Introduction: How to Build a 12x20 Cabin on a Budget

Picture of How to Build a 12x20 Cabin on a Budget

Building a cabin yourself is much more economical than buying a prefab storage shed. The cost of materials for this build, including doors and windows, was around $2,200, which was about the same price as the install would have been on one of this large size if I’d purchased it from a hardware store. I know this for a fact because six years ago I bought a 12x16 shed from a well-known company close to where I live and it cost $2,000 for them to build it and drop it off. Today that same building would cost $4,200. With such a big price increase I decided that if I wanted to add a cabin to my property I had to build it myself.

If you decide to do the same, remember to check with your local authorities to make sure you don’t need a permit. It’s not likely that it’s required for a building of this size, but you never know.

If you would like to see the finished inside of the cabin please click here:

If you would like to see the matching modern outhouse please check this out:

Step 1: Floor Illustration

Picture of Floor Illustration

Here is the 12x20 floor plan showing where the 4x4s and the floor joists would be located.

Step 2: Drilling and Planting the Posts

Picture of Drilling and Planting the Posts

1st picture: shows my ford tractor and my neighbors post hole digger he let me borrow.

2nd picture: shows the posts planted and the bottom 2x10 stringers.

3rd & 4th pictures: show the upper 2x10x12 and the 2x10x16 upper stringers being nailed in at 7 feet 8 inches.

Step 3: Setting the Center Rafter Board

Picture of Setting the Center Rafter Board

This picture shows the center rafter board. I measured over 6 feet to the center. The roof is going to be a 5/12 pitch roof so the rafter board had to be 30 inches to the top of the board.

Step 4: Making the Angles for the Top and Bottom of the Rafters

Picture of Making the Angles for the Top and Bottom of the Rafters

1st picture: shows using a quick square. Put the pivot point at the top of the board and turn the square until the 5 on the * COMMON TOP CUT* line graph lines up with the outside of the board. Then draw the line to make the angle.

2nd picture: Once you cut your first angle then you have to measure from the tip of your cut down the length of the rafter to get your measurement for the seat cut. Once you have that measurement then you put the pivot point on that mark and turn the square until you get your 5/12 angle again. Then measure up that angle 2 1/2 inches and draw that line.

3rd picture: shows taking the edge of the square and lining it up with the 2 1/2 in line and turn the square until the tip is lined up with the edge of the board. Then draw that line.

4th picture: shows the angle seat that I just drew cut out.

Step 5: Setting the Rafters

Picture of Setting the Rafters

1st picture: shows the rafters being set next.

2nd picture: shows the rafters on and the starting of the purlins being put on the top of the rafters for roof support. This is what the metal roofing is screwed to.

3rd picture: shows the tails all cut to 9 inches long and shows the steel roofing over hanging the roof by 2 inches to support the facia boards.

4th and 5th pictures: show the roofing installed.

Step 6: Adding on a 4 Foot Porch

Picture of Adding on a 4 Foot Porch

Here is where it started to get complicated for me. I was looking for a 12x16 cabin, but once i looked at it I decided I wanted the whole 12x16 for floor space so i added a 4 foot porch to the 12x16 to make it a 12x20 total building instead of a 12x12 inside living space.

Step 7: Side Wall and Purlin Illustration

Picture of Side Wall and Purlin Illustration

Step 8: Lag Bolting the Outer Joist to the 4x4 Poles

Picture of Lag Bolting the Outer Joist to the 4x4 Poles

I had to screw (36) 3x3/8 inch lag bolts to all the outer joists into the 4x4s for stability.

Step 9: Hurricane Studs

Picture of Hurricane Studs

1st picture: shows the (20) 13 inch hurricane studs with the 5/12 pitch angle cuts.

2nd picture: shows them installed.

Step 10: Floor Joists and Insulation and Floor

Picture of Floor Joists and Insulation and Floor

1st & 2nd pictures: show the (14) 2x10x12 floor joist installed

3rd & 4th pictures: show the 1x2 furring strips nailed to the inside of the floor joist 1 inch below the top of all the joists.

5th picture: shows the 1 inch insulation board between each joist before gluing and nailing the floor to the joist.

6th picture: shows my Dad lending a hand nailing down the floor.

Step 11: Rough Sawn Lumber for 8 Inch Board and Batten Siding

Picture of Rough Sawn Lumber for 8 Inch Board and Batten Siding

1st - 3rd pictures: show my dad cutting the siding boards to 8 foot long.

