Every home improvement project calls for thinking ahead. That’s a given!
But larger projects, like installing a backyard shed or storage building, require their own unique kind of planning! And part of that planning is the Big Question: “What can I afford?”
Aside from considering the price of your new shed or garage, part of the equation will be: “How much does storage shed site prep cost?” (Spoiler: it doesn’t need to be that much!)
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How much does shed site prep cost?
For simplicity, we’ll stick with the most straightforward and cost-effective type of shed site prep: gravel.
Put simply, professional gravel shed site prep should cost about $5.00 to $9.00 per square foot on ground that is mostly flat (within 8” of level). Note that this price would also not include the cost of delivery/travel for the installation crew.
There are also various types of concrete foundations for backyard sheds (plus a range of other shed foundation options), each with its own set of costs. Depending on thickness, footers, frost resistance and other factors the exact cost of a concrete shed pad can vary quite a bit. If you’re considering a concrete shed foundation, you can get see an overview of concrete shed footing options here and get a free custom quote here. Or, feel free to read our article on how to build a shed foundation on uneven ground to get a good idea of how to DIY a shed foundation project yourself!
The overall cost of a shed pad depends on a number of factors, from size to location to quality. Let’s break it down further…
Factors affecting shed site prep cost
There are several factors to consider when preparing the site for your new shed. Each step of the process can affect the final cost.
Location, location, location – Part 1
Believe it or not, your local township or municipality can have a big effect on how much your shed site prep project will cost. This can happen in several ways:
While technically not part of the site prep process itself, this is a preliminary cost that you’ll want to consider before shed construction or delivery actually starts. Nobody wants their partially completed shed project to be held up while they wait for paperwork and approvals!
No, we’re not talking about delays in the construction process! Setbacks refer to how far back a shed or building must be placed relative to property lines and roadways. Make sure to check your local zoning regulations when choosing a spot for your gravel shed base.
Some locales have different restrictions depending on the size of your shed’s “footprint” (total number of square feet). In addition, some areas regulate what percentage of a property may be covered by buildings. This is particularly important if your property is on the smaller side.
Remember: If your property is part of a homeowner’s association (HOA), the HOA may have its own set of regulations regarding shed size and placement.
Location, location, location – Part 2
Once you’ve figured out which, if any, local government regulations apply to your storage shed, it’s time to figure out where you’re going to place the shed on your property. Choosing a smart location for your shed will make it more useful for years to come and can help keep shed site prep costs down! Some things to remember when picking your shed pad location:
Fact: The more level your shed location is, the cheaper shed site prep will be! It’s a lot less labor-intensive to build on a flat spot than on the side of a hill! Of course, sometimes you have no choice in the matter. But if you’re able, pick a level area for your shed and save yourself some stress and some cash! Generally, a slope that is 8” to 14” off level will add 20% to the cost of your shed site prep, and a slope 14” to 20” off level will add about 30%. (If you’re interested, check out our article on garage foundation costs.)
You’re going to be using your shed for years to come, so make sure it’s in a location that will serve your needs well! Besides considering ease of access from your house, you’ll also want to consider how well the location can be accessed when your new shed arrives. This is particularly important if your shed will be prefabricated and delivered in one piece. Generally, prefab shed delivery requires a path of access at least 2’ wider than your shed. So, if you’re getting a 10’x12’ shed, there should be a route at least 12’ wide from the road to your shed pad. Choosing a location with good access will save you money on site prep since you won’t need to clear space for delivery.
Unfortunately, you won’t always be able to pick a spot with nothing in the way. Stumps, bushes, boulders, old sheds – they can all be removed, with varying degrees of difficulty. Of course, the greater the work needed to clear the ground for your foundation, the greater the total shed site prep cost.
Just remember that putting a little thought now into the location of your shed pad can save you a lot of headache and heartbreak later! You can read our article with more tips on choosing your shed location here.
If you’re planning on preparing your shed pad yourself, you’ll want to figure out the cost of each material required. The main materials to budget for are:
- Treated lumber for the perimeter of your gravel shed foundation. “Ground contact” rated 4x6s are a good choice. Some people use railroad ties, but this is not the best idea since they are not treated for moisture in the same way as new lumber.
- Rebar for fastening the corners of your perimeter together.
- Woven landscape fabric to lay on the ground under the gravel. This prevents unwanted plants from sprouting around your shed and helps increase the overall stability of your shed foundation.
- Gravel for setting your shed on. ¾” drainage stone is an excellent choice for this purpose.
Of course, if you hire a professional site preparation contractor, material costs will already be figured into the total cost of your shed site prep job. And that brings us to the final cost factor, which is…
We all know the famous saying, “You get what you pay for!” And shed foundations are no exception!
There are plenty of companies who are happy to scrape away part of your lawn and throw down some gravel. But if you’re planning on your shed lasting decades, it’s important to ask yourself whether the foundation you’re putting underneath will support it for just as long!
Does hiring a professional site preparation contractor mean you’ll need to break the bank before your new shed even arrives? Not at all! By specializing in one type of work, a dedicated shed pad installer can cut other costs. Doing the same type of work on a regular basis means they can work more efficiently and buying supplies in bulk allows them to cut down on material costs. Read on for an idea of typical shed pad costs.
Shed Site Prep Cost Examples
When comparing prices on shed site prep, there’s nothing like actual numbers. Here are a couple of sample shed foundations with there starting prices. Again, keep in mind that these are starting prices and don’t factor in variables like site slope or delivery/crew travel distance.
10×14 gravel pad starting around $1195
Starting a bit under $9.00 per square foot, this pad is large enough for a shed with 8’x12’ dimensions.
16×30 gravel pad starting around $2395
Generally, the bigger your shed pad, the lower the cost per square foot. This pad is large enough for an entire prefab garage and starts around $5.00 per square foot.
As you can see there are very affordably priced options for gravel shed pads! In fact, you can request a sheet with sample prices from Site Prep here for an idea of what some common shed foundation sizes cost! You can also contact us for a custom quote, and we will personally assist you in calculating how much your own shed site prep will cost if you have it done professionally!