Should you save that old shed? Maybe.
If you have a shed that is needing some repairs you might wonder if it would be beneficial to save the old building, or if you should go ahead and buy a new version. You probably don’t want to go and buy a new shed if you can salvage one that you already have, but at the same time you do not want to throw money away making costly repairs that are not going to significantly lengthen the lifespan of the structure.
Before you make up your mind to repair vs. build vs. buy a shed, consider the following things about the old shed. Get out a pad and pen and make notes because you are going to have to calculate the repair cost, the time it will take to make the repairs, and compare that to the cost of a new shed,
Condition of the Shed’s Bones
The bones of a shed, or the skeleton of a shed are the framing that supports the wall materials, the roof trusses that support your roof, and the floor joists that support the floor.
How are the Trusses?
Visually inspect your trusses for conditions that render them irreparable. Such as:
- Evidence of racking or twisting.
- Abrasions or dents that will weaken the truss.
- Where the trusses connect to make certain the connection is smooth, flat, and has no deformities.
- Signs of water damage such as discoloration or possible mold.
If the trusses that hold the roof up are not in pristine condition then the roof of the building is in jeopardy of falling. Without a sound roof, anything you have stored in the shed is in jeopardy of being ruined. If the trusses are damaged the cost of repairs will likely be more than the cost of a new building.
Take a Look at the Walls
Visually inspect the studs on sheds that do not have interior walls. Sheds that have interior walls can hide damage to the skeletal system.
In sheds with no interior walls:
- Look for studs that are cracked, bent, or damaged.
- Check for discoloration that shows signs of walls leaking. Mold and discolored studs are indicators of wall leaks.
- Are the studs straight, or do they look twisted or bent?
- How far apart are the studs? If you want to finish the interior with insulation and wall covering the studs should be 16” apart. If you do not want to finish the walls the studs can be 24” apart.
Are the Floor Joists Strong?
While shed flooring is one thing that is easy to replace, but the structural floor joists underneath are not. Be sure you examine both.
You may have to crawl under the old shed to check out the floor joists. The floor joists are the support for everything you put inside the building. If the joists are beginning to rot, or show signs of termite or carpenter ant damage then repairing the old building is going to cost a lot of money.
- Floor joists should be straight.
- The boards should not have any cracks or splits in them.
- There should be no obvious signs of discoloration that is caused by water damage.
How are the Framing and Studs?
The framing for the walls in an old shed is what allows the shed to stand strong and keep your property protected. If the studs that support your interior walls, or your exterior “skin” are damaged then repairs are likely to cost more than the building is worth.
Check the foundation of the old shed to see if it is keeping the building level. Look to ascertain the number of blocks that are supporting the building. Make certain that the
blocks are not broken, or missing, and that they look level and even.
If the blocks are situated on top of pads check the pads to see if they are cracking or splitting. The blocks should be centered on the pad.
If the foundation does not appear to be correct you may be able to have the building jacked up and leveled. This procedure will require heavy jacks for lifting the building, plus plenty of strength as you lift and move concrete blocks all day.
The foundation has to be in severe condition to warrant not making the repairs. Most leveling and block replacement repairs do not cost that much to complete.
Flooring and Decking
As mentioned above, flooring and floor joist are different.
Inside the building, you want to look closely at the flooring. If there is linoleum, tile, or any type of covering over the decking check to see what condition the covering is in. Walk across the floor and see if you feel any weak spots or spongy areas. If you feel a weak or spongy spot in the flooring you may be looking at major repairs.
Look for signs of water damage, mold, and evidence that the decking is starting to decay. Re-decking the floor can be a major undertaking, and if the decking is damaged you have to discover how it was damaged and make repairs to that element of the building as well.
If the floor is showing signs of water or moisture stains but not necessarily damaged or rotting, I would use a shed floor sealer right away if you decide to keep a shed.
If the floor is made of concrete, look for big cracking or shifting, or signs that the floor is constantly sweating, which may create other issues that make the shed less usable.
Weakened or compromised floors indicate that the building is either very old or the walls or ceiling have failed to protect the interior from sun exposure, water, or wind.
Condition of the Roof
The roof is an important part of your shed. It is the section that protects everything else. Some shed roof repairs are needed as a building ages.
- Look for loose shingles.
- Check the shingle to see if they are still slightly flexible or if they are brittle and easy to break.
- Look for missing shingles.
- Check to see if the ridge cap is still firmly in place.
- Look for screws that have been drawn up by the sun.
- Check the rubber gaskets around the screws to see if they are dry-rotted.
- Look for dents or holes in the metal.
Your main consideration on the roof is whether the decking is still firm and sound. If there have been roof leaks the decking under the metal or shingles may be damaged and spongy. If you cannot see the decking from inside the building you can walk around on the roof and feel for places that might be spongy or might give a little.
If the old shed has vents on the roof or on the ends check to make sure the vents are intact and secure. Often roof leaks start around a loose vent.
Repairs on the roof do not mean the shed is ready for the burn pile. Shingles can be replaced, and so can metal. When you replace the screws of a metal roof you want to use a screw that has a larger washer. The larger washer will seal the old screw hole when it is drawn up tight against the metal.
If you find that the decking is compromised then it will probably be in your best interest to do away with the old and invest in a new shed.
Condition of the Walls
If the old shed has paneling on the interior walls look to see if the paneling is warped, discolored, or starting to pull away from the wall. These are signs of possible water damage inside the wall.
If the shed has sheetrock on the walls look for cracks in the wall covering, stains, and mold. If the building has been unlevel the rock will often crack, and water damage may show up as a stain or as mold.
A little mold or mildew can be cleaned away with a quality mold remover. However, if the building has black mold growing in it then you need to get rid of the old. Black mold creates serious health problems for people. This type of mold is also hard to remove, and more likely to return.
Identifying Black Mold
Black mold can be a huge problem in any structure. If your old shed or garage has a black mold problem, be sure you can get rid of it and prevent it in the future before restoring an old shed. A few things to know about black mold:
- This mold makes the building have a musty odor. The odor will be strong,
- The mold spots will be dark in color and they can be close to a water damage spot or starting to grow in areas that appear to be in good condition.
- The texture of black mold is usually wet. If you were to touch it there would be a slimy feel to it.
Windows do not cost much to replace. Replacement is also an easy job for cracked windows. If the window is hard to open or close it could indicate a foundation problem or that the building is unlevel. Check around the window for signs that water has entered and started to damage the walls or studs in the wall.
If the only thing wrong with an old shed is a bunch of cracked or broken windows, the shed is probably worth saving.
Like windows, doors are easy to replace on sheds. What you are looking for is damage to the floor or interior wall close to the door. If the door has allowed water to enter the building the floor can be damaged. Check to see if the threshold is in place and is not loose. Take a screwdriver and press against the wood on the edges of the threshold to see if the wood is strong and firm or soft and spongy.
If the door is hanging from an overhead header (like a big sliding door), you will want to be sure the structure can support the weight of the door before doing any kind of door replacement.
If you think that replacing doors will breathe new life in to an old barn, shed, or garage, it is probably a good investment.
If making the repairs on an old shed is going to cost significantly less than buying a new shed, then it might be financially better for you to repair rather than replace it. When making your calculations on the cost of repairing the old shed you also have to consider how much time it will take you to do the repair work. Your time is valuable, so be honest about the length of time you need, and calculate the hours by your normal hourly wage,
If the cost of repairs is close to the same as buying a new building or is more than the purchase price of a new building, then go ahead and buy the new one.