So you want to add a backyard shed. Here’s how you get there |
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So you want to add a backyard shed. Here’s how you get there

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If you’re like most Americans, you outgrew the square footage of your home not long after you moved in.

Frankly, we all just have a lot of stuff.

Whether it’s gear for activities or lawn care equipment, we love our interests. But those interests can come with a lot of tools and accessories. Before we know it, we’re storing bicycles and kayaks, riding mowers, furniture, and more. Home additions are out of the budget for most homeowners, so people are increasingly turning to backyard sheds to help solve their storage dilemmas.

Whether it’s a room for a hobby or an office, or just a place to neatly store garden equipment, backyard sheds are an affordable way to add more space — and potentially more value — to your property. But before you get started, there are a few important steps in the planning process you need to consider.

Let’s get started:

Step 1: Consider the function of your shed.

First things first. Determine how you’ll use this shed. Will you store lawn equipment? Will you use it as a hobby room? A home office? A pool house? Knowing its use will help you settle on a size and design. For example, if it’s going to be a kid’s playroom, you might want a few windows, whereas if it’s purely storage, you’d likely leave windows out of the design.

Step 2: Consider the size of your shed.

The last thing you want to do is install a shed and realize it’s too small to meet your needs. On the flip side, you don’t want a shed that’s so large it overwhelms your property and becomes a neighborhood eyesore. By knowing the main function of your shed, you can settle on a practical size. Measure the belongings that you plan on storing in the shed — like a riding mower and a few bicycles or maybe your sewing table and craft workbench, add room to comfortably walk around — then consider growth for the future. This will give you a rough idea of the shed size you’re shopping for.

Step 3: Check your local zoning ordinances.

You may need to get a permit from your local zoning authority and/or a homeowners’ association. Cities vary greatly on zoning rules, so you’ll have to do this bit of research. Know that at the very least, most cities will dictate the maximum size of shed permitted and how far it must sit in from your property line. (Most must be situated at least 3 to 5 feet from the property line.) Other municipalities may dictate if you’re permitted to wire your structure for electricity or plumbing. Even if your city doesn’t require a permit, it’s just smart to check before building.

Step 4: Locate your official property lines.

It might seem like overkill, but if your town requires a permit for sheds, you’re going to want to locate the plat of survey or boundary survey for your property. You don’t want to invest in a shed only to have an angry neighbor force you to move it a few months later. You may have a copy of this survey map in the closing documents from when you purchased the home. Or you might need to hire a surveyor, which could cost between $300 to $500. You’ll need to submit a copy of this document to your local zoning department to receive permission to place your shed.

Step 5: Select your shed.

Once you get the go-ahead to build, you have four options: build a shed yourself, purchase one off-the-shelf, or purchase a quality pre-fabricated shed or a custom designed shed. Prebuilt and custom sheds typically come with a variety of roof styles, colors and accessories available. You can have fun dressing up your shed with shuttered windows, a front porch, gingerbread trim and more. The possibilities are endless.

Step 6: Know the cost and timeline.

Sheds can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Like so many other things, you usually get what you pay for. For sheds that last a lifetime, you’ll want to work with craftsmen who use quality materials and pay attention to detail. Amish-built sheds from Amish Yard use weather protected, rot-resistant materials, the heaviest floors in the industry, and triple-layer doors, which add to the lifetime durability of your shed.

“Our mission is to create lasting value for our clients,” says Michael Killen, president of Amish Yard, an outdoor furniture and shed business based in Pittsburgh. “Stop wasting money on products that don’t last.”

(Get a free estimate from Amish Yard.)

Step 7: Prepare your site.

One of the most vital steps to a long-lasting shed is ensuring you build on a stable, level location. Even the most well-constructed shed won’t hold up on a weak foundation. Never select a soggy, low-lying area, and never place your shed on a slope. The best shed foundation will lift the shed off the ground slightly, so that it maximizes water drainage and reduces the amount of moisture transferred.

Step 8: Watch your dream shed come to life.

Installing a prefab or custom shed usually doesn’t take more than a day, once supplies come in. In no time, you’ll be organizing your stuff in your new shed and celebrating your smart storage solution.

Sponsored by Amish Yard. Call Amish Yard at 412-693-6570 or visit online at Stop by any of their three Pittsburgh area store location to view a wide selection of display models: 3316 Saw Mill Run Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15227; 3478 Babcock Blvd., Pittsburgh (Ross), PA 15237; and 2641 Washington Road, Canonsburg, PA 15317.

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