Garden Shed Installation FAQ
Garden sheds are incredibly helpful once constructed, but they provide a few unique challenges during construction. There is a number of really important, and seemingly small, steps to keep in mind – one missed step, and the whole thing can come down. As such, those of us at DreamyHome felt that it was about time we built a master document (our fun name for a FAQ) on garden sheds. So do you need a concrete slab for your garden shed?
Today’s Topics Include:
- Do I Need a Concrete Slab For My Garden Shed?
- Do Garden Sheds Need a Foundation?
- How Close Can a Garden Shed Be to a House?
This question can get a bit complicated, so we’re going to hop right in and make it to the other common questions below.
Garden Shed Planning Basics
As I said above, there is a good deal to keep in mind when building a garden shed. Let’s talk foundations really quick, shall we?
Do I Need a Concrete Slab For My Garden Shed?
This question ultimately boils down to how big your shed is. For small (minor storage, rather than “activity”) sheds, you really shouldn’t need a foundation unless you’re building on sand or poorly-drained muddy areas.
However, the larger your shed gets, the more likely you are to need a foundation of some form. Your shed likely falls into one of two categories:
Sheds up to 8′ x 6′, bigger than 6′ x 4′ –
If your shed is in this range of size, it’s likely that you’ll need a minimal base. This generally will consist of gravel, lumber, and/or a paving or concrete slab.
Sheds larger than 8′ x 6′ –
Since this size range is pretty broad, there’s a wide range of options for you to handle the foundation. Depending on what you’re on (a slope, gravel, sand, etc.) you may need to put a bit of extra effort into building the foundation. A concrete slab is generally the best route, though you can supplement it with steel and lumber supports as needed.
One other thing to keep in mind is local regulations. Depending on your local jurisdiction, zoning and safety codes could require a particular type of foundation. While it would normally be considered common sense, it bears repeating: any time you build something on your property, consult with local authorities before beginning.
In short, whether or not you need a concrete slab for your garden shed is based on local laws and the actual size of the shed.
Do Garden Sheds Need a Foundation?
This is a seemingly odd question, but another common one. The answer, shockingly, is that no – you don’t actually need a foundation for a garden shed. However, this comes with a few caveats, namely what you’re planning to put inside, how big it’s going to be, and where you’re building it.
In the same vein as above, if your shed is build on sand, gravel, or a slope, it’s likely that a foundation will be needed. This is even more true if you plan to store heavier items inside. If it’s going to be a planting station/greenhouse-type shed, you should be fine, though.
A foundationless shed (AKA pole shed) consists of installing poles into a minor concrete slab (which arguably is a foundation, but that’s an argument for another article). You then build the walls and roof, forgoing the floor. I mean, if you don’t have a foundation and aren’t worried about a little dirt, there’s really no point to having a floor… right?
Generally, the basic rule of thumb is as follows:
- How big is your shed?
- If it’s larger than 8×8′ (2.4 square metres), then you need a foundation.
- Does your shed have a floor? (I.e. is it a pole shed?)
- If yes, it needs a gravel foundation. If not, it needs some form of concrete base.
- How heavy will the shed and its contents be when filled?
- Anything over 300 lbs. (136 kg.) requires a gravel foundation. Anything less doesn’t need a foundation.
How Close Can a Garden Shed Be to a House?
This is another frequently asked question that we felt needed a definitive answer. While (once again) this will all vary based on local jurisdictions, there is a hard-and-fast rule in here in the UK.
The UK says that you don’t need to get permission to build a shed near a building if it meets the following requirements:
- The shed is no taller than 2.5 metres.
- Your shed sits no closer than two metres from the boundary of the property – this includes fences and walls.
- The shed is not built within close proximity (2.5 metres or less) of a pre-existing building.
This all combines to say one thing. Assuming you’re building a shed on your property, it’s relatively small, and it’s not close to a fence or pre-existing building, you don’t need to worry about the distance. However, if you want to build a shed near your home (less than 2.5 metres), you’ll need permission from local authorities. (At least here in the UK.)
If the shed you’re planning will be near your home, you’ll need permission, regardless of its proximity. General common sense says to leave at least 45 centimetres (~18 inches) between the shed and any surface so you can treat it as time goes on and make repairs as needed.
In short, there are two main things you need to do when planning to build (or buy) a shed:
- Consult with local authorities:
- How close can your shed be to pre-existing buildings and property boundaries? In the UK, the general rule of thumb is 2.5 metres from both pre-existing buildings and property boundaries such as fences.
- Do you need permission to build? Again, in the UK, this answer will vary. Any attempt to build something out of the ordinary or that pushes regulations will need permission. Those of us at DreamyHome have learned the hard way to not mess with local regulations – and you shouldn’t, either.
- Figure out how big your shed will be, and where you’re going to build it.
- The size of your shed will affect the foundation and materials you use. The bigger it is, the more weight it’ll need to support – making it increasingly likely you’ll need a concrete slab. You could even need steel or lumber supports if your shed is extra thick. Gravel is generally a good mid-strength foundation for sheds that aren’t crazy heavy but aren’t light.
- The material upon which you build your shed will affect what the foundation needs. If you’re on a slope, sand, gravel, or an area that drains poorly, you may need to put in extra work. This could involve adding supports, digging the foundation into a slope, and more – so seriously, plan ahead.
No matter your shed-related question, this article should have answered your questions. While this type of inquiry is a bit sticky due to varying local regulations, there are a few hard-and-fast rules to keep in mind. Always check in with your local authorities to ensure you can build where you want and in the manner you want. Additionally, plan ahead – this means inspecting your build site and thinking about how best to keep your shed in good condition.
And when figuring out your foundation, take into account the size and weight of your shed, as well as where you want to build it. You really don’t want your shed turned into the “church built on the sand” parable – I mean think about it, the neighbours would laugh! Unacceptable.