Because there is a lot of choice when it comes to which garden shed to buy, whether it’s for yourself or a client, it can be a bit tricky to know which one will be right.
Let’s break down the different things to look at in order to make an informed choice. It’s worth pointing out that while cost is usually a consideration, it might not always be the most important thing when finding a shed for a garden or a patio.
Planning a shed
Depending on shed size and placement planning permission may be needed. While planning permission for a shed is not usually necessary (as most people site their shed within 2m of a boundary), there is a 2.5m restriction on maximum shed height, this is rarely a problem though as few sheds are taller than this. It is always advisable to check your local council to be sure that your plans fall within all the restrictions.
The best shed bases are made from a poured concrete pad or concrete slabs although gravel laid on a suitable hard-core base is also sometimes used. The critical elements of a base are that it is flat and stable, will not sink or allow weeds to grow through and will not encourage standing water. If the base is not perfectly flat then the shed will not stay straight and true and problems will be experienced with doors and windows.
Timber shed bases are also available, these are quick and easy to assemble and some kits include spikes fixed to the base which are used to help level the base on uneven ground. It should be noted that if a timber base is built onto unprepared ground, weeds will grow up under the shed, so a suitable weed membrane or suppressant should be used. Do not site a shed directly on grass, with or without a timber base.
Good quality sheds come with pressure treated floor bearers that can be placed directly onto the base and isolate the floor and walls from ground contact.
Shed Construction: what difference does it make?
There are a range of construction materials used for sheds. Wooden sheds start with simple overlap board construction. Each horizontal board overlaps the next to ensure water runs down from one board to the next until it reaches the ground. Overlap sheds occupy the more budget end of the market and are suitable for the storage of garden equipment and tools or for use as a potting shed. The overlapping boards have a rustic finish and appearance and are free to move between the internal framing battens. This means that gaps will open and close as the seasons change and temperature and humidity levels vary. This is entirely normal and helps keep the shed well ventilated.
As with most things, the more you pay the more you get so if your client has a little more budget they will be able to choose from Tongue & Groove and Shiplap Tongue & Groove cladding. Both of these feature interlocking boards that are less prone to gapping when it is hot and dry, this makes them more suitable for storing more expensive outdoor equipment such as bicycles and lawnmowers. The cladding is also thicker than on overlap sheds so they are more substantial and secure. Shiplap cladding has a more traditional finish while Tongue and Groove cladding is more contemporary.
A well-built Tongue and Groove or Shiplap Tongue & Groove shed will last for many years. It is not unusual to see them still standing and functional over 20 years after they were built.
Most sheds will either have an Apex or Pent roof design. These are suited to different uses and have a different aesthetic, with apex sheds looking more traditional and working well in an open area or alongside a boundary, while pent sheds are more contemporary looking and well suited to being placed against fences and walls.
Apex roof sheds feature two sloping sections, meeting in the middle to form a ridge. This design allows you to maintain an access ‘corridor’ down the middle of the shed whilst using the sides and back wall for storage, shelving and/or work benches. The height afforded by the apex design gives good headroom down the centre aisle.
Pent roofs have a single inclined roof section which slopes from the front to the back. This gives them more head room at the front of the shed, across its full width. This makes them more suited to storing equipment at the back of the shed and using the front for gaining access or for placing a workbench.