A She Shed

Coming to the homestead, we had to downsize massively.  Now that we’re here … well, things are beginning to accumulate and there is a need for more “specialized” spaces around the homestead, places where certain activities can occur, spread out, and be left undisturbed for periods of time.  So we have entered the phase of “out building” construction, the first of which is a “She Shed”, variously called the outdoor kitchen, the apothecary, the laboratory, or simply “my shed”.

Every project here is a multistep adventure, and building sheds is no exception to this rule.  We began the process by clearing more land early this spring, a month long activity that involved dropping trees, cutting and burning brush, and pulling roots.  Simultaneously, I was going through the research necessary to construct a shed.  Did we want to build from scratch or get another kit, like our cabin?  Which was more economical?  Which was easier and more time efficient?  Surprisingly, after a round of mathematical calculations, I deduced that most of the kit sheds are priced roughly in the same range as it would cost to buy all the materials separately and cut and build it yourself.  Certainly, getting a kit would be a serious time-saver.  So the decision was made to go with a kit.  I spent a lot of time on the internet researching the products from several different companies, trying to find a style that I liked which also suited our needs.  Then I tried to order one.  About this time, COVID-19 made it’s appearance, and life became more difficult.  The first company I attempted to work with couldn’t be bothered to answer my emails (or phone calls).  Apparently there was a run on sheds (to lock your spouse in when he/she gets COVID???), and they were only taking online orders with no questions asked (and I had a few).  I had better luck with the second company I approached (Cedarshed), and although COVID issues did plague us throughout the process, we were successful in making and receiving our shed order.

Now that we had a shed on order (with a 5 week wait to delivery), it was time to build the foundation.  We decided on yellow cedar pilings. We have been somewhat lucky in that we had a rather poorly organized logging outfit working in the Inlet recently, and they lost a whole boom of unstamped yellow cedar logs. Gradually, over the past couple years, we’ve been accumulating some of these logs.  A couple of trips out with the Kipper in June eyeballing the sites where logs tend to get trapped by the currents, and we found a few more to add to our collection.  Using a combination of a water level and a metal probe to determine the depth to hard pan, we were able to estimate the length of the pilings that we needed, cut them, and put them in place.

A field of yellow cedar pilings.
Close-up of the twenty pilings required for the shed foundation.

At this stage, the tops of the pilings were not level, although they were close to the right height.  Leveling took some creative invention, and Ken came up with a scheme to use an Alaskan mill (and the old water level again) to trim the tops to the correct height.

Set up for using the Alaskan mill to level the pilings.
Close-up of leveled pilings.
All pilings leveled.

We put heavy landscape fabric down underneath the foundation, both to keep weeds from growing under the building, but also to prevent Brennan from digging, an occupation that he takes great joy in.

Measuring out the landscape fabric.
Landscape fabric in place and trimmed.

Now, we just needed the shed.  After waiting about 5 weeks for the shed to arrive in Sayward, I contacted the manufacturer.  Yes, the shed had shipped about a week prior.  But where was it?  Apparently COVID was adding some wrinkles to the system.  After a couple days of tracking leads, our shipment was discovered sitting in Campbell River, awaiting further instructions (apparently no one had thought of opening the packing list on the crates, which had our contact information included).  Of course, by then, the weather had put a new twist into things with a week of blustery northwesterlies, so we had to store the shed for a week in Campbell River before it could be delivered and we could make it safely over to Sayward to pick it up.  However, eventually we did connect with two large packages of materials … the new shed to be … which we loaded into the Kipper and towed back to the homestead.

The Kipper landed with a load of shed components.

Dodging around rainstorms for several days, we carried all the shed pieces up to the building site (every piece has to be handled at least three times … it’s certainly one way to get to know your building supplies intimately).

Finally, the building phase got underway.  Relative to the other steps, this occurred quite quickly.

Floor joist boxes in place on foundation pilings.
Floor finished.
Walls and gables up – the easy part.
Roof mostly completed – the hard part. We had a few challenges doing a task meant for three people with only the two of us. Thinking creatively!
Done! Left side of shed.
And the right side of the shed.

There’s still lot’s of little stuff to do … making a bench and shelving inside, applying a finish to the outside, but the shed is up and weather-tight for the moment!