4th - 6th pictures: show the boards up on the wall and the soffit and the facia boards being put on.

Step 12: Studding in the Porch Ceiling

Picture of Studding in the Porch Ceiling

This picture shows the studding in for the porch ceiling, 16 inch centers and 4 foot long studs.

Step 13: Studding in the Front Wall and Door Frame

Picture of Studding in the Front Wall and Door Frame

Studding in the front wall and front door frame, it was a hot day!! Here's my dooraggin' Dad! Just had to take a picture of this! He-he-he...

2nd picture: my friend Josh came over for a day to lend a hand on the mitre saw.

Step 14: Gable Ends

Picture of Gable Ends

Here are the gable ends finished with the batten strips attached. All that's left for them are the two vents.

Step 15: Finished Cabin Structure

Picture of Finished Cabin Structure


Bobammax (author)2017-07-09

Untreated lumber, termites will destroy, it within a few years. Floor and Posts need to be treated

Mark 42 (author)Bobammax2017-07-10

It should be on concrete piers too. You can get pre-made ones at the hardware store with brackets for floor beams already in them.

MassSpec Man (author)Mark 422017-07-14

Mark 42 is correct. Clarify: he means stainless steel, galvanized or other that has a rebar like bottom to imbed in the concrete pier and the top has a strong "L" shape with holes to use lag screws or bolts to fasten the weight support beams. They can hold any size, for example a 2 x 8 or double (called "sistered") 2 x 8's, a 6 x 6.... You get the idea, the PT wood rests on the bottom flat metal and is bolted to the one side, thus the upper metal looks like an "L" from the side. THEY ALSO SELL ADJUSTABLE PIER WOOD SUPPORTS! How cool! Use a "hose level" and adjust them all exactly the same height relative to gravity being orthogonal. You can adjust them after the piers settle to re-level your barn or shed perfectly. Check the oil in all your engines in your barn because you know it is perfectly level if you use a hose level. Check into a hose level, it is wonderful, used by ancient Egyptians. No kidding. It is simple and works exactly perfect and reliable. Water in a clear hose will have the surface of the water at exactly the same height on both ends. Buy long flex clear tubing OR hard clear plastic cylinders that screw on both ends of a garden hose. Fill the hose with water till it is reasonably close to the ends. The shape of hose in between does not matter. Excess hose does not matter. Just make sure there is no air and all water between the ends of the hose.

actually the holes are drilled in the ground then pour concrete in the holes let dry put your pressure treated 4x4 in the ground and cover it up. thats all you do !! holes have to be no less that 42 inches deep to be below the frost line .

Sounds excellent. I've heard that best weight support is making a large pad of concrete that you let dry before you set the post on top of it. The only other consideration is that it is very good design to slope the top surface of the concrete pad away from the center just enough so water does not pool at all where the post is resting on top of the concrete. What is done above the concrete pad is not as important in agreement with you also. Concrete is actually stronger when wet, why used for bridges over water, so it absorbs water. Whether sloping and all that makes a difference is not really known.

MassSpec Man (author)Mark 422017-07-14

If you do not mix concrete for piers then they are not piers. The holes should be approximately 36" deep and large at the bottom (read to see why). First pour in about a 6 inch high "disc," this is a base at the bottom and let it harden (wet cement mix). After that dries put the post on top of it and surround with either wet concrete or dry concrete, fence builders mix with dirt but this is not a fence. The idea is to make large surfaced feet at the bottom, like the moon lander. Large surface feet at the bottom made of concrete BELOW THE FROST LINE (I deepen the hole 12" more than code for my area). The best builders make the hole for the pier larger diameter as they dig down. DO NOT EVER PUT LOOSE DIRT BACK IN BEFORE ADDING CONCRETE. YOU WANT SOLID GROUND AROUND AND BELOW THE CONCRETE PIER. You can add large blue stone or what is called stone dust, which is not dust it just has not been run through a size screen. It is also called "base." If you use base then you need to pack it in with a heavy compacting tool.

You should be using pressure treated 6 x 6 posts. 4 x 4's twist and bow. I can see in your pic that the front right post of your "stoop" is bowing.

