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Sunday, November 11, 2007

So you want to build a shed...

Your closets are overflowing. The basement is a rec-room and office. You don't have an attic, and there's no room in the garage for your car. Sounds like you need a shed! Maybe you could build your own. Storage buildings aren't nearly as demanding as kitchen make-overs, and you won't have to suffer weeks of eating take-out if your project enounters unexpected delays. Let's take a look at your options.

PURPOSE: How would having a shed help you? What would you be able to store in there? Decide in advance what "stuff" can be safely moved to an outbuilding. You'll have different requirements for storing bikes and golf-clubs versus lawnmowers and garden tools. Most home-owners will limit themselves to just one shed, so size and access certainly matters.

SITE: Should you keep it close to the house, or off in a distant corner? Will your neighbors object? Give location some thought before you make this decision. A roomy flat spot in the yard is ideal, but don't forget to consider lawn-drenching spring rains or devastating blizzard winds, for instance. Will your new building be pretty enough to stand proudly near your property line? You might be better served if you can add storage closer to a back or side entrance. Check with your local planning & zoning office about setbacks and regulations before you commit to anything. You might need a permit, or even board approval.

SIZE AND BUDGET: Anything you build on land can be priced by the square foot. Sheds are no exception. Just like car tires, the bigger they are the more they cost. Eight-feet-square can be plenty when you don't need to park a big riding lawn mower inside. If you do need room for your new John Deere, though, then twelve-by-twelve isn't unreasonable. The smaller size might be built for less than a thousand dollars; the bigger one could easily cost twice that much.

MATERIALS: Want your new shed to look like your house? Maybe "keep it simple" is your motto. Or maybe this is your one chance to be creative. Metal walls and roof are usually economy options. Modern wafer-board (now called OSB), painted and trimmed in pine, is a popular choice. Most people prefer regular shingles on the roof: they're inexpensive and not too tough to install. With a little knowledge and a couple extra tools, you can wrap your building with vinyl siding. Lots of sheds feature a type of plywood called Texture 1-11: it's got grooves spaced eight inches apart with a showy woodgrain suitable for staining. Those are just a sample of popular choices.

FLOOR: For parking the garden tractor you might choose a bed of gravel. Purists insist upon a solid layer of concrete, but that's the most expensive option and usually requires a building permit. You might decide to compromise by assembling a wood-frame floor: use pressure-treated lumber and minimum 5/8" plywood. The advantage of wood floors (aside from lower cost and easier construction) is the ability to level the floor on an uneven site. Disadvantage: bugs and some rodents just love the open spaces hidden underneath. Wood floors usually need some sort of ramp for easy access, too.

DOORS: You can use a regular entrance door and lock-set. You can build your own double-doors using plywood and pine trim with some back-bracing. You could even install a miniature overhead door, especially if your garden tractor is a big one! (That might be a job for a professional, though - and a bit pricey.) Consider adding a window or two, as well, for ventilation, light, and decoration. All sheds need some sort of airflow, or they get hot and musty over time.

DESIGN: You don't need to re-invent the wheel, or hire an architect. Every home center offers books of plans and materials lists. The fancier plan-books may cost ten dollars or more, but you'll have nice color pictures and detailed instructions to help make your project go easier. Your toughest decision will probably center on the roof-line. Gable roofs look great but require some skill, while salt-box and "shed"-style roofs simplify construction. Gambrel designs (think "big red barn") have been popular, but cutting and fitting the rafters can be tricky.

CONSTRUCTION: It's only a shed. You'll need bottom plates or a floor (treated lumber). Then you'll need four walls with an opening or two. If you can cut a board to proper length and hammer a few dozen nails in straight, then you can frame-up walls. Almost all shed designs offer you the option to install your sidewall materials while the wall lays flat on the ground. You have to be very careful to square-up your walls when you build that way. Measure diagonally corner-to-corner: when both diagonals are equal, then your wall is square and ready for siding. Don't forget to account for overlapping where two walls form a corner. You'll probably add pine trim on the corners after you stand-up the walls.

Installing the roof calls for caution and finesse. Your rafters may need specific angles and precise dimensions. Plenty of perfectly-handy home-owners end up buying pre-cut shed kits just so the roof components will arrive ready to assemble. Unless you buy a completed building, however, you will have to climb up on ladders to install the roof sheeting. That's the time to recruit a helper; the job's much too annoying to handle alone. On the other hand, putting the shingles on top is easier than you might think. (They even come with the instructions printed on the wrapper!)

Once the roof is done, you can add your door(s) and window(s). You'll need a level and a few screws or nails, and some sort of lock-set or hardware. Nothing you can't handle. Once again, these items arrive with printed instructions attached, just to make your life easier! You may want to add some shelving inside, too - depends on what you're going to store in there.
PAINT: Or stain, unless you've decided on vinyl siding (or something similar). When the hammering's complete, be sure to go ahead and apply a weather-proof finish. Don't let rain or sun or insects ruin all your hard work. Even a couple of weeks' delay could be disastrous. Just do it now, so you can move your stuff in right away.

Building your own shed is a wonderful project, and the whole family can help you do it. When it's done, you can proudly point to it and say: "I built that!". You'll also have saved yourself at least a few hundred bucks on the labor. Then you can go out and buy some more stuff to put in the garage! Have fun, and don't forget to take pictures.

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1 comment:

  1. Hay Nice...

    Thanks for sharing this great information with us. This will help a person to prepare a perfect & easiest plan for them Shed.

    So, please keep updates in it.