Project Pemberton: First stop - Shed

Well it seems pretty obvious to me that the first thing that needs to happen when building your country cottage is to get a shed up. Where else are you going to keep all your gear while you build?

Why? Primarily to store all the stuff you need down there under lock and key, but also as a bit of shelter when it is raining heavily, somewhere to sleep during construction that has a bit more room than say the back of your car, and lastly because sheds are blokey and good.

Now I'd previously put up a shed on my Perth property and I was really happy with it. Just a small 4.1 x 3.4 x 2.1m (14m2) tin jobby, comes pre-assembled in kit form from Stratco. It's a shed kit, as in you get 4 pre-assembled walls, a centre beam, several sheets for a roof, some flashing and enough tek screws and rivets to hold it all together. I decided to order up another.


In some ways this was a good thing, in some ways a bad thing. It was bad because I had to find a trailer big enough to hold it and half a ton of concrete slabs and drag it 400kms to site. Sure I could have organised a truck to courier it down, or more sensibly just got a local shed guy to knock me up a kit and deliver it. However the locally made sheds I didn't like the look or price of, and a courier is big dollars.

So it took me an extra hour and a half to drag it down (after getting a look of shock from Stratco "you want to pick up the kit on *that* tiny trailer") and it cost me an extra $10 in fuel. A good call you might say, but I was justifyably anxious at the time with a 13' x 11' shed on a 8' x 5' trailer. Luckily my mate Todds trailer isn't any smaller huh.

Right, construction. Simple. Firstly, level an area. Fortunately my bulldozer guy did a really good job of sectioning me off a bit of flat ground. A rake and screed is a huge help to smooth it up. The ground is gravelly and rocky and full of sticks, you really want some clean sand to put down on top, that way when you put down the concrete slabs (as a base for the shed floor) they won't be rocking as you walk on them. I didn't do that. So...the slabs rock when I walk on them.

I always like to put some thick black plastic underneath anything that is on the ground. Stops the water coming up y'see. Very cheap insurance; ever been in a shed where the bottoms of all the pain tins have rusted through? That'll be water coming up through the concrete.

Put down your slabs. 600mm x 600mm concrete slabs make a pretty reasonable floor. Not as good as a poured concrete floor, but a lot less hassle. They are pretty expensive if you ask me at around the $AUD3-4 mark (2003). I needed 42. Oh, they are heavy and awkward to work with as well.

Now stand the walls up. It is, well, pretty much essential that you have a helper. My brother in law Mik did a champions job. Start on the wall with the door, you can open the door and let it rest on that. Cunningly, the walls have some channel in them so that they just slot together, you then tek screw them in place. On the inside. A wise man told me about the perils of having a shed that someone can just come along with a tek screw gun and undo it and break in. Bang over the thread of any outside tek screws or use them all from the inside.

Check it is square. Measure the diagonals and make sure they agree. My shed has a C-channel that runs across the middle, sits slightly higher than the top of the shed. Tek screw it in place. The roof sheets now lay over the slightly higher channel, secure one end and then the other end by ever-so-slightly bending in the middle, finally securing at the other end. If you don't have much wind, throw them all up before you start screwing them down - it is pretty easy for the sheets to skew if you secure one sheet first, then add the next, then the next, until you find the last one is completely skew-wiff! If it is windy, make triply sure the first one is square with the shed and stick to installing one at a time. If it is really windy, you shouldn't be putting a tin shed up...

Finally the flashing. Just for prettyness. Look at the pieces, think hard about which one goes where. Don't assume anything. I got tricked and had to pull some down and start again. On my shed, the flashing that goes over the slightly bent roof is, um, slightly bent on one face. But only slightly - make sure you notice it!

Finally ensure the the shed is centred on your pad and bolt it down. I like to drill a few holes in the slabs to screw-and-wall-plug it down. The wind isn't going to pick up your shed along with 500kgs of concrete slabs. As I have mentioned somewhere before, a well installed wall-plug is a tough thing indeed.

That's it. I made the call that this was the "sacrificial shed" because it is so close to some giant bough-dropping karri trees. I figure if I am going to learn the hard way about the damage a falling bough can do, it should be on the shed - not on the house ;)

Price? Shed in colourbond AUD$1049(2003), concrete slabs AUD$150, black plastic AUD$11, pizza for the brother in law for dinner AUD$20.