Building a garden shed

For storage space and a sheltered place in which to work, a shed is one of the most useful structures you can build in the garden.

I t is possible to design and build your own garden shed from scratch – this is something you might want to do if you have an awkward space to fill or want a shed of a particular size. But for the vast majority of gardens, it’s much simpler to choose from one of the many prefabricated models that come in kit form. You can as- semble these yourself or, in certainAn apex roof shed provides ample cases, arrange to have them as-headroom – and if it is fitted with sembled by the it can be used as a workshop for plant-growing.

Having chosen and bought the type or shed you want, check that everything has been included in the kit. There is nothing more annoying or inconvenient than discovering that some of the parts are missing, having already built half the shed.

Read the instructions carefully, paying particular attention to the checklist supplied. Make sure that the sides, ends, roof, roof covering, door and window frames (if applicable) are present and un-damaged. Then check the rest of the inventory for items such as rag bolts or expanding anchor bolts, which may be necessary to secure the shed to a concrete base, and the necessary nuts, bolts and hinges for the main assembly.

If a concrete base is required, this should be laid two to three weeks before the shed is built.

In most cases, the timber will have already been pressure-treated with preservative, but a further application of wood preservative won’t do any harm, especially on the underside of the floor.

Extras, such as a door lock, shelf brackets and hooks are supplied with some kits; if not, you’ll have to buy them separately.

Preparing the site

Choose a site for the shed, which is dry and level, then build a solid base. If the ground is reasonably firm, a layer of paving slabs, bedded on blobs of mortar over a covering of sand may suffice. The alternative is to build ‘sleeper walls’, consisting of a single thickness of bricks on a mortar bed to coincide with the timber bearers of the floor – leave gaps between the bricks to allow a flow of air under the shed. In either case, use dry ready-mixed mortar (to which you just add water) and place strips of bituminous felt (sold in rolls for house damp-proof courses) under the timber floor-bearers.

If the ground is particularly soft or marshy, you will, however, need a proper concrete base (also recommended for an extra-large shed). But laying a concrete base is a major undertaking and is a job you may well prefer to leave to a builder. Some metal sheds have steel anchor bases which are suit-

Finishing the shed

You are now ready to put the finishing touches to the shed, including hanging the door using the hinges provided. If not already glazed, fit the glass in the windows, following the manufacturer’s instructions – the panes are normally held in place with glazing strips on the outside.

Apply preservative (eg a ‘shed and fence’ treatment) to the timber with a large, old paintbrush, working from the bottom of the shed upwards. Finally, fit the door latch, preferably with a lock, and a stout padlock for security.

If you want to use your garden shed for anything more than simply storing tools and equipment, the first requirement is a proper electric circuit – run in an underground trench, using armoured cable (or normal cable protected by rigid PVC conduit). This needs to be a separate circuit from the main house consumer unit, protected by an RCD (residual current device).

Once inside the shed, the circuit can be divided to provide lighting (fluorescent lighting is cheapest and gives better overall light than light bulbs) and power points – for running both garden equipment and DIY power tools if you intend to use the shed as a workshop.

Also think about permanent shelves, a sturdy workbench, insulating lining for the walls and wall-hung tool racks.

When preparing the site, mark out the area with pegs and a line, and dig out some soil for the paving-slab or brick base, so that the door of the shed is close to the ground. This makes it easier to move lawnmowers and the like in and out of the shed.

Clear out all loose soil and make sure that the ground is as level as possible before treating it with weedkiller.

Putting up the shed

When you have read and understood the instructions, lay the kit out in the exact order in which it is to be assembled. The basic method of assembly is to lay the floor first, then the four walls followed by the roof.

Make sure the floor is centrally positioned on the paving slabs (or ‘sleeper’ walls) and then, after deciding which end is to be the door, put up the ends and sides as shown in the drawings. It is advisable to get some help with this.

The next stage is to fit the roofthe roof panels first and then the roof covering. With apex roofs, you will usually need to fit extra bracing inside.

The last step – depending on the type of shed – is to fit the fascia boards around the edge of the roof or at the front and back.

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