Plan Post: the Shed

Progress on the shed expansion has been slower than expected, but it is underway. This is just one of those tough things about trying to squeeze projects around a busy schedule. I work full-time during weekdays, and one week, for example, I had a book club meeting on Monday night, a date on Tuesday night, and a date on Friday night. Weekends are a little more open, but I still need set aside time to manage the bedrooms I rent out on AirBnB and the rest of my house and garden chores.

I’m not saying this to complain or make excuses. Rather, if you live in a similar situation, be aware that projects might take a long time to complete because you have to squeeze in little chunks of work over a period of weeks or even months. And that’s fine – the important thing is to make steady progress.

Of course, before any of that, I like to have a good plan. The plan for this expansion grew out of several sources. Since I’m building off of an existing shed, some of my dimensions (like wall-height and roof-slope) are already set. I also watched some YouTube videos and researched individual parts of the project, like joist spacing. The time from thinking about the project to researching to putting a plan on paper was about a month.

So how’d it turn out?

plan1

In the upper left-hand corner, you can see what the final project will look like. Originally, I just wanted to enlarge the shed, but later, I decide to turn the front-most four feet into a greenhouse. The diagonal lines are solid covering (wood or roofing), so you can see the framing and “windows” of the greenhouse on the front.

I’m starting the extension from the floor and working with 2×6 pressure treated lumber. For this project, I had a lot of the lumber delivered to my house, since I already needed to have my temporary storage shed delivered (it was too big to fit in my car and, at almost 200 lbs, waaay too heavy to go on my roof rack). That enabled me to buy lumber in longer lengths, which is a bit cheaper. To give you an idea of how much I ordered, my 10% veterans discount more than covered the truck delivery fee.

The existing shed sits on skids – basically, 4x4s that sit on concrete blocks, and the joists are nailed to the 4x4s – so I’m doing the same thing for the extension.

Before I attach the extension to the existing structure, the face of the existing shed needs to be removed. In many sheds, mine included, the walls act as part of the support structure and are nailed to the floor edge. In order to join the new and existing structures, of course, the floor edges need to be able to sit flush against one another.

shed
Of course, the lattice, doors, and trim work will also need to come off.

Once everything is level and lined up, I’ll connect the two edge boards and lay down the plywood floor for the extension.

plan2

In 1(e) in the image above, you can see that I’ll have to use three pieces of plywood for the floor. That’s not ideal, but plywood doesn’t commonly come in 10’x6′ sheets. My 8’x4′ sheets of 3/4″ weather-treated plywood came on the truck with the rest of the delivery. I’m strong and capable, but I’m also smart enough to know how much or little to handle a 100 lb sheet of plywood. Know your limits, people.

Once the floor’s in place, I’ll build out the frames for the walls. Most people recommend putting your covering (plywood or what have you) on the walls while they’re laying flat. I plan to only partially do that, because much of my new walls will actually be covered in polycarbonate panels that I’ll screw, rather than nail, into the frame.

Now, as an aside:  for a while, I was planning on just ordering the wavy PolyCarb panels from Lowes. Those would’ve been cheaper than the ones I ordered, so why did I change my mind? Well for one, the double-wall polycarbonate panels I ordered are designed to be used for a greenhouse. For a project like this, where the materials I use will have a significant impact on the utility of the building, I’d rather choose panels made for the job. Also, I’ve use the cheaper PolyCarb panels around my chicken coops over the years, and they become very brittle in the south Louisiana sun. I really didn’t see them holding up under years of subtropical sun.

plan3

In the final stages of the plan, you can see the last wall frame, including the doorway. I plan to reuse the existing doors and hardware, although they’ll shift to the side of the shed. One impact of this move, though, is the doors will have to shrink by a few inches. This really isn’t a huge deal; I’m 5’4″ and the doors will be plenty tall for me.

Going back over the plans, you can see where I noted the materials at each section and then tallied everything on the final page. This is a must to make sure you aren’t under-buying materials. Getting in the groove and then realizing you’ve run out of 2x4s sucks.

I’ve mentioned previously that I was worried about the strength of the existing shed. As I started to work on it, I realized how strong the structure really is. However, I should have excess lumber, and there are a few spots – at the bases of walls, for example – that I plan to reinforce. Those aren’t in the plans because they’ll be done on an as-needed basis.

Here we go, folks!

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