Always follow a few key steps before building or installing a new shed, like this purple shed in a garden

Whether you're looking to hide out with your laptop in a little outdoor office, free up some space in your packed garage, or simply store your garden tools somewhere safe, a new shed might just do the trick.

Wondering what steps you should take before laying the foundation for your new storage space or workshop? Let us shed a little light on the situation (pun intended) with seven tips you'll want to keep in mind when getting ready to install or build a new shed:

  1. Know your local building codes. Some municipalities (and even some subdivisions or condominium complexes) have specific rules or require homeowners to apply for permits when building new fixed structures. Be sure to check in with your local government before you break ground to avoid any surprises down the road.
  2. Decide on a style. The style of shed you choose depends largely on what you'll be using it for and how much time you'll be spending inside. If you plan to use your shed as a workspace (for painting or woodworking, for example), you'll likely want a shed with windows you can open while you're inside — and don't forget to make the ceiling high enough that you won't have to hunch over. If you're planning to use your shed for storage, windows and high ceilings might not be so important. Do your research and decide on a style that suits your needs and complements the rest of your property.
  3. Choose the right size for your space. Think carefully about the things you'll want to store in your shed and how much standing room you'll need, so you can figure out exactly what size your shed should be. Consider laying out the larger items (like your lawnmower, bicycle, and workbench) or marking their shape on the area of your property where the shed will be built, and then measure the area around them. Don't forget to add a little extra wiggle room so there won't be an avalanche every time you open the door. This is a great way to find out if you have enough room for the size of structure you're hoping to install, or if you need to adjust your plans. Keep in mind that it's a good idea to leave a little space between your shed and other fixed objects like trees and fencing.

    Before you construct your new shed, check with your local government to make sure you have the right permits and are compliant with local bylaws.

  4. Readymade, DIY, or professionally installed? When it comes to installing a shed on your property, there a few different ways to get the job done, depending on your preference, building skills, and budget. You can choose to build a custom shed entirely from scratch (probably your cheapest option if you have the time and skill to do it yourself), buy a prefab shed or shed kit from your local hardware store (likely a little more expensive, but still less than a custom build), or have one built and installed by a professional builder or landscaper (likely the most expensive option, but you get to customize it to suit your needs and you don't have to lift a finger).
  5. Choose your foundation. No matter what type of installation you choose for your shed, you'll need to create a solid foundation first.
    • An on-grade foundation works best when it can sit on stable, level ground and is usually constructed from pressure-treated wood or concrete pavers.
    • A permanent foundation is constructed below the frost line in the ground with concrete piers and pressure-treated wood. This form of foundation is more complex to build but will protect your shed from any upheaval caused by the ground freezing and defrosting.
    • A concrete slab foundation can work well for larger structures on level, stable ground, but there's a risk of the concrete slab shifting when the ground freezes and thaws. Always discuss your options with a licensed contractor before choosing this option.
  6. Lock it up. Chances are, if you're building a shed, you're going to be storing something inside — and freestanding sheds can be popular targets for thieves. Whether you're stashing your lawn mower, your kids' bikes, or your garden tools, plan to install a quality weatherproof lock to keep your shed secure at all times. You might also consider installing a motion-sensor light just outside your shed (and maybe even an alarm on the door) to deter any potential thieves.

    Freestanding sheds can be a popular target for thieves. Protect your valuable tools, bikes, and outdoor furniture with a weatherproof lock or motion-sensor light.

  7. Keep it protected. When installing a new shed, it's important to make sure it'll be covered in the event of a fire, flood, or other emergency. Most standard home insurance policies include some coverage for "detached private structures" like freestanding sheds and garages, usually set out as a percentage of your policy's total building limit. For example, if your policy's total limit for building coverage is $300,000 and your limit for detached private structures is 10%, then the total limit for all of your detached structures is $30,000.

Ready to get building? Be sure to reach out to your group's licensed insurance broker so they can make sure you have the right coverage for your new shed.

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