European Shed Design

There is a unique back yard sitting room (shed) design I discovered while in Europe. I know the basic measurements (just under 200 square foot) and have some photos. My idea is to learn how to use Sketchup then create a design on my own, then pass that to a licensed architect to prepare a plan that I can give to a contractor to build it on my own property.

Any tips on how to start? Will the plans I get from an architect include a detailed list of materials I need to purchase, so that I can know the cost prior to starting? Thank you,.

Might depend on the architect. Here in the UK, you would expect the architect to produce presentation drawings initially. They would be used for obtaining any planning consents. Once that stage is over, he might go on to produce working drawings from which the structure would be built. But he doesn’t normally get involved in “taking off” quantities. That would be the job of a quantity surveyor. Some materials suppliers may provide that service in order to get the job of supplying you.

Where are you located? The services of architects vary. In my area, the architect would not normally provide a list of materials. They should describe the construction and specify the materials to be used sufficiently for a contractor to develop a list of materials. I would let the contractor do that.

In some countries I understand that architects do more in the construction phase and may provide lists of materials.

If you are in the US, hire your architect first. They cannot legally just take a design from someone else, produce drawings and stamp. They are required to be in direct responsible charge of the design in order to place their stamp on it. For a project as small as a shed, it will be difficult to find one, especially if you are expecting them to not design the project.

It might also be a good idea to contact the local authorities. Again, depending on your area, a small structure as this might or might not require a permit, and there might also be regulations concerning its placement on your yard, in relation to neighbours, streets, possible ducts and your main building. Your architect probably would also know about these.

You might try to draw just what you want it to look like - only the basic sizes and shapes. Put doors and windows into your basic sketch. Leave out the details.

You could then make a ‘pallet’ of images (taken from the web, e.g., Pintrest or Building Suppliers) showing trims (interior and exterior), fixtures (e.g., handles, light fixtures), and finishes (flooring, paint colors, etc). No need to draw really detailed items that you can just show a picture of. - Also, Microsoft Edge has a “collections” feature. You can make a collection of webpages (like a Home Depot Door, Tiles from Lowes, etc.) and send the collection in an email.

You could take a few screen captures of your model shed design and then arrange that with pictures of your ‘ideas’ pictures to make a ‘pallet’.

A carpenter or contractor will be responsible for how the shed is built (you don’t need to know, or draw, where each stud goes in the walls, how high up an electrical outlet needs to be, etc.). They can then inform you, or you can call the city where you live to see if you need a permit, or to submit plans.

Here is a basic example:

Thanks for all of the responses esp the game plan for getting started 3DxJFD – much appreciated.

I am in USA, spoke w/city planner who said if it’s under 200 square feet there is no permit required & they don’t want to be involved. My property is large, flat, and I will be setback from neighbor so there are no issues.

One of the main challenges is the calculation of square footage. Does Sketchup have a running total field that indicates sq ft as I move lines? The shed I will build is not symmetrical and there are only three right angles. I am looking for software that allows me to tweak lines and visualize a running total of square footage concurrently.

I have worked with an architect twice previously. For a carport & to rebuild an existing deck cover, on a rural property. These could have been rebuilt based on whatever a carpenter came up with (this is so common here) but I wanted proper plans that ensured they were built to modern standards and would stand the test of time, so I paid for an architect.

With this shed I have a rough sketch of a layout but I want building plans. I may build one on my property and more on at least one other property I own. Thinking that owning a set of plans for a design that I can have built on multiple properties has some value. What are your thoughts? I am new to this. Thanks.

In SketchUp you can draw an outline that relates to the area for the shed. In your model this might be the total face of the plywood (for example) that covers the floor to the edges that you would be measuring your area from. When you draw the edges completely enclosing a space on a plane, SketchUp creates a face. Selecting the face will show an area in the Entity Window. So changing the design will change what you read on such a face. It may be best to simply use such an outline for your initial layout and finding the square foot area to go forward with, and if you reshape it, the area displayed will change. It’s not a continuous display. You change the shape by moving the edges and then select the face to read the area.

