (author)2015-03-15

I wish I had enough space for something that big in my backyard--need the insulation, but more for the 110 F summers out here.

Angelbane (author)2015-03-15

Wow that is built better than any house I have ever lived in.

stachkarl (author)2015-03-15

I recommend if anyone else builds one that they sheath the side walls before they sheath the roof. Sheathing the roof first creates a risk of the whole thing coming down if it becomes windy; I've seen this happen twice. The exterior sheathing adds significant strength to the structure.

CementTruck (author)2015-03-11

All it needs is a covered porch and a hammock. ;)

nlinventor (author)CementTruck2015-03-11

Don't have that but it sure sound good :)

dimovi (author)2015-03-11

Nice. How about an instructable for the pond?

About This Instructable




Bio: Like inventing, woodworking, tractor gadgets, gardening, making Youtube videos, wind turbines, ham radio, making instructables, etc
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