How to Build a Shed From Scratch (with kids)
To be honest, I almost named this project “How to Build a Shed from Scratch with your Spouse and Not Bury them Under the Concrete.” Working together as a team in life is one thing, but working together on a home DIY project is another. It’s like being on a drunken see-saw with “stay out here and work with me, but don’t get in my way.” Or, “keep me company, but don’t talk to me” How about, “just play with the kids while I work but keep them away from what I’m working on” Or even “Get me this tool, get me that tool, where are my tools? Don’t touch the tools” As it turns out that title is just a bit too wordy anyway, so I had to shorten it up a bit.
Then I considered “How to Build a Shed with Kids.” But I wouldn’t suggest building a shed with kids. This project is hard enough without them demanding to be involved or asking for juice and snacks. They track dirt in and out of the house because they can’t decide if they really want to help outside or if they want to hang out inside and watch TV.
In the end, I went with the simplest and most direct title for the project. That may be the only thing that is short and simple on this project. We mainly worked on this over the course of the weekends and it took about 5 weekends to complete.
A DIY Secret
Can I tell you a secret? I don’t think I would ever do this again because I have another secret. Shhh, don’t tell, but DIY projects that are a joint effort between my hubby and myself really aren’t fun. They are stressful, and hard and take a toll on us. Which may seem strange in a way because we are both handy and we both enjoy these type of projects and we even have a pretty good idea as to what we are doing. Actually, I think we really have it together – separately! Once you throw the two of us together is gets a little intense. Enough about that, let’s get on to the project. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here for my full disclosure policy.
Tearing Out the Garden and Bushes
- Step 1 – Clearing the area to build the shed. We decided that the area along the back fence was a bit of wasted space. It had a few bushes that had been there since we bought the house, but any flowers we ever planted there never really took off or did well.
- Clearing out this area was a bit more involved than just pulling a few flowers and weeds. We literally had to cut out the bush by cutting the branches until it was small enough to dig out the root.
- You don’t realize how much is there until you start to tear it out.
- We enlisted the kids to help as well. They were quite eager to get involved.
- The yard started to have bushes, branches, and dirt everywhere.
- The branches all had to be bagged up before being placed on the curb for sanitation, so once again the kids got involved. hehe
- This portion of the project was tedious and tiresome, but once all cleared out we have a location to build a shed. In addition to removing the bushes and roots, we had to dig down a bit for a bed location.
- Digging out this area turned into a worm hunt for the kids. They made it into a game of how many worms they could find and then relocated the worms to the vegetable garden so they could “do their work” in there.
How to Build a Shed From Scratch
Materials Needed / Source List
Building a Frame to Make a Concrete Floor
- Step 2 – With the area cleared out we could now build a foundation frame for the concrete floor. With Mother Nature NOT on our side, we headed to Home Depot to gather supplies.
- To build the frame we started with 2 x 4 pieces of wood. Jackson (6) learned about measuring and cutting wood to size.
- Since we don’t have a large yard, the shed will only be 4′ x 8′. The frame pieces were measured and cut.
- The simple frame was nailed together using the nailgun, because who has time for a hammer?
- Once squared off and fully assembled the foundation frame is ready.
- Unfortunately, as I mentioned, Mother Nature was not on our side for the project and it had been raining non-stop all week. The rain had turned our cleared out area into a bit of a swamp. This will certainly make things difficult.
- The frame for the slab can now be dropped into place, and we can only hope to make some progress in the mud.
- Though not ideal, the soft mud allowed us the maneuver the frame into place.
- A little bang with a hammer will help get that frame where it needs to be. I think Brian took out a little anger about the rain on that wooden frame too.
- Once down, make sure that the frame is level.
- It’s a good thing Brian has his fishing boots.
- At this point, we had to walk away and leave the project for a week to allow some of the water to dry before we could continue.
Creating a Base and Laying a Concrete Floor for the Shed
- Step 3 – After waiting a week in hopes that some of that water had disappeared and evaporated we are ready to start the foundation work for this shed floor. White stones were poured into the wooden foundation frame.
- Bags and bags of these white stones were poured in to create a bottom layer base.
- After multiple bags were poured in to cover the entire floor we decided to wait on pouring the concrete since the ground was still a bit too soft.
- When we returned to the shed build the following weekend, Mother Nature again rained on our parade. Seriously? More rain! Our framed out stone base had been yet again turned into a swampy mess.
- We waited, yet again for this to dry up a bit. But out of concerns for future water issues, we decided that a taller frame was in order. A second level frame was also built to raise the floor base.
- By this, I mean that another frame was built and placed directly on top of the existing frame to allow more stones and a deeper base for under the slab.
- The second level frame was attached to the original frame with a few pieces of wood to make sure they stay together and in place. The frame doesn’t have to be pretty since it will be removed once the concrete is finished.
- Once the second tier of the frame is added, make sure it is level and fill with the white stones yet again.
Pouring Concrete Floor for Shed
- Step 4 – Time to finally pour the concrete floor. This requires another trip to Home Depot. The kids are getting tired of this project and at this point, I don’t think they really care about how to build a shed, but would rather take a nap. Layla did kick butt at her morning JuJitsu tournament and won third place for her age group.
- For the concrete slab, we used twenty-two 80 lb bags of 5000 psi concrete and we were able to rent the concrete mixer for the afternoon.
