Cost to build a shop, workshop, or outbuilding
Cost to build a shop, workshop, or outbuilding
$20 – $50 cost per square foot (prefab / retail)
$50 – $150 cost per square foot (custom build)
$18,000 – $45,000 average cost to build (30'x30' prefab)
Cost to build a shop by size
The average cost to build a shop or outbuilding is $20 to $50 per square foot or a prefabricated model or $50 to $150 per square foot total for a custom-built structure. Building a prefab 30'x30' workshop costs $18,000 to $45,000. Total outbuilding costs depend on the size, type, and features.
|Size||Square feet||Average total cost (prefab)||Average total cost (custom)|
|10'x20'||200||$4,000 – $10,000||$10,000 – $30,000|
|16'x16'||256||$5,100 – $12,800||$12,800 – $38,400|
|20'x20'||400||$8,000 – $20,000||$20,000 – $60,000|
|20'x30'||600||$12,000 – $30,000||$30,000 – $90,000|
|24'x24'||576||$11,500 – $28,800||$28,800 – $86,400|
|30'x30'||900||$18,000 – $45,000||$45,000 – $135,000|
|30'x40'||1,200||$24,000 – $60,000||$60,000 – $180,000|
|30'x50'||1,500||$30,000 – $75,000||$75,000 – $225,000|
|30'x60'||1,800||$36,000 – $90,000||$90,000 – $270,000|
|36'x36'||1,296||$25,900 – $64,800||$64,800 – $194,400|
|36'x50'||1,800||$36,000 – $90,000||$90,000 – $270,000|
|40'x40'||1,600||$32,000 – $80,000||$80,000 – $240,000|
Prefab outbuilding costs vs. custom-built
Prefab outbuildings cost $10 to $20 per square foot for the installation labor alone, while the average labor cost for a custom-built structure is $30 to $100 per square foot. Size, design, and materials affect the total cost. Metal outbuildings are typically cheaper to construct than wood framed designs.
|Factors||Prefab / prebuilt cost per SF||Custom built cost per SF|
|Materials||$10 – $30||$20 – $50|
|Labor / assembly||$10 – $20||$30 – $100|
|Total cost to install||$20 – $50||$50 – $150|
Cost to build a shop by type
The table below shows the average total cost for several types of outbuildings.
|Type||Average total cost|
|Barn (600 SF)||
|Bomb shelter (200 – 400 SF)||
|Garage / office / workshop||
|Greenhouse / garden room (500 SF)||
|Guest house (600 SF)||
|Outhouse (16 SF)||
|Pool house (300 SF)||
|Shed (100 SF)||
|Storm shelter (4 – 12-person capacity)||
|Sunroom / conservatory (200 SF)||
The average cost to build a shed is $10 to $30 per square foot installed for a prefab model or $25 to $150 per square foot total for custom-built design, depending on the type, style, materials, and labor rates. Costs increase when adding windows, insulation, or when running electricity to the structure.
A barn costs $25 to $100 per square foot to build, depending on the size and type. You can use barns as storage for equipment, hay, or livestock, as a wedding venue, or even as a primary home. Total costs depend on the barn's function, requirements, and customizations.
A pole barn costs $15 to $40 per square foot for materials and labor to build a basic open structure for storing hay and large farm equipment.
Garage or office
Building an office or garage costs $20,000 to $50,000+ on average for labor and materials. The total cost depends on the size, type, features, and finishes. A simple, 1-car garage designed to use for storage will cost much less than a finished, working office space.
Greenhouse or garden room
A greenhouse costs $5 to $30 per square foot installed, depending on the size, materials, and whether it's DIY, custom-built, or prefabricated. A simple hoop style greenhouse is the cheapest to build, but it is also more damage prone than other types. Solar greenhouses cost the most but have lower operating costs.
Geodesic or dome-style greenhouses are ideal for small spaces.
A-frame greenhouses work well in snowy and rainy climates.
Rooftop greenhouses work well in urban areas where backyard space is limited.
Pool house or guest house
The average cost to build a pool house is $150 to $600 per square foot or $45,000 to $180,000 for a custom-built 300-square-foot structure. Prefabricated pool house kits cost significantly less at $25 to $150 per square foot installed, but these structures typically do not last as long as a custom build.
Building a 600-square-foot guest house costs $50,000 to $70,000 on average or up to $330,000 for custom build with high-end finishes.
Treehouse or playhouse
Building a treehouse costs $500 to $2,000 for a simple DIY platform tree fort. Custom-built treehouse prices range from $4,000 to $300,000+, depending on the type. A simple kids' playhouse costs $4,000 to $15,000, while a livable treehouse with electric, plumbing, and high-end finishes costs $80,000 to $300,000+.
Bomb or storm shelter
A storm shelter costs $3,500 to $15,000+ for labor and materials, depending on the capacity, material, and whether it's above or below ground. Most above ground shelters cost less to install than underground units since they do not require excavation. Still, underground shelters offer the best tornado protection.
An underground bomb shelter costs $45,000 to $70,000 installed on average for a basic bunker, but prices can reach into the millions for large underground models with all the functionality of a traditional home plus luxury features and finishes.
An outhouse costs $500 to $5,000, depending on the size, design, materials, and whether it's a DIY or professional custom build. Many states now impose the same regulations on outhouse construction as they do on indoor bathrooms. This means adding building permits and inspections to the outhouse construction costs.
