Portable Building Sizes

Dan Salinger - June 10, 2023

Portable buildings have become increasingly popular. Many people have thought of portable buildings as tents for large parties or poorly constructed sheds. However, Portable buildings encompass a vast array of quality built structures. This article will discuss portable building sizes that are available to you. Let’s get a better understanding of what a quality portable building is.

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What Are Portable Buildings? 

A portable building is defined as a custom-built structure built on a skid foundation. The most common portable buildings are sheds, garages, and cabins. What makes these buildings portable is their ease of deliverability. No matter the size, a portable building is delivered using a specialized truck and trailer. Once the truck arrives at your desired location, a mule sets your building into the exact position you want it. The delivery process of a portable building will look very similar to the video below. 

What Is A Portable Shed?

Portable sheds are made from high-quality lumber. A quality portable shed is a pre-fabricated building constructed off-site and delivered to the customer. A portable shed’s size can be compact enough for a few garden tools or large enough for a whole landscaping crew’s needs. A custom-built portable shed is a versatile option for a storage solution, office space, art studio, or other needs!

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What Is A Portable Garage?

A portable garage is a custom-designed portable building that is built off-site and delivered to the customer’s final location. Portable garages can be made from cloth, metal (such as a carport), and wood. While carports or fabric garages serve a purpose, they are not nearly as robust and durable as a wooden garage. A solid wooden portable garage can be used just like a traditional garage, whether you need to store a single vehicle, multiple ATVs, or anything else you need space for. Quality portable garages are built to satisfy the needs and design desires you have.

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What Is A Portable Cabin?

Portable cabins are premade dwellings built off-site and then moved to the desired location of the customer. Portable cabins can be custom-built to the look, size, and feel that is desired. Your desire for a small weekend retreat, family getaway, or primary residence is possible with a portable cabin.

To gain a better understanding of how portable buildings are constructed, take a look at the video from our founder Kris Zimmerman.

Portable Building Size Usable Space

As you progress through the article, you will see that the usable space varies from the actual width and length of the building’s size. The “discrepancy” exists because the size given does not account for the space lost from the materials that are used during the construction. A good rule of thumb is to remove 1’ from the length and 1’ from the width when determining what your usable space will be.

portable building usable space for 10x12 shed in cuba mo

*Disclaimer: The intention of this graphic is to give you a principal idea of how internal and external measurements differ. For an accurate representation of our measurements, look at our website. Or, see our article on 7 Garden Shed Interior Storage Ideas to make more use of all the interior space of a building.

Maximum, Minimum, and Average Portable Building Sizes

Portable buildings come in a wide variety of sizes. The size of the portable building will significantly impact what you can do with your structure. Whether you need a storage shed or an oversized garage, it is crucial to know what different sizes are available to you.

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What Is The Smallest Portable Building Size?

The smallest size portable building that 5-Star Buildings creates is 8’x12’. A portable building of this size will give you approximately 77 square feet of usable space. With 77 square feet of usable space, this sized portable building is ideal for the hobby gardener or someone needing to store a few seasonal items.

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What Is The Largest Portable Building Size?

The largest portable building that 5 Star Buildings creates is 16‘ x 48’. A portable building of this size will give you approximately 705 square feet of usable space. With 705 square feet of usable space, this portable building is an excellent fit for a multi-vehicle garage or portable cabin. 

What Is The Average Portable Building Size?

The average-sized portable building is 10’x16’ and will give you approximately 135 square feet of usable space. This portable building size may be larger than what you need. However, it is a great idea to keep in mind that most people find this size portable building suitable.

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Popular Portable Buildings Sizes

You are not alone in your search of a quality portable building if you are working with a local reputable builder. Understanding what size building you need will make the difference between getting what you need or being unsatisfied with your purchase, so you want to take your time on this step. To help you understand what building will suit your needs best, the list below will help you identify what some of the most-searched-for buildings have to offer.

