(Last modified on March 4th, 2020)
Interested in building a man cave in the backyard? Want to learn how to make that man cave the best in the neighborhood? You’re in the right place. A man cave shed provides everything you need to seclude yourself from the outside world. On top of that, you’re just a few seconds away from messing with your grill or doing your yard chores. The issue for most men is not the shed itself, but the knowledge of how to build a man cave shed. Let’s address that today and make sure we discuss every topic of building in depth.
You can visit my other shed posts for specifics, but I make sure to explain everything here in layman’s terms that you require for building a shed anywhere in the world. I also talk about all the different building options—from DIY builds, man cave shed kits, and contractors—to help you find the most suitable or affordable building method for your lifestyle. Let’s get started!
First, why would you want a man cave in a shed when your home has perfectly acceptable spaces for a man cave? Using a shed keeps your man cave separated from the home and makes the space much more exclusive. It lets you set up your sound system however you want and throw loud parties. Well, maybe not parties, but get-togethers around game time and during holidays. Special rules make more sense when your man cave rests in a completely different house from the building. Above all, it ensures that you have absolute domain over your man cave—no one can tell you they own a piece of it or dictate what you can and can’t decorate it with!
Building a man cave in the garden is surprisingly easy, as long as you have the space in the yard and the dedication to see it through. As I mentioned before, backyard man caves have all sorts of benefits, with the only con being that you have to walk out of your house to reach it. Well, plus the legal stuff. But more on that later. Think about what sort of man cave you want and what kind of plans that requires. How much space do you need? What kind of budget can you afford? What materials will set it apart and really mark it as the ultimate man cave? Once you know all of those, you can begin to set your plans in motion.
To begin your plans, determine whether you actually can build a man shed. No, that doesn’t refer to your building ability. The legality of sheds changes depending on your neighborhood, city, county, and even state. Federal building code also specifies what types of buildings there are and what standards they need to meet, all based on your land's zone. Go from the smallest level (your neighborhood) up to the federal level. The smaller the organization, the more strict and relevant their rules are.
The most annoying restriction comes from Home Owners’ Associations. Oftentimes, they don’t want your shed visible from the street. How are you supposed to build a true man cave shed when it needs to be so small that it hides behind your fence? Plants some trees and hedges if you need to, because that shed is happening.
Foundations also form a critical part of building code. If you intend to spend a lot of time in the man cave (which, of course you will!), then you need to keep it both sturdy, above the water table, and on high ground. Ventilation, plumbing, and electrical wiring also play into what type of building you’re building. Different building types have different rules, so if your typical ‘shed’ won’t cut it, check out other plans and see what’s permitted.
Of course, if you live out in the country, restrictions are far less important. You could probably build a roller coaster out there and no one would care. Double check anyways, but don’t be too concerned about things. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think a sheriff will care if you build something on your own property where no one will ever see it!
You can find shed plans in a multitude of places. The first and most obvious place is the internet. This collection is my personal favorite thanks to the sheer amount of plans it contains, but you can also find individual plans on Amazon and specialty sites. Bookstores occasionally carry them, though those collections tend to focus on furniture and woodworking, rather than large constructions. Home improvement stores also sell individual plans if you already know what you want, if you’re alright with some sparse instructions. In any case, I guide you through building a man cave shed right here!
Once you locate some shed plans, you decide what type of shed you want to build. There are dozens of shed types and hundreds of plans, so I narrow down the list to a mere 24 types. Each one presents some pros and cons, so think back to the man cave you imagined and apply it to each one. Which one allows for all your plans? After that, make a list and take cost, materials, and building time into account. You end up with the perfect man cave shed plan!
These designs present more complications and require more effort than your typical shed plan, but they make up for it with their utility. Use the bottom floor as a typical storage shed and the top floor as your perfect man cave. Alternatively, use the bottom as your workshop, or an extension of your man cave! Two story sheds maximize the use you get out of your limited yard space, so if your yard barely fits a man cave shed, consider making it two stories.
Concerned that you will need the shed for other purposes? Planning on selling the house and using this shed to increase its value? A general purpose storage shed helps you with that, and as long as it’s large enough, it works for small man caves. Architects and designers also include all-purpose shed plans in their design collections frequently, while the others on this list usually come from large collections like this one. However, be aware—depending on your wife’s temperament, you may have to coexist with the lawn mower, rake, weed chopper, and everything else you use in the yard. Avoid calling it a storage shed around anyone to prevent this problem from occurring.