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Your profile indicates you are using the free web version of SketchUp so Entity Info as @pbacot indicated will allow you to see the area of a face or faces. There are some tools available for SketchUp Pro that can make what you are asking easier.

With the available options in SketchUp Free I would probably do as Peter suggested and start with a simple outline. If there are certain dimensions that are fixed, I might divide the face into smaller regions so I can more easily limit what gets changed.

If you want to put in power or plumbing, the building department will probably want a permit application (planners in the “planning department” aren’t the whole story).

Hi pbacot. Thanks for your messages, very helpful. I don’t mind paying for Sketchup so if you would recommend a paid version what would it be? I am new to the software and I’m not sure what plans they offer but willing to pay.

About permits, yes indeed that is a huge topic and I am aware of what is involved. If I want to install plumbing then the entire structure regardless of size has to be under different code etc. If there is no plumbing then 200 sq ft or less I don;t need to involve them. There is a height restriction (can’t be taller than existing home) and there is a setback from fence line. I’ll follow those carefully.

I discovered an online drawing tool (sketchandcalc) and I have already created a file with the measurements that bring me to 28,0000 square inches (195 square feet) so I am already making progress.

Any further feedback is appreciated - thanks.

Just be aware that if you hire an architect you don’t own the plans and design. So if you plan on using the design on multiple properties you will need that detailed in your written agreement with the architect.

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Here is screen capture of some SF using basic SketchUp tools.

(Okay, maybe more than 3.)

Others have pointed to possibilities, but you might ask yourself whether you want to take the time to learn these things. For example, by “200 sq ft”, do you mean the interior sq ft of the flooring? Do you mean the building (shed) ‘footprint’? Do you mean the sq ft of sheathing for the/or a wall? All of those are possible. But do you want to do takeoffs or make cut lists? For takeoffs you may need to learn to make dynamic components and the generate reports feature and for cut lists you may want to learn how to use other extensions. I’m getting off into the weeds here so to get back to focus: do you want to spend more time learning to use SU than it would take you do simply draw these things on paper and use a calculator?!? People here might help you - especially if you went to the learning center and followed the tutorials: [SketchUp Campus](

I found the area tool you mentioned (Sketchandcalc). SketchUp can basically do that - but you’d have to learn how. Maybe that software is all you need.

If you have a relationship with an architect, maybe they can draw for you… I suspect -but could be wrong- that an architect is a bit much for a shed that doesn’t need a permit.

It would have value to you and it may have value to others. I purchased plans for a workbench once because it had a materials list / cut list. This saved me time. I also once purchased plans for a table that someone wanted me to build. Otherwise I would have built it in whatever-which way (which is so common for me!).

Not sure these comments have been helpful, so… Give it a try: draw it!

Oh- Thank you for your kind comment above. I appreciate it.

Building a European shed in the states is pretty risky, customs and immigration are on the look out for this sort of thing and smuggling all the millimetres you’ll need will take several decimule trips. Not to mention, if you were to run afoul of the Wolves, the European cartel of decimal traffickers, they would thrash you within 25.4mm of your life. And of course you know that nothing will ever quite fit in the shed, everything will be a fraction too big or two small, Goldilocks will never be comfortable.


You’re right @Box. We need to stick with the Imperial system we have which allows us to fall back on the King’s foot when needed and leave le système métrique to the Euro-shedders. Safety first.

A shed is kind od a basic thing.
To be honest, start drafting out your idea on some paper, get the idea in your head about the rough size and shape you are looking for.

Add outer dimensions, and a rough floor plan.
Think about what requirements you have for materials, style and so on.

If you are going to hire someone to do the work that is probably enough to ask for a prize quote. They’ll do the actual design.

