Building a little place of your own in the back yard sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Like almost anything else in this life, though, it takes money. How much? You’ll get some straight answers by reading on.
A she shed might look fun and frivolous but in reality it’s a structure meant to be inhabited by a human being: YOU. As such, it needs to be structurally sound, on a solid level surface and, if located in a place with weather extremes, should be sealed as much as possible from the elements. The idea is to end up with a beautiful, dry, sturdy place that will last for years.
She sheds incur costs in two places: materials and labor. Materials include lumber, foundation material, flooring, a door, windows, roofing, paint and hardware. Labor includes anyone who won’t work for free. So aside from your handy spouse and closest friends, you may need to spend money on extra help.
To give some quick and general answers about cost, let’s put she sheds into three buckets:
Cheap bucket ($600-$1,700): The cheapest she sheds will run you about $600. Before you get too excited, though, understand that generally these are sheds that already exist and just need some rehabilitation. To build a shed from scratch with this budget, you’ll need to be patient and resourceful. Start by hunting around for free materials from craigslist and job sites (and friends who are remodeling). Plan on doing the work yourself; consider taking woodworking classes or doing volunteer work in the homebuilding arena to gain some new skills.
Mid-range bucket ($1,700-$8,000): This is a wide range because it includes kit sheds and DIY sheds with some pretty serious detail. Kit sheds, available from home improvement stores and shed specialty companies, are good options because you can customize them and they don’t cost as much as a complete from-scratch build. The materials are decent, but not top-of-the-line and the kits don’t include everything you’ll need.
Box seat bucket ($8,000-$30,000): After recovering your jaw that just dropped on the floor, keep this in mind: The average room add-on for a house runs about $25,000-$35,000, multiple permits and the services of a professional architect. A top-of-the-line she shed costs less, often doesn’t require a permit and provides private, stand-alone extra space for leisure or work pursuits. This budget may require you to save up for awhile but it usually covers professional help and excellent quality materials.
My She Shed
My own little shed is small and made mostly with salvaged items. We spent about $1,500 all told. The floor is old brick, which we got for $35 on craigslist. We already had a few of the windows on the sides and back. The door was hard to find because it had to be pretty narrow, but we finally did and paid about $60. To make a Dutch door, we just cut it in half, added a small shelf and painted.
Where I Saved: salvaged siding. My husband had a lot of random lumber stored in the garage. Also, my aunt told us we could have some old siding stored under her house, so we hauled that pile back after a visit. We only needed to buy roof plywood and a few 4 x 4s for the wall framing.
Where I Didn’t Save: matching leaded glass windows. These beauties on the front of my shed weren’t terribly expensive ($150 for both), but they were in rough shape. I found a great repair shop specializing in this type of leaded glass and for $275 more the windows came back sturdy and gorgeous. They ended up being a pretty big investment but so worth it.