Why did I put barn on the list? Well, I’m glad you asked! Barns are just oversized sheds, so don’t shy away from using a barn for your man cave. Barn plans usually cost very little, take a small amount of time to construct, and maximize the amount of interior space. Both large and small barn plans work well for man caves, though for backyard man caves, stick with the smaller version. Your neighbors may not appreciate a giant barn if you live in the suburbs!
These classic sheds can highlight a lot of man cave themes and appear more like a house than something you built in a day. It adds to the professionalism of your work and improves others’ perception of your man cave. Also, it feels nice to walk into something that serves as a second home when it also looks the part on the outside! These sheds use wooden side panels, tiled roofs, and your typical roof. At least one window and a proper door seal the deal. People usually use light blues, yellows, and whites for the exterior. Feel free to mix it up based on your personality, though!
Do you have a very tiny space to make your man cave happen? Are two story sheds out of the question? Look into building compact sheds. A lot of sites (especially Asian design-themed blogs) help you utilize the tiny amount of space a compact shed gives you. Moving walls, hidden furniture, pull-down counters…the possibilities are endless. Use patio chairs on the outside to artificially enlarge the space of your domain. Windows and plants also make small spaces work.
Similar to a colonial sheds, these sheds sit at the perfect spot between ‘home’ and ‘storage shed.’ Cottage shed plans give you windows, a proper roof, a minimal foundation, and a cheap way to create a shed. You can choose between many different door styles—from the double door, half door, or a typical vertical building door. Combine it with a rocky exterior to make it look like it popped out of medieval times (in a good way).
A gable shed plan simply modifies the typical roof plan so that the roof hangs over the walls, rather than stopping abruptly. Gable roofs take a little more craftsmanship and precision to make than your typical shed, but it looks a million times better than a flat roof or a roughly constructed plywood covering. Of course, you can still choose between lots of materials from the roof—but expect to be using wood for the majority of your gable shed.
Like the term ‘gable,’ the word ‘gambrel’ refers to the roof style of a shed. Typically, this style of roof is reserved for double-door sheds, barns, farmhouses, and rather fancy storage sheds. I prefer the look over gable sheds, but it does take a little more construction know-how. A gambrel shed has not just one ‘peak’—but three! It looks like the top of an octagon placed right over the shed. This maximizes the vertical space in your shed while keeping costs down.
Sometimes, you don’t need a complicated or expensive setup to create a man cave. If you’re a man of simple values, and you find entertainment in traditional activities like reading, writing, or drawing, then feel free to create a garden shed. Use a glass roof to keep the plants in top shape. You can create a tarp or covering that unfurls during rain storms to use over the frame. Otherwise, keep that frame nice and empty on the outside! No need for walls on every side of the shed.
Construct it with a large table and cabinet for storing and using your goods. If you need a professional work place, make the table adjustable. The huge benefit of garden sheds is that you only need to secure your tools—and even then, they aren’t expensive enough to worry about a break-in!
Do you have animals? A lot of animals? Build a little hutch shed next to your man cave—or even attached to your man cave shed. This helps you keep in touch with the animals, gives them a climate-controlled space, and lets you work without constantly worrying about whether a coyote is around or not.
I talk in more detail about lean-to sheds here, with full explanations on how to build one. To sum it up, lean-to sheds only have half of a building to their name. The shed is meant to ‘lean’ next to another building, which means you don’t need to worry about draining on two sides of the roof or making the back wall pretty. It certainly cuts down on costs. Simply make sure your foundation works well—if you mess up, you risk damaging the building it’s attached to. If you like the way it looks, you can go ahead and build it as a stand-alone design. In that situation, treat the back wall as you would any other exterior wall.
Ah, the wonderful mini-barn! These work exactly like sheds…mostly because they are sheds with different colors and cheaper materials. Over the hundreds of years farmers and ranchers have spent perfecting the barn, they definitely came up with ways to save money and cut down on materials. By looking for a mini-barn plan specifically—instead of a general shed plan—you might be able to use that ancient thriftiness to your advantage. However, don’t expect them to look pretty on the inside without some extra work on your end!
So you want a man cave shed for use by the whole neighborhood? It certainly helps you party when you can fit a billion people in one spot. A lean-to shed or gambrel shed plan fit the bill, but don’t be afraid to try a mix of the two. Take special care when painting the outside, since a lot of people will be looking at it over the years. For social man caves like this one, ensure you have ample space for seating in your shed before you start construction.
