Advice for building your shed – think first!

Advice for building your shed – think first!

Think first, act later

You’ve made your decision, handed over your hard-earned cash and agreed on delivery. Time to roll up the sleeves, spit on you hands and build the bloody thing!

Thankfully, you’ll find each kit comes with detailed instruction written in plain old English. But since even the simplest of instructions can prove a little confusing here’s a few tips to help you through the process.

First Things First

Double-check your paperwork. Even if you think you’re exempt from planning or building approvals, get in touch with your local council to ensure you are meeting all guidelines. This is especially important if you are an owner-builder as a small amount of inconvenience can save a lot of pain later.

Good Foundations = Good Sheds

Most sheds require a concrete slab foundation. Unless you have a yard that’s as flat as a bowling green, you’ll probably need to cut and fill. For drainage purposes, the slab should be raised so that water runs away from the shed. A bobcat or Dingo Digger will do the job quickly while delivering great value at about $250 a day. Whether or not you’re familiar with the machinery, pay close attention to safety instructions and training as accidents can be costly.

Digging Tips

– If you have a small job you may be able to hire one for a half-day rate. Also, keep an eye out for excavations in your area. You might get lucky and save yourself a few dollars

– If you don’t have experience in this area or your job is quite large why not contract a professional to do the work for you? They’re not cheap but they are quick. Better still, you’ll avoid any damage to you, your property or the equipment

– Unless you strike gold, once you’ve done your digging you have to get rid of it. Try advertising it locally on community noticeboards or websites. With any luck, someone will want your (free) fill and that will help you save on your removal costs.

The cement slab itself will cost about $70-80/m2. That would mean a 6m x 6m double garage would cost approximately $2,600 plus more for the concrete footings. That said, rural costs can be considerably higher and fancy finishes to the slab will also cost extra. Remember to always work with the footing plan supplied by your shed supplier and make sure your concreters have copies of it before they pour.

Once poured you need to keep your slab constantly moist while it cures. The longer you can do this the stronger it will be. Simply using your garden hose to wet it down each day for a week will make it about 30% stronger than a ‘fast cured’ slab.

Erecting the Shed

Once your shed arrives, check off all the parts against the bill of materials as soon as possible. The last thing you need is to be half way through your project only to find that something is missing.

Start by attaching the framework to the footings or brackets embedded in the slab. Then erect one wall at a time, bracing as required, while following especially close attention to the instructions regarding bolt tensions, stiffeners and bracers.

If your shed has a roller door, leave it until the end. If necessary, now’s the time to have the frame inspected before you do any cladding. Follow this up with the guttering and other trades such as electrical and plumbing.

If your shed is about the size of a double garage you and a mate can probably construct it yourself on the proviso that you both have good DIY experience. For bigger jobs, you’ll require the services of an experienced builder. It will cost you more but nowhere near as much as a poorly constructed, partially completed job will. Construction costs for a double garage start at around $1,250 but unless you are employing a licensed builder you’ll at least need to be an approved owner-builder.

Don’t Forget

– This is something every bloke knows but very few do. If you want a hassle free construction read the assembly instructions before you begin rather than when you hit some snag. Trust us, shed kits are far less intuitive than an Ikea flat-back pack

– Play safe. Make sure you wear protective gear from work boots and gloves to eye protection and sunblock. Sounds obvious but most injuries come from forgetting the basics.

– Whatever you do don’t try building on a wet or windy day. If you can, wait for a cool, calm weekend.

– Once you’ve successfully assembled your first frame use it as a template for the rest.

– We’ve all heard the advice (and most of us have ignored it) to Measure Twice, Cut Once. The more time you take and the more thorough you are the simpler your job and the better the result.

DIY Doesn’t Mean Do It All Yourself

No matter how good you are there are jobs you’re not legally allowed to do. Connecting roof run-off to storm water drains, for example, must be done by a licensed plumber and, naturally, installing electricity is only for electricians.

That said, there might be ways around water runoff such as water tanks and infiltration trenches, if your council is agreeable.

For larger sheds or garages you’ll want power for roller doors, lighting and external sensor lights. If your shed is going to be a workplace make sure you plan your power points logically. If your job requires a few domestic power points, lights and roller doors you’ll likely being paying upwards of $1,000.

Being Smart with Power

– Help your sparkie plan efficiently by supplying a full list of what you intend to run in your shed and the current ratings of your major tools.

– If you want to run industrial-style tools such as welders, lathes you may require more complicated wiring and power supply. 15 and 20-amp outlets require heavier wiring and consequently will cost more. Opting for three-phase power means more expensive cables are required which can add up if your shed is far away from the three-phase termination.

– As for phone lines or data cables your electrician will need to allow for separate conduits. This will add to your cost but it’s worth getting it right, right from the start.