Lastly, if you use pure wet concrete in hard undisturbed ground then at the top of the concrete pier... slope the concrete downward as you go away from the post to keep water from puddling at the top of the concrete in contact with the wood post. Do this whether the top of the concrete is above or below ground.

and no nothing is sagging . All the electric is redone properly now ill post some pics at another time

I didn't say "sagging." I said bowing. Any good fence company knows to use 5 x 5 special cut or 6 x 6. Why? The 4 x 4, even when pressure treated for ground or water contact will twist and some bow. Maybe 1 in 4 do this. I saw a 4 x 4 in your pictures already posted that has a "bow," not a sag. Do not take any of this personal please. I should take the time to do my own posting of the home we built with all the important parts. And also our greenhouse and our church. Several of us here are discussing the best way to do things that is sure to be free of any kind of troubles. That is all. It is not fair to you. I'm sure your structure is doing fine as you used a lumberyard of wood to make it. I'm sure there are no termites or wood does not rot where you live also.

And pressure treated wood is not all the same. It needs to be rated for ground and or water contact. In some areas, like the beach, a post is below the water line.

MassSpec Man (author)Bobammax2017-07-14

In our area if untreated wood touches the ground at all then the termites will make tunnels up to and in the wood. In New Orleans asian termites were brought over and they are worse than anywhere. The wood for posts and floor framing should be Pressure Treated and rated for touching ground.

djkulp (author)2015-11-26

Without any vertical support for the ridge beam ... you put 1 foot of snow on that roof ... and you will be wearing that roof.

MassSpec Man (author)djkulp2017-07-14

Absolutely Correct "djkulp!" There are no joist spans, also called collar ties. No vertical supports for the rafters of the ridge also called ridge beams. See pic everyone. This or different design is required to meet code. This coolbean design here does not meet code anywhere that I am familiar. Hurricane ties are not meant to replace joist spans. Hurricane ties are to prevent aspirating air of high winds from pulling roof up and off...not support. He needs plywood triangles and/or joist spans. Plywood triangles are at apex and both sides of ceiling joists or collar ties. (see photo for triangles, diagram for collar ties) His roof load capacity is ????? below all specs for this type of structure.

KipA2 (author)MassSpec Man2018-01-11

I am planning to build a similar size structure soon and I appreciate your comments on this a lot MassSpec, not to be 'critical' of this build so much as to educate people about the things you have mentioned which can be serious safety issues or at the very least code violations. I'm sure many people might build a similar design as a 'shed', but as a living/working space, it's good reason for caution.

MassSpec Man (author)KipA22018-01-16

I wrote the reply below this one first. So please read from lower reply first. Now the promised design strengthening and load spreading techniques:

>See diagram of "Mid Span Stringers." They are twin 2 x 4's. One is on edge and the other is against the first but on side. What is their purpose?

The board on edge is the more important board. Try to bend a board parallel to the 4 inch (3.5) side. Impossible without a huge amount of force. In our house we have 2 sets of these at both "mid span" locations. {I forgot to mention below that the triangle roof framing also rests on a load bearing wall at the midpoint of the bottom or ceiling joist boards. And due to their length the ceiling joist board across the bottom of one triangle frame is 2 boards. They overlap directly above the load bearing wall. (In building a shed, the bottom board or the collar tie, will always be a single board.) The overlapping bottom boards (ceiling joists) are fastened with appropriate Simpson Strong Tie fastening system or Timberlok Engineered lag screws or bolts. To each other and also to the top of the load bearing top board; so they are really no different than a single bottom board. But if you did this in a shed you would need rather large posts and support boards across the length of the shed. Which is fine if you like many posts and are building a very large work room/ man cave/woman cave/shed. (And the extra work involved.)} ...So because of the middle support, we have 2 "mid points" and use 2 stringer assemblies. The board on end is extremely unyielding in the vertical direction. When screwed or nailed to the top of the bottom joists it provides for a rigid and flat ceiling surface below (reduces drywall cracks). The stringer board laying flat only has one purpose; to help attach the on end board to the ceiling joists. Screw or nail the bottom of the on edge board right thru the center of the side of the flat lying board and screw or nail the flat board to the ceiling joists is the idea. The corner formed by the two stringer boards also give rigidity in both the vertical and horizontal directions. This was a VERY common practice in homes built about the time of my birth in the 1950's. Now here is a really cool added benefit which I will call spreading the load across many joists instead of a load being supported only by the joist below it. This is great stuff! After installing a stringer(s), imagine standing directly on top of a ceiling joist while upstairs making a storage space or putting in batt insulation. With the stringer in place your weight will be distributed across many joists like a flattened out bell curve. Instead of all the weight setting atop a single joist, the weight is now supported by 7 or 9 joists! (How cool is that.) Now view the second picture. There are other methods for achieving this same result. Two more are shown: solid bridging and diagonal bridging. Sorry about the res of the pic below, the top is the diagonal bridging. Diagonal bridging comes in metal form already with nailing holes and at the proper length for the size of the joist.

