The Shed – Part 1

My own personal Great Pyramid of Giza, this shed has undeniably been the largest construction adventure I have embarked upon. Thankfully I’ve had help at almost every stage of this project – note: Perhaps I shouldn’t compare my shed work to the Pyramids. My help was certainly not forced slave labor burdened by the brutal Saharan sun (though occasionally, they may disagree).

The almost finished shed

The almost finished shed

Schedule: Officially, we broke ground for the shed on July 25th. And while I’m still not completely done with the work, I’m close enough to start posting this recap. Right now we’re at about week 11.
The Goal: a 10ft x 12ft shed
The Budget: not-defined, but I had mentally prepared for about $2000-$2500. I was wrong here.
The Placement: the edge of our yard abreast a precipitously steep hill

I'll probably mention the precipitously steep hill many times

I’ll probably mention the precipitously steep hill many times. NOTE: this picture was taken in the fall long before the start of construction

Original research:
I started by taking out some books from the library and searching Houzz to try and define what kind of shed we wanted to build. Sander loaned me an excellent shed book under the “Build like a Pro” series; within which was a link to shed plans that were purchasable from a company called Better Barns. I purchased a $35 dollar set of plans for a simple colonial style shed.

The Plans:
The plans were… okay. The covered the general construction methods but the Bill of Materials was incorrect and there were a bunch of details missing from the plans. The plans also needed to be modified rather significantly for our property. For example: I changed what side of the shed had the door and increased the number of windows.

And now? We start.

Step 1: The Foundation
I planned a concrete pillar foundation. Because the shed was at the edge of a precipitously steep hill, I needed a method to ensure stability and levelness. Concrete pillars seemed to make the most sense. Dad D came down for a weekend to assist. The goal was six concrete pillars. Three in front, three in back. The middle of the shed would be simply supported by bricks. My plan was to bury the six concrete pillars 42″ deep – that’s the frost line. BUT: we hit rocks that limited our depth. I’m not concerned.

Dad D positions the concrete forms

Dad D positions the concrete forms

The floor frame of the shed is assembled from 2×4’s at 12 inch centers mounted atop three 4×4 rails.

The Frame!

The Frame!

Fun fact: measure corner to corner to ensure squareness. Then lock it down with some strapping before attaching all the joists

Fun fact: measure corner to corner to ensure squareness. Then lock it down with some strapping before attaching all the joists

5/8″ CDX plywood covers that. Was it level? Absolutely. Was it square? Perfectly. All the materials for the floor and subfloor is pressure treated.

Critical advice for others attempting this:
1. Use a transit for leveling purposes. It was a lifesaver a thousand times over



I’ll post the framing story next! Framing is the part of the project that I like to call “Everything goes so smoothly because details aren’t yet important!”

Doors are complicated.

This past weekend my father in law came over and we worked aggressively on building the doors for this biggest of big summer projects: The Shed of 2015.

Prior to the final website post which will hopefully show up next week (if I’m done with the shed by then), here’s a quick approximation of the amount of time for each portion of this project:

Foundation: 18 hrs
Framing: 20 hrs (almost entirely prep time)
Siding and roofing: 8 hrs
Shingling: 12 hrs
Windows: 6 hrs
Trim: 12 hrs
Door: 8 hrs
Trips back and forth from the local hardware store to pick up the random forgotten fastener: 7000 hrs

The most surprising part so far? THE DOORS TOOK AN ENTIRE DAY TO BUILD.

I’m stunned at how complicated doors are. Granted, the doors that I designed were a bit more elaborate than your run of the mill plywood doors. These were constructed as tongue and groove cedar planks with z-battens on the back and attractive trim-stuffs on the front. BUT STILL! A whole day for two 24″ wide doors? I’m genuinely surprised.

So what’s left before I can post the full recap? Not too much. Corner trim, door hardware, and edge trim for the exterior. The interior only requires some final window work, peg-board, and perhaps a shelf or two.

We are CLOSE.


There was a beautiful lunar eclipse on Monday night and to celebrate Jen and I invented a delicious treat: The MoonShake.

It’s a milk shake topped with a round brownie. This one was a peanut butter milkshake, but it doesn’t have to be. Any vanilla based ice cream shake would do the trick.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.




We now have a new tradition. Lunar eclipses will never be dull again.


Annnnnd we’re back!

This extended leave was brought to you by the WordPress 4.3.1 automatic update.

It’s almost comical. Every update that I do on WordPress seems to corrupt a file. The tragedy is that each of my attempts to fix the problem leaves small relics of disorganization inside my website’s organizational structure. My database is starting to look like those houses on the Horders TV show.

That said, I’m glad to be back. I have a few key posts in the works including THE SHED POST. Stay tuned.

Christmas decorations

I saw a house this morning that had its Christmas tree up. So many people get angry at early decorations, but when it’s still summer and someone puts up their Christmas tree you have to applaud their dedication to the holiday.

Beautifully gross.

You know what’s a weird question to answer:
What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever thrown up?

Much easier is it to answer the question:
What’s the most disgusting place you’ve ever thrown up?

Word Origin

Every once in awhile I am stunned at the origin of an extremely obvious word. This week’s word?


I didn’t interact with hummingbirds until Jen and I put up a feeder last summer. It was a huge success and we regularly have a couple hummingbirds either sitting at or hovering around the feeder. Recently, we were sitting on the deck and a hummingbird flew up and hovered in front of us.

Only then did I realize that hummingbirds hum.

Long Flights vs. Short Flights

For me there is one very particular difference between a long and a short flight. It’s more potent then the time in the air, the TV in the back of the seat in front of you, the jet lag or the mediocre dinner options (“and for you sir? Pasta mush or chickenish bits?”)

It’s acknowledgment of the length.

On a 2-4 hour flight, I’m constantly looking at the time. How close are we? How much longer before descent? Why is this coffee so bad? For a 10-15 hour flight, I’ve skipped over the first four stages of grief and started right in at Acceptance. I’m cool with this flight. I know I’m going to be here for what seems like forever so let’s just try and enjoy the ride. Yeah, my seat is absurdly uncomfortable and I’m suffering from dehydration but this was expected. Oh, what? Well would you look at that! Only 6 hours left!

The same can be said about my current home project: Shed Construction.

The patio? the vegetable garden? Both small projects compared to this shed. Each of those small endeavors was a trial of sanity as I struggled with not meeting my personal deadlines and going over budget. But the shed? This is a PROJECT. It’s HUUUUUGE. It feels a lot like a 15 hour flight. This is going to take forever and it’s going to cost way more than I expect. So let’s just go with it!

I started planning the shed maybe 6 weeks ago. It’s been a slow trudge through the planning process: picking designs, buying supplies, and eventually starting construction. I’ve had help the entire way which has made everything much more pleasant. Dad D assisted with the foundation, Jen with the wood prep, and my father in law (Dad G) with the framing. It has been genuinely fun. Admittedly my scheduling has been overambitious but the project keeps heading towards its destination and right now I’ll likely get there before the first snow fall. And even if it goes past that? Totally cool. I recognize that this is the biggest construction project I’ve yet embarked on.

If you’re considering building a shed, I strongly encourage you to proceed. It’s far different from typical home projects and mostly in a good way.