- Reinforcing mesh was added over the white stones for structural support to the slab.
- Concrete was mixed a few bags at a time in the mixer with water.
- Jackson was here to supervise because the next time we need a shed, this kid will be the one to build a shed.
- As the concrete was mixed it was poured into the frame over the white stones.
- This process continued until the frame was filled with concrete.
- Bag after bag, mix after mix.
- Once all of the concrete was poured into the wooden frame it had to be spread out.
- When the traditional way of spreading concrete doesn’t work fast enough, its okay to start a non-traditional way.
- Next, the wet concrete is smoothed and all the bumps removed.
- Once smoothed out it just needs to dry. Make sure to spray the concrete with water occasionally to prevent it from cracking while drying.
- Once dry, the wood frame was removed, pried off with a crowbar. Its job is done.
Building the Back Wall of the Shed
- Step 5 – We bought the shed plans online for a mere $14.99 and due to the fact that the back wall of the shed will be up against the fence, we decided to build that first. Of course, we took another trip, yep, you guessed it. Layla was quite excited to get the wood because she has convinced herself that this is a playhouse for herself and her dolls. She expects it to be fully equipped with bunk beds and a place for her dresses. She also doesn’t want daddy to put his dirty tools in her playhouse. I think she and Brian need to work that out amongst themselves.
- The wall was framed out using 2 x 4 pieces of wood. Our poor patio acted as a work area for building the shed, as did our entire yard really.
- Once the frame was built the walls were attached. The walls are made of T111 siding panels.
Painting the Shed Walls
- Step 6- Like I mentioned, the back wall won’t be accessible once it’s in place so we have to paint it first. We tried to color match with the vinyl siding on the house as close as possible and choose Behr Exterior Paint in a gray called Anonymous. (Third row down, second from the right).
- We started off painting with brushes and rollers.
- The kids were ecstatic that they were able to help paint. But if you look up ‘things not to let the kids help with’, Im sure this image would come up:
- There was paint everywhere. They stepped in the paint, fought over brushes, painted the dirt, and quit a few times in between. If you know anything about T111 then you know it’s not the easiest thing to paint either. So I decided to try something different.
- After getting the majority of the back wall painted we decided to prop it up vertically and use the Home Right Finish Max Paint Sprayer to finish it up and touch up the spots we missed.
- The sprayer is very easy to use, the kids even got to use it.
- It really is this easy to use, and less messy – no one is stepping in the paint this way.
- With the wall vertical we were able to add the trim as well before installing the wall itself.
Anchoring Shed Walls to the Concrete Floor
- Step 7 – The back wall in place and front wall framed out. The front wall is framed to accommodate the door as well as a window.
- Moving the finished back wall to the rear was a bit of a chore and included a few bad words between hubby and I. Usually, I’m yelling that I don’t have a full grip and he assures me that it’s fine when it’s not fine. But we managed, and we lived to tell about it.
- A hammer drill is used to anchor all of the walls into the concrete.
- This makes sure the entire shed is secure and stays in place.
Framing the Walls for the Rest of the Shed
- Step 8- All of the walls were framed out using 2 x 4s and then pieced together.
- The corner joints where the frame pieces meet are built to fit within each other for strength and security.
- They all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and then are nailed to one another.
- Again, the sides are also anchored to the concrete floor.
Adding Walls to the Shed & Building a Door
- Step 9 – Once the entire frame is finished its time to add the walls. The T111 panels are cut and secured to the frame.
- The door was framed out and built before being attached. In addition to the door, we also added a small window.
Building a Roof for the Shed
- Step 10 – You can’t build a shed without a roof. The roof was framed with roof rafters to support the top. With the back of the shed being taller than the front, the rafters supplied the needed support for the roof.
- The angled pieces were cut first followed by the front support piece.
- Once the rafters were in place the shed roof was added.
- A fascia was added around the roof top and sides.
- The roof was waterproofed using 30 lb roofing felt.
- And shingled.
- Eventually, the kids were kicked off the roof before any accidents happened.
Adding Trim and Finishing Touches
- Nearing the end, FINALLY. Trim was added to the door, window and along the sides.
- All of the nails were caulked over before finishing with paint.
- The rest of the shed was painted, then painted again, then touched up before we finally said enough. There was actually a big
fightdebate over the order of things in this portion of the project. We butt heads on whether to build completely then paint, or build – add walls, paint walls, paint trim then add trim.
- An adorable flower box was added under the window.
- Lastly, we threw down some grass seed around the shed so that it will be surrounded by lush green grass and not soil. With all the rain we’ve been getting lately that should happen in no time.
In Conclusion on How to Build a Shed from Scratch
Would we do it again? I won’t sugar coat it, this is real life so probably not. Some things aren’t worth the aggravation or the stress. In the end, we didn’t save that much money by building the shed ourselves. I think the total cost was around $1200. But I can tell you one thing, if we are ever attacked by zombies or if there is an Armageddon I am hiding in the shed because the big bad wolf can huff and puff and nothing is taking this structure down.
After a couple of weeks, the grass has started coming in beautifully.
Once the shed was finished I decided to give my Adirondack chairs an update to match the shed. Check out the update here:
To see other joint effort DIY project between hubby and I check out:
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