16×40 Portable Buildings

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A 16×40 portable building offers 585 square feet of usable storage space. A portable building of this size is a beautiful addition to any property for large storage amounts.


It goes without saying that a 16×40 portable building offers a lot of space. Traditionally, this size portable building is used for garages and cabins.  It’s large enough for larger equipment storage if you install an overhead garage door. At 585 usable square feet, you can create a nice cabin or larger tiny house for long-term living. Another idea for a 16×40 building is to convert the area into a half office, half garage and make the space a genuine multipurpose building.


A 16×40 portable building will take up a footprint of at least 640 square feet. While this square footage is excellent for large-item storage, it is as large as an NYC apartment, so you are going to need some space on your land.

12×24 Portable Buildings

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A 12×24 portable building offers about 253 square feet of usable storage space. A portable building of this size begins to get us into the mid-sized storage range. 


253 square feet sounds like an awful lot of storage space, and it is. A portable building of this size will allow you to comfortably store a vehicle and an ATV. Perhaps you don’t have that many vehicles to keep stored. A 12×24 portable building has enough space for a workbench and a vehicle storage area.


The footprint of a 12×24 portable building will take up at least 288 square feet. This exterior size is typical of a small 2-car garage. While this building size is great if you only desire to store 2 small vehicles, many people have found that an interior modification of a loft is needed to store more than that. However, a quality portable building manufacturer can typically add in a loft if you desire.

12×20 Portable Buildings

12x20 portable buildings for sale in mo

A 12×20 portable building offers 209 square feet of usable storage space. A portable building of this size is great for someone needing more than just a basic storage solution.


209 square feet is the perfect size for an oversized single-vehicle garage. A Cadilac Escalade would be able to fit in this portable garage comfortably. Conversely, if you do not need a portable building this size for a single vehicle, storing a smaller sedan and a few odds and ends is an excellent option for using this size portable building.


Taking up 240 square feet of space, it can seem like this portable building is a power horse for storage room. However, this size portable building does leave many people desiring more space. If storing a single vehicle is your goal, this will be a great portable building. If you prefer more storage space than a single car, this building will fill quickly.

10×16 Portable Buildings

10x16 potable building size for sale in woodlan lakes mo enhanced


135 square feet of storage space is a solid option for a person who needs a little bit of storage space. Larger than the smallest size portable building on the market but not so big it can’t fit in your yard, we like to say this shed “is just right.” You will be able to store all your gardening and lawn care supplies with ease or have a great home office. Additionally, the 10×16 is the most common portable building size and is a great point of reference to know that most people find this size suitable.


When you need a portable building that is multi-use, this building is not a good fit. Some of the larger sizes of portable buildings can be fitted as a dual work zone such as storage space and an office. However, this portable building this size is not able to do that.

How Do I Choose The Right Portable Building Size?

Determining what size portable building you need is overwhelming. You need a surefire way to know that the portable building size you are purchasing is the right size. Two easy ways to determine what size you need are by: 

  1. Knowing your usage intentions
  2. Knowing the contents, you intend to store.

Choosing A Portable Building Size Based On Use

portable building sizes in mo

What you intend to use your portable building for will help you determine the correct building size to purchase. Typically, there are three primary uses for each building size: Shed storage, garage, or living space. To help you determine the size you need, here are a few items to consider. 

Portable Buildings For Shed Storage:

portable buildings for storage shed usage

No matter the “stuff” you have, you need a place to keep it. A portable building is a cost-effective and beneficial way to store your belongings compared to the storage alternatives. One of the standard storage alternatives is the self-storage unit. The self-storage unit is only 100 square feet and rents for around $140 a month. Instead of renting a self-storage unit, you can finance a rent-to-own portable building of the size you need for a comparable price, if not less.  

