How to Build a Ranch Style Storage Shed
image by Shed design and post positions by Jane M. Smith, 2009
A ranch style storage shed provides space for all of your garden tools, potting materials and lawn-care equipment. It can double as a workshop where you can design and build fences, patios, walkways and arbors that will give your landscape pizazz. Add a veranda on the side so you can rest from your labors in the yard and garden with an ice-cold glass of lemonade.
Lay a Firm Foundation
Have your soil tested to determine its load-bearing capacity. Use this information to decide whether to use a bare-soil, sand and gravel, or concrete foundation. Some communities require a concrete foundation.
Clear and level the site where you intend to build. Compact the soil three times, using a reversible vibrating-plate soil compactor. Use a spirit level to ensure that the site is level between each compaction. Lay an 8-feet wide by 12-feet long footer frame, checking to make sure that it is level from side to side and square at all four corners. Measure both diameters. If they match, your footer is probably square. Butt a second frame against the first, 4 feet wide by 12 feet long, for the veranda.
Dig two 2-feet deep post holes in the 8-feet by 12-feet footer frame, 12 feet apart from outer left to outer right. Measure 8 feet at a right angle to the first two posts, and dig a second pair of matching 2-feet deep post holes, 12 feet apart. Place a post in each hole, back fill with gravel, and check for level and plumb by hanging a plumb bob from a spirit level placed on top of each post.
Dig two post holes in the outer corners of the 4-feet wide by 12-feet long footer frame. Dig two more holes 4 feet from the outer post holes, as measured from the outer right and outer left edges of the posts to the center line of each of the two center posts. These are your veranda roof supports. Check for level and plumb.
Drive a stake into the ground against the center point of each pole. With the plumb bob and spirit level still on top of the first post, stretch a string between every two posts. Adjust the poles until the string touches the entire face of each post, making sure that the post is still level and plumb. This ensures that your posts are also square to one another. Repeat until all posts have been plumbed, leveled and squared. Brace the posts in position.
Mix quick-drying concrete in a wheelbarrow and fill the remaining space in each post hole. Allow the concrete to dry three to five days in dry weather or five to seven days in humid weather.
Add a layer of sand inside the footer frame and compact it three times, leveling between compactions. Fill the remaining empty space in your footer frame with sharp-pointed gravel. Pointed gravel will compact more firmly than flat gravel. Use the vibrating-plate soil compactor to compact the gravel. Rent a cement mixer or have a contractor pour your foundation once your footer frame is ready. Allow concrete to dry for three to five days before proceeding.
Wall It Up
Miter two of the 12-feet-long top plates and two of the 8-feet-long top plates to 45-degree angles at each end. Fit the mitered top plates together on top of the posts in the 8-feet by 12-feet frame. Lay the third 12-feet-long top plate across the four veranda roof support posts. Drill 1/8-inch diameter pilot holes in the positions shown in the diagram that accompanies this step. Countersink the holes. Screw the top plates into position as shown, using 4-inch-long, 1/4-inch-diameter wood screws. Repeat for the top plates at each short end of the veranda.
Position the bottom wall plates between the posts. Drill 1/8-inch diameter pilot holes at each end of every bottom wall plate at 45-degree angles, through the wall plate and into the posts. Secure using 4-inch-long, 1/4-inch-diameter wood screws. Repeat for the bottom wall plates for the veranda.
