Build Your Own Utility Shed

At Men’s Sheds we mostly build, well… Men’s Sheds – small groups or gathering place for men to come together to work and socialize. But in case you’d like to build an actual physical shed, guest contributor Jim Niehaus from Perfect Cuts and Miters has outlined a general approach for you to consider.

DIY – Build Your Own Shed

Planning a shed starts with knowing exactly what you will be using the shed for – storage, office, workshop, other. Each use will involve different features. For example, a workshop needs electricity, whereas a storage shed may not. A detached office will need insulation, whereas a playhouse may not.

Local Building Codes

The first thing you must do is research your local building codes for sheds and take your plan or idea to the Planning and Zoning Department. Discuss your plan to build a shed with them. Most cities and counties have regulations, even for shed. Find out if you’ll need a permit for the size shed you have in mind. What type of footing and foundation is required? Are there different regulations for permanent shed versus portable sheds? Ask for a written copy of the regulations and be certain that you read and understand them before you start to purchase materials.

Once you are clear on the shed you want to build, purchase a set of detailed plans. If the plans don’t come with a materials list, take them to your local lumber store and discuss the project with someone in the contractor’s department. They will help you develop a list of materials and total up the cost for you. Ask about delivery fees. Often the delivery fee is waived if the order exceeds a certain dollar amount.

If at any point during the construction phase you have questions, don’t hesitate to speak with someone from the Planning and Zoning Department again or consult the building experts at the hardware store.

The Foundation, Footing and Floor

When the materials are on site, begin by creating the footing. Remember, it’s easier to build up a corner where the ground slopes down than to dig into the ground on the high side, in order to create a place for a level floor. And this technique results in a drier floor than one that is below grade at any point.

A monolithic slab is a cement pour that creates the footing and slab floor all in one piece. Alternately, a block and pier foundation will raise the floor above the ground and your floor will be plywood or OSB board.

If your floor is to be made of wood:
* Nail the 2×8 bottom band together.
* Coat the bottom of the flooring plywood pieces with stain or other protective material to protect the wood from moisture that may build up under the finished shed.
* Add the floor joists, 16″ on center, repeatedly checking the distances to the diagonal corners to be sure the floor is square.
* Using wood adhesive in a caulking gun, glue each flooring piece down. Spread adhesive between each sheet as well.
* Nail or screw each piece in place as you go.

Building the Gable Sides

You can frame the shed in the traditional way or create each side independently and assemble them when all are created.

To the two gable walls, follow these steps:
* Use the floor you just assembled as a work table.
* Using your plans, draw the gable side to scale on the floor. Draw where the studs will go under the gable piece.
* Cut the gable pieces and the studs to fit your drawing.
* If there will be a window, frame it in with 2 short 2×4 lengths between 2 of the studs. If there is to be a door in a gable side, frame that in.
* Assemble the frame of gable side on top of your drawing. Check the diagonal length to be sure your side is square.
* Add 2×4 uprights inside the gable end truss area for attaching the wall sheathing.
* Cut and attached the side sheathing. Take care to extend the sheathing beyond and below the sides of the walls where indicated on the plans.
* If there is to be a window on this side, use a circular saw to cut out that area.
* Seal the seams between the wall sheathing panels with self-adhesive flashing tape.
* Install the trim, the window while the side is still laying on the floor.
* When the first gable side it done, set it aside and repeat this process for the opposite gable side, using the drawing on the floor as a pattern.

Building the Non-Gable Sides

* If not done already, draw on the floor where the 4 sill plates will go.
* Draw where the wall studs will go on the side walls, according to the plans.
* Construct the side walls, checking that they are square.
* If there is a door or window on the non-gable side, frame it in.
* When the frame is complete, add the sheathing and siding.
* Repeat this for both non-gable sides.
* Move the sides off the floor.

Building the Trusses

* Using your plans, draw the trusses to scale on the floor. Start by marking the center of our floor and double-check every measurement and angle before cutting the 2×4’s.
* End trusses are part of the gable sides, so only the interior trusses need to be constructed.
* Assemble the trusses and reinforce the seams with plywood pieces.
* Set them aside until the sides are put into place.

Putting The Parts Together

* If you have plenty of helpers, the sides can be lifted, set in place and nailed together without using braces to hold sides erect. Without help, use braces nailed to the wall edges and the floor band.
* Use a level to ensure that the sides are perfectly upright.
* Attach the sides.
* Mark the spacing of the trusses on two 1×2’s.
* Raise the trusses up and hold them in the correct places using the 1×2’s on each side of the roof.
* Toenail the trusses in place. Later attach hurricane clips or whatever fasteners are required by your local building codes.
* Install the door.
* Install the windows, if not already installed in the sides.

Putting On the Roofing

* Attach the roof sheathing to the trusses, staggering the seams to improve strength and stability.
* Add the final roofing material. Many homeowners match the roof of the their shed with the roof of their homes.

Adding the Trim and Siding

* Trim around the roof
* Trim the doors and window, if not already done.
* Trim the corners
* Add gutters and soffit, if the plans call for them.
* Add the finished siding.
* Paint as needed.

Finishing Off the Inside

If you plan to insult or add electricity to the shed, now is the time to do it. If the shed will be used as an office, you might want to add sheetrock to make the inside more attractive.

So there you have it – a brand new shed that you built to meet your specific needs.

By James Niehaus

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