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Outbuildings & Sheds, I have no idea what I'm doing

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  • Outbuildings & Sheds, I have no idea what I'm doing

    I have come to the hive-mind for more DIY advice.

    My wife and I have come to accept that it's time to build a new shed on our property. The one that came with the house was functional (approx 8x10, I think?), but has been falling apart since we bought the house 11 years ago. It's had a good run.

    We want the new shed to be more functional, though. Specifically, as much as we want our children to enjoy their outdoor activities like bikes and scooters, we're tired of tripping on them in the garage. So the main purpose of the new shed will be for their stuff, and maybe storing some rarely-used household items like folding chairs. The garage will be for cars and woodworking only. I've worked hard so that pretty much all my tools either hang on walls, live in cabinets, or are on wheels.

    So I'm trying to figure out a few things about this shed:
    • How far away from the fence does it need to be? (I know zoning differs by town, but I'm just trying to figure out a general idea)
    • How big do I need? I have about 14 feet from pavement to fence at the shortest side. The rest is pretty open.
    • I want it to be light and airy so the kids won't be afraid to go in. The one we have is basically pitch-black inside. Even my wife and I dread going in there.
    • I want to keep critters out. Our current one has served as a home to a seemingly constant supply of mouse families, plus several possums who burrow underneath. Oh, and bees nests.

    Anything else I should consider? I'm expecting to pay between $2000-4000. Does that sound about right?
    Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
    Twitter: @undefinition1

  • #2
    The property line setback can be found in your town's zoning regulations, but they often only refer to permanent structures. If the building is technically temporary, as it can be moved, they may not apply. As for size, whatever you decide on you'll outgrow within a year. Unless you're a skilled framing carpenter your best bet is probably a shed kit. There are many out there, for instance: https://www.competitiveedgeproducts....oaAlC6EALw_wcB
    www.billfitzmaurice.com
    www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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    • #3
      A quick call to the building department should clear up set back and permit issues. A solar powered motion detector light mounted inside will light it up. Don't forget a ramp to make it easier for the kids to use it. You might want to have your underground utilities located, avoiding putting it over them could save headaches in the future.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
        The property line setback can be found in your town's zoning regulations, but they often only refer to permanent structures. If the building is technically temporary, as it can be moved, they may not apply. As for size, whatever you decide on you'll outgrow within a year. Unless you're a skilled framing carpenter your best bet is probably a shed kit. There are many out there, for instance: https://www.competitiveedgeproducts....oaAlC6EALw_wcB
        Good point. Yes, I definitely plan on using a kit of some sort. Not doing this from scratch. But the range of kits is overwhelming.
        Last edited by Paul Carmody; 12-02-2020, 03:24 PM.
        Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

        Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
        Twitter: @undefinition1

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        • #5
          A friend recently built one from Costco and it was good quality and good instructions. Cost was approximately 30% less than a similar size and quality from HD.

          In our area, if it is constructed on a frame floor (implying temporary) it can be placed on the property line. If on a concrete footer or slab, it would require permits, inspections, $$, and subject to side and/or rear setbacks. And forget about adding power or water until after final inspection!

          My friend's floor was framed with members configured and reinforced so it could be lifted and moved with a fork lift. That could be handy at some point.

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          • #6
            We ended up just going with a prefab unit. I think it's 12 x 20. It only has a garage door -- which really opens things up a lot inside -- but I'd rather have a 'man' door on the side as well.

            The ramp is made of decking 8' wide to roll my Dixie Chopper up there.

            I had to make a site drawing of my property including approximate locations of all buildings. I had to include my proposed location on the property and get a permit and the whole nine yards. Now I get an additional tax bill for this thing each quarter. At least I know I followed the rules.

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            I've had rodents under my shed, a groundhog at least, and who knows what else. Fixed that by closing up the bottom with 4x6 timbers. That furry fun is outlined here: O.T. Shed sound system for Groundhog... - Techtalk Speaker Building, Audio, Video Discussion Forum (parts-express.com)

            Ours is on compacted stone, great for drainage, but rodents can still get in if they really want. I put mouse bait traps (the kind they have to walk into) near the doors along the walls in case one gets in.

            Concrete base is the best, as long as you block up the entry points on the underside of the shed. That thread up there will outline how my shed was built and how I had to "Rodent-proof" it to get rid of them.

            Ours was something like $6,000 or so and another $1,200 for foundation construction with 4x6 timbers and stone compaction. I had 15" or so of elevation drop though, kind of steep.

            You'll NEVER say, I wish we had gotten a smaller shed. You're getting one for pretty much the reasons we did, and I'm happy I went with the larger size.

