Outdoor sheds are a big investment that has the potential to last for many years to come if they are built well. As excited as you may be to start on your new project, there are things you must do beforehand to prepare for construction.
The very first step is to find a storage building design that matches your needs. Click here to browse a variety of shed plans.
Understand Rules and Regulations
After you’ve chosen a design, it is important to familiarize yourself with your municipality’s regulations concerning the addition of a structure to your property. Here are the questions you should ask your local Planning and Zoning:
- Will I need a permit based on the square footage, height, intended use, and installation of electricity or running water?
- Does the building size fall within the maximum size building allowed on my property?
- What are the stipulations concerning being attached to a house or garage?
- What kind of clearance do I need when it comes to trees, fences, and other structures?
It is important to make sure that the structure you plan on building will fall within regulations before you waste any time and money on-site preparation or materials. If it does not, then you will need to revise your plan so that it does. Once you have a plan that has been given the green light, it’s time to begin the site preparation.
Choose the Ideal Location
There are many things to take into consideration when deciding on the best placement for your new shed. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Choose as close to level of a surface as you can. Slopes, embankments, and rocky surfaces make it more difficult to grade the ground so that it is properly level.
- Make sure the site you choose is not to close to trees, fences, or other structures per local regulations. You need to be able to access all sides of your building for maintenance. Not to mention, the last thing you want is a tree falling on and damaging your shed.
- Do your best to avoid choosing a site that will affect your neighbors. Take potential noise and line of sight into consideration.
- It is also important to pick an area that will not disrupt traffic in your backyard. Does it block access to other areas of your yard, such as a pool?
Clear the Site Area
After you have carefully chosen the perfect site, it is time to clear the space of any trees, shrubs, or plants. Take caution if you must remove trees to ensure they do not fall on your home, your neighbor’s home or other structures.
Most importantly, make sure everybody is out of harm’s way. If necessary, call a professional to safely cut down the tree. If removed properly, shrubs and plants can be transplanted to a new location.
Left behind stumps are more than just a nuisance. They can cause you problems down the road if not properly removed. Over time the tree can regrow from the stump and push through the floor of your outdoor storage shed. This will result in damage to the building.
There are a few different ways to remove stumps. The first is to rent a stump grinder that will remove the stump by grinding it up. The second way is to purchase a stump killer solution from your local gardening or home store. The third way is to use Epsom salt on the stump to kill the roots. If you choose either of the last two options, you must drill holes into the stump for better penetration of the solutions.
Kill Weeds in and Around the Site
Weeds may not seem like a big deal, but they are. Believe it or not, weeds can actually grow very strong and bend and break the foundation of your structure. It is important to kill all weeds to prevent this problem later on. The type of weed killer you need will depend on the type of weeds you are trying to eliminate. You should be able to find what you need at your local hardware, garden, or home improvement store.
Level the Site
Now, it’s time to level the site. This is one of the most important steps in the preparation process. Failure to create a level surface will create issues in the future. Potential problems include a sloping shed which will make it difficult to work in and store materials properly. Secondly, a slope can eventually cause the building to warp, which will compromise the integrity of the building and reduce the lifespan.
Prepare for the Foundation
Once the site is level, it is time to prepare the foundation for your outdoor building. There are several different foundation options, with each having a slightly different preparation method. We will look at two of the popular which are paving slabs and concrete, but you can also have a concrete block, skid, timber-frame, or concrete pier foundation.
Foundation Made of Paving Slabs
If you plan on using paving slabs, you will want to dig out about 3 inches of dirt. Next, either apply a weed preventative or lay down a weed protectant fabric on top of the soil to ensure weeds do not grow beneath the foundation and push up between the pavers. It is recommended to spread a layer of crush gravel on top of the weed protectant to give the foundation better drainage and more stability. After the crushed gravel is level, your foundation is ready for the installation of pavers.
If concrete is your foundation of choice, you will want to dig out the site about 6 inches deep. Next, using timber, make a hard edge around the site, also known as a form. This as the name suggests, helps to form the concrete to the desired shape as it sets. As with a foundation made of paving slabs, you will want to apply a layer of weed protectant and crush gravel. A layer of sand should go on top of the gravel and the concrete on top of the sand. Smooth the concrete to create a level surface.
No matter which foundation you choose, it is important to remember to make your foundation about 2 inches wider on all four sides than the actual footprint of your shed.
Preparation is Key
The quality and usefulness of your outdoor storage shed begins with preparation. Pick the best location, rid the site of any growth, and lay a solid foundation to ensure a high-quality structure. Follow these tips and you will have a shed to enjoy for years to come!