I love giving advice to others on how to build sheds and outdoor structures.
The Grand-Daddy of All Projects
Back in the summer of 2004, Monique and I had been planning our wedding and trying to figure out space. Without going into a lot of detail, she lives with her Mom and can't move away. So if I wanted to marry her (and I did, passionately) then my only choice was to move in with them. At the time, I was living by myself in a three-bedroom home, with an old trailer for extra storage. No matter what kind of closet organizer you buy, there's no way all my belongings were going to fit.
I sold what I could, junked what I could, and still had too much. The solution? Build a shed. With Mom's gracious permission, we took over a huge chunk of the backyard and bought the plans for a 17' x 17' 2-floor shed. Mainly because that was the biggest building we could shoehorn into the back yard.
Enter the Master Carpenter
So far, so good. But here's where things bogged down. Summer was becoming fall, time was slipping away from us, and I was deficient of the "guy gene." Plans in hand, dream in mind, no bridge between the two.
Enter brother-in-law Rick. Master carpenter extraordinaire. We turned the plans over to him. As soon as he was the man with the plan, things started falling into place. Established a budget. Took out a loan. Monique and I talked it over, decided to borrow more than the materials cost, and offered the remainder to Rick. This way, he could take time off from work without hurting his own income.
Family Reunion Meets Extreme Home Makeover
We started off slow. Rick came down on weekends and off time. Home Depot delivered our materials. I expected a few stacks of lumber, some sheets of plywood, maybe some other odds and ends. Instead, it looked like we were opening a new Home Depot store! Took over the whole driveway and part of the front yard.
The groundwork was laid. I didn't know how you level an area, but Rick squared it off, gridded it with twine, and we leveled one small square at a time, checking with a level as it went. Rick brought an entire workforce with him. My wife and his wife are sisters. Ann, plus their teen-aged son Josh and younger son David all came along. It was like Family Reunion meets Extreme Home Makeover. We all did what we could. Generally, that involved saying "Rick—What do I do next?"
From the Ground Up
From Idea . . . to Reality
Put the bottom support beams in, established the frame. One day, I came home from work, and there was a wall there! Wow, that was cool. It was like a crossover moment. You know, one minute it's an idea in your head, next minute you can actually "feel" the shed arriving. Soon there were two walls. At 4 walls, the stairs went in. The ceiling became second level flooring. The ribs of the roof came next. We put a tarp over it to protect the insides until we could finish the roof.
Keep in mind, this sounds fast. It wasn't. It was a lot of grueling, heavy work. Rick and Josh were the heart of that shed. The rest of us helped, but it has to be said . . . most of the work was done by those two.
The Anonymous Tip: Busted!
About this time, disaster struck. When we started, Monique looked up state regulations, and verified that we did not need a permit to build . . . as long as we were at least four feet from any property line. Turns out, local regs supersede state regs. And with a friendly tip from an anonymous neighbor, the appropriate building authorities quickly showed up and shut us down.
They told us to stop building, period. And if we couldn't get a permit, we'd have to take it apart. Grrr. At that point, I felt like going all Davy Crockett on them, and re-enacting my own Alamo. It was enough to take the wind out of my sails.
We applied for a permit. Turned down. It was too close to our neighbor's properties on two sides. You can apply for waivers in this situation, but applying is expensive, requires signed statements from neighbors, and has no guarantee you'll be granted the waiver. What a money mill. That's my government working for me.
With some research and a super-long measuring tape, I was able to prove the back edge of the property extends some nine feet beyond the edge of our fence. But we were still too close on the side. So we hired a team of guys to come in and shove the shed over by four feet. This did the job. It also left the front of our shed four feet beyond the lip of the base we'd built to support its weight, and four feet of framed dirt behind it.
Still, we could work around that, and built more supports. Permit finally in hand, work resumed. By now, it really looked like a shed. The roof was up, and Josh, in particular, excelled in putting on the shingles. He's an extremely talented martial artist, and his sense of balance was phenomenal. I think he also enjoyed the element of risk. To be safe, a rope was tossed all the way across the shed, and tied near the ground on opposite sides. Then Josh looped it around his waist. The idea was if he fell, the rope would catch him no matter which side he fell on. Personally, I thought it would be more like a yo-yo. He'd spin down, but not back up. Still, it should slow his fall. He'd arrive at the ground dizzy, but safe. (We never got to try it out. No idea whose theory was correct.)
Already Filling Up
Job Well Done
Finally, trim was added. Doors installed. All minor weatherproofing and finishing details in place. A long and difficult job, but well done. When I look at that shed, I see family. I see leadership. I see two floors of junk. But it's my two floors of junk, and I love it.
Thanks go to everybody involved, but especially to our project mentor. Rick, it would never have happened without you.
Oh, by the way—that extra four feet of framed dirt at the rear of the shed? It's a small garden plot now. Nothing wasted!
I wish we could have built ours this fast!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What was the cost of all the materials used for the two-story shed?
Answer: That was something like 14 years ago; the cost back then was probably much less than it is now. If you simply want a number to compare against current prices, I paid just under $5,000 for the whole thing, including delivery of the materials from Home Depot.
Question: What did this shed cost you to build?
Answer: That was quite a few years ago, but at the time it cost just under $5,000, including a token payment made to the family that so generously helped me.
itsallrelative from Outside Dallas on March 18, 2015:
I have bought two sheds and filled them both up. Now looking to build a new one, or just add on to one of the old ones. Great article.
Crewman6 (author) on June 05, 2012:
Wow, coming from a professional, that's high praise! I was lucky to have family that knew what they were doing. All these years later, I still love my shed!!
Bill from Greensburg Pennsylvania on June 05, 2012:
Great looking Shed. I finished one like it for a customer. It was big enough to pull a car into and had bigger doors on the front. It to was 2 story to. They guy that started it ran into some problems he could not figure out how to fix. so I got called to finish it. Your looks great. great Hub
Crewman6 (author) on November 22, 2011:
Milkfrother, thanks so much for the read. You're right, it's great to have such a wonderful family - they help me exceed my limitations!
milkfrother on November 22, 2011:
Just to say that this is an interesting and well written hub which should be an inspiration to anyone who is trying to solve a problem and/or complete a project. You've done both those things - and how fortunate to have such a supportive and talented family to help.
Crewman6 (author) on May 08, 2011:
Someway, I might be the wrong guy if you're checking out home improvements; but if you got a laugh then you came to the right place. Josh never went of either edge, but I think he was mighty tempted to try it, just to see who was right. Thanks for visiting!
SomewayOuttaHere from TheGreatGigInTheSky on May 08, 2011:
...okay so i thought i should check out other home improvements...another good one...glad you didn't get to find out who was right if your 'bil' toppled off the shed....ha ha ha...good writing Crewman!
Crewman6 (author) on May 02, 2010:
Thanks, Kay. We were pretty bummed, but wound up lucky. And I love my shed!!
Kay Creates from Ohio on May 02, 2010:
It looks wonderful. I can imagine how terribly frustrating it must have been to have been turned down for the permit after all of that work. Glad you found a way to make it work out.