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Small Modern Shed Build

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matkinitice

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A bit of background. I've been reading the site for a few years now and a while back became a member in order to ask a few questions. The amount of content (entertainment + education) I've gotten from here while the missus is watching some rubbish on Netflix is huge so I'm going to give back.

Sadly based on the title, this will be a "small" (2m2) build when compared to others. At the start of 2020 our house sale/purchase fell through due to Covid so my planned workshop build (30m2) was put on pause. It turned out for the best despite the stress. We ended up with a better house, plus space for a workshop conversion. If there's any interest in this thread I'll throw up the workshop conversion towards the end of the year/when it's nearly at version 1.

Few things to clarify:

1. Solo build (bare the odd hand here or there from my wife)
2. The build is complete, so you're seeing my notes/photos from the time. Feel free to ask questions or add comments but I won't be able to change anything. I will point out a few cock ups though that should help.
3. The build officially started in Jan 2021, and was complete Aug 2021, the reasons for this lag were down to house sale delays and the eventual building material shortages. Had everything been available this would have been complete much quicker. I didn't start site work until mid March.
4. I came from a small 2m2 shed in our previous house which due to being a mid-terrace acted as a shed, workshop and bike store. This was a standard off the shelf Wickes special. No insulation, rotted through within 5 years. Damp, cold and full of creepy crawlies.
5. I'll break the build down into 5 sections so I'm not posting too much, this matches the way I performed the build itself.
6. I'm in my early 30's and consider myself fit and active. Some of this was tough hard work which I don't think is stressed in others builds, hopefully I get that across.
7. This whole build was based on the thread about building a shed the proper way. I can't get over how much better this is compared to other shed construction methods.
 
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matkinitice

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The garden came with a space that was ideal for the shed so this would be the location and constrain the overall size.

I had a few goals with this build.

1. Fit in the current slabbed area.
2. Stay under 2.5m in height.
3. Blend in with the garden, the two nearby bushes in particular. We want it to look as if it has always been there.
4. Look nice - while it's only a shed we'll be looking at this every day so don't want to skimp on the build.
5. Have a full size door so you don't have to duck on your way in/out. This is one of my main complaints with sheds.
6. Be low maintenance as much as possible.

This resulted in the design which is a flat roof. 2.5m at the highest point. No window to maximize internal space and to limit maintenance the use of an EPDM rubber roof. I would have to be conscious about not damaging or removing the nearby bushes during the build in order to maintain goal number 3.

I designed the following:

1630400634478.png
 
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matkinitice

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1630400794957.png


The slabs in place match the slabs used on the patio area so these will be cleaned up and used in the garden to form a path from the steps down to the shed.

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Removing these revealed an interesting discovery, the base under the slabs was an existing concrete slab. This was a near oval shape, with the upper left and lower right areas filled in with concrete - I assume this was done when the extension on the house was built, around the same time the garden was complete. The depth here was well over 80mm at the small portion near the front where I could see the base.

1630401276888.png


After some research I decided to lay my new slab on top of this. The ground was solid, no movement even after pounding away with the SDS drill to level off the upper and lower corners. Due to the thickness and the surrounding concrete fence posts and gravel boards I had no desire to remove this old base only to add it back in again. If this was a larger space or a workshop I may have come to a different conclusion - but for a shed this will be fine. My DIY book states 75mm the minimum for a shed base - I opted for this, but the edges are slightly thicker ranging from 80mm+.
 

matkinitice

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1630401311192.png


After clearing the rubble away I setup the formwork and laid a DPM. The formwork was wedged between the fence posts and the internal concrete slabs that touch the garden. It wasn't going anywhere. I used some large spirit levels to make sure this was level - the garden slopes slightly.

31 bags of 20kg pre-mixed concrete ready to mix. While more expensive, the small space I was working meant this made sense. Buying aggregate, concrete and sand individually would have been cheaper but would require a lot more than I needed. This would mean having to dispose of the waste - another task to deal with. The Blue Circle multi purpose concrete worked great - only one bag contained a small section that had already set.

I mixed two bags a time (40kg) followed by 4 litres of water.

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I leveled off every 3 mixes. This was very satisfying.

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Nearly there. It took just over 2 hours to do the full pour - this included a quick lunch break about halfway through. A few pours in I had a good system going - prepping the water for the next two bags while the water soaked into the wheelbarrow. I found by dividing the barrow into 8 sections gave the water chance to soak in before I began mixing. Even with this good system this is hard work. Ideally I would have moved all 31 bags from the workshop down to the garden the day before - this alone was tiring enough.
 

matkinitice

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1630401482515.png


Fully levelled off. I had just the right amount - the corners are slightly deeper but the minimum depth of 75mm worked without a drop of concrete left to spare. The benefit of using pre-mixed concrete is shown here. Once the empty bags were cleaned up there is nothing left to deal with.

