(Last modified on March 4th, 2020)
Building a man cave on a budget doesn’t work when you have limited space—and that’s why many people have turned to backyard man caves. Wood shed man caves allow you to fine-tune your space down to the smallest detail. You choose what sort of floor, wall, and ceiling you want. You can build your entertainment system right into the walls. With a little ingenuity, you can even make the cave open out into the backyard so it feels like an outside bar…with all the essentials of a man cave! Wood sheds provide an empty template with which you can create any man cave you can dream of.
So, interested in man caves made out of wood sheds? Do you already have a shed you want to convert, or are you planning on building your own? Either way, I put a bunch of advice for you in this post that helps you with everything you need for building your custom man cave. Finding the best wood, picking the best decor, looking for plans, finding pre-made kits, and converting old sheds into something livable are all necessary knowledge for a man looking to build a wood shed man cave! Now, let’s start from the beginning and make your dream a reality!
If you already have a shed or want to find a pre-made kit, skip the next two sections. If not, let’s get you started on your journey. Building things with your own two hands feels great, anyways. Woodshed plans help you measure out all the needed materials, save money in the long run, plan for utilities, and help you with legal matters in the future. If you are an architect, go wild—after all, a shed is pretty easy to build. Why not add more stuff to it?
If you have never built anything before, I highly recommend you look into wood storage shed plans or simple wooden shed plans. By referencing pre-existing plans, you can come up with your own designs. It’s important to know how much weight each portion of your floor can support as well as how much you can tack on to the ceiling without losing structural integrity. This is especially true of something you plan on converting into a man cave! If you’re not confident in your mathematical prowess (and hey, it happens), don’t feel bad for using a pre-designed shed with no alterations. It keeps things simple, safe, and speeds up construction.
If the concept of going off a plan intimidates you, don’t start building from scratch. That’s just a recipe for disaster. Look into prebuilt sheds, shed kits, and contractors instead. I provide information for all of that in a bit.
Now that you have your plans, you want to grab your materials. There are many different grades of wood, and you want to go for the first and second grades. These pieces of wood contain very few—if any—defects. The wood needs to be level with no twists or warps in the shape. There are several different types of board sawing styles you can consider. Rough-sawn is cheap and durable, while plain-sawn, rift-sawn, and quarter-sawn boards have progressively higher stability…and price. Whatever you choose, find it at a local lumber yard—it’s cheaper than the big stores and helps support local business.
Check the weather ahead of time before you begin building. Sheds take multiple days to build, unless you’re working as a highly efficient team! You don’t want it to start pouring as you put your foundation in place. Most shed plans come included with the tools and materials needed, but some architects and designers go the extra mile and include instructions on how to build with their plans. If this is your first time building, learn the basics of building from those plans and utilize that knowledge to make your own shed.
For making a man cave shed, I highly recommend a large and tall shed structure. See the largest allowed in your area and size one out a few feet below that. This allows you to create a huge man cave and even build in some awesome features as you go along. If you pick a plan with a lot of windows, invest in some black out curtains.
To estimate the costs of your wood shed, check out my dedicated post on the matter.
If building things from scratch isn’t your talent, but you still want to keep things cheap and avoid contractors, then wooden shed kits are the thing for you. You can find shed kits for sale in most large home and garden stores. It will be pricier to buy these premade sheds…unless your time is money. The prices range from $1,000 to $6,000, all depending on the size and style of the shed you want. For small sheds, some companies will deliver it pre-constructed to your doorstep. Well, driveway, anyways. They help you situate it in the backyard.
For larger sheds, they arrive as a pile of materials. You can have whatever company you buy from construct it for you, or you can follow the simple directions to assemble it. I promise it’s easier than reading IKEA hieroglyphics. The difference between gathering materials yourself and purchasing a shed kit is that the shed kit comes with some pieces preassembled. With the best companies, you only need to attach the walls and roof together. Shed kits do not usually include foundational supplies, so make sure to consider that while you price out your options.
Some companies out there specialize in selling man cave shed kits. They construct the shed and plan out your cave for you. However, given their expense and rarity, it’s much easier and more efficient to do the decor stuff yourself and get a ‘cheaper’ kit.