If you need to visalize the building, you could build foam models. Probably a last faster then learning a tool…

Now, if you are going to build this yourself, plan out how your construction will be. Evaluate different options, pro’s and cons.
Write it down or and sketch spesific details with pen and paper. Now you got the rough idea about most of your build.
This is when it’s time to drag your ass to the computer and start modelling your shed.
Model your ideas, verify that the measurements is correct, check that your design fit together, draw out the details and create views, planes and details as needed. Create cutlists and go to the lumberjard, buy what you need, drag it home and start building.

PS: Instead of all the modeling you could just go out, buy the lumber and start building, and handle any errors as you go.

A bit of joking, but also a bit serious.
Using a 3D tool in a good way is quite requiering and will take time. It’s a great tool when you know how to use it, but it does take time. For many people, it’s a lot easier to handle issues in the real world then solving them in theory inside a computer program.

A constructor is likely to know WAY more then you about how to actually build a shed, so if you create detailed plans they will probably not want to use them anyway.

The good reasons for usong software is:

  • you know it and it helps you
  • you want to know it and has a separate interest, independent of what you try to build
  • you want or need to share detailed building details with other, either because you want to verify your ideas, you want input from others or you want others to build something according to your excact details

If you need a shed, you are bot going to build it yourself and you do not have a general need/interest in learning a tool like sketchup -
pen and paper is the tools for you.
In my case, I often combine. As I’m getting betyer and more efficient I’m using sketchup to verify and make detailed plans for my design. But it takes a lot of time, and often I would jabe build the whole thing ss fast or faster then just making the drawings.
But when you habe done it a lot it will of course be bith fast and easy to verify your designs using sketchup.
This is my current project. As a newbee it takes a lot of time to get these models right:

Hi 3DxJFD & others, thanks for the wonderful feedback. I have no skill at cutting wood, nailing, setting windows, tile, insulation. My close friend for 20 years is a master carpenter who did projects for me including the construction of a ‘tiny house’ years ago, finished my garage and built a deck, etc, but he’s too old now and doesn’t want to take this on.

I made progress on the foundation sketch (top view) using pen and paper, it’s complete. You and others here suggest that learning Sketchup for this one project is a waste of time, probably right. I like to learn new things but this is not the time to learn Sketchup perhaps.

I want to hire an architect for three main reasons

1/ With proper plans, I can likely get a contractor to quote a fairly precise figure on the labor cost to build

2/ I can use the plans over and over again, if I want to build same design elsewhere

3/ It will be built to proper standards

In the coming days I’ll ask some local architects if they will take my drawings and turn them into a proper plan. The thing I see, in looking at architects listed locally, is they do things like design schools, multifamily developments, etc. Why the heck would they want to work with me on a 195 sq ft backyard studio?

I didn’t mean to be discouraging or to suggest that learning SketchUp would be a waste of time! Just the opposite. The investment of time/effort would be greater than needed, to only draw one shed. By the time you modelled the shed, you’d be well on your way to being able to model other things as well. So, I think opening up a free version of the software and trying to model the shed is the place to start to see if you enjoy using the software. If you try modeling the shed, you’ll be in a position to decide whether you like it enough to put more time in to it.

If you start drawing the shed and post it here, people might help you if you get stuck.

By all means, if you want to have these plans drawn by an architect, call around and find one who will draw it up. If the person wants to take on the job, knowing that it is a small shed, they will. If not, ask for recommendations for people who do smaller jobs.

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That’s great, but you can’t use architect’s plans over and over again. You can use them once for a particular site. To re-use them, if prepared by an architect, they will need to be stamped each time for each use for likely an additional fee. Get reuse in writing or buyer beware.

Personally I don’t think you need an architect for this. Call Tuff Shed.

Someone can be creative and not be an architect. Maybe @HazelView wants a particular cool design and have the experience to come up with his/hers own. And eventually draw up the plans without an architect. If unsure of the construction, the builder or any carpenter could help. Anyway, I predict if multiple sheds are built, they will improve over time and not be exactly the same.
(Hmm as I write I can hear a weekend warrior next door pulling nails. Wonder what they’re up to. A shed?)

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