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Cost To Build A Shed, Barn Or Playhouse

Most homeowners spend between $2,109 to $3,545 nationally.
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Whether you need more space or your kids need some entertainment in the backyard, a shed, barn or playhouse could be the perfect addition. Whatever your need, the costs always come into play. If you want to build a shed, barn or playhouse, use this guide for a clearer picture of the costs. 

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National Build a Barn, Shed or Playhouse Costs

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Median Cost


Minimum Cost


Maximum Cost
Average Range:


National Average Cost $2,914
Minimum Cost $150
Maximum Cost $7,000
Average Range $2,109 to $3,545
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How do we get this data? This info is based on 352 cost profiles, as reported by ImproveNet members.

Table of Contents

  1. Cost To Build A Shed
    1. Shed Cost Considerations
    2. Shed Material Costs
    3. Shed Sizes
    4. How To Build A Shed
  2. Cost To Build A Barn
    1. Barn Cost Considerations
    2. Barn Material Costs
    3. Types Of Barns
    4. How To Build A Barn
  3. Cost To Build A Playhouse
    1. Playhouse Cost Considerations
    2. Playhouse Material Costs
    3. Types Of Playhouses
    4. Where To Buy Playhouses
    5. How Build A Playhouse
  4. Permits & Site Preparation Costs
  5. DIY Or Hire A Pro?
  6. Find A Pro

Cost To Build A Shed

If you need more space and absolutely can not find another square foot inside the home, an outdoor storage shed just became your best friend. Whether storing landscaping equipment, winter clothes, pool supplies, toys or anything else you want out of sight, a storage shed solves the never-ending clutter issue.

Your shed cost will largely depend on hiring a pro or not. Some DIY shed builders have reported costs as low as $500. However, if you hire a local shed builder, expect the costs to hover between $2,300 and $3,700.

Cost To Build A Shed

Shed Cost Considerations

Now that you know the average cost to build a shed, we can get into specifics. Despite the price range above, there are of course plenty of ways to decrease or increase your shed cost:

  1. Size: The bigger the shed, the larger your shed cost will be.
  2. Material: Sheds are made of wood, metal or vinyl and all have different price ranges (that you can see below).
  3. Permits: You most likely need a permit and prices start at $100.
  4. Land: If your backyard is flat with plenty of room to work, your cost will go down. If you live on a hill with not much room to work, the shed cost will go up.
  5. Professional: Whether you hire a pro or not will affect the total cost to build a shed. A shed contractor with little experience will cost less than a pro who’s been in the business for 10 years. Either way, make sure you get three or four quotes from garage and shed contractors.

Shed Material Costs

Despite all cost considerations above, the bigger factor will be materials. To make things simple, nearly all homeowners choose one of three materials for their sheds:

  • Wood: Most homeowners use wood because it can be inexpensive and is the easiest to build on your own. You can add skylights, windows and paint. Wood sheds, when compared to metal or vinyl, do require more maintenance and repairs. Wood shed costs start at $500, but can balloon up to $4,000 depending on the features you add.
  • Metal: If you live in a city with heavy rainfall, snow or wind, you may want to consider metal. Of course, metal is the toughest of the bunch and it resists rot, decay and insects, unlike wood sheds. Surprisingly enough, metal shed costs range from $500 to $2,000.
  • Vinyl: Like metal, vinyl sheds are very durable and can handle heavy weather. But, you pay for that longer lifespan. Costs start at $900 and go as high as $6,000.

Shed Cost Considerations

Shed Sizes

Fortunately, most shed pros can build a shed to any size you wish. However, the most common shed size is 10X12 or 120 square feet. The average prices above represent a 120sf shed. However, shed sizes usually start at 8X6, for simple lawn mower storage and move up to 16X12 for an ATV or motorcycle. Expect your shed cost to increase about $30 per square foot added (if you hire a pro).

How To Build A Shed

Shed projects are not small, but they can be done by the frequent DIYer. It certainly involves some heavy lifting and help from your friends, but DIY shed building can save up to $3,000 on your shed project. As such, it pays to see how the pros build sheds:

  1. Get shed building permit
  2. Choose shed material
  3. Choose location, grade the surface and add your concrete slab.
  4. Build the base first (add stirrups if you’re using pavers)
  5. Construct and attach wall frames
  6. Attach outer walls
  7. Connect the roof
  8. Add doors, hardware and special features (windows, skylights or shelves) 

To really see how it’s done, please watch the video below:

Cost To Build A Barn

Barns, as you might expect, are usually much larger than your average 120sf shed. The average cost to build a barn is $3,000, but the price can widely fluctuate, often as high as $50,000 if you’re building a large barn. Nonetheless, other than size, there are plenty of other factors you must contemplate before starting any barn project.