For all intents and purposes, this type of shed serves as a direct upgrade from a gazebo. If you already own a solid gazebo, feel free to throw in some walls and strengthen that roof. That’s a cheap—if insecure—way to prepare your backyard for a man cave. With eight sides and lots of windows, the octagonal shed offers the best view of your yard. I highly recommend it if you live somewhere scenic, such as the rustic countryside or the depths of a mountain valley. It also works great for keeping an eye on kids in the backyard without directly interfering with them.
What better way to build a rustic man cave than to throw it inside an old west shed? These sheds combine a lean-to design with a simple patio to create a small social area. A sign overhead tells everyone who sees it that the man cave belongs to you and serves as a sanctuary to all men out there! You add to the aesthetic by using rough wood and treating it without painting it. Naturally, that saves you a few hundred dollars, and it looks great on the outside! Throw in some wagon wheels on the side for that extra visual effect.
A pallet shed drastically reduces your costs. In fact, you might find a lot of the materials for free! Many shed plan collections contain a few tips on building pallet sheds, although the variable size of your material will limit what plans you can use. I recommend purchasing new wood to use for the frame of your shed—that way it can accommodate a real roof and house your man cave stuff properly. With a proper foundation and excellent sanding and treatment of the wood, these sheds have the potential to look professional, modern, and unique!
A simple potting shed has slanted windows that allow sunlight to enter the shed. This is designed with plants in mind, but feel free to utilize this for a bright man shed with a scenic view! These work especially well in the countryside, where your view is sure to be spectacular. You may want to combine this with other shed plans to expand the area—these types of sheds tend to take up very little space, and you’ll need lots of that for your man cave!
This quaint shed stands as a testament to classic times, and its unique design might match any teachers who want to make the perfect man cave. A bell at the top of the building also provides a unique prop—good for calling the kids, celebrating a football victory, or just annoying your wife. Of course, if you don’t plan on going with a teaching theme, avoid associating it with a schoolhouse and don’t paint it white. That’s only because, in this day and age, people assume way too much about our minds and habits.
Church sheds use the same plans with tiny differences, so pick one of those if you want to make your shed look different than a schoolhouse without dropping its utility.
In nature, a cave has a natural opening leading to the caverns inside. Sitting in the entrance of the cave is still sitting in the cave. Likewise, a patio serves as an entrance to your cave and an extension of all your stuff. Create a neat outdoor dining area, a bar that connects to the main man cave, or even a workshop to keep dust and dirt away from your furniture! The patio also helps you enjoy the outdoors when it starts to rain. They’re also relatively cheap to install and compatible with all types of single-story shed plans. Patios certainly make your man cave feel more like a mantuary!
What the heck is this doing on a man cave shed list? Well, let me explain myself. She-sheds are phenomena that have popped up among ladies. If your wife hears about your man cave shed, she’ll naturally want a she-shed of her own! She-sheds tend to be smaller than the average shed, with lots of lighting, plants lining the windows, and a garden on the exterior. On the inside, furniture is sparse and minimal to make the shed look bigger and cleaner than it really is. A she-shed might be a bargaining chip for making your man cave shed happen, so keep that in mind next time you talk to your wife about your project.
These sheds comprise of a brick foundation, four walls, and a simple roof. Some people forgo the door or the fourth wall entirely. These sheds work well if you have to work on a low budget, plus you construct them quickly. They easily go up over the course of a day. If you skip the door or wall, you’ll obviously have to deal with wildlife and possible intruders going into your shed. For that reason, I highly recommend a door with a proper lock (or padlock) to keep your man cave stuff safe.
So you only need a small space for some peace and quiet? Or maybe you just want somewhere to store your stuff when it overflows from your man cave? A small shed meets those needs, takes very little time and materials to make, and you can easily find shed plans for one. These sheds tend to be too cramped for a man cave, but if you want to make it work, it’s certainly possible.
Use small furniture—chairs, rather than couches—and install windows where you can. If you spend a lot of time in there, large windows make it feel less cramped and more connected to the outside world. You won’t fit a big screen in there, but maybe a small TV with a radio will make the room feel lively. These sheds really work best for writers, readers, and artists, since they don’t need much space to do their thing.
Want something to really brag about? Tudor-style sheds look spectacular and might even look more appealing than your actual house! These sheds utilize beautiful wood frames on the exterior to highlight the structure of the shed. The stark difference between your base walls and the exterior frame make the Tudor-style sheds stand out in any environment. Although these sheds can take many forms, you can’t exactly modify an existing plan. The walls slope outwards towards the top, so you need to adhere to special rules if you want your roof to stick to the top of the building.
