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building vs buying a shed - comparison guide

Building vs Buying a Shed: A Complete Comparison Guide

Adding a shed storage to your property can provide a great place for storage, a workshop, or even a small guest house. But should you put in the time, effort, and money to build a shed yourself, or have one delivered pre-constructed?

This comprehensive guide will examine the key factors you need to consider when deciding between building or buying a shed. We'll compare the costs, customization options, permits, construction process, maintenance, and more. By the end, you'll have the information you need to determine the best option for your needs and budget.

ez-fit shed with double doors single door and windows

Cost Comparison

One of the biggest factors in deciding whether to buy or build your shed is the overall costs. Let's break down what goes into the cost for each option.

Building a Shed

Constructing your own shed requires purchasing all the building materials, tools, and equipment. Here are the main costs:

  • Materials - This includes lumber, siding, shingles, windows, hardware, fasteners, and any other building components. The total material cost for an 8×10ft shed can range from $800-$2500 depending on the materials used.

  • Tools and equipment - To build a shed, you'll need tools like a saw, drill, ladder, clamps, tape measure, and safety equipment. Expect to spend $200-$500 if you don't have any tools already. Renting specialty tools can also add costs.

  • Labor - If you don't build the shed yourself, labor from a contractor will add a significant cost. The average rate for a carpenter is $50-100/hr. A shed could take 60-100 hours for an experienced builder to construct. If you don't hire a carpenter and build yourself, costs are significantly lower.

Total cost to build an 8×10 shed yourself can range from $1500-$3000, with labor from a contractor costing $5000 or more. Larger and more complex sheds cost exponentially more.

Buying a Pre-Built Shed

Purchasing a pre-constructed shed avoids all the material and labor costs of building yourself. Here are the main expenses:

  • Base price -Prefab shed prices range widely depending on size, materials, and features. A basic 8x10ft vinyl-sided shed starts at around $2000. Higher-end sheds can cost up to $10,000.

  • Delivery fees - Expect to pay a trucking company $100-$300+ to deliver your shed kit to your property.

  • Extra customization - Add-ons like shelving, windows, skylights and electrical can add $500-$2000 to the total. In general, add-ons cost $10-20 per square foot.

In most cases, you can expect to pay $2500-$5000+ for a pre-built 8x10ft shed delivered to your home. This is on par or lower than building it yourself when you account for expenses like tools and labor.

For large sheds or high-end customized builds, hiring a contractor to build on-site is still usually cheaper than buying pre-built. But for small to mid-size sheds, pre-fab wins in terms of total cost.

Key Cost Considerations

Keep these other cost factors in mind as well:

  • Permit fees - Most areas require permits for sheds over 100-200 sq. ft, running $100-$500+. Pre-built sheds include permit help.

  • Foundation - Pre-builts come with flooring/foundations. DIY sheds require cement, gravel, or paver foundation costing $500-$1500+

  • Roofing - Asphalt shingles for DIY cost $200-$500. Pre-builts use cheaper panelized roofs.

  • Resale value - Custom DIY sheds can have higher resale value than commodity pre-builts.

For maximum cost savings, be realistic with your shed needs. Avoid expensive custom upgrades on pre-fab sheds. For DIY sheds, keep the design simple and use budget-friendly building materials.

shed being built and men building a shed


Customizing your shed to your exact specifications is a key benefit of building it yourself compared to buying pre-constructed.

Customizing a Self-Built Shed

When you self-build a shed, you have full control over the design:

  • Size - Construct any dimensions for the foundation, walls, roof, doors, and windows. Great for an odd-shaped space.

  • Materials - Choose wood, metal, or vinyl siding. Opt for pine, cedar, or redwood boards. Pick colors and textures.

  • Features - Add custom doors, shelving, electricity, skylights, shingles, vents, etc.

  • Style - Construct a shed matching the design of your home for a cohesive look.

DIY sheds are ideal if you want a shed specifically tailored to your space with a custom size, function, and aesthetic.

Customization Options for Pre-Built Sheds

Prefabricated sheds offer some flexibility:

  • Size - Many companies offer a few standard size options like 8x6, 8x12, 10x10, etc. Some allow minor customization to dimensions.

  • Materials - Typically you can pick between wood, vinyl, or metal siding. Few companies offer premium materials like cedar.

  • Add-ons - Optional extras like windows, skylights, ventilation, ramps, and shelving can be purchased.

  • Color/trim - Most companies give color options for the siding/trim. But colors are limited compared to staining your own wood.

While pre-built sheds offer minor customization, you are limited in options compared to a DIY build. It is also usually more expensive to customize pre-fabs.

If you need 100% customization, a self-built shed is likely the better choice. But if you just want some small tweaks to a stock design, pre-built makes sense.


Another major consideration is the actual construction process. Building a shed yourself takes more time and skill, but provides satisfaction. Pre-built sheds are quicker but lack craftsmanship.

Building Your Own Shed

Constructing your own shed has pros and cons:


  • Sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from a DIY project

  • Freedom to work at your own pace


  • Requires construction skills and knowledge

  • Physically demanding work

  • May need to hire an electrician/contractor for part of the work

Unless you have framing and roofing experience, expect a learning curve. Simple shed designs are beginner friendly but still require attention to detail. Be prepared to put in long hours of work over weeks or months before enjoying your new shed.

