Introduction: DIY Garden Shed
When I bought my home from my grandparents there was a little shed by the back alley way that has been there as long as I can remember. It was actually two tiny sheds combined into one.
The main half was a cheap flat pack garden kit shed no different from one you could buy at any home improvement store. On one side of it my grandpa made an enclosed lean too out of tin from tearing down other old buildings at the farm.
It had a dirt floor and the ceiling height was maybe 5ft. At the highest point and sloped downward. Plus it was full of random stuff my grandparents left behind and I added stuff that I may use for some project some day...We all do it but sometimes after years it's time to resign your treasure trash to someone else. Add insult to injury the roof started leaking after I assume 30 plus years of use. What good is a shed if it doesn't keep your stuff dry?
Time to start fresh. I did a good bit of reading and looking at shed kits and plans and I actually decided that for the money ($2500 ish) I could put down gravel and have a 20ft shipping container delivered, paint it nice and done. Done in like a days worth of work. Guess what. My city code will not allow them as permanent structure.
New plan. Build a pole shed.
Step 1: Design
Pole sheds are very simple designed and build very quickly with minimal materials. They are very common on farms. The farm I grew up on had almost a dozen varying from small pig building 6x8x4 ft high to the largest 35x50x25 ft high for storing large machines.
I decided I would build mine 12x14 with a sing sloped lean too style roof that slopes from 10 down to 8 feet. It will feature a steel room up door 8 ft wide 7 ft tall.
Many pole barns are built by putting pressure treated posts strieght into the ground or on conctrete piers. I was going to do that but my Dad talked me into pouring a full pad for the building.
Once the posts are up horizontal stringer boards are placed every 2 feet or so. The exterior (usually tin sheets) is then attached to the horizontal stringers. For a simple one slope roof I'm not making truss rafters but simply using a single board rafter that tin will also be attached to as a roofing material.
Step 2: Pour the Pad
Sorry many steps in this ible won't have a ton of photos as I was too busy working to actually stop and click the camera.
Pouring a concrete pad is very easy to describe and very hard to actually do. Without expensive fancy tools the process is very labor intensive. It almost needs at least 2 people to do anything big and going at it alone even for a small pad like a sidewalk is tough.
I decided to pour one pad all at once for consistent results. I had concrete delivered on a truck because it is better for big loads to do it that way I feel. The pad is bigger than the building 12'5" x 16'. I formed it with 2x4 so the concrete is 3.5 inches thick. Being that thin I wanted a few inches on the edges so that the holes for the anchors didn't cracked the edges. The concrete is reinforced with 3/8 steel rebar.
To make a concrete form you must first level the area as much as possible. My dad brought in a full dump truck load of soul and we borrowed the skid loader of a farmer he works for to level the soil.
Next I measures and measured and measured some more. We used a transit level to make sure we had the soil level. A transit level is a measuring device that uses a small telescope and a large yard stick or 9ft tall ruler. The telescope is set up perfectly level and can rotate 360 degress. Then you pick points (the 4 corners of the pad) and you place the ruler on each point to measure how much vertical difference there is across an area.
Example: the north corner reads 4'2" and tbe south corner 16 ft. reads 4'. The ground from north to south slopes down 2 inches across the 16ft line.
This could be done with a box frame level and you can get close but we like to use a transit.
Next measure for set backs. City code here where I live (yours will vary) says I feet from the property line and 8 feet from the center of tbe alley way. All I need is the city to come say I need to tear down my new building. Check your codes and get your permits and inspections.
Then comes laying out the 2x4s that will hold the wet concrete. Basically were making a perfectly square and level box frame. I used wooden 2x2 steaks at each end of the 1st 2x4 and got it level. One end may be a little higher than the soil. That's on because we will bottom fill with sand.
Then one board at a time using a square and a level keep making the form. Once you have all 4 sides measure from opposite corners to make an x shaped measurement. A square form will be the exact same length from corner to corner. Now put in lots of stakes. Concrete is heavy and can break the form and spill everywhere. Use lots of steaks no more than 2 ft apart. Spending $20 on stakes is way better than throwing away $600 of concrete and then spending it a second time to do it right.
Next is leveling the bottom of the form. This is done with the screed board. A screed board is a 2x Lumber that is a couple feet longer then the form. Many people use a doubled 2x4. Make sure the board is very streight. Any bow will cause the concrete to not be flat. I made my scree board out of 2 2x4 screws at a 90 degree angle. I choose that for strength and to have more surface area on the form. It is used to scrape the concrete flush to the top of the form.
