Courtesy Handy Canadian,

Home additions aren’t just about adding onto your existing house. In many cases, building a separate structure can add as much enjoyment to your home as enlarging a room. Some of the most common construction projects are barns, gazebos and sheds. Your home, where you live and your needs will, obviously, determine which of these buildings are right for you.

While adding a new structure to your property is exciting, there are some commonly made mistakes which, unfortunately, take a lot of fun out of both the process and the end result. Thankfully, these mistakes are easy to avoid with a bit of forethought and planning.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common mistakes made when building barns, gazebos and sheds. We’ll also clue you in as to how to avoid these errors, saving yourself time and money.

Common Barn Mistakes

While we most commonly associate barns with farmland, many homeowners who live in the country are erecting these structures for a variety of different reasons. A barn can serve many purposes, depending on the structure itself and the interior layout. Many rural properties feature barns which appear traditional on the outside, but house thoroughly modern apartments, home office space or a vehicle storage facility. As versatile and convenient as these structures are, building them can easily be derailed by some simple errors.

Improper Placement

Before you begin looking at plans or contacting builders, think about where you want your barn. Many homeowners erect a barn right next to their house, only to find that it blocks their view. Since most barns are built on rural properties with beautiful views, this can be a real issue. If you have enough property, consider placing your barn far enough away from your home so that no views are obstructed. Many homeowners place theirs completely out of sight of their house.

Placement also comes into play when considering exactly what your barn will be used for. If you intend to use the space for guest lodging or office space, you may want it closer to your home; at least within very easy walking distance. It’s also important to remember access: don’t place your barn in an area that can’t easily be reached. This may mean extending your driveway, but it will be money well spent. Nobody wants to trek over snowy or uneven ground each time they visit the office. Access is also essential if you plan to store vehicles in your barn.

Obviously, if you own horses or any other large animals, your barn will need to be adjacent to an outdoor area for exercise, training, feeding and several other animal-care necessities. Plan accordingly.

Wasted Space

A barn is typically a very large building. However, many homeowners build one and they only use the ground floor! The upper floor of a barn can be utilized in many different ways. Home offices can be placed upstairs. The area can be a fully-furnished apartment, to be used by guests or even as rental property. At its most minimal, the upper floor can be a great place for climate-controlled storage. Regardless of what you do with your barn, be sure to make good use of all the space it provides. Not only does using the space give you more enjoyment and practicality, but it gives you a better return on your investment.

Lack of Harmony

Like any separate structure on your property, a barn looks best if its appearance is in harmony with the main home. While they certainly don’t have to be carbon copies, barns should complement and extend the style of your house. Ideally, it should appear as if the house and barn were constructed at the same time. A strong clash of styles, such as pairing an elegant stone house with a traditional red barn, makes a property appear disjointed.

Gazebo Mistakes

Open structures commonly seen in parks, gazebos are beautiful ways to enhance your property. Not only are these structures ideal for outdoor entertaining, but they can be screened in and even heated to provide a year-round retreat. To get the most out of your investment, it’s crucial to avoid some common errors.

Failure to Account for Climate

Being an outdoor structure, an open gazebo can only be enjoyed year-round if you live in a very temperate climate. Any weather extremes, hot or cold, make it uncomfortable to sit outdoors for any length of time.

Customizing your gazebo to suit your local climate avoids the common (and costly) error of losing out on months of enjoyment. If you live in an area with long, cold winters, consider an enclosed gazebo with a heating system and insulation. While this option costs more initially, you’ll recoup the value in year-round enjoyment. If your budget allows it, consider installing a fireplace for an extra cozy touch.

Extremely hot and humid climates call for different customization. A cooling system is all you need to make your gazebo comfortable all year long. Consider a system with built-in moisture control to avoid uncomfortable dampness and mildew issues.

Shed Mistakes

A shed is perhaps the most basic of structures, but it’s also the most versatile. We usually picture a small tool shed, but a shed can be of any size, and built to accommodate virtually any activities. Whether you’re planning a full workshop or you just need a place to store gardening supplies, there’s a shed perfect for you.

Buying Unnecessarily Expensive Sheds

For many homeowners, all they need or have room for is a very basic shed. This is usually intended for the safe storage of infrequently used items, or outdoor items like gardening supplies or tools.

A shed used for these purposes needs to offer a safe place to store items, one where they can remain clean and dry. However, that’s all these sheds need to offer. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing an extremely large warehouse-style shed when all you need is a small storage spot. Likewise, this is not a project which requires the services of an architect and builder. For the most basic sheds, homeowners are typically quite satisfied with a pre-fabricated shed from a home improvement warehouse. These sheds are designed to be erected by one or two people; if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, a handyman will get the job done right.

Buying too Small

You don’t want to overspend. However, under spending is just as big a mistake. Many homeowners don’t really put a lot of thought into a shed. They assume they’re all the same, and pick one up at the local store. While this is ideal for some, it’s completely inadequate for others.

If you have the space and the room in your budget, make sure to maximize the use you can get out of your shed. Sheds look like simple structures on the outside, but on the inside they can be customized to suit any needs. If you work on your own vehicles, be sure to plan space for the vehicles themselves in addition to storage and work space. The same rules apply to any hobby, and any use you may have in mind for your shed. Many homeowners have erected a very small shed to store, for example, gardening tools. Suddenly, they find themselves stuck inside during the winter, thinking about how nice it would be to have a warm place to work on that classic muscle car they’ve been restoring. With a little forethought, they could be working on that car!

Before you make a purchase, think through all your outdoor and semi-outdoor activities, as well as anything you may need to store. Planning ahead not only saves you time, it saves you the headache and frustration of buying yet another shed.

Universal Mistakes

Regardless of which type of building you’re considering, some common factors come into play. Placement, the safe connection of any necessary utilities, and appearance are all important.

Placing any structure in an inconvenient area simply doesn’t make sense. If you don’t have the space for the size or type of structure you’re considering, put it off until you move. There’s no point in wasting the money on something which will look out of place, especially since it’s likely to drag down your eventual resale value. Instead, opt for a smaller building that fits more easily onto your current property.

Connecting the utilities needed to fully enjoy a barn, gazebo or shed can be a hassle, especially if you live in a rural area. Keep in mind that any plumbing or electrical work must be done by licensed professionals. Obviously, the same rules apply when connecting natural gas. Never attempt to connect new utilities on your own; it’s simply a bad idea. Homeowners who try face a number of serious consequences, ranging from fines to serious injuries. Play it safe and hire licensed professionals to connect the utilities in your new structure.

We’ve covered the importance of complementing your current home with your new structure. However, many homeowners make the mistake of setting up a completely plain structure, thinking that because it’s out of sight behind their house, it doesn’t matter. While the building may be hidden, it doesn’t have to be ugly. If you’ve purchased a simple shed, remember that some simple landscaping can work wonders. If your building has been built on a budget, consider enlisting family and friends to paint. Regardless of the building or your budget, there’s always a way to make things more attractive. Not only does this maximize your enjoyment of your new investment, but it adds to your property’s resale value as well.