Tommy Walsh's advice on how to build a shed

TV building guru Tommy Walsh, Groundforce’s famed practical expert, loves sheds. So much so, that to celebrate National Shed Week, he’s jotted down some of his top tips for putting up a shed in your garden. Read on for Tommy’s tips on howt to build a shed...

Tommy Walsh's advice on how to build a shed

Tommy Walsh's shed top tips

Advice on building a shed

  • Consider what shed will be used for - DIY, gardening or storage for example.
  • Think about how the shed will sit within your overall garden design.
  • Make sure your shed is the right size for your needs.
  • Make sure your shed is fully secure.
  • Once build make sure you myour shed. It's a big job!

Time to complete: With concrete foundations, two weekends.
Approximate budget: Sheds start from as little as £160.

What will you use your shed for?
“I need a shed!” A cry of frustration heard in the depths of back gardens all around the country, as both men and women realise the need for somewhere to store the growing collection of gardening implements, tools, mowers and Strimmers.

And that’s before you even mention your garden furniture, barbecues, golf clubs, fishing tackle, stepladders, half full tins of paint and that broken chair you’ve promised you are going to fix someday!

That’s a lot of stuff to store in such a small place, and could quite easily be worth hundreds of pounds, or more. Who in their right mind would think of storing all that in a tiny, flimsy little shed bought for a couple of hundred quid, nailed together and secured with a two bob padlock? Most of us, unfortunately!

Buying a shed
So, my message is think carefully before you buy! Make a list of what you want to store in it, also what you might want to do with it in the future. Plan ahead, and pick a building that’s secure and aesthetically pleasing, which could be partitioned, and may double up as a summer house.

You also might want a bit of workshop, a den or a home office, or just simply your own private space, so take all of these things into account. Also, think of the rest of your garden and how the shed will enhance it, you might want to add a patio, or deck, or maybe a pergola.

Does your shed need planning permission?
Provided you don’t live in a listed building, or in a conservation area, planning permission is not required for a building up to 30 sq metres x 4 metres high, which is a pretty big building. You also cannot connect to the main property, and it has to be a metre away from the boundary, to not need planning permission. Always check with the local authority first, to be on the safe side.

A shed with a concrete base and floor
I prefer to have a concrete floor in a shed, so cast a concrete base 150mm wider, and longer than the proposed shed and you won’t need a wooden floor in yours. You want to dig 150mm into the ground to lay 100mm of hardcore, and then lay your 100mm deep concrete base on top of this, using wooden shuttering around the edges to keep the concrete above ground in place.

It’s a good idea with this type of base, for the purposes of security and shed stability, to fix your shed sides to a pressure-treated timber plate, which you can fix to the concrete base with anchor bolts. Then you can screw the shed sides through onto this wall plate. Bolt the plate all the way around the edge of the concrete base, and only cut out the bit of wall plate where the door will go after you’ve put the shed walls and roof up.

A shed with a timber base and floor
If a concrete base is too difficult, or too much work, try this method instead: lay six 4in concrete blocks level with each other and dug in to the ground so that only about an inch of each is above ground to match the four corners, and middle, of the proposed shed.

Then simply lay three, 100 x 100mm (4inx4in) pressure-treated fence posts across the three pairs of blocks ready for a wooden shed floor. This keeps it suspended from the ground with a vital air space underneath, extending the life of the building. You can then lay your shed’s timber floor over these beams, and build your shed up from there.

Putting up your shed walls
Once you’ve got your base and floor right, then the four wall sections should fit easily together. Start by standing two adjacent wall sections next to each other on the shed floor, and bolt or screw these pieces together. Then add the other two sides. Once you are sure the shed walls are settled in the right place, then screw them to the timber floor or wall plates.

Securing your shed roof
The roof is normally two panel sections that screw together. Fit them one at a time, and then screw them together. I recommend using Spax screws, as you can screw into timber without pilot holes, and it pulls the two pieces of timber together, unlike ordinary screws. Then you just have to add the felt, door, window, and trims, and hey presto, you have a very basic shed. When fitting the shed felt, you can either stick it down with a bitumen based adhesive, or use galvanized clout nails.

TOP TIP: If you need more than one width of felt to cover a roof side, start at the bottom of the roof and work up, so you can overlap the felt the correct way… the top piece overlapping the bottom.

Shed maintenance
After putting your shed up make sure you give it a good couple of coats of preservative. You can get great water-based preservatives to enhance the colour of the shed, and which are also good for the environment. Sikkens do a great range of such preservatives.

If you plan on spending quite a lot of time in your shed, you can also insulate your shed walls, and even roof space, with blown-polyurethane insulation, such as Celotex – this also provides a bit of sound insulation if you plan on using lots of noisy tools in your shed. You might also consider getting an electrician to wire up your shed for lighting and power, too. Always use circuit breakers when using electrical equipment in the garden.

Enure your shed is secure
You can take simple steps to improve the security of your shed, as well. Burr over the screw heads on any strap hinges used on the door, stopping a thief just unscrewing them from the outside: you can use a grinder to do this. Or you might want to replace the screws with the one-way variety, which you can only screw in, but not out.

You can also fit a metal security bar, which can be padlocked across the door. Also, make a wire mesh frame for your windows, too, to stop would-be thieves targeting these. If you plan on storing lots of expensive tools in your shed, you can also invest in a tool safe, which can be bolted down. On a wider security note, investing in movement-sensitive garden lights is a good idea, and will help improve the overall security of your home, as well.

In essence, follow these tips:
• Put away your garden tools, paddling pool, trampoline and bikes at the end of the day.
• Always lock your sheds and out-buildings - replace worn padlocks.
• Close gates and repair damaged fences.
• Hide or cover bulky items which can't be locked away.
• Lock up ladders and secure your wheelie bins.