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Too Much Stuff!

13th December 2009


The garage was beginning to fill up with way too much stuff. Both cars would still fit, but the growing clutter around the place made it harder and harder to get in and out of the vehicles. It was time to do something about it. A backyard storage shed was just the solution to help relieve the clutter. About 25 years ago or so I built a backyard barn from a kit bought at a local lumber yard, so I checked back with them. For a fee they would provide the plans and pull the materials list from their stock. That would have been the quickest and easiest way to go (other than having a pre-built shed delivered), however the fees seemed a little steep to me. I decided to custom build to my own specifications. As always, cost is the primary factor with any of my DIY or home projects; however, the best balance between cost and quality is the ultimate goal. One of the first ways I came up with to cut cost was to reduce the size from the standard 8? x 10? down to 8? x 8?, which would allow me to minimize waste in standard building materials.

Foundation: Just from the little experience I have had with portable outbuildings, the floor and foundation seem to be the weak link. The floor of the first shed I built was simply 5 pressure treated 4 x 4 skids, in direct contact with the ground, laid parallel with 3/4 inch plywood attached on top with deck screws. Over time the skids sank unevenly into the ground which made for an uneven floor. The parts of the shed that eventually came close to ground contact also led to some premature wood rot. I decide to use the same style of floor but beef it up a bit and also set some concrete blocks as a foundation. I had some old blocks stored in the backyard so I decided to use what I had.


The location where I decide to place the shed wasn’t quite level. I tamped down the ground around the highest ground and placed cap blocks on the surface. I buried concrete block level with the cap blocks in the lowest areas. All of the skid will have some sort of concrete under them. I realize this isn’t much of a foundation but if the shed ever does sink (which I fully expect it will), I will be able to shim the skids back to level fairly easily and keep the foundation above ground contact.


I still used 4 x 4 skids but I joined 2×4’s into the skids with half lap joints, glue and deck screws. Once I had the foundation built and set onto the concrete blocks, it was an easy task to shim and level. Before attaching the deck with deck screws, I covered the skids with 30lb roofing felt. I needed the felt for the roof anyway so this would have been left over from the roll.

Roof Trusses: Most of the construction of this shed took place in the garage. Since it is the middle of winter, the garage was definitely the place to work. Once I had the floor installed and had the exact measurements of the floor, I went back to the garage to work. I knew I wanted the knee walls to be 4 foot tall or under. This way I would be able to maximize the use of the 4×8 sheets of siding I planned on using (I sheet cut in half for the sides and 2 sheets a piece for the front and back). I laid out the bottom half of the front facade on the garage floor with 2×4’s cut to length. With the help of my girlfriend, we laid out the profile of the roof trusses with 2×4’s. Originally I had planned on designing the trusses so that they could be sheathed with only 3 sheets of wafer board and to also minimize the number of shingles required. Although it would have been possible, I wasn’t happy with the height or shape of the roof. Carri convinced me alter the roof profile to maximize for interior ceiling height and space. It was a good call. Most of the backyard barns I have looked at use simple 45 degree angles. We decide to go with 20 degrees on the bottom, 30 degees on both hip joints and 10 degrees on the ridges. These simple adjustments led to much more head space while still keeping the look and feel of a barn roof. The top of the roof is relatively flat with the steep sides, which provided a great deal more space in the interior with only a slight increase in the amount of sheathing and shingles. It worked out very well.


Frame: I built the 2 side knee walls in the garage and nailed them to the foundation, squared them true and began to install the trusses. Even though I had pre-cut all the truss pieces the same, the slight variations in each piece or the variations in putting them together caused a few problems. Not all trusses were exactly alike. I was able to correct for the differences in span of the trusses by separating with a 2×4 wedged between both sides or pulling the two ends together with ratcheting nylon straps. Once the widths where corrected, the ridges didn’t line up exactly, but the sheathing and shingles would cover any imperfections. It’s not exactly perfect, but then it’s only a shed. Next time I will either build a jig or build each truss on top of each other to ensure exact duplicates.


Once the trusses where installed and squared as true as I could get them I custom cut and fit each piece of the front and back walls. I didn’t have any written plan so I improvised as I went.

front facade

Once the frame was complete, I re-adjusted for square with the nylon straps and began to install the siding and sheathing. Once the sheathing was installed I removed all the straps and braces. I cut the side and roof panels to the exact dimensions but the front, I tacked on full sheets of siding and cut off the excess to shape with a reciprocating saw. It all went together quite quickly and easily.


Doors: Another weak point of backyard barns I’ve noticed are the doors. Many are simply constructed of siding with some trim tacked onto the surface. I decide to build a sturdier door, yet still keep the cost down. I used standard 2×4s jointed with some of the same type of joinery I used in the foundation, simple half lapped joints with rabbeted inside perimeters to accept the siding panels. The joints were glued and screwed, and the panels were glued and nailed. This made for a substantial door.



Once the shell was complete, I shingled the roof and trimmed the front and sides and door with cedar fencing ripped to width. The fencing worked very well for the trim. It’s a little thinner than standard 1×4 trim but the cost savings was substantial. It looked good and I know it will last much longer than the pine trim many of the barns I looked at used.


Finishing Touches: I had hoped to use scrap hinges and deadbolts to mount and complete the doors. Unfortunately, the typical household door hingesI had around were to narrow to use. Even though the doors where relatively small, they were still quite heavy (approximately 12 lbs/piece). I came across a local company that manufactures hinges for the fencing industry. I used two pair of heavy duty wood gate hinges from Tulsa’s Ameristar Fence Company. The quality of these hinges where outstanding. The doors hang true and operate easily with absolutely zero perceptible play. I’ve been told that these hinges will perform like this for their life. They look nice also.

I still need to paint and add a few more pieces of cedar trim to skirt the perimeter, but for the most part the shed is complete. I’ve added pegboard, hooks, shelves, and a small work bench. I also hung a couple of braces between the trusses. This allows me a great deal of storage space that other wise would have been wasted. I’m using this space to store my trailer’s side rails, but I still have room to store more flat stock. I’ll add more shelves and hooks as needed.

pegboardshelveswire shelvesbench

It’s just a shed, but it has been a lot of fun to build. A made a few mistakes, but I like to think of them as alternative design choices. The backyard barn looks good, it’s very functional and I did it myself.

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