On our upstairs ceiling joists we used stringers, so we could run insulation batts under the bridging without as much heat transfer or cutting of the lengths of R-21 Owens Corning batts. R-21 is the best for 5.5 inches thick. You have to special order the high density insulation, not in stores. OOPS! I told you our ceiling joists are 2 x 8 ? They are not, they are 2 x 6. (true 1.5 x 5.5). And we ran standard less expensive R-30 rolls perpendicular to the insulation between the joists to cover the joist heat transfer and make the majority of the surface R-51.

Now in our basement ceiling, also our upstairs floor, we used block bridging between the joists. It was perfect for this application. There are many ways to install these including a Kreg Jig HD. Or nailing them through the joist into the end of the block bridge, which is why the picture shows them staggered. Using a Kreg Jig HD you can line them up if you want. I imagine strait block briding is about 5% or less stronger so don't be a perfectionist about this. It's the incredible advantage of weight distribution that is so cool! Underneath the upstairs bath tub, for example, we "sistered" joists and also used block bridging to distribute the water weight across as many joists as possible. Tubs can hold from 80 to 110 gallons, so at 8.34 pounds per gallon that totals around 800 pounds!

The third picture is our upstairs ceiling. My real first name is Leonardo. neck kinda hurts now so I should go. God Bless and safe building to everyone! Final hint. Get an impact driver. Best is Makita in my opinion. Check out TimberLok and "engineered lag screws" that require no predrilling and can even cut out their own bevel for a flathead screw. Also use torx drive or square drive or similar. Phillips is last resort, if you do use phillips make sure your bit fits your screws perfectly or it will be frustrating to keep the bit in the screw when you drive them. See last picture for Phillips vs. JIS, which look the same. You can not mix the two or you will strip the screws and mess up the bits.

MassSpec Man (author)KipA22018-01-16

Thank You KipA2! Sometimes I really feel that leaving comments and such is just a waste of time. You make me feel otherwise here as I like to share and help. Your comment "not to be critical of this build so much as to educate people" is right on target. I made a mistake in my analysis that must have also been confusing. I said "no vertical supports for the rafters of the Ridge also called a Ridge Beam." Well he does have a ridge beam. And a ridge beam with extra vertical supports directly below it at the two ends of the ridge beam. His ridge beam is also about twice as thick as it needs to be because the ridge beam only deals with push and pull forces along the length of it, there are no perpendicular forces to the length of the ridge beam like bending so most ridge beams are only 1 inch thick... although they are 10 or more inches in width. They have to be to be able to touch the entire end of the rafter when cut at an angle, which is longer than the rafter board width. He also has good support at the bottom of the rafters, where they touch the wall. He used a lot of extra wood to support the ends of the rafters. This is really my observation: Instead of using better DESIGN for strength, support, stability....he uses a LOT of extra wood to compensate for the lack of a better design. Along those lines I have some more design considerations that are very helpful. Now understanding WHY they work is essential so all those who don't care to know why will not appreciate the following so no comments please. (Logically you shouldn't be on this website if this includes you....just saying nicely.)

So I have a couple more considerations with explanation that I would like to share because understanding the reason for these structures was critical to my ability to build a solid home. First how we framed the roof of our home:

>Our roof framing, by code, required us to have a rafter design that is an exact triangle to start. With a ridge board and collar ties across every other rafter triangle. So a right triangle, 90 degrees at the apex, equal sides for the rafters and attached to the rafters at the bottom are boards that are also serving as our ceiling joists for the top floor. These ceiling joists or the only horizontal boards at the bottom of the triange are all attached at the ends of the rafters and these bottom boards (ceiling joist boards). The bottom corners of the triangle roof framing go out far enough past the masonry walls to form substantial eaves on opposing sides of the house. The corner of this framing at the end of the eaves has gutter boards attached, large enough to slope the gutters to the downspout(s). So this "bottom board" of the triangle extends on both sides of our house about 3 feet out so that we can open windows at the front and rear of our home during a rainstorm. OK..Now in addition to these triangles, for support structure of snow for example are collar tie boards on EVERY OTHER triangle of roof framing. They are similar if not the same in dimension to the ridge board, 1" thick and 10 or 12" wide because again this is a pulling force that keeps the rafter boards from deforming, like the roof flattening out with weight on it. The weight of all these triangles rests on top of cinderblock and brick (you can only see brick on the outside of the house). The collar tie boards are closer to the bottom within the height of this triangle (height meaning straight up from bottom to the apex parallel to gravity). I imagine these collar ties are necessary because the framing triangles are resting on the masonry walls and not nailed or lag bolted or bolted as would be true if the walls were framed wood. I believe we have some very large timbers within the masonry at the top for attachment, as we also do for installing entry doors.... but you get the point because attachment of wood within the masonry can not handle too much stress or the mortar can crack. The bottom boards (ceiling joists) are 2 x 8, the rafter boards are 2 x "larger than 8" and the ridge board and collar tie boards are 1 x "larger than the rafter boards." The collar tie boards are parallel to the bottom boards, for clarity.

ender_scythe (author)djkulp2015-11-27


TheodorE2 (author)ender_scythe2016-05-08

...or near sand dunes...(Rujberg-Knude Lighthouse Station in Zeeland, Denmark)

TheodorE2 (author)djkulp2016-05-08

Thanks for your hint, but this project is not for the "First day DIYer". Anybody tackling anything of this magnitude will realise what Rules of Static will have to be applied in their area.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)djkulp2015-11-27

well i live in upstate ny 6 foot and no problems yet been 6 years now.andthere is truss supports tied into the ceiling ..

TonyK45 (author)coolbeansbaby682016-02-10

bit late comment pal. but really like the cabin. I live in the uk and build cabins/sheds/garages here surrounded by building regs supervised by kids fresh out of college don't know shxt except what they get taught. no hands on experience. your lucky to be able to build your own. might look at moving somewhere same

LiaP2 (author)TonyK452016-04-06

Hi Tony, how much wold you say a shed like this would cost to build here in the UK? Just the materials. Thank you :-)

maewert (author)2012-09-02

I enjoyed this instructable. Nicely done and well thought out.

At first I was concerned about the roof system, however. (I'm used to building in the mountains where we could get a 3 foot snow load so I'm a little paranoid.) My concern in that over time a heavy snow load would press down on the roof, and the forces would tend to bow the center rafter board at its center, which would pull the center 4x4 posts away from each other at their tops. While the two 2x10 stringers would hold the corner posts together (one at each end of the building) the center post 4x4 tops are mostly held in by the strength of the 4x4 itself (being held straight by the concrete base). The double stringers on the long sides would provide some resistance for the center 4x4 tops from being pressed outward but their real strength is set to provide sagging resistance for the rafter boards. Of course if this began to happen you could always add another internal stringer between the center 4x4 posts (either made of wood or metal) but this would be a shame to break up the nice open internal roof space.

Maybe your snow loads are light enough to never see a problem! I just would hate to see heavy snows and wood bending over time to ruin your good work.

Best Wishes

menahunie (author)maewert2012-09-02

I would have to agree with your assessment.
I one of my first jobs in life was building houses and this is not a "cabin"; just a "shed".
It is not fit for habitation if that is what this poster is going to use it for.
Granted it looks nice and that is about as far as it goes.
Snow load is poor due to the roof constructed; I would put money down it collapses when there is heavy snow or starts to cave in after a number of snows.
The posts buried in to the dirt with no concrete footing as well as they are now termite magnets. Also six basic legs supporting an x number thousand or so pounds of roof that can and will fall on you when it collapses.
Very poor horizontal and vertical bracing in the walls; good storm and the wind will push it over..
I would have sheeted the outer wall with either plywood or the current sheeting used on houses; far cheaper than what was used.
As one poster pointed and I do as well as I now buy shipping containers instead.
Way Way stronger and way way more secure. I just construct a gabled roof and bolt it to the top and cut my door and windows. I also sheet the outside with the current housing wood sheeting and it really looks nice; steel underneath it..

hohum (author)menahunie2014-07-16

Menahunie, I like the shipping container idea, would it work if you added space to the outside wall, then poured in the 2 part insulation??


albertd58 (author)hohum2018-01-11

use foam insulation. kills the noise to.

Joe Smania (author)menahunie2013-01-05

An easy fix for the snow load concerns is to simply put in some collar ties, either 2x4 or 2x6 which ever makes you feel better..... 2x4 would be just fine.