Portable Buildings For Garage Space:

portable buildings for garages in barnhart mo

Storing your car away from the elements is a common issue we all have. A portable garage allows you to have a building dedicated to one of the most significant assets, your vehicle. The average car garage attached to a home is 12 x24. However, a portable building can be designed to the specifications you need. Whether your portable garage is for a smart car or for multi-car storage, a portable garage can be constructed to your specifications.

Portable Buildings As Living Space:

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Making great memories with our family is something we all want to do. A portable cabin is a great place to have those memories happen. It doesn’t matter if your portable building is used as a primary residence or vacation spot. Our largest size portable building, 16’x48’, will give you a minimum of 705 square feet for your living space. As the cost of traditional homes and vacation rentals increases, a portable building of any size is an option worth considering.

Choosing A Portable Building Size Based On Contents:

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The contents you need to put in your portable building are very important. While other options for storage exist outside of portable buildings, they can be limiting in their configuration. On the other hand, a quality and robust portable building can be configured to store what you need. To be able to hold what you find important, two primary items should be done to make the selection process of a portable building successful. Let’s start with the first one.

List What You Want To Store In Your Portable Building:

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Listing the items you want to store in a portable building may seem like a “duh” statement. However, understanding your storage needs is vital to having the appropriate portable building size. When you begin making a list of your storage needs, traditionally, it is best to start with the largest items first and work your way down to smaller items. 

Some everyday items people store in their large-sized portable buildings are:

Some common items people store in their smaller sized portable buildings are:

These are not exhaustive lists, but you will probably have some items on each list that you desire to store. To remedy that situation, a mid-sized portable building may be worth considering for your storage needs. Now, onto the 2nd item, you will want to consider.

Draw A Portable Building Floor Map

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No matter the size of the portable building you decide is best for you, it will be helpful to layout a floor plan. The floor plan of your portable building’s size will help you visualize where to store your items. Seeing how the items will be stored in a way that gives you perspective on the ease and efficiency of your storage layout. To help you understand the layout of your building(s), we have found that using a tool like Smart Draw is very helpful. Check out this post about 10×16 portable buildings to be able to better visualize how different layout designs can work.

Portable Building FAQs:

How Many Kinds Of Portable Buildings Designs Are Available?

Many portable building companies have multiple choices of building styles to choose from. At 5 Star Buildings, we have 3 primary buildings styles available in numerous designs. 


A quality-built portable garage starts at a size of 12’ x16’ and can be built as large as 16’x 48’. No matter your needs for a portable garage, you will be able to select the size garage that will accommodate your desires.


A quality-built portable shed starts at the size of 8’ x 12’ and can be made to the largest size of 16’ x 48 ‘. This portable building style suits the needs of a plethora of uses, from a small garden shed to a sizeable at-home office space.


An excellently constructed cabin begins at the size of 12’ x 16’ and can be created to the immense size of 16’ x 48’. The portable buildings sizes in the category ensure that even a smaller dwelling can be an enjoyable place to spend time.

Are All Portable Buildings Created The Same?

Not all portable buildings are the same. A quality portable building of any size should be built to residential standards. More budget-friendly portable buildings do exist. The sacrifice of these portable buildings would be their construction may not be high quality and will not last as long.

Can My Portable Building Be Customized?

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A portable building of any size can be customized to fit the design needs that you have. Some of the design features for your portable building include;

Overall, a portable building of any size should be designed to fit the needs you have, not the other way around.

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Portable buildings come in various sizes; some options of our smallest options are 8′ x 12′, while more extensive custom-built options can be as big as 16’x 48’. Each size has its pros and cons.  The best way to know what size portable building will work for you is to list what you will need to store and sketch out a floor plan to see how it will fit. By doing your research, you will find what portable building size suits your needs best by doing your research.  

At 5 Star Building, we are happy to help you figure out what will serve your needs. What size portable building do you think suits your needs the best? Fill out a quote form and see how we can create a portable building for you!

If you are ready to start designing, try out our 3-D Builder!