1630401525223.png


A close up shot. It was getting dark before I had chance to head back out and check on things. My intent was to trowel the area but without good lighting I decided against this - especially as I had a few beers as a reward. I covered the area with a large tarpaulin. There is no rain forecast for the next few days however in the early hours of the morning it is set to drop to -1 for a couple of hours. Hopefully the evening gives it time to dry out more - there was a small amount of surface water in the lower right corner. The rest of the slab appeared to be drying fine.

1630401710685.png


The morning after.

Work on the shed paused for a couple of weeks now. I removed the formwork and cut away at the DPM so nothing was exposed. While I had decent access I jet washed the fences and gravel board, before painting them. This small pause allowed me to do a few other jobs while getting the bricks ready for the next phase of the build.
 

matkinitice

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The base was complete mid march. Note I officially started this work as of Jan 1st. In hindsight this was poor planning.

Each time I stepped up to start the weather would get in the way. Mainly snow or ice. I had planned to be finished by the start of spring so I could work on the garden but working in icey/snowy conditions is no fun. Plus I needed a few days of dryness for the base.

Next week I'll share the plinth details.
 

matkinitice

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Late March, the plinth was started.

This took three days which is terrible for a brick layer. But a few things to bare in mind. Other than minor pointing or odd repair this is the most I've ever done. Overall it was a good few hours of work but I was forced to do a bit here and there over a few days, but very slow as this isn't my area of expertise.

Given it was just a shed base and single brick I wanted to have a go myself though. I have a bit of brickwork in the garden as well as the front of my workshop so I planned to treat this as my practice go which was useful as my recent work post the shed was much easier.
 
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matkinitice

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Up until this point I have been treating Sketch up as a plan, however once you start building something things can and do change. In this case the width of the door opening was going to be about 40mm larger. Sketchup also has the beauty of accuracy down to the mm, something that is just not the case in real life.

I had learnt my lesson with the concrete. This time I moved the bricks down and roughly laid them in place a few days before it was time to start work.

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This was my first time using an angle grinder. I spent quite a bit of time with this early layout and getting everything ready. The mix was pre-mixed mortar which similar to the concrete was a time saving solution. For my workshop build I went with a 4:1 mix myself but at this time it was just a case of what I could get my hands on - the materials shortage of 2020 had begun.

Post this work during my workshop I discovered the "whack it with a trowel" method to split bricks. Much easier!

1631046768542.png


Prior to starting this I checked out a variety of videos online with some great tips and guidance. One of them said to keep your face bricks clean - I found this easier said then done as you can see. Part of my challenge here was getting used to the technique and what you can't see in this photo is the temperature. This was over the Easter bank holiday and it was rather warm (15+) so my mix was going off.

I left a lot of the clear up at the end of the first day to the end. In hindsight I should have done this every three or so bricks. I would adopt this the following day to much better success. Ideally you wouldn't get the bricks so mucky, but I'm not a professional. We had family over now so I had to cut my day short - I'd have loved to have finished but this was slower going than I expected.
 
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matkinitice

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1631046828577.png


A close up shot at the end of the first day. Not too shabby. The messy top was me disposing of some left over mortar than was too little to use. The inside faces won't be seen of course as these will sit behind OSB so other than a quick brush down I spent no time cleaning these up.

Despite the messy look I'd rate myself 7/10 here. One thing I would change if I was to do this again would be to end on either a full brick or half brick. As I took the bricks to the boundary of the slab I needed a 1/4 of a brick cut before ending a run. This funny brick/cut took up a bit of my time and I'm not sure if this is the correct solution, however it worked. The benefit of my approach is there is no ledge for any water to collect. The downside to ending on a full/half brick would have been a slightly smaller internal footprint. Despite this the plinth is bang on level and once fully cleaned up should look more than good enough for a shed base.

I only had a small amount of time to work on the base the following day so I had no chance to finish. I sadly ran out of mortar too so this ended play either way.

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On the third and final day I did a better job this time around - much less mess on the bricks as I was starting to get a bit cleaner and faster. Shame there is only one more course to finish.

The next few weeks were paused on the shed build due to various reasons. The final back row of bricks were laid, the pointing touched up and the bricks were given a good clean. After this clean up they looked a lot better.

In the mean time during this pause I laid down the DPC and covered with some offcuts of the formwork to hold down. This was to stop any rain from getting in between the bricks. The weather was surprisingly dry for the most part. To use some of my time wisely I did a few small jobs on the side such as clearing the site and prepping the lawn for re-seeding once the framing is complete.
 
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matkinitice

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Next week I'll share the fun bit - (no, not a sharpening thread - ha) the actual framing. There was one big thing I'd do differently here so I'll share details on this in the hope it helps people out in the future.