Fill in low spots with sand and then screw a board the same height as the wall of the form (my case 2x4) then slide the board over the sand to level it. This will also expose any high spots in the soil. This step is to ensure you don't use extra expensive conctrete. If you don't mind paying extra and having a thicker pad this can be skipped.
Finally call the concrete company and have them deliver your concrete. The wet mud concrete comes down a trough out the back of the truck right into your form if they can park close enouhh. Otherwise you will have to cart it in a wheelbarrow to the form. Concrete trucks are very heavy and can damage lawns or even driveways. Plan ahead. While pouring the concrete to move it around the form you will need shovels and what's called a concrete rake. A concrete rake is like a large garden hoe that pulls the concrete around.
Once you have the form full screed the concrete with the screed board by pulling it forward across the form and sliding it side to side in a cutting motion. This is serious work on a 12.5 ft wide form. If you have some friends that owe you a favor call I backup. We actually overfilled the form and all the extra concrete was used to make the crude ramp to the door. The ramp isn't beautiful since I wasn't really expecting to have that mush spill over but it's better than smashing it and hauling it off. It may be replaced someday but I will leave it now. When done screening take an edger and make edge lines to help make the edges stronger and release the form boards when dry.
Once the concrete dries it needs to be cut. There are many ways to do this. Some people put in cut lines while it's wet. Some pour small pads that don't need cut. I choose to wait til it was dry enough to walk on the next morning and cut it into quarters with a concrete blade on my cicular saw. This is loud dirty work and I would advise hearing, eye, and dust protection. Use actual goggles not saftey glasses and a respirator mask not just a white dusk mask. Safe than sorry.
I used my screed board as a cutting guide. I simply measured out the cut line the screwed my screed board to the forms. It made a 16ft rip easy and streight.
Good concrete is all in the PREP work. If you're set up right and know what to do it isn't hard. Don't let a pad for a building be how you get your feet wet. Do some smaller projects first. Read and watch utube. This guide is not complete perfect how to do concrete guide.
Step 3: Concrete Anchors and Post Base
Pheww.. Still awake after all that lol. This step is not as huge.
I let the concrete cure for around a week to hit full strength and I got busy reusing all the form boards on a cart and wagon project. You can find those here:
Next I measured and measured again. This time to get the layout of exactly where on the pad my building will set.
Once I had all four ofthe corner locations I used a square and chalk lines to create the perimeter. Then measured equal distance for the interior posts.
Next I used a heavy 13 amp SDS hammer drill to drill .5 inch holes for anchors that will ultimately hold post anchors. (you can buy a great heavy SDS drill and bits at harbor freight for almost the same money you can rent one anywhere else)
NOTE: There are many different ways to anchor to concrete and your local building codes will probably dictate what you need to use.
Once the anchor holes are drilled I hammered in the anchors. Then using a special set tool I hammered in the set wedge. These anchors work by using a steel wedge inside the anchor to expand the anchor housing to create a high pressure fit inside the hole drilled into the concrete. Then the top of the anchor has female threads that the post anchor is then bolted to. The post anchor also has 4 small holes that a special concrete screw is used to create a better concrete bond. I use tap con concrete screws. They are blue and have special threads to hold strong in the masonary.
To install a tapcon use an appropriate sized masonary bit and then screw the tapcon into the hole. It's a very fast and easy way to attach small things to concrete. Just remember there is also a very large bolt and anchor holding all these post anchors as well.
What is a post anchor?... It is a U shaped peice of thin galvanized metal that has fastener holes on all 3 sides. One sides anchors to the ground and the other two anchor to the post.
The post have to be countersunk to make clearness for the heads of tbe bolt and tapcon. This does reduce the area of the post that comes in contact with the ground but for my application there is plenty left with little to no strength comprised.
Step 4: Setting Posts
Sorry again for limited photos of this step. My girlfriend's 11 year old daughter and I raised the 4 corner posts just the two of us and I didn't make time to stop and click photos.
And that's too bad because I know people out there may have trouble believing 1 man and a kid got this done.
Our process was to set a post in an anchor. She held it level with a post level while I attached some fasteners into the anchor. Then I used stringer board laid on the ground up at an angle to hold the post from falling on direction. Then repeat 90 degrees.
Once we got two posts up we then braced with actual permanent horizontal stringers. The continue with posts 3 and 4 and bam! Corners are up. Then we went through and started attaching more stringer boards to keep the corners supported by each other.
Once we got the bottom 3 stringers ran around the corners we atually called it a night lol. The next afternoon by my self I raised the remaining 8 posts. I set the post in the anchor. Leveled it and clamped it to a horizontal stringer. Than fasten it to the anchor and stringers.
