What Makes Good Shed Plans?

My son asked me to help him build a Lego toy model fire engine. This model was fairly complicated and had almost 30 steps with each step consisting of installing 5 to 10 pieces on the model. A few times I got to the middle of a step and noticed that a part was missing…

My son asked me to help him build a Lego toy model fire engine. This model was fairly complicated and had almost 30 steps with each step consisting of installing 5 to 10 pieces on the model. A few times I got to the middle of a step and noticed that a part was missing from a previous step. When this happened we would go back and install the missing piece and then continue on. This experience led me to think about how often sheed plans do not show us how to build something they simply show us where things go on the shed and leave it up to the builder to figure out the details. Every once in a while you will find a good set of shed plans, that really show you how things go together and the logical steps to putting the parts together. These higher quality shed plans inevitably save you time and money.

There are two core parts that make up a good set of shed plans:

  1. Logical Steps
  2. Drawings That are Detailed

Logical Steps: It is hard to find a set of plans that tells you what order to build the parts of the shed in. Most plans simply show the different components of the shed like the floor, walls and roof but there is no order to them. A good set of shed plans will be laid out in a logical order so that you know what to build first. Many times shed plans will come with a “How To Build A Shed” booklet that shows how to build each part. These how to instructions are very important to the regular person that does not build things from a set of plans on a regular basis. I can not imagine trying to build the Lego fire engine without the step by step instructions. The only part that would have been perfect is the red color. These are the basic logical steps in building a garden storage shed.

  1. Foundation
  2. Floor framing
  3. Wall framing which includes the door and window opening framing
  4. Roof framing
  5. Trimming

Each of these steps has many sub steps that should be logically followed so that you do not get to far into building and realize that another part should have been built first.

Drawings That Are Detailed: The other key factor in a good set of shed plans is the detailed drawings. Every set of plans has the basics like exterior elevations and wall location and roof truss layout. The sign of a good set of plans is the fine details that show you how all those parts go together and even the dimensions of just about everything on the shed. Every part that has several parts connecting to each other, like the truss to wall connection, should have a blown up drawing with labels and dimensions. The parts that need detailed drawings are the Foundation and Floor Joist Connection, the Floor Joist Layout, the Wall Stud Layout, Wall Window and Door Dimensions, Roof Truss Construction, Door Building, Trimming.

  • Foundation and Floor Joist Connection: The way that the floor joists connect to the foundation is critical to keeping your stable stable and when the weather gets bad this connection will keep your storage shed in the spot you built it. It is an often overlooked detail that should be shown on your shed plans. Not everyone knows how to properly anchor a shed to the earth.
  • Floor Joist Layout: The plans should show the locations of all the floor joists. This is more detailed than simply showing lines and a note saying, “FLOOR JOIST AT 16” OC “A quality set of shed plans will show you the location of each floor. to layout a floor system to put it together. The reason that floor joists have a 16 “on center spacing is so that the plywood or OSB flooring edges will fall exactly on the center of the floor joists. Most people do not know how to layout floor joists and wall studs so a good set of plans will have all the dimensions written down.
  • Wall Stud Layout: The wall stud layout should have the same attention to detail as the floor joist layout. There should be wall elevations drawn showing the walls framed with dimensions to every stud.
  • Wall Window and Door Dimensions: Part of the wall layout is the location of the doors and windows. These openings in the shed walls should be fully dimensioned so that it is obvious where the wall studs go or or how high the door and window headers need to be framed in.
  • Roof Truss Construction: The roof trusses are a complicated part of a shed so the shed plans should be as clear as possible as to how the roof trusses are built. This includes detailed drawing of all the truss connections to other parts of the trusses and to the wall as well as drawings with dimensions of all the cuts in the rafters to make the trusses. Roof trusses use many angles and the builder should not be left to himself to figure out how to cut the angles.
  • Door Building: Doors on garden sheds are another challenging part to build. If your shed has a hung hung door then you simply need to hang the door in the rough opening you framed in the shed wall but if you are building a shed door you will need to have drawings that detail all the door building steps. Even if you have a good set of door building drawings you should always build the door after you have framed the door opening in the wall so you can measure the opening and building the door to fit in the door opening.
  • Triming: Shed trim can be simple or ornate. If it is ornate or more complicated like built up headers over the windows or crown molding on the roof eves then you will want a set of plans that has detailed drawings of these trim features.

By making sure that the shed plans show this type of detail and are laid out in logical steps you will be well on your way to a successful shed building project. Hopefully it will be as simple as putting together a Lego model.