You do not have to put them in at wall height, and if you just did them in the area in question (say, oh, about an 8’ to 10’ section dead center) and sheeted the bottom of it you could have a nice spot to mount a light, or use as storage for fishing poles etc.... or you could put two sets in said area, one set about 1’ under the ridge, and the second set 1’ to 2’ above wall height …….. Either way, this would hold the outward pressure on the walls, from any weight exerted on the roof system.

yes, a better set up would be a 2 ply 2x10 glue lam beam and a 3/8 inch thick plyboard core with 2x6 truss planks secured to the beam by hurricane clips. i would have also added 2x4 studs set at 16 in centres, maybe even adding a couple more purlins. then again, mother and i always over engineered our projects lol.

captaincombat1 (author)2015-09-23

Lovely building, NICE craftsmenship!

albertd58 (author)captaincombat12018-01-11

a way around a permit is to build it on a trailer frame. like a mini house. no permit needed, and no taxes on a home( its a trailer not perminant strucher'.

you still frame it and make it as you can have a pushout wall and fold down roof too make it wider. check out mini houses. al

thank you very much

trigger1982 (author)2017-10-31

Is there a materials list for this in the download?

Wind2 (author)2017-10-24

Idea is sound the construction on the other hand isn't . I just skimmed the pictures and i can tell you if it needed to be inspected it violates the national uniform building code in the united states . Most places have it set so you can build up to 256 sqft with no permit as long as it isn't taller than 8 feet , not within 15 feet of a separate structure and within the setback limits . The problem with the construction is the the bracing on the top and sides are attached incorrectly , you should have notched the wood so the load placed on them would transfer to the 4x4 post. As you have built them you are dependant on the sheer streanght of nails and lag bolts for structural support wich defeats the purpose of having 4x4 post as it weekens the whole structure .

serpi001 (author)2017-10-23

hi massspec ! i have 40 acres in northern az! it is a betty remote place! and i soon plan on building a 16'x24' cabin (little house), do you think i will not be in trouble for building without a permit?

rendiggy (author)2017-08-12

While you do not necessarily face legal repercussions for failing to get permits, you can have problems in resale and insurance. On resale, new buyers are encouraged by their realtors to check all permits for work and if there are no permits they will often require some sort of correction - either pull a retroactive and have the work inspected or they may push for all the work redone. Sometimes you just lose out on your asking price. But my father-in-law is an inspector and I get the impression from him that the building codes are more strictly enforced on the commercial side. It also comes back to your neighbors a lot of times, as they would be the ones to report work on your property. If you have nice neighbors, or neighbors who mind their own business, you may never have anyone bug you. And if you have an HOA, you can just forget it... they won't let you do anything on your own!

MassSpec Man (author)rendiggy2017-08-22

The work that we do is so awesome that people fight over the houses in which we have worked. No one has ever asked to check for permits. Whether we get a permit is up to the homeowner. I prefer that they comply with the law but most people here do not. For example, you can not get a permit to finish a downstairs in most all houses that have unfinished basements in our city because the ceiling height is too short by about one inch. NO ONE tries to get a permit because they know they can't. In a basement that we have finished we have many tricks to make the ceiling as high as possible. You would never know or even think about ceiling height in one of the basements that we have done because all the work is planned out and done so well. Yes, the homeowner is the one stuck if permits are asked to be checked but then another buyer in our area would be fighting with him to buy the house anyway. They are all the best homes on the inside of the entire neighborhood. Most every home I see that we have not done is a mess inside. YOU MAKE A GREAT POINT ABOUT INSURANCE. WILL YOUR INSURANCE CHECK FOR PERMITS? AND WILL YOU HAVE ALL THIS EXTRA $100K OF WORK COVERED IF YOU HAVE A FIRE? For us we told our insurance that the work was mostly done by the owners before us. They were the ones who did not get the permits, not us. In my experience insurance companies have their own people who check things out in a very rough fashion. How many rooms are finished? Do we have a fire escape from the bedroom downstairs? And yes, we installed a casement window that passes code for fire escape. It's determined by the height of the casement window from the floor. They didn't check permits as the people who manage the permits are incompetent. Government. They came out to measure a deck we built and didn't even know how to measure it. They put a tape measure across it diagonally, two high school girls who got jobs because of quotas and they could barely read and knew NOTHING about construction. This is who the local permit and licensing office sent out... to raise our taxes. Just because we built a deck. It increased our escrow!