You’ll find most shed plans filed under this all-encompassing category. After all, what kind of shed doesn’t go in a yard? The one difference is that these plans tend to cover all your bases. They include ramps to make it a garage, nice doors, windows, and a variety of roof types. Some even include ventilation. If you’re having difficulty finding the above types of shed plans, seek out yard shed plans and see what you can find!
As you learn how to build a shed, pay attention to the basics along the way. These basics can be applied to any kind of building. If you go on to build your dream home, this knowledge comes in handy. Generally, you start building your man cave from the bottom up. You start with your foundation—usually choosing between a cement foundation or a brick foundation. The brick foundation is cheaper, but the cement foundation keeps pests out and serves as a long-lasting and solid foundation.
After that, you construct the frame. Put up your back wall (bracing it if necessary), then follow up with two side walls. The last wall should contain your door. Build the rafters on the ground and then lift them to the top individually. Depending on the type of roof, you may need to use different cuts and angles for your rafters. Slap on some plywood, side panels, and shingles, and you have yourself a finished shed.
Obviously, these are very basic instructions for learning how to build a man cave shed. That’s because I go into far more detail here. Check it out if you want to learn the specifics of building a man cave shed!
To save on cash, take to the streets! People occasionally sell lumber in yard sales—the leftovers of a poorly planned building project. Local lumber yards will charge very little compared to big box stores. Big box stores and even furniture stores will also offer materials with small nicks and defects for slashed prices. The classifieds in your local newspaper can offer you even more opportunities to find cheap materials. Of course, asking any sort of store if they have old palettes to sell helps you bring a palette shed plan to life.
If that doesn’t work, check out the internet. Some people request wood disposal, which gets you free logs that you can take to a lumber yard to cut or simply cut yourself. Craigslist often offers logs and planks in exchange for all sorts of things. You can certainly barter with people from the net! Many people go to Craigslist just to collect random things, so you never know what piece of junk you have laying around would catch someone’s fancy and save you a lot of money.
Lastly—and most importantly—learn how to do this yourself. You’re on this page, so I assume that’s what you’re here to find out, but it’s worth saying again. For more detailed information on how to build a man cave shed on a budget, check here.
Perhaps building is a bit too much for you. It takes a lot of time to build a man cave shed, and working men don’t have a lot of the former. However, before you run out and grab a contractor, keep in mind that you still have options. Specifically, man cave shed kits. You can find all sorts of shed kits online, with prices ranging from $500 for small sheds all the way up into the thousands for some pretty amazing designs. A few places even sell them pre-made—although those sheds won’t be quite as big.
Another way to acquire a ‘kit’ of sorts is to go to your local lumber yard. Some (not all) will look at your shed plan and provide you with all the materials needed. They cut everything for you and save a lot of time that you would have spent shopping. This sort of ‘kit’ shaves off enough time that you could get all the building done in a day. Even doing this and grabbing contractors afterwards will still save you money over contractors that provide all of your materials. I go into much more detail in the full man cave shed kit post I made.
Once you have that man cave built, you need some ideas for what to put in it! Let’s go through the basics of how to accommodate your man cave in different types of sheds. For a full run-down on man cave ideas, I have a bunch of articles on the topic that should spark some inspiration in you. For now, let’s focus on working with sheds!
In small sheds, you need small furniture! Stick with minimal furniture and narrow down the types of furniture you want. In example, coffee tables are great and all, but a recliner takes up far less space. Several chairs take up less space than couches and bean bags or hammocks can simply be removed from the area to free up a ton of space. Maximize the amount of vertical space you use by purchasing man cave posters and signs, rather than hanging flags or 3D props. Instead of a huge, curved, 4K screen, find a smaller flat screen with the highest resolution on the market. I promise that they still look spectacular.
Give your walls a lot of space and keep the windows clear of obstruction. Multiple textures for the wall gives the room layers and adds to the illusion that your man cave has more space than it really does. Natural light keeps things from looking cramped and certainly gets rid of any claustrophobia a small shed would give you.
For larger sheds, stick to normal man cave conventions. You still want your windows clear to help with ventilation in the shed, but you can fit things as usual. I wrote a huge list of suggestions for decorating your man cave here.
First and foremost, go ahead and brag about your knowledge. Knowing how to build a man cave shed helps in all sorts of building areas of your life. Simply be careful about speaking of your project. There’s a phenomena wherein you gain satisfaction just from talking about a deed, rather than doing it. Don’t let yourself sink to that low. Make time for your man cave, find your building plans, set aside space in the yard, gather materials, and start building! The building time goes by quickly compared to the years that you will spend enjoying the man cave shed. Get started, have fun, and make something to be proud of!