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Reno Expert: Gimme Shelter – Feb/Mar2017

Reno Expert: Gimme Shelter - Feb/Mar2017

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Your yard tools, bikes, and more will last longer if they’ve got a roof over their heads

If you’ve got a backyard, odds are you’ll need a shed to store your tools and other gear. Figuring out what size shed to buy comes down to two things: how much stuff do you want to store in it, and how much of your yard you are willing to give up for storage?


Start off by listing all the items that you might want to store in the new structure, including yard tools, bikes, patio cushions and furniture, sports gear, kids’ toys, and so on. Then, figure out what needs to stay on the ground, and what you can store on hooks and shelves. Do you plan on storing stuff up along the roof rafters? Or are you feeling ambitious enough to include a loft play area for the kids in your plans?

In Ontario, if a structure has a footprint that is less than 100-sq.-ft., you don’t need a building permit to construct it on your property. Anything bigger than that, though, and you’ll need a permit and various inspections along the way. (Build without a permit and if a neighbour rats you out, you might have to tear the whole thing down.)

Regardless of the size of the footprint, there may be local building code restrictions on how close to the property line it can go, how high it can be, etc. You’re better off making a few discreet calls to the local building department before you go shopping.


Once you know how big you want it to be, you need to decide whether you’re looking for a set of plans to build something from scratch, a kit with all the pieces and hardware in one package ready for you to assemble, or to have someone else come in and construct a shed for you on-site.

The next consideration is esthetics. If it will be tucked away at the very back of your property, hidden behind some shrubs, you might get away with a very utilitarian look. But in most cases you’ll be staring at the structure every time you’re in your yard, so you’ll want something nice to look at.


If you happen to be building new or undergoing a major renovation, you might want to build your shed out of matching materials. The rustic barn or cottagey look is always a popular one. But if your home itself is a modern design, you might want the shed to mirror that look.

Another factor to consider is durability. If you’ve got younger children who may end up riding bikes or firing tennis balls against the door or walls, you’ll want to avoid using materials such as aluminum siding that will get dented and dinged.

Finally, what sort of access do you need? Will a standard 36″-wide exterior door be enough to accommodate the bulkiest items you’ll be storing, or do you maybe need a double door, or even a barn-style sliding door?

Once your new shed is installed and everything is stored away in it, grab a seat on the patio and enjoy the view of your tidy, organized yard.

Jim Caruk, Renovation EditorWe look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?