Those of you who have successfully built more than one freestanding structure may be able to visualize the project in advance and have a sense of what materials are needed. But the rest of us need a plan. Choosing a plan should be done carefully, and only after thinking through some basic things like what type of building you desire and what the size requirements are. Plans are available on the Internet and at home improvement stores, and each one provides a comprehensive checklist of materials and a detailed breakdown of the steps involved in construction.
As for building materials, it may not come as a surprise to know that you're going to need a lot of lumber: 2x4s, 4x4s, 2x8s, and many other pieces, for the skids, joists, beams, rafters and every part of the frame. It's important to use pressure-treated lumber, especially for the floor and the bottom plate of the walls, because such lumber is resistant to decay and insect infestation [source: Carter]. Use sheets of treated plywood for wood floors and plywood siding for the walls. Needless to say, you'll need a lot of nails, hinges and other types of hardware.
Shed plans vary on the issue of providing a foundation, or footing, for the structure. Some plans call for the shed to be built solely on wooden skids rather than on a foundation, which leaves the building literally unmoored and easier to move should the occasion ever arise to transport it [source: Buildeazy]. Otherwise, you can use cable tie-downs or wooden posts to anchor the shed. Many plans include either a layer of compactable gravel or poured concrete for a foundation.
Then there's the roofing material, which may include roof underlay (a type of building paper that goes over the frame), wood sheathing, a durable cladding material such as corrugated iron or asphalt shingles for the exterior, and metal pieces for the drip edges or flashing.
You'll also need a hammer, saw (circular or crosscut), framing square, screwdriver, measuring tape, stakes, line and level [source: Southern Pine]. Now that you've got your list of tools and materials, move on to learn how to prepare to build your shed.