DIY, Handyman

Is it cheaper to buy a shed or build your own?

A question I’d been thinking about since the purchase of my new house. Was it going to be cheaper to build my own shed or to buy a flat pack one? I wanted to explore these options, as I not only wanted a shed for garden tool storage but I also wanted a space to focus on my hobbies. I needed a workshop. Something a reasonable size that could be used for multiple purposes.

You might be asking yourself whether you have the right skills to be able to build your own shed. The answer is simple really. If you can put together a flat pack shed then yes, you can. You’ll need a few different tools to make the job easier but it’s very much the same principle.

In this post I’m going to show you the difference in cost between the two sheds I have constructed. (I say shed but really they are both small workshops). Both are exactly the same size but they differ in the construction of the base. One is made from a solid patio style slab base whilst the other is a budget plinth style wooden base. It will be up to you which style base to go for but they both pretty much deliver the same outcome.

Both of my sheds measure 10ft x 12ft (or 3m x 3.6m). Both have a dual apex roof and are covered with the same green shed felt. Here’s an image comparison of the two.

The workshop/shed base

This will be an important part to the build. It’s going to add the foundations for you shed to sit upon and will also protect your shed from rot which is the killer of most outdoor wooden buildings. You can’t build a shed without a base.

On my first build, the flat pack shed, I decided to go for a solid base made from low cost patio slabs. It involved clearing and levelling the ground, installing a 50mm hardcore sub-base and laying patio slabs with a cement fixing. In total the base cost me about £280. You can read more about how to do this on my sister site here: https://wood-create.com/2017/10/30/building-a-garden-workshop/

For my custom build workshop I decided to save a bit of money and build a timber frame base that rests on individual reclaimed patio slabs. By doing this I saved about £200. It was still time consuming to clear and level the ground but equally as effective. In some ways I prefer this method as it provides good run off for water, whereas the solid flat base doesn’t. You can read all about how I achieved this base here: https://wood-create.com/2018/09/27/how-to-build-your-own-shed-from-scratch/

For either of these bases you’ll need some tools including a cement mixer. You could rent a cement mixer for about £15 per day but I decided to buy one and sell it after. It worked out cheaper this way. Here’s what you’ll need:

You don’t however have to go with either of these style bases. You could also try one of the following:

Cost comparison

Here is the total cost for my flat pack shed

MaterialRetailerCost eachQuantityTotal cost
Mercia Pressure Treated Shiplap Apex Workshop – 12 x 10ftRobert Dyas£1529.991£1529.99
Marshalls Richmond Smooth Natural Paving Slab 450 X 450 X 32mmWickes£3.5572£255.60
Sharp Sand – Jumbo BagWickes£421£42
Granular Sub Base Mot 1 Jumbo BagWIckes£421£42
Blue Circle General Purpose Cement – 25kgWickes£4.154£16.60
£1886.19

Now lets take a look at the costs for the custom made shed

MaterialRetailerCost eachQuantityTotal cost
Treated Kiln Dried C16 Timber – 45 X 70 X 3600mmWickes£128£96
Treated Kiln Dried C16 Timber – 45 X 70 X 3000mmWickes£106£60
Treated Kiln Dried C16 Timber – 45 X 70 X 2400mmWickes£860£480
Loglap cladding – 121mm x 21mm – ~250mEbay sellerPriced individually240m£450
General Purpose OSB 3 Board – 18mm X 1220mm X 2440mmWickes£285£140
General Purpose OSB 3 Board – 11mm X 1220mm X 2440mmWickes£245£120
Timber Fence Post 100x100mmx2.4mWickes£18.504£74
Green Ultra Durable Super Shed Felt Roll – 1 X 8mWickes£32.504£130
Easy Trim Master Integrated Breathable Membrane 112gSM 50 X 1mWickes£571£57
Butt Hinge – Chrome Brass 76mm Pack Of 3Wickes£4.502£9
Single Thread Grab Pack Zinc & Yellow Screw – Pack Of 1000Wickes£131£13
Window (optional)Facebook Marketplace£401£40
Blue Circle General Purpose Cement – 25kgWickes£4.151£4.15
Sharp Sand – Major BagWickes£22£2
TOTAL£1675.15

So there we have it, build your own shed and you’ll come in a little cheaper than a flat pack. And the best thing is your shed will be much stronger and durable than a flat pack shed.

Flat pack shed total cost – £1886.19

DIY custom built shed – £1675.15

It does all depend on what materials you use. The above is just a guideline really. You can save more money by going for cheaper cladding for example. This shiplap cladding is also great and costs a lot less than the loglap. You’ll save about £100.

You can follow my step by step guide to build your own shed or workshop here: https://wood-create.com/2018/09/27/how-to-build-your-own-shed-from-scratch/

Where to buy flat pack sheds, workshops and log cabins

There are many retailers out there who offer a great range of sheds or workshops. They are all very similar in style and construction unless you decide to go for something a little longer lasting. Here is a list of trusted sites that I have used in the past:

If you’re after something a little nicer than a standard shed or workshop then why not consider a garden office. Turn your outdoor space into another flexible workspace for that all important quite space away from the house.

Read how I changed my workshop into a garden office with insulation and UPVc doors here: https://wood-create.com/2021/02/14/how-to-build-a-garden-office-from-scratch-on-a-budget/

Save more money

Save more money by using a cash back site like Topcashback. I’ve been using this for all my projects and generated over £1100 in the past few years on items I’d be buying anyway. Here’s a snapshot of my current earnings:

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment below to share your own experiences.