MikeRathke (author)2017-07-30

Wow! Very cool! I'm gonna bookmark this for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

aebe (author)2017-07-15

A source for plans and other goodies is the US Forest Service , and other Dept of Agriculture agencies .

MassSpec Man (author)2017-07-14

Why am I just getting this Instructable to my email today? This is 5 years old?

MassSpec Man (author)2017-07-14

Below comment missing photo and drawing. This "shed" is missing roof support structure as shown here:

MassSpec Man (author)2017-07-14

Absolutely Correct "djkulp!" There are no joist spans, also called collar ties. No vertical supports for the rafters of the ridge also called ridge beams. See pic everyone. This or different design is required to meet code. This coolbean design here does not meet code anywhere that I am familiar. Hurricane ties are not meant to replace joist spans. Hurricane ties are to prevent aspirating air of high winds from pulling roof up and off...not support. He needs plywood triangles and/or joist spans. Plywood triangles are at apex and both sides of ceiling joists or collar ties. (see photo for triangles, diagram for collar ties) His roof load capacity is ????? below all specs for this type of structure.

megnwayn (author)2012-09-05

Don't try building this in New Zealand! It does not comply with the Building Code and you also risk a substantial fine if it is constructed without a Building Consent.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)megnwayn2012-09-27

What are your building codes ? Why doesnt this work

megnwayn (author)coolbeansbaby682012-09-28


Building in New Zealand is governed by the Building Code and by NZS 3604:2011 (Timber-framed building standard.)

This instructable infringes the NZ standard in so many ways that it would not pass initial scrutiny by a Local Authority if a Building Consent application was to be lodged.

A few points -

1) The joists are too close to the ground, are attached to the boundary "bearer" with nails in shear and have no approved metal hangers.
2) Foundations can be either a concrete slab with footings and steel reinforcing to suit the site or piles (set in concrete) which support bearers which in turn support the joists. A "pole" building such as this does not comply.
3) Wall framing must be by way of studs (size and spacing to NZS 3604) - a building of this sizs would need guaged 100mm x 50mm studs. Walings fixed to posts to support cladding is not acceptable for a habitable building. The entire floor, walls,roof and cladding on this instructable are supported by coach screws in shear.
4) The rafters are not connected be either ceiling joists or collar ties to prevent the walls being forced apart under live roof loads.
5) There are no moisture barriers in floor, walls or roof.
6) There appears to be no head flashings to the joinery.
7) Bracing, under the code, is inadequate for wind and earthquake.

I do not suggest that the building causes danger to its occupants - just that the NZ viewer was thinking of building it in their yard and by doing so would cause much trouble for themselves.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)megnwayn2012-10-01

Sounds like a head ache for you guys

megnwayn (author)coolbeansbaby682012-10-01

No - not really. It just means that tried and tested building methods are used -, which perform well in our local conditions. In addition a structure which requires a Building Consent can only be built by a Licensed Building Practitioner (tradesman carpenter).

coolbeansbaby68 (author)megnwayn2012-10-02

Yikes you mean you cant build it yourself?

"the rafters are neither connected by ceiling joists or collar ties." just to start. This is not the bureaucracy part. These are the physics of building and engineering so it doesn't fall apart. If you wanted to design housing then you should have been an engineer. Or use an engineer's plans. Or learn about building construction. You have negated needed construction that is glaring to even an amateur builder.

megnwayn (author)coolbeansbaby682012-10-02

That's correct - you can't build yourself. You can assist a Licensed Building Practitioner who oversees your work and who must sign off all the works before a Code of Compliance Certificate is issued at job completion by the Local Authority which issued the Building Consent

The idea is to protect subsequent building owners by having property records show that the building was constructed to the Building Code by proper use of the Standard..

MassSpec Man (author)megnwayn2017-07-14

The homeowner can build if he passes tests to get certified and also if his drawings, audit of initial construction and audit of finished construction all pass by the visiting local permits engineer. Or not get a permit which 90% of Americans prefer. And yet they vote for MORE government, except the most recent election.

MassSpec Man (author)megnwayn2017-07-14

Ours is exactly the same if you go to the local government for a permit. It is evident he did not go to get a permit as they would have rejected his drawings. YES, drawings are required in the USA. It's not a swingset. You need drawings for any structure, deck, etc. that involves human beings. He knows nothing and his design is glaring that he does not know.

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