Sunroom or conservatory
A sunroom costs $100 to $350 per square foot installed on average, but costs can go as low as $20 per square foot for a small prefab kit to as high as $800+ per square foot for a custom-built conservatory with a foundation, insulation, electricity, HVAC, and glass walls and roofing.
Workshop cost factors
Many factors affect the cost to build a workshop, including the site conditions, structure size, design complexity, features, and finish level. The table below shows a breakdown of typical costs associated with building and finishing a workshop.
|Factor||Average rate||Average total cost* (200 – 600 SF)|
|Construction permits cost||$0.50% – 2.00% of total cost||$500 – $2,000|
|Site prep & foundation|
|Land leveling or grading cost||$0.40 – $2.00 per SF||$100 – $1,200|
|Concrete slab foundation cost||$5.40 – $8.20 per SF||$1,100 – $4,900|
|Metal roof cost||$5 – $16 per SF||$1,000 – $9,600|
|Asphalt shingle roof cost||$3 – $5 per SF||$600 – $3,000|
|Siding cost||$3 – $13 per SF||$600 – $7,800|
|Exterior door installation cost||$500 – $1,900 per door||$500 – $3,800|
|Garage door installation cost||$500 – $1,600 per door||$500 – $1,600|
|Window installation cost||$450 – $1,500 per window||$450 – $4,500|
|Framing cost||$11 – $30 per SF||$2,200 – $18,000|
|Insulation cost||$1 – $5 per SF||$200 – $3,000|
|Drywall installation cost||$2 – $4 per SF||$400 – $2,400|
|Flooring cost||$6 – $10 per SF||$1,200 – $6,000|
|Countertops cost||$50 – $150 per SF||$1,500 – $6,000|
|Cabinets cost||$150 – $500 per LF||$300 – $3,000|
|Cost to run power||$10 – $25 per LF||$500 – $3,800|
|New electrical wiring cost||$4 – $9 per SF||$800 – $5,400|
|New plumbing pipes cost||$4 – $5 per SF||$800 – $3,000|
|HVAC system cost||$3 – $6 per SF||$2,000 – $5,000|
*Prices include materials and labor for a 200- to 600-square-foot workshop built 50' to 150' from the nearest power source.
Shop building FAQs
Do outbuildings increase property value?
Outbuildings can increase or decrease property value, depending on the type and condition.
A finished pool house, guest house, or workshop may add to your livable square footage and could significantly increase your property value.
A small, well-maintained outbuilding used for storage won't increase your square footage but may still add property value, depending on the local market.
An outbuilding of any size in poor condition may decrease your property value.
What is the cheapest way to build a shop?
The cheapest way to build a shop is to buy a prefabricated metal building kit and install it DIY, provided you have the skills and building code knowledge to construct it properly. A prefab building, however, typically will not last as long as a structure built from the ground up.
Other ways to save when building a shop include:
Reducing the square footage
Using recycled or secondhand materials
Choosing budget-friendly material and feature options
Foregoing or installing only basic electrical wiring
How long does it take to build a shop?
Building a shop can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months, depending on the crew size, shop size, type, design complexity, building materials used, and the level of site prep needed. Prefabricated shops take less time to install than custom-built structures.
A small, simple, pole barn style shop typically takes just a few days to build.
A large, enclosed shop with interior finishings may take 6 to 12+ weeks.
How long does a shop or outbuilding last?
In general, a prefab outbuilding lasts 10 to 25+ years, while a custom-built shop may last 40 to 50+ years. The lifespan of a shop or outbuilding depends on many factors, including the foundation, the building material type and quality, how well it is maintained, and the weather it's exposed to.
Do I need a permit to build a workshop?
You may need one or more permits to build a workshop, depending on the local regulations and the structure's size and features. Some areas require a building permit only for structures over a specified square footage, but even a smaller workshop may still require a zoning permit in some areas.
Check with your local government about the current laws and requirements before starting any new construction project.
Is building a shop tax deductible?
Building a shop is tax deductible if you use it regularly and exclusively for a business. The shop doesn't need to be your primary place of business, but it must be used only for the business—this could be for working, storing tools or inventory, or anything solely business related.
Who builds shops?
Shop-building professionals include:
Getting estimates from outbuilding and shop builders
Follow these guidelines to help you find the best shop builder near you:
Look for licensed, insured, and bonded professionals with 5+ years of experience building shops.
Get multiple estimates with similar design and material details to compare.
Check out builder reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
Ask to visit one of their recently built structures.
Choose a builder that can work within your budget and desired timeline.
Get a detailed, written contract and warranty before the work begins.
Avoid making a large down payment and only make the final payment when the shop is built and has passed all required building inspections.
Questions to ask
Ask these important questions to help you select the best shop builder for your project:
Is your business licensed, insured, and bonded?
How many shops have you built?
Have you built a shop like this one before?
Do you have a shop nearby I can visit?
Can I see your list of references?
What does your estimate include?
Will you pull all the required permits?
Are all permit and inspection fees included in the estimate?
How do I need to prepare the yard for my shop?
How long will the shop take to build and finish?
How much do you require for a deposit?
What payment methods do you accept?
Do you offer financing?