With prices of garden buildings increasing, you may be considering a self-build for your next garden shed. Whether it’s the cheapest option depends on your level of skill and access to low-cost materials.
A shed is an essential feature in every UK garden and if it’s time to replace yours, there are lots of options to consider. In recent years, sheds have become much more than storage for garden furniture and are now used for a variety of use cases.
Some shed owners have converted their garden buildings into workshops or even a garden office. Sheds are semi-permanent structures and once in position, a well-maintained shed will last for over 10 years. Before deciding on the model of the shed, be sure it’s still going to meet your requirements for years into the future.
However the shed will be used, the cost of a new shed can often be surprising, particularly if you have not purchased any other garden buildings recently. A large part of the cost of a shed is the timber that the building is constructed from. In recent years, there have been substantial price increases, partly due to supply constraints, which have resulted in consumers paying more for garden buildings compared with just a few years ago.
Plenty of other steps go into the overall price of a shed, including construction in the factory, wood treatment and delivery. If the shed is being assembled by the supplier, there can also be a large additional cost for this as well. With all of this in mind, now may seem like a better time than ever to build your own garden shed.
Building the shed yourself will depend on your level of DIY skills and access to the materials and tools required. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each to see which will provide the best value.
The cheapest way to build a shed
In short, the cheapest way to build a shed in the UK is going to be a self-build, based only on material costs. However, additional expenses such as tools & skills required could result in a pre-built shed being the lowest cost option.
Building your own shed sounds like a great idea and does come with plenty of benefits. A self-built shed can be built to your exact requirements, allowing for the shed to fit the exact size available and the design to be tailored to the surrounding garden. Another benefit is being able to install insulation during the construction, instead of converting a pre-built shed once it has been assembled.
If you’re pretty handy with DIY and already have the tools available to construct a shed, it can be cheaper than purchasing a shed. For many of us with little construction experience, the cost of tools and the time spent learning how to build the shed would often result in the overall cost being higher.
The cheapest way to build a shed will vary depending on your own circumstances and access to the materials and tools required. When the price for both is similar, it’s best to weigh up some of the additional benefits to each that we will discuss below.
Data from Forest Research shows substantial price rises in timber in the last year alone. The Coniferous standing Sales Price index was 40.5% higher in real terms in the year to March 22 compared with the same period the previous year .
This has an impact on how much everyone pays for softwoods such as timber. In a shed, the walls, roof and flooring are all built using timber. Larger sheds will see the biggest impact due to how much more raw material is required.
While garden building manufacturers make savings by purchasing in bulk, they are still seeing large increases in the amount they pay for timber. This is passed on to the consumer with higher prices for completed garden buildings. Wood prices at builders merchants have also increased by a similar amount and will also now be more expensive.
The overall cost you pay for materials on a self-build will be significantly less, but you’re paying for them to turn up as raw materials and not constructed into a shed. Garden building manufacturers have various additional costs to take into account including labour, delivery costs and energy costs. With gas and electricity prices rising, it costs the manufacturer more to operate machinery.
One area to keep in mind is that most shed manufacturers will add a large additional cost for assembly on-site. If purchasing a pre-built shed, one way to reduce costs is to complete the assembly yourself once the building arrives.
Time to build
The time to go from purchase to assembly in the garden can vary for both pre-built and self-built sheds. If the shed is in stock, many garden building manufacturers can have the building delivered within a few weeks. Purchasing assembly from the manufacturer may increase the lead time depending on how busy they are.
If a pre-built shed is purchased flat-packed, this will often allow the quickest delivery to the site. But we do need to allow at least a day for 2 people to put the shed together.
When constructing a shed from scratch we first need to make sure all of the materials are in stock and get them delivered. As they won’t be arriving together, the project could be delayed by just one item being out of stock.
Once the materials have arrived, the process of building the shed can begin. It’s best to take a few days off work to complete the construction. Constructing a self-built shed is better during the summer with warmer temperatures and longer evenings to take advantage of.
Skills & tools required
Being able to construct a shed from scratch requires plenty of knowledge and experience. Firstly there is the ability to plan the design and budget for all of the required materials. Once the materials arrive, we need the knowledge on how to transform them into a garden shed.
If you work in construction, knocking up a shed could be an easy job over a long weekend with some friends. But if you’re not handy then it may be difficult to get the right level of skills to create a shed that’s functional and secure. If you’re somewhere in between, online videos and courses can be a good source of information.
The tools required are another factor to consider, as the cost of tools alone can sometimes add up to near the value of the shed. This can often be the deciding factor for many, if you have the tools and the experience on how to use them, it’s going to save time and money. Without the tools or knowledge on how to use them, it could result in increased costs and time.
Some of the tools required include a jigsaw, drill, impact driver, staple gun and spirit level.
All garden sheds need wood treatment, regardless of whether they have been pre-built or not. Timber is naturally porous and will take on moisture from the surrounding atmosphere. This can be a challenge during the winter as it takes a long time for the building to dry out.
An untreated shed can result in damp and mould growth affecting the wood, leading to damage to the shed. The contents inside could also be affected by the moisture, especially items such as garden furniture.
Pre-built sheds can come pressure treated by the manufacturer. This process involves forcing chemicals deep into the timber to provide long-term protection against moisture and fungal growth. Due to the machinery required, this can be hard to replicate outside of a large factory.
The wood on a shed will always need treating once the shed has been assembled. We recommend choosing a high-quality product that provides protection from weathering and adds additional colour to the timber for protection from UV rays.
Longevity and waterproofing
A well-maintained shed can last for at least 10 years if looked after with wood treatment every few years. The quality of materials used can vary widely between garden building manufacturers and it’s often a case of you get what you pay for. Budget garden sheds will often use fast-grown lightweight timber and low-quality fixtures.
A self-built shed allows you to select all of the materials individually. This provides the opportunity to select good-quality timber, as well as fixtures and fittings.
The longevity of the shed will often relate to how well the building was assembled. A shed that’s not joined together correctly for reasons such as an uneven base can lead to additional stress put on the timber. This can result in warping over time which can lead to difficulty opening doors or gaps for water to get through.
Waterproofing against the weather conditions outside is essential for a shed to keep the contents inside secure. Getting the initial assembly correct is key to avoiding gaps between the wooden panels.
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One additional benefit of a pre-built shed is the manufacturer’s warranty that will be included. This provides peace of mind that any issues with the shed once assembled will be addressed. Large sheds are an expensive purchase and we don’t want issues within a few years of use.
A shed’s warranty usually depends on the building being assembled correctly and being maintained with wood treatment in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Be sure to check the devices from each manufacturer first.
Pre-built sheds will not come with any warranty and it will be up to you to maintain the building. If you’re experienced with DIY this is less of an issue.
Overall, the cheapest way to build a shed in the UK will vary on several factors. If you’re handy with DIY jobs and like the challenge of constructing a shed, you could save costs on materials by building the shed from scratch.
For many with little DIY experience or lack of tools, the savings in materials will often be lost with the cost of additional tools and learnings to build the shed. The time for construction is also going to take significantly longer when starting from scratch.