Like squirrels gathering nuts, now’s a good time to consider winter storage needs. A shed or mini-barn is a quick and easy installation and ideal for storing lawn equipment, tools, bikes and other gear that hibernates during cold weather months. It’s also a good place to shelter those tools that only see action a few snowbound days during the winter (just remember to put those in last so they are closest to the door and easiest to grab).
“Most people on Long Island have a snow blower, that’s a very common storage item,” said André Gera, CEO and vice-president of Gera Gardens in Mt. Sinai. The company has been in operation for more than 25 years and builds, sells and services all types of outdoor structures. Like similar companies, many of their sheds are prefabbed (and Amish produced), but often assembled at customers’ homes. “Seventy percent of what we sell has to be built on site, there’s just no way we can get a truck with a trailer past landscaping or retaining walls. But most of the structures we sell can be built in one day.”
Those new to shed ownership may be a little surprised to learn how outdated old-school aluminum sheds have become. “You can have vinyl or wood. We don’t sell metal sheds at all. They rust and everything sweats inside of it. You put a bike in a metal shed and everything will rust within a year. It’s just not a viable option anymore.”
T1-11 plywood remains one of the most cost-effective materials, though it should be waterproofed and painted to increase longevity. Like with homes, vinyl is very popular and specialty wood siding is also available. “Plywood is one of the most durable and has been around the longest. Probably by far the best. But then you also have cedar tongue and groove, clapboard siding, cedar shake siding like any house. We probably do about eighty percent vinyl and the rest specialty.”
The most common style is a Cape Cod or a simple A-line roof, matching the traditional home designs most often found on the Island. “But some have Victorian homes, so we’ll give the shed a Victorian look with a little dormer on the front or add pillars and columns or a porch,” Gera said. In those situations, the look becomes more important than function, especially considering that any square footage that’s added, even if it is unenclosed, counts towards the total allowable footprint.
When it comes to pricing sheds, style and size are really the determining factors. “Style has a lot to do with the cost and there’s at least a $1,000 difference between styles. And you can add $3-4,000 if you really want to deck the shed out,” said Gera. He added that similarly, the difference in price between an 8×12 or a 10×14 can be $1,000 among the same styles.
A typical shed floor should be built with pressure-treated wood and on skids so that it can sit above the ground and be easily moved. It’s recommended that a gravel pad be put down as a foundation. “But most don’t do it because that’s an extra $1,500 and you have to put up a retaining wall. Most people just put them on six to ten cinder blocks and that’s sufficient. That’s how it’s intended to sit.”
Where this becomes an issue is if a structure needs to be bolted down or secured with a concrete foundation because it goes beyond allowable square footage and requires a permit. Limits can vary from town to town. “It’s starting to become more centralized, like all of Islip, Brookhaven and Riverhead are at a 140 square-feet, so we sell a lot of 10x14s. But once you go beyond that, you’re required to get a building permit.” For the latter, Gera suggested an easy work around: two sheds. Most people opt for one shed for tools and lawn equipment and then a smaller “kid’s shed” to store athletic equipment, bikes, lawn toys, etc. “Or the mother-in-law,” Gera added with a chuckle.