Shed Factoids and Resources

Henry David Thoreau‘s cabin at Walden Pond.

After hours of research attempting to find a kind of grand unified theory of sheds I gave up realizing that the topic is so deep, thanks to the tiny house movement, that the best I could do would be to corral a few of my favorite shed resources and factoids. So here it goes.

Average shed construction costs range from around $1,200 USD for a DIY 8 by 12 foot shed to more than $50,000 USD for a modernist pre-fab shed/mansion. You can, of course, build one for almost nothing if you’re the scavenging type. Derek “Deek” Diedricksen has a great website with lots of videos and resources for keeping costs low and creativity high. I used some of the building tips from his book Micro Shelters when I built my ridiculous neo-classical garden shed.

Here in Los Angeles you don’t need a permit for a shed that’s less than 120 square feet,

One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the gross floor area does not exceed 120 square feet, the height does not exceed 12 feet, and the maximum roof projection does not exceed 24 inches, are exempt from building permits. However, any electrical, plumbing or mechanical equipment installed in these structures do require separate permits. In addition, all structures regardless of size must comply with applicable zoning requirements. Please refer to the Department of Regional Planning website for more information on zoning requirements.(1)

We can thank the late artist Chris Burden for that 12 foot height limitation. Your local building code may be different, but I know that the 120 square foot limitation is common in the US.

Add a dry toilet and you’ve got a functional, if illegal, living space.

Inexpensive Pre-fab
Johnny Sanphillippo, a guest on our podcast mentioned a shed he installed in a rental property he owns. He went with Cedar Shed but, for his second shed project he’s getting a Tuff Shed from Home Depot.

Modernist Shedcraft
Though not a modernist myself, I really like what this YouTuber did with a Tuff Shed:

I also like this modernist shed from the, sadly, defunct Readymade Magazine:

You can still download the MD100 plans for free here.

Curbed did a roundup of five sheds if modernism floats your boat. And there’s an encyclopedic searchable database of pre-fab sheds at Prefabcosm (with a traditionalist search option).

Spinning Sheds
Lastly, let me sing the praises of The Idler Magazine (you should subscribe!) for introducing me to the world of rotating sheds. George Bernard Shaw was the most famous of rotating shed owners, but not the only one.

Do you have a shed tip, resource, story or photo to share? Did you have your shed installed? If so how did that go? What do you use your shed for? Leave a comment!

Leave a comment


  1. I like the various books by Jeanie and David Stiles. I’m planning on building a 8×8 shed for bike storage and car parts based on one in their Building Small book.
    Any of Lloyd Khan’s books are just full of ideas. Drool-worthy ideas, and I just realized I haven’t read them all yet. Off to the library!

  2. That video is very interestingn, thank you for sharing! I dream of building one of my own one day, a la Michael Pollan shed

Comments are closed.