LESLIE: Well, the humble garden shed doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. These multifunctional marvels can simplify life by offering extra storage or providing a small, private workspace.
TOM: Yeah. But when it comes to sheds, functionality is not the only consideration. To find out more about choosing a shed that’s both beautiful and useful, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for This Old House.
ROGER: Thanks. We’re talking sheds, huh?
TOM: Yeah. We’re talking about things that are beautiful and useful. That’s why we invited you on today.
ROGER: I am neither.
TOM: Hey, I wouldn’t say that. But listen, homeowners have always had sort of a love/hate relationship with backyard sheds. I mean we love the storage space but we hate the way they look sometimes. So what kinds of options are available to us today in new sheds?
ROGER: They’ve come a long way. You can really get any style you want: Victorian, Cape Cod-ish. You name it, you can find it.
LESLIE: Now, before we get super-excited about what you can get, can you get them? Should we be visiting a building department to find out if we’re even allowed?
ROGER: It’s always great to go get free information from the building department before you invest a dime in your shed. The thing to think about is: is it going to add square footage to the house and is it going to cause a zoning problem? Or is it going to be too big for the area? You have to remember that there are certain setbacks in a lot of towns for where the shed can go.
TOM: Now, building a shed is a project that most people see as a DIY project. It seems like a pretty fun project to do. There are a lot of options and different approaches to construction of it, though, right?
ROGER: You can buy kits that you just come – they get dropped off and you put them together yourself. You could build it from scratch if you really wanted to. But the thing to remember is that all of these sheds are a little different. Some of them have a floor and some of them don’t.
TOM: Now, if you don’t have a floor, I guess you’ve got to prepare a base for this, correct? And is that kind of like with pavers? Stone? What?
ROGER: It could be all of the above. But if you have a floor on the bottom of your shed and you’re propping it up on some pressure-treated blocks, you’re leaving a great area underneath the shed for animals to get in, particularly skunks.
ROGER: So what we usually do is put some wire mesh all the way around outside and bury it down into the ground to discourage them from going underneath the shed.
TOM: Now, I guess there’s a couple of key design considerations, as well. If you’re going to use this as sort of an additional building that you’re going to maybe do some potting in it or something like that, that’s one thing. But if this is a shed that so many of us have for, say, landscape equipment, I’m sure you’d appreciate this: you want to make sure you can get that equipment in and out, right?
TOM: Easily, right?
ROGER: So a double door or an extra-wide door and a ramp will really help you out with those.
LESLIE: Now, you had mentioned the wire to sort of keep the animals out. That’s not that attractive to look at and sometimes, the sheds aren’t really that pretty. Can you landscape them in a certain way to make it look better?
ROGER: You can either use them as something that blends into the landscaping around your yard and use the same plant material or you could make it a highlight. You could enter – put in some window boxes, make it pretty spectacular.
TOM: Spectacular sheds. You heard it here on The Money Pit.
Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice on how to build the perfect backyard shed.
ROGER: Oh, you’re welcome.
LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.