How to build an outbuilding

Updated February 21, 2017

Outbuildings are good for storage, or housing tools and equipment for specific tasks, such as gardening, wood working or animal care. Building your own outbuilding gives you the chance to create a truly custom barn or shed and save money on the construction costs. Thoroughly assess the needs and available resources before beginning a project of this sort. Consider how much space you need, and what you can afford to spend. This will help insure that your project reaches completion.

Compare several plans to find the right style and features for your purposes. Also, consider the materials called for and the cost of building the outbuilding outlined in each plan. Once you have the right plan, buy or print a copy.

Lay out your plans and study them to fully understand the process. Familiarise yourself with the entire plan before buying materials.

Make a list of all needed tools and materials, or double check the plan list if it came with one. Try to make sure you have everything you will need.

Level the dirt in the area you will install your building. Tack a level to a long, straight board to check the grade. Add dirt if needed. You want the foundation to be as level as possible.

Dig the footings and pour the concrete for large sheds, or set the piers or concrete blocks for smaller sheds. Check the building codes for your area.

Build and set the wood floor platform for smaller sheds, or attach the base plates of your walls to the concrete for larger sheds. Continually check for level at every phase and make adjustments as you go to prevent larger issues later on.

Build wall frames on the ground and then stand them in place. Check the measurements carefully for window and door openings. Keep your plans handy and check your work against them.

Attach the walls firmly to the foundation and to each other. This is where the strength of your outbuilding lies--in the framing.

Install doors and windows level for proper operation. Use shims to adjust as needed and check for proper operation before permanently attaching.

Screw siding and trim into place for added strength. Screws are stronger and tend to hold longer. Your siding will also be easily removable for access or repairs later.

Assemble your roof trusses and rafters before lifting them up. Attach all roofing members with joist hangers and hurricane ties. Most plans do not call for them, but the added strength outweighs the small additional cost.

Deck your roof with plywood instead of chipboard if you can afford it. It is stronger and will last much longer. Caulk between all joints in your roof deck pieces and flash the edges to protect them from weather.

Lay down two layers of roofing felt and hand nail your shingles for best results. Use the minimum overlay pattern when installing shingles. Spacing them out more will save a little time and money now, but may cost you in the long run.

Things You'll Need

  • Plans
  • Concrete and foundation lumber
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Framing lumber
  • Windows (optional)
  • Doors
  • Door hardware
  • Siding
  • Treated deck screws
  • Drill
  • Roof framing lumber
  • Plywood
  • Roofing felt
  • Shingles
  • Flashing
  • Nails
  • Roofing hammer
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About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.