Storage Shed vs Self Storage Facility When Renovating

Storage Shed vs Self Storage Facility When Renovating

A little while ago I received a question from Dave P. who lives in Ipswich, England and in the process of answering his question I realized this would make a good topic to talk about on Totally Home Improvement. The question was whether he and his wife should buy a storage shed or rent a self storage unit to store their belongings while they renovate their 50+ year old semi detached house.

I must admit that I hadn't really thought about this before, which meant that I had to do quite a bit of digging into the topic - I hope some of you find this analysis helpful if you're currently facing the same same issue yourself.

How Much Space is Needed and For How Long?

For anyone considering this, you should think long and hard about what you really need to keep, and either sell or donate the things you don't really need. When I made my last house move I went through this process and decided that anything I hadn't used in the last 2 years could go with the exception of a few sentimental items. The reduced clutter is fantastic and in over 2 and a half years the only thing I once wished I still had was one of the books I had donated to charity - but that was easy to replace.

In this case they will be storing the usual household items including furniture, some white goods, and boxes of clothing, books and other knick·knacs. Being able to stack things up means that they'll need about 100sq ft (that's about 10.7m² for the metric types).

How Do the Costs Compare?

I looked up prices of garden sheds at which provides deliveries throughout most of England, and then I got an online quote from SafeStore which has a self storage facility in Ipswich.

Shed Prices

These are baseline prices - if you opt for added extras or fancier models then you will expect to pay more.

  • Metal Shed: £625
  • Wooden Shed: £678
  • Plastic Shed: £805

Self Storage Prices

This was a quote specifically for the Ipswich storage facility. Prices vary by location and can also change at different times of year - for the quote I got I said it would be needed starting in the middle of January next year.

The standard weekly rate was £60. They offer a 50% discount on the first 8 weeks and then it's full price for the remaining 18 weeks, so the formula is (£30 x 8) + (£60 x 18) = Total rental price is £1,320. Note that there will also be a security deposit which you get back at the end, and you may want to supply your own padlocks.

Their email said "This price excludes padlock costs, security deposit and insurance."

Both sets of prices included VAT.

So on the surface it appears that a storage shed is significantly cheaper, but as we will see that's not the full story and you may need to opt for some extras which will drive up the cost of a shed. On the other hand, you will still have the shed to use later once the renovation has been completed.


Self storage facilities come with security built into the price - the company I got the quote from has 24 hour CCTV surveillance which is pretty much the standard for the industry, although there are some more expensive places which have 24 hour on-site security guards. Each self storage unit has it's own key so no one else has access to your belongings.

Storage sheds are typically easier to break into so you might want to take that into account as well.

For added shed security you can buy additional locks which will cost between £10 to £20 if you install them yourself - and up to £100 if you have a locksmith do it for you.

A storage shed might need an alarm system if you're going to be away for lengthy periods of time, or if you can't readily see it from your windows. I found a basic GSM enabled wireless alarm system on for £34 - bump that up to at least £100 if you're going to have a professional install it. Although any decent alarm system will have battery back-up, you'll probably want to run a power cable out to your shed and bury it so it can't easily be cut - that will add up to £25 for a heavy duty extension lead and even more if you're going to buy some kind of pipe or conduit to bury the lead in.

Depending on what you do to provide additional security for your storage shed, you could end up spending an additional £300 over the initial purchase price.


This is where things can get a bit tricky - both when it comes to reading your home insurance policy to see if your belongings are covered in your shed and whether or not you'll need to take out additional insurance, and when it comes to reading the terms and conditions of self storage companies.

I'm not qualified to give insurance advice so I'll just present some standard terms and conditions here for you to read:

Self Storage

19.3 Domestic Customers;

19.3.1. We require that all Domestic Customers entering into the Licence also take out and maintain during the period of the Licence, adequate Insurance cover using the Safestore Self Storage policy available solely through us. No Licence will be entered into by us unless this insurance policy is also taken out. Please note that no form of insurance policy other than the Safestore Self Storage Policy will be accepted by us.

19.3.2. We recommend that the insurance cover that you take out is for a sum which is at least equal to the replacement value of the Goods stored in the Unit from time to time and while your goods remain on site.

19.3.3. We do not give any advice concerning such insurance and it is for You to make Your own judgement whether such insurance is appropriate to cover the Goods and risks to them.

Unfortunately I could not find the insurance prices on their website - it appears you have to get a quote for this separately.

Storage Shed and Home Insurance

I looked at many insurance websites and it was tough going trying to find the specific policy documents or FAQs - in the end the most readable documents I found were from AXA:

4. Are my possessions covered outside the home?

Your contents are insured whilst in your home. To extend this to include cover outside your home you have to add the relevant section (D) to your policy.

Section (D) went on to exclude many items including "We will not cover tools, instruments or sports equipment used or held for business or professional purposes".

I strongly recommend you call your insurance company and tell them exactly what you plan to do, what will be stored in your shed, and ask for their advice because it's too easy to make a mistake and end up uninsured.

Always be very clear and honest with your insurance company - I know a musician who had a home insurance policy which included musical instruments but excluded tools of trade. When a rare guitar was stolen from his house he discovered that because he plays paid gigs on the weekends that his instruments were considered 'tools' and he was not insured - this problem could have been avoided if he had been completely forthcoming with the insurance company when he bought the policy.

Temperature and Humidity

Although a storage shed protects your belongings from the harshness of wind and rain, it typically won't protect from extremes in temperature or humidity. While self storage units are better protected against the elements than basic sheds are, you will need to check what the exact conditions are at the facility you want to use if you have sensitive items because some places do have inside climate control while others don't.

Some examples of sensitive items:

  • Musical Instruments - particularly higher-end woodwind, pianos and guitars which can be very sensitive to humidity extremes or rapid changes.
  • Antique furniture - these items are usually less sensitive than musical instruments, but you might want to think twice before storing them in a shed.
  • Rare or Collectible Wine - I have a friend who's hobby is dealing in collectible wine and he uses a special storage facility dedicated to providing temperature and humidity controlled "boxes" designed for specific types of wine.
  • Paintings - canvas can degrade and oil paints can crack if humidity levels vary too much or too rapidly.

Just to be on the safe side, you should include a moisture absorber in boxes with clothing and bedding and avoid using plastic bags which can cause sweating regardless of whether you go with a shed or self storage facility.

If you do need climate control and you can't get a self storage unit with that provided, then you're going to have to go with a storage shed which you will have to seal, insulate, and install air conditioning in. If you do all this yourself you might be able to bring it in for less than £500 - it's going to cost at least double that to hire a contractor to do it for you, and you're going to have ongoing energy costs.


This is probably the one case where the storage shed in the yard beats the self storage unit hands down. You won't have to load all your belongings into a van (and you won't have to hire one either), and you'll have instant access if there's something you need to retrieve - provided it's not in the bottom box at the back of the shed (I did this trick once).


There's no clear winner here - it depends entirely on your specific needs.

While I can't recommend one solution over the other, and I can't even advise which option will be cheaper in general, I hope I have at least brought to your attention what some of the key considerations are and hopefully that will help you make the best decision for your particular circumstances.

If there are any other considerations or ideas that you think should be included here, please send me a tweet or use the contact form to send me a message.

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