            Also, make sure the kids are there or you video when they deliver the thing if you get a prefab unit, it's cool to watch! Here's a video I made for my preschoolers mostly, but it's still cool: https://youtu.be/S3bSwQ3dULg

            TomZ
            Zarbo Audio Projects Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEZ...aFQSTl6NdOwgxQ * 320-641 Amp Review Youtube: https://youtu.be/ugjfcI5p6m0 *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
            *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF

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            • #7
              Paul - You want to put up the biggest shed you can. It will never be big enough. That said, contact your town to get all the rules/regulations concerning sheds. In my town any shed under 120 square feet requires no permit, has no tax implication, and can be situated anywhere on the property (as long as it is not connected to a foundation). It is considered "landscaping". Once you go over 120 square feet, you need a permit and it must be built by a state licensed contractor, etc. So cost more than doubles. Let permitting regulations guide you.

              I was going to stick build my own shed. It's not too hard if you're handy, but it can be time consuming. I ended up buying one from Costco. It was delivered as a knock-down kit (like a giant flat pack) with the delivery guy building it. Took him almost all of a day (and that was after I had already prepared the site) and it was clear he knew what he was doing. It would have taken me at least twice as long. A $50 tip plus a couple of cold beers (it was summer time) enabled me to specify how I wanted certain things built/added. Best 50 bucks I ever spent.

              In the end I spent about $2800 for everything (including materials for site prep).

              There are a few things you will want to do (IMHO):
              1) Make sure there are some windows or skylights. They don't need to be operable as the shed should be ventilated anyways.
              2) You may want power at the shed. I need it to charge my battery powered lawn equipment (including a tractor) that live there. Also good for lighting. If you opt for power, you'll definitely want to bury the AC line to the shed.
              3) If you don't have power at the shed, consider adding a solar panel to the roof along with a battery for lighting.
              4) You'll probably want lighting inside and outside the shed. Motion sensor lights around the shed plus interior lighting make it useful day and night.
              5) If you can, build it tall and install a small loft. Make sure the loft is high enough to stand up under it. You don't want to bonk your head every time you use the shed.
              6) Get a nice shed. Saving a few hundred bucks on a lousy looking shed and making your property look like an eyesore is no savings. You might even want to spend another $100 on landscaping around the shed.

              I'm sure others will chime in with suggestions I didn't think of......Good luck!

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              • #8
                Oh man, I can't follow this thread. I'm having full on shed envy right now.

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                • #9
                  Here's where you start. Call your building inspection dept and find out which version of the IRC they use, this is the international residential code that has been ovewhelmingly adopted by most jurrisdictions. It is amended from time to time, and the version I am familiar with is the 2015 version. This allows a no inspection, no permit utility building of 200 sq. ft or under structure. Now I recommend doing a bit of online research once you find which version of the code they are using......simply because clerks in building departments will often be more than happy to invent a rule on the spot as they often think the more difficult they make things fo you, the better the job they are doing. Once you look over the regs.....and know what the requirements are, then give them a call and tell em what you''re going to do if you wish. I dont, once I know the law.I just built one, 198 sq ft., treated lumber, smart panel sidding, single slope roof, double doors, metal roof, with windstorm appoved tie downs and framing anchors (I live on a barrier island) stainless steel nails only, completed a yea ago, mtl cost a little over $2k. Unfortunately, though, right now is a terrible time to start a project, building material costs are though the roof due to covid shotages, talking an average tripling of costs. Might give it a bit of time till late sping and let prices recede to earth.

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                  • #10
                    Paul

                    Send me an email about what your ideal shed will be. I have all the contacts you need for framing, concrete and I can do the electrical if you want it.

                    Rich

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                    • #11
                      Good comments. A few other options include... higher side walls so you can have storage above inside and add lean to on outside for additional storage. I don't have an outbuilding without at least one lean to attachedšŸ¤£

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                      • #12
                        Bob - A lean to just indicates that the shed wasn't big enough. It's kind like "more cow-bell!!!" ;-)

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                        • Uncle Bob
                          Uncle Bob commented
                          Editing a comment
                          OK...now your sounding like my wife Even on my 2 story 30 x 40 barn, I have a 12' wide lean to on each side for outdoor storage....never enough!!!

                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Paul Carmody View Post
                        ... The garage will be for cars and woodworking only....
                        How'd you manage that

                        If you plan to work in the shed, you'll need serious, active ventilation. The two little vents at the peaks are useless on Sunny days. Even in cooler weather, the sun turns sheds into ovens.

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