How to build a 16x12 shed

Updated February 21, 2017

For many do-it-yourself homeowners, lack of storage space is a problem. You need a surprisingly large amount of tools, equipment and supplies in order to maintain your home and yard. You can store many of these tools in your garage or basement, but you can still run out of storage space, especially for gardening tools and your lawnmower. One way to remedy this is to build a storage shed. Having a storage shed in your yard provides you with a secure place to keep your tools and supplies.

Contact your local zoning board to learn your local building codes and apply for any permits you will need. Building a shed without a permit or that isn't up to code can lead you to being fined or forced to tear the shed down.

Design your shed by sketching it out on a piece of paper or buy plans from a site like Design the shed so that it will meet local building codes.

Decide which parts of the shed you will construct yourself, and which parts you'll hire a contractor to do. Keep your own skill level in mind, as well as any municipal requirements (for instance, you may need to hire a licensed electrician if you want to run electricity to the shed).

Drive stakes into the ground around the perimeter of where the shed will be built. For a 16 by 12 foot shed, stake out an area 17 by 13 feet.

Excavate the area inside the stakes, digging beneath the frost line. Your zoning board can provide you with this information.

Construct the frame for the concrete around the hole by driving wooden stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the hole every three feet and nail 2 by 4 foot boards to them.

Cover the dirt in the hole with a vapour barrier. This is a plastic sheet which prevents moisture from seeping up from the ground.

Add a layer of sand or gravel on top of the vapour barrier. Follow local zoning requirements regarding which material to use and the depth of the layer.

Lay rebar or wire mesh on top of the sand or gravel, again following local building codes.

Mix a batch of concrete and pour it into the hole, following the instructions on the packaging.

Screed the surface of the concrete by dragging a 2 by 4 foot plank across the top of the form, using a side-to-side motion. Fill in any low spots that are exposed and screed the pour again.

Allow the concrete to cure for at least four days.

Mark the spots on the concrete where the sill plates will be attached, and drill pilot holes in the concrete. The sill plates are pressure-treated 2 by 4 foot boards used to attach the wooden frame to the concrete.

Measure and cut the pressure-treated 2 by 4s and attach them to the concrete with masonry screws.

Build the first wall by nailing a 2 by 4 into the end of another 2 by 4 so that they form an L-shape. The bottom board will be the bottom plate, and the board on the side will be the end stud. Nail another 2 by 4 into the bottom plate at the other end.

Nail 2 by 4 boards in between the two end studs, following local building codes regarding spacing between the studs and framing for doors and windows (if necessary). Nail another 2 by 4 across the top of the studs. This will be the top plate.

Lift the frame into position on top of the sill plate with the help of an assistant. Make sure the frame is plumb (vertically straight) and level (horizontally straight), then nail it to the sill plate. Repeat this process until all four wall frames have been installed.

Nail prefabricated roof trusses into position on top of the walls, following local building codes.

Cover the walls (except where the door is) and roof with plywood sheathing. Stagger the sheathing (similar to how bricks are laid) in order to strengthen the walls.

Measure and cut sheathing to fit around the door frame, and nail it into place.

Add the exterior finish (brick, siding or shingles) to the walls of the shed.

Cover the roof with a layer of 30-pound roofing felt. Lay the felt flat against the roof and overlap the edges to prevent leaks. Lay shingles on top of the felt.

Install the door of the shed.


Always wear safety goggles when using a saw.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • Shovel or excavator
  • 2-inch by 4-inch boards
  • Saw
  • Vapour barrier
  • Sand or gravel
  • Rebar or wire mesh
  • Concrete mix
  • Water
  • Drill
  • Masonry bit
  • Pressure-treated 2-inch by 4-inch boards
  • Masonry screws
  • Nail gun
  • Nails
  • Assistant
  • Prefabricated roof trusses
  • Plywood sheathing
  • Safety goggles
  • Brick, siding or shingles
  • 30-pound roofing felt
  • Shingles
  • Door
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About the Author

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.