It was around 6 hours labor 4 with my helper and 2 on my own and all 12 posts were up and almost half of thr horizontal stringers ran. Not to bad I feel.
Step 5: Horizontal Stringers
Quite a few of the stringers are already up at this point. The kick is I can only reach so high and the walls of the building are 8 and 10 feet high. I also can't have an 11 year old do serious ladder work.
Solution. Build a helping hand. Basically I created a simple temp bracket to hold one end of the stringer while I climb the other end and attach the stringer. The easiest way to keep the stringers equally spaced is to use a spacer board. I cut a peice of scrap wood to 21 inches and use it on each end of the stringer. The leap frog it up to the next stringer. This way they are all equal distance and no measuring needed.
There are two complicated headers on the sides that have the pitched roof that are cut at and angle to fit.
Step 6: Rafter Headers
I doubled up two 2x6 boards to create a 4x6 beam one each side. that should support the rafters. I basically doubled the top horizontal stringer. I measured and cut 2x6 to fit in between the posts. Next I used short 2x4 cleats to hold the second 2x6. To reinforce I used 90 degree framing brackets as well.
Step 7: Rafter and Eve Overhang
The first step in making a roof is to install the rafters. A rafter is simply the board or structure that holds the sheeting or paneling that makes the exterior of a roof. I am using 14 ft 2x6 as rafters. I am spacing them 12 inches on center, or basically one every foot.
To make a simple rafter for a single slope you need to do two cuts on each end. One cut is know as a birds mouth. The birds mouth is a triangular shaped notch on the rafter that lines up with the roof headers of the building. The roof header is flat and level but the rafter is angled, so the birds mouth compensates and creates a flat section for the rafter to sit on the header beam.
The other cut is called a plumb cut. This cut is to ensure the end of the rafter is vertically streight up and down .
To make these cuts one could use simple trigonometry, construction calulator, on line calcs or even phone apps can do the math for you. In a perfect world where everything is exact that's great. And credit due to anyone that percise. My building is off a bit from on end to the other so I actually hauled up a rafter board (uncut) and traced out the measurements of the header beam and used a level to strike a vertical line for plumb cuts. I did that on each side and used that template for half each way. I should have done it in thirds and made one from the middle but life goes on. The tracing took a combo of speed square, adjustable protractor, and a degree angle finder.
To hang rafters I used hurricane clips. Hurricane clips are a metal bracket designed to fasten to the rafter header and rafter while holding everything properly square. Hurricane clips may be overkill for a shed but I hate toenailing anything. These are much more solid and easy. Also they are not expensive for small projects and are strong. Please look at the photos.
Once all rafters are hung, blocking is needed. Blocking is perpinducular support for framing boards. It makes everything much more solid. I set my blocking to align with my nailer strips. More info on nailers soon.
The last step of the rafter bit is eves and faciasa boards. Rafters should always overhang a building a bit to create an eve. On the rake end (end opposite the direction rafters slope) eve's will have to be build out. I used scrap 2x6 to create a 1 ft overhang on each end. The was done by using long screws to attach short 2x6 onto the end rafters.
Fascia boards vertically attach to the eve's on all 4 sides to create the end point of tbe roof. I used 1/2 inch cdx plywood for my fascia boards to make sure I didn't go over 14 feet total rafter length. I needed to stay under 14ft because I already bought the tin. Normally one would use 1x or 2x Lumber but I made my rafters a little too long. The fascia boards box in the roof. You need the eve's and fascia boards installed to have the full length of roof to install nailers.
My building has a tin roof and no plywood sheeting(solid cover). Without sheeting the rafters need to be spaced perfectly to line up with the tin seams. I'm not that accurate and instead of full sheeting I will use nailers. A nailer strip is a board running perpinducular to the rafters that the tin sheets are screwed too. It spans thr whole length of the roof and eve's so that the time joints will always be overtop a connection point.
My nailer strips are 3/4" OSB (oriented strand board, or wafer board) set approx 24 inches apart. These boards quickly nail to the rafters.
Finally install the tin on the nailers. I have always been taught to screw ribbed in by running the screw through the rub (high point). There is much debate but I am following my teachers. On a vertical wall it may be less important but I don't want the roof to leak. The argument is screwing through the rib may leak less, screwing the flat is stronger... Fight it out in the comments lol.
Step 8: Hang Wall Tin
Step 9: Install Door
Step 10: Install Corners and Trim
Step 11: Finished!!
Now my shed is finally done. If read g currently it's not done but will be soon. I wanted to try and get into the outdoors structures contest but rain slowed me down and I'm not finished yet. I will update until it is done. Thank you.