They laughed when I told them I was going to build my own shed but when they saw it...

You can build your own shed successfully,
even if the only thing you have hit with a hammer is your thumb.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

DIY Shed Plans - What you need to know - Part 2

I am assuming that you have now purchased either a shed kit, a diy shed plan and purchased all the materials on the list and are ready to go. Check your dimensions carefully, depending on where you got the design the measurements could be feet and inches or metric they'll be marked as ft, in or mm respectively. The rest of these articles are not relevant to you if you have contracted a builder to do the whole job. Wait for it to be built, pay the bill, and enjoy your new shed.

This article will cover site preparation which is the phase you will need to consider next if you want to get a good solid construction. This is true if you are going to get a full service job, it's a diy project, kit or full construction. I'll assume that this is a full build-your-own shed construction project. There are several different types of foundation you can use. There is a full concrete slab, concrete footings, wooden posts, skids or no footing at all. Whichever your shed plan requires the site layout procedure is the same.

Begin by pegging out the base of your new shed. You can use standard garden stakes for this as they will probably get broken or lost and they are really only there to assist with the initial alignment. It is crucially important that you do this job as carefully as you can. Remember that you need to begin with good preparation. Like everything you do, the quality of the completed job is determined by the accuracy of the design and the quality of the preparation.

The way you peg out a site is to determine the first corner and then use that peg as the reference for the other three pegs. Do not use your fences as the alignment of your site preparations because they may not be square. Always measure your site independently of the surrounding structures.

So you have the key corner stake in place, how do you determine the location of the next stake? You can't just measure the distance from the key stake to the next one by using the dimensions on the shed blueprints. But that is exactly where you must start. What you do is tie a length of builders twine between the other stakes which are the correct length for that side. But that's not all, to get the shed square you will need to also add a diagonal string between the opposite corner stakes. By setting the stakes where all of the strings are evenly tight you will have the base of your shed site square and correctly aligned. Yes this takes time and is fiddly but well worth the time and effort.

How do you work out how long the diagonals should be? Remember you old friend Pythagoras from math class at school? Yep, that stuff finally becomes useful and with the calculator on your computer this is easy stuff. But here's a sneaky little trick you might not know, Google can do this for you. Type this "sqrt(width^2 + length^2)" (without the quotes) into the Google search field and hit the enter key. Replace the width and length with the width and length of your shed and Google will return the length that the diagonal needs to be. How cool is that?

With the space pegged out you can now see what you need to do to level off the area. You may not need to level it off. If you are building your shed on a post system off the ground or concrete footings then levelling the site may only need to be minimal. If you are building on a concrete slab you will need to get the site level and then dig out the footings for the vertical supports.

Even for a diy shed project this part of the job will be done best by using a Bobcat or similar front-end loader. If you have not used one of these before save your sanity by hiring an operator to do the job for you. In fact it is best to get a professional to pour the concrete slab as well but you could do that bit yourself if you have had some experience with working concrete. A big slab needs to be worked in a timely manner because once concrete is poured it begins to set and you have a limited amount of time to get it spread evenly and smoothly.

If your shed design calls for services in your construction you will need to put them in place now. At the very least you will need to put conduit in place with pull-through cord for electrical wiring, and or the piping in place for any plumbing.

If you are building on posts or just installing footings for the uprights you will need to dig holes for each post or foot and pour the concrete for each of them taking particular care that they are all the same level. Use a long board and a spirit level. Get them even before you pour the concrete or you will have several at the wrong height. Check often as you pour the concrete as the posts often move when you settle the concrete in. Many builders nail a cross board on the supporting posts to locate them at the correct height prior to pouring in the concrete.

It doesn't matter whether you're using a shed kit, building direct from diy plans, constructing a storage building like a shed or barn or something much smaller than either like a potting or garden shed.

That pretty much sets up the site preparation and now you are ready to build you own shed.

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