I don't have a "finished" cleaned up photo of the plinth but it does look a lot better, you'll see in the next batch of photos. I did have to keep reminding myself it's just a shed after all.
 

mikej460

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Not too shabby at all, I remember my first brick laying attempt making a bbq in the 90's, it was an unmitigated disaster so you should be proud.
 

matkinitice

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The build kicked into gear once the wood arrived - it was late April now. Having learned my lessons from the plinth I got this into place within the workshop on the same day as it arrived. One thing most workshop builds don't show or talk about is how much effort and time a task such as this takes.

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With the sheathing in as well there isn't much room in the workshop, but this is only for a few days.

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The following day I had a few hours off work to spare so started framing. I started with the left/right panels. During my design phase I had double studs at the end of each panel and explored other options such as California corners. It turns out that for internal/external corners there is about twenty different approaches with pros and cons. In the end I simplified my design by omitting the extra studs - this saved eight extra studs though did introduce a slight issue down the line. I'll expand on this cock up in the next updates, it wasn't the end of the world just not how I would recommend.

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matkinitice

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Another area that I spent time considering was the stud spacing. In fact I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out why my initial design was not spaced correctly in Sketch up. This was down to imperial vs metric sizes for OSB and other sheet goods. I've heard over the years of things such as 400 or 600 centers - but what people actually mean is 610mm spacing if using imperial boards (1220x2440mm). This is a huge pain, but in my case I went these sheet sizes as it was what my saw mill supplied - other sources may mix measurements. With my timber (75x45) this meant the inside spacing was 555m to result in about 610mm centers.

1631909914093.png


Originally I was planning to screw the frame together and get things square, then go around and nail the rest of the frame. 100mm screws are hard to drive and my impact driver was struggling. Rather than drill pilot holes I went straight to nailing. This approach worked fine. The timber was in pretty good condition in terms of quality and straightness.

I had to remind myself this isn't fine furniture either. Marking out to the nearest mm doesn't need to be super accurate and bashing pieces of wood together with nails is a satisfying change of pace from my recent work.
 
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matkinitice

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1631910020662.png


The dry fit. I had yet to fit the noggins here but wanted to make sure things would line up and the rear wall matched the slope of the side walls.

1631910053253.png


One tip I found from various sources was to build your frames on top of each other. Ideally right on the base of your build is perfect, but I had more room near the top of the garden. The nice thing about this is you can lay out one frame and for the same panel simply line up studs and nail away. The raised base also gives you plenty of room for sawing and nailing.

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It took around three hours of work to get here. I was rushing towards the end due to the dark clouds forming. The final job for calling it a day was to get the straps ready for the following morning.

The straps are to prevent the DPC from being pierced and hold the frame to the plinth. The weight of the frame does a good job here but this is to prevent anything taking off. In my case the shed is nicely sheltered but this step doesn't take long at all.

1631910157220.png


The front wall was framed in the same manner as the others, the only difference was I scribed the studs in place. I clamped the wall in place and marked up. While I trusted my Sketch Up model I didn't want to risk this going wrong - and one thing this again reinforces is that mm accuracy in a 3D model means nothing when you are on site. This was the end of the first day.
 
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Molynoox

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View attachment 118039

Another area that I spent time considering was the stud spacing. In fact I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out why my initial design was not spaced correctly in Sketch up. This was down to imperial vs metric sizes for OSB and other sheet goods. I've heard over the years of things such as 400 or 600 centers - but what people actually mean is 610mm spacing if using metric boards. This is a huge pain, but in my case I went everything metric. With my timber (75x45) this meant the inside spacing was 555m to result in about 610mm centers.

View attachment 118040

Originally I was planning to screw the frame together and get things square, then go around and nail the rest of the frame. 100mm screws are hard to drive and my impact driver was struggling. Rather than drill pilot holes I went straight to nailing. This approach worked fine. The timber was in pretty good condition in terms of quality and straightness.

I had to remind myself this isn't fine furniture either. Marking out to the nearest mm doesn't need to be super accurate and bashing pieces of wood together with nails is a satisfying change of pace from my recent work.
I think you mean imperial not metric. I wouldn't normally mention this but the typo appeared twice so thought best to clarify. Unless I'm missing something....
 

matkinitice

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I think you mean imperial not metric. I wouldn't normally mention this but the typo appeared twice so thought best to clarify. Unless I'm missing something....
Apologies, typo. You're right. The sheets were 1220x2440 (8ft x 4ft), but my model was based around metric measurements. My saw mill supplied the sheets which were great, but I used an online site that had a mix of sheet sizing when building my model.

Basically the lesson here is, you can get either:

2440x1220
2400x1200

If you mix and match it's a pain. I understand plasterboard has a similar problem. When I do anything like this in the future I'll be much more careful.
 

Molynoox

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Yup. It's not so straight forward to simply stick to one system however... there are constraints. So you have to get creative.
Martin
 
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