If you absolutely must hire a contractor, you have two options: go to a large brand name, or go to a local and reputable company. By going with a brand name, you protect yourself from shoddy workmanship (the brand name can’t exactly go under the radar when you contact them). A local and reputable company is obviously better, but do some serious research into them, because horrible contractors are out there in droves.
Do you already have a pre-built shed on your property? Excellent! Let’s learn how to make a shed livable, and then how to upgrade that livable space into a man cave! A shed man cave conversion takes a similar amount of effort as a shed bedroom conversion, but you get to prioritize different things. With a bedroom, you are required to follow certain laws to ensure it is safe for living. With a man cave, you can stick to the minimum amount of effort—mostly making sure the building has structural integrity—and then your effort focuses on optional quality of life changes. I made a huge post on how to convert sheds into man caves.
The first thing you’ll want to decide is what to do with the ceiling. I prefer to leave the shed supports exposed or build a partial loft (more info on two story sheds here). It makes the man cave feel much larger and, well, cave-like. It also makes it easy to mount things up high on the wall when you can easily wrap wires around the support beams. Think about how you will set up your surround sound or hang up your flags before you cover up that stuff! After that, think about how you will ventilate the area. Sheds work a little bit like big ovens—it’s tolerable in the winter without heating, but in the summer…well, you will need to get that air flowing somehow. Windows do the job well, but planning for an AC works even better.
Lastly, let’s talk about floors. Some people might like the dirt floors of storage sheds, but if I’m putting a fancy TV and furniture in there, I want it to have an actual floor. Level the floor out and use large sheets of plywood to get a sturdy surface. For bonus points, apply sealant so that water won’t seep in from the floor (a pretty common issues). Once that mini “foundation” is in place, you can put down tile, carpet, or wood flooring to make your man cave really shape up. Get some contractors to throw in whatever utilities you may need, and voila, your shed is ready to be made into the perfect man cave!
So, how do you use your shed, now that it’s ready to throw in stuff? I talk all about this in other articles (like this one), but here are the basics to get you started. Put your large furniture in first—the fridge, any counter tops, and then your seating and tables. Think about where your TV will go as you set things up and place things accordingly, or you’ll regret it later. For decor, find some awesome posters or pieces of art that fit your man cave theme.
And you did pick a theme, didn’t you? All man caves need a central theme that tie it (and you) together. You can pick Star Wars, your favorite football team, Final Fantasy, minimalism, and even the color green. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you love it and can show it off to anybody. Throw in some signage to denote this as a man cave, rather than a study or a living room. Remember that everything should be casual and doesn’t need to follow the ‘etiquette’ that an actual home would. Your wood shed man cave is a place to relax, not a place for rules!
Living in a shed on your own land sounds like a dream for fans of minimalism and the simple life. However, if you want to build a man cave shed and then rent it out, there are a few things you should know. First, a shed is a class 10a building, but in order to rent, you need a Class 1 building. The difference is that Class 1 buildings need insulation, hot water, cross ventilation (for fire safety and airflow), a septic waste and water disposal system, and a few other things. There are a few pre-built sheds that include the basics for these utilities. I recommend also including electricity, since that is becoming more and more necessary in modern times and many counties require it.
Speaking of counties, regardless of whether you want your man cave livable or not, you will have to look at state, county, city, and neighborhood regulations regarding backyard sheds if you live in a thriving community. If you have already had a shed for years, I wouldn’t worry about it, but building a new one while ignoring building codes is just asking for trouble.
Yep, there's still more! This is all common legal stuff you will run into--but even if you don't, try to follow these guidelines.
Once you have all of the legal stuff out of the way, feel free to build your own wood shed and convert it into the best man cave you’ve ever seen!
Despite all these hoops you have to jump through, man cave sheds really pay off in the end. Separated from the rest of the house, they truly feel like a sanctuary (or mantuary) that you can relax in whenever you need to. Of course you’ll have to go back to reality eventually, but for now, kick back, relax, and enjoy your hard work! It can take weeks—or even months—to create the perfect man cave shed, so when you pull it off, make sure to relish it. Nothing feels better than enjoying the fruits of your own labor, after all!