Sheds and other multi-use buildings

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Farmers have tool sheds and barns, and sometimes these are constructed prior to the farmhouse itself. There might be garden sheds, hay or grain storage places, and doghouses. Decades ago there was an outhouse. The need for multi-purpose sheds and barns and the like may have changed over the years, but many folks need a place to stash stuff outside of their home. 

Basements sometimes fulfill this need, but the number of storage sheds popping up like mushrooms in backyards as well as all the storage units for rent is a testament to the growing demand for more space.

If you’re thinking of adding some type of building to your backyard, you’ll probably want to consider the things you might use it for. Then, you’ll need to think about the type of material you’ll select or buy as a prebuilt unit that a sales yard delivers and sets up for you. Think of how it is going to look, especially in town or a subdivision—will it fit in well? And will it even be allowed by municipal ordinance or your Homeowners Association? Doing some due-diligence homework rather than making an impulse purchase is wise in most situations.

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How many ways might you use a shed or backyard building, and what might you store inside it? Lawnmower? ATV? Shovels and blowers? Chemicals or fertilizers? That used piece of furniture you just bought a replacement for in the home? A place for studying or quiet time? Maybe even a cot or sleeping bag for that unexpected guest?

The choice of materials is another matter needing some thought. There are wood, insulated panels, metal, and fiberglass options for the pre-built barns and sheds. Four posts and a roof can sometimes meet initial requirements for quick temporary storage. There are many custom things I’ve seen over the years; for example, a building out of landscape timbers, one out of used pallet lumber, one constructed of straw bales, and not uncommon is the concrete block structure. 

Quite a few times I’ve seen a couple live in a shed or an RV as they progress to a mobile home or a stick-built traditional home. Traditional homes are out of the affordability range of many young couples unless they have family or others assisting them financially. And these are in fashion for the “tiny home” movement that some have chosen voluntarily for their own set of reasons.

Let’s recap. There are pre-built sheds and barns you can buy and have moved to your place right away. You may have skills that enable you to build one from scratch. Or you may hire a contractor and let them offer options and pricing points.

Storage that is detached from your house is typically quite a bit more economical per square foot of usable space than having a room or extra garage added to your main residence. 

As for most things, making these decisions when you have time on your hands rather than when you are pressed for something quick is the smart option. And even if you hadn’t thought of a storage unit yet, you may find a use for one in the future.

If you’re renting a building, you may find that over five or six years you could have owned it and it be paid for rather than having rental payments. But, for short-term needs, renting some space may be the way to go.

A place to stash your stuff safely and securely is likely on your mind, if you’ve not already crossed that bridge. I hope you can take some of these ideas and make the best choices for your storage needs.


The author is a landscaper. Comments and suggestions are welcome. (606) 416-3911