Buying a Pre-Constructed Shed

Purchasing a pre-built shed offers different advantages:


  • Professional quality construction often with warranties

  • The shed can be used almost immediately after delivery

  • No hands-on building work required


  • Less oversight into specific construction methods

  • Quality very dependent on the manufacturer

With a pre-constructed shed, all construction takes place offsite by the company. This means you miss out on the DIY experience. But it also means you avoid the headaches and backaches of the building!

Assembly of a pre-built shed ranges from very easy snap-together kits to more complex builds requiring several days and contractors to erect on-site. Choose delivery options wisely.

large wooden shed painted gray with double doors and transom windows

Permits and Regulations

Before deciding on a shed, it's important to understand local permitting regulations. Permitting requirements can impact cost and construction timelines significantly.

Here are some common factors that dictate permit needs:

  • Size - Most areas require permits for sheds larger than 100-200 sq. ft. Some rural towns have more relaxed rules.

  • Electricity - If you want lighting or outlets in your shed, electric permits are usually required.

  • Permanent foundation - Sheds placed on permanent foundations like concrete often need permits.

  • Zoning - Placement, size, and use regulations can apply in some neighborhoods.

  • Historic designation - Special approvals are needed for areas with historic designations.

Work with your local permitting office early in the planning process to understand all regulations for your property. Failing to get permits can result in fines or even shed removal.

Most pre-built shed companies have experience acquiring permits for their products, and some offer assistance as part of the buying process. This perk can be worth the extra cost over a DIY build.


Ongoing maintenance is essential for any shed to maximize lifespan and avoid deterioration. Let's look at the differences in maintenance between DIY and pre-built sheds.

Maintenance for Self-Built Sheds

Regular upkeep is critical on DIY sheds built with traditional materials:

  • Paint/stain - Refinish wood siding every 2-4 years to prevent weathering damage.

  • Roof - Repair any damage to shingles. Remove debris to prevent water buildup.

  • Door/windows - Lubricate hinges annually. Caulk and paint trim when needed.

  • Foundation - Clear weeds/grass and fill erosion around a concrete slab or paver base.

  • Siding - Look for warp, mold, or insect damage. Replace individual boards as needed.

With proactive maintenance and repairs, a DIY wood shed can last 20-30 years in good shape.

Maintenance for Pre-Built Sheds

Prefabricated sheds require less maintenance:

  • Cleaning - Vinyl and metal siding only need occasional washing.

  • Roof - Fiberglass, asphalt, and metal roofs require minimal upkeep.

  • Doors - Lubricate hinges on doors/windows annually.

  • Foundation - Check for settling or erosion under the base.

  • Warranties - Many pre-built sheds offer 5-10 year material warranties.

Vinyl and metal sheds are less prone to weather/insect damage versus DIY wood sheds. But improper foundation settling can still shorten the lifespan if not addressed.

Maintenance Task

DIY Shed

Pre-Built Shed


Required every 2-4 years

Not required

Roof repairs

Frequent inspection/repairs


Door/window care

Annual lubrication



Regular inspection


Siding repairs

Replace boards as needed


ez-fit homestead shed kit surrounded by plants

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it cheaper to build your own shed or buy one?

The cost of building your own shed vs buying one depends on several factors such as building materials, your level of expertise, and specific requirements for the storage space. On one hand, building your own shed allows you to customize it and potentially save on labor costs. But buying a pre-built shed may be more convenient and time-saving.

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of building your own shed?

Building your own shed has several advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include having complete control over the design and customization, potentially saving on labor costs and the satisfaction of completing a DIY project. However, it can be time-consuming, require technical skills, and you may need to obtain permits and adhere to local building codes.

3. Are there advantages to buying a pre-built shed instead?

Yes, there are advantages to buying a pre-built shed. Firstly, it saves you time as the shed is ready to be installed. Secondly, you have a wide variety of options to choose from and can easily match your specific requirements. Lastly, you may have warranty coverage and professional installation services included with the purchase.

4. What factors affect the final cost of building a shed?

The final cost of building a shed can be influenced by various factors such as the size of the shed, choice of building materials, roofing, foundation, insulation, electrical work, and finishing touches like paint or shelving. Additionally, labor costs or professional assistance, if required, should also be considered.

5. Can I build a custom shed from scratch?

Yes, you can build a shed from scratch. However, keep in mind that it requires a certain level of woodworking skills, knowledge of building codes, and access to necessary tools and equipment. Planning the project thoroughly and following proper construction techniques are essential for a successful outcome.


Let's recap the key factors when deciding between building or buying your shed:

  • For cost, small-medium pre-fab sheds are generally cheaper than DIY construction thanks to labor/tool savings. Large or customized sheds are cheaper to build on your own.
  • Customization is far superior when you self-build versus limited options with pre-built sheds.
  • Construction is quicker and easier with pre-fab, but you lose the satisfaction and quality control of DIY building.
  • Permitting tends to be more complex for DIY sheds. Pre-built companies typically assist with permits.
  • Maintenance is less intensive for pre-fabricated sheds with long warranties. But DIY wood sheds can also have long lifespans.

Ultimately, evaluate your priorities in terms of budget, custom needs, construction preferences, and style to decide whether to build one or buy it. For most needs, a moderately sized pre-built vinyl shed from a reputable company provides the best convenience and value. But don't be afraid to take on a DIY project if you want total creative freedom.

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About The Author

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

His main focus is on sheds and generators!

In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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