Barn Cost Considerations 

Your barn cost will depend on a myriad of factors from permits and leans to numbers of animals and special features. Given the size of the overall project, no one cost factor (other than barn size) should play a much bigger role than the next.

  1. Size: The bigger the barn, the larger your barn cost will be.
  2. Finishes: Steel upgrades, painted exteriors or special additions inside the barn will of course drive up the cost.
  3. Overhangs: Just like a roof, you want water to pool away form the barn. As such, many add overhangs and leans.
  4. Customizations: Depending on what you’re storing, you may need to add insulation, windows or custom doors. Of course, all add to the barn price.
  5. Material: Certain materials cost more. While the most common barn material is wood, others choose metal. Barn material costs are below.
  6. Permits: You likely need a permit and prices start at $398.
  7. Animals: Most likely, you’re building a barn to house animals. In addition to special permits for specific animals, you’ll likely pay more for every animal you house. Beware, you may be limited in the number of animals you can house.
  8. Lofts: Many barn owners add lofts for extra storage. However, they do cost more.
  9. Insurance: Your insurance carrier will affect the final barn cost. All the factors above play a role in your barn insurance price.
  10. Barn Builder: If you hire a pro, which almost all do, your barn price will go up.

Cost To Build A Barn

Barn Material Costs

Just like a shed, most barns are made of wood or metal. Their advantages and disadvantages relate more to the material than the barn itself. While wood provides a more rustic touch, metal is more durable and can resist rot. See more features and costs below:

  • Wood Barns: Prices usually start at $45/sf. This price does not include electricity, but wood barns are very attractive, easy to build and give most homeowners the traditional and rustic design they desire. They do require more maintenance and don’t last as long as metal.
  • Metal Barns: Prices start at $25/sf. Metal barns are very durable and can handle strong weather. There is little maintenance and metal is a greener option than wood. However, metal can dent easily, especially around horses, and is much harder to build. Do not DIY a metal barn.

Types Of Barns

Besides the material, there are certain barn types and styles you should be aware of. All come with their own pros and cons. See the basics below or check out their full details at The Barn Toolbox:

Barn Types

  1. Pole Barn: This barn is built with built with wood roof trusses connected to vertical columns. They are the least expensive to build and can last up to 60 years.
  2. Post & Beam Barn: This barn is built with wooden timbers, joined together with carved wood or metal joints exposed in the rafters.
  3. Modular Barn: This barn is delivered built as-is or comes in pre-built sections.
  4. Steel Barn: A metal barn that can last up to 100 years.

Barn Styles

  1. Gable Barn: A barn with a triangle roof. It’s the cheapest barn style there is.
  2. Gambrel Barn: Also called Dutch Style Barns, Gambrel Barns are built with a double slope on each side of the roof.
  3. Bank Barns: A barn built on the side of the hill to provide entry on the first and second floor.
  4. Monitor Barn: A standard barn, but the center of the roof is raised.

Barn Cost Considerations

How To Build A Barn

DIY barn building is not like a shed. It usually takes heavy machinery, a lot of material and a ton of elbow grease to build a durable and beautiful barn. As such, we recommend you contact local pros.

Nevertheless, if you’re up for the steep challenge, see the basic steps below:

  1. Get barn building permit
  2. Choose location
  3. Gather all materials
  4. Excavate and clear the land
  5. Add four corners of barn
  6. Add remaining posts
  7. Add side frames
  8. Install roof trusses (be careful!)
  9. Attach all trusses to rest of barn
  10. Add top of roof (outside then inside)
  11. Add wall panels
  12. Paint your barn
  13. Add trims, walkways and custom doors where needed

See how one person can build a wood barn with the video below: 

Cost To Build A Playhouse

Luckily, building a playhouse is much cheaper than building a barn. However, unlike a barn, you get to see joys of your playhouse expense every time your children go outside and play. In addition, a playhouse can provide hours of entertainment, which we all know, our kids need.

Playhouses typically start at $300, but larger, intricate playhouse costs can swell up to $10,000. Hiring pros will drive up the playhouse price, but if you DIY, many playhouses can be built for less than $1,000.

Playhouse Cost Considerations

There are plenty of cost considerations that drastically reduce or elevate the price:

  1. Size: The bigger the playhouse, the larger your playhouse cost will be.
  2. Finishes: Do want special doors, windows or roofs? Anything more than standard will cost more.
  3. Interior Features: Believe it or not, some playhouses have electricity, HVAC and plumbing. While this is certainly far from normal, all enlarge your playhouse installation price.
  4. Material: You have the option of plastic, wood, metal or vinyl. Material costs are below.
  5. Permits: You may need a permit and prices start at $100.
  6. Foundation: You may have to clear land or reconfigure your landscaping.
  7. Professional: Many playhouses come in DIY kits, but if you opt to hire a pro, the cost will go up.

Cost To Build A Playhouse

Playhouse Material Costs

Playhouses are usually made of wood or metal, but some come with vinyl or even plastic. While the average material costs are similar to that of a shed, there are some unique differences:

  • Plastic: These simple playhouses start at $100, but rarely exceed $600. They are the most inexpensive models on the market, but they can still have unique features such as a doorbell or mailbox.
  • Wood: Wood playhouses are the most common. The average wooden DIY playhouse starts $1,500, but larger models start closer to $4,000 (without professional help).
  • Metal: While the base and exterior of most playhouses are made of wood, certain features do come in metal. Most features, such as bars, ladders and handles start at $20 per piece. If you want an entire metal playset, prices start at $800.
  • Vinyl: Most parents use vinyl for the roof. You can buy a vinyl playhouse roof for as little as $20.

Types Of Playhouses

Beyond material, the type of playhouse you go should depend on your kids’ ages. Babies or very young children often only need a hut, tunnel or tent to be entertained. Beyond entertainment, they often just need a soft and safe place to play.

Kids aged 2-5-years-old love swings and slides. More often than not, both will provides hours of entertainment for your children and their friends. Once your child gets older, you have to think about climbing walls, full jungle gyms or even tree houses. The older your children, the more complex your playhouse should be.

Since playhouses mature as your child gets older, you have to think about the future. Don’t buy a simple playhouse if you know your son or daughter will outgrow it in six months. If you’re unsure, go with a traditional swing set, made of wood, as both younger and older children will enjoy.

Playhouse Cost Considerations

Where To Buy Playhouses

In terms of purchasing a DIY playhouse kit or playhouse materials, there is no shortage of available options. Online or in store, the perfect playhouse for your family is out there.

You can buy full playhouses or playhouse materials at:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Jet
  • Overstock
  • Wayfair
  • Hayneedle
  • Target
  • Toys R Us
  • Walmart
  • Sears
  • The Home Depot
  • Lowe’s

How Build A Playhouse

Unlike barns, most playhouses come as DIY kits with specific instructions for building. All playhouses are different depending on the materials and features, and therefore, there’s no one size fits all manual.

Nonetheless, since most playhouses are made of wood, we can share standard steps needed to at least start your DIY playhouse project. Of course, we recommend you follow the manufacturer’s instructions first and foremost.

  1. Gather all materials and tools
  2. Choose location
  3. Create the base, starting with the rectangular exterior
  4. Build the inside of the base and attach all boards
  5. Create wall frames on the side
  6. Attach wall frames to the base
  7. Attach the roof
  8. Add special features

For more detailed guidance on building a playhouse, see the video below:

Permits & Site Preparation Costs

As you heard for all three projects, you most likely need to get a permit before you start building. Details of this can be obtained through a homeowner's association, if you have one, or your county's building department. The cost of a permit varies depending on the square footage of your intended project, but small outbuildings can be permitted for as little as $100.

Plus, you’ll need to prepare the site, particularly if it is not on flat ground. Professional grading for a small lot generally comes in around $770. The next step, if you want a sturdy structure that is also safe, involves pouring a concrete slab for the base. If the project is small, this can be tackled as a DIY task, but it is almost always better to hire a concrete professional. The average cost of concrete slab ranges between $5 and $11/sf.

DIY Or Hire A Pro?

The choice to hire a pro or not comes down to your DIY expertise. Most DIY beginners can handle a small playhouse or shed project. But, when it comes to more complicated outbuildings, such as complex playhouses or barns, most homeowners prefer an expert hand and hire local, reliable contractors.

Find A Pro

There is no question that adding a barn, a shed or playhouse can increase the resale value of your home, provide extra storage and hours of entertainment for your children. 

If you’re ready to add any outbuilding to your backyard, let us help you get in touch with local garage and shed contractors.

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