Shed Building

I recently wanted to add a shed to our backyard. We were going to take the easy route and get a Tuff Shed from Lowes and have it all installed and built for us, but our HOA is a little restrictive and denies any sheds that are over 6′ tall (a weird restriction, maybe so it can’t be seen over the fence or something). Therefore, I had to build one myself that was no larger than 8’x10′ and no taller than 6′ from the ground to the rooftop. This would be one of the largest projects I ever attempted and wanted to share some things that worked and stuff that didn’t work. I made a time-lapse of the whole construction process, which took about a month and a half of weekend workdays, and most of it was digging the hole for the foundation: https://t.co/EFQ9V5u58i

The Best Laid Plans

I started the process by doing some research online of existing sheds, looking at some building codes (one was that the structure had to have 5′ spacing from the property line minimum), checking to see if I needed a building permit (I didn’t), etc.

As mentioned my restrictions where 8’x10′ and under 6′ from the top of the roof to base. To capture everything I started putting together the shed in the modeling program Sketch-up. This was crucial for planning and getting the whole thing to fit under 6′, I had to add in things like the thickness of the shingles, floors, and tar paper, etc. It also helped shake out some issues like mounting some boards and figuring out which boards to go where. And in my research I learned about drainage so I added a 6″ overhang to the front, back, and sides. Another interesting fact was that for shingles it’s recommended to have a 4/12 ratio meaning a drop of 4″ every 1 ft, but the minimum for the shingles to drain correctly is a 2/12 ratio. I opted for a 3/12 ratio, because I didn’t want it to leak or not drain properly but the 6′ restriction is already making it smaller then something I can stand up in and I didn’t want the thing turning into a Hobbit house. It also raised some interesting ideas on how to hammer in and attach the boards without running into issues, like the roof beams are screwed in from the bottom so it needed to be done before the roof was mounted, and is also why the top of the frame is essentially double-boarded (the orange & blue boards in the screenshot).

The BOM wasn’t too terrible. It was a lot of standard 2x4s and some extra long 2x4s for the walls and roof supports (orange and blue colored in the screenshot) and some interesting pieces.

  • I used a Tongue and Grove OSB subfloor which I guess is a newer construction material and worked well for me, but was very heavy.
  • The roof was essentially standard 1/2″ Pine plywood.
  • For the walls I went with Hardi planks for the lap siding which is a concrete fiber board instead of using plywood and standard wood boards, and got a concrete saw blade for my circular saw. Our house has the same lap siding (but slightly different style), so it helps make the whole thing match the house nicely (especially when I painted it later on) but it is a little more expensive than standard boards . I also did not put a layer of plywood between the siding and the studs, the siding is the only wall barrier.
  • For the roof I did a layer of Architectural Roof Shingles, on top of a Felt Underlayment, and with a galvanized drip edge that covers the main parts of the roof and essentially helps channel the water off the shingle and down the trim, but I got a 10′ size, so it was not quite long enough, so i did not cover the 6″ overhang on the front and back. The pinnacle of the roof is also Hip and Ridge Shingles that were cut, and not folded like some installations show, these were kind of expensive and I didn’t need that many, but alas that’s how it goes sometimes, but it looks really nice in my opinion, and with the first major rainstorm it did not leak!

Foundation Woes

Due to the 6′ height restriction, a lot of the foundation had to be dug out and it consists of a paver stone which 3 2×8’s rested on horizontally and then 2×6’s were placed on top vertically, spaced every 16′ till the edge and anchored in to 2x6s that made up the perimeter. With the floor and subfloor and stone I basically needed to get the whole thing 8″ into the ground. This ended up being a lot tougher than I thought. Here in Texas, essentially as soon as I got down 2 to 3 inches I just hit clay and white limestone everywhere, so I had a lot to dig out/break up with the pickaxe, and it being May/June in Texas it was hot 90 degree weather digging. In the end it took multiple weekends digging out the foundation and transporting the soil to our garden across the yard. Plus I had to struggle with staying 5′ away from the property line but not getting too close to the tall oak trees you see in the photos and time lapse.

Losing an Inch

Using the Sketch-Up Model was super helpful for reference, I could double check measurements with ease, and most of it all being right angles most boards were simple to cut. But as it all came together I did find that some boards didn’t line up exactly and here and there; I was a 1/4 to 3/4″ of an inch off, but luckily that was it, and I was able to compensate for it and make it up. It did have some odd consequences, such as getting the angled roof beams to fit correctly was tough, some wanted to fit and some wanted to be just short, I think some of it might have been due to the 2x4s not being entirely straight but ultimately I’m not really sure, that’s just my best guess.

This missing inches also came up when it was time to put in the windows, I was able to level and balance the windows but when the Hardie board was mounted around it, I did notice that it was on an angle or didn’t line up exactly right, and once again, only by an inch or two here and there. Overall the windows and door were much easier to install and setup then what I was expecting.

In the “Win” category

So what did go well…

One thing was that I used the air compressor to do the painting of the Hardie board. It was very simple, I put down some plastic and then taped up the windows and was able to spay the paint on evenly and I was really pleased with the end result. The only downside was that it used a lot of paint, one gallon should have been more than enough for the area covered and in the end it was just enough.

As stated earlier the windows and door were really easy to do. I was expecting them to be tougher but all I need to do was frame it up right and it just worked, things turned out level and fit easily. The door frame had a slightly warped 2×4 so I did have to cut/sand/grind down one edge near the bottom left for it to fit properly. A funny thing though, after the door was mounted and the locking hasp mounted about a week later when everything settled in and the wood started to weather the latch didn’t line up anymore and I had to remount it in a slightly different position.

A leak proof roof! Perhaps one of the biggest wins was that the time, effort, and money spent to do the roof right paid off, after numerous thunderstorms I was happy to learn that roof walls and floor are still dry. Combined with doing the trim right, a properly made roof and trim also made the end result look very nice. In fact it was so nice and dry that we did find some mice and a baby snake trying to make a home in it. A bag of mothballs placed inside drove them out and have kept them from coming back.

Overall it was quite the project and it’s lasted well and looks nice in the yard. I do hit my head now and then on the low hanging roof which can be annoying, but we’re also using to store a lot of yard supplies as well as things like the bikes and kayak which is exactly the sort of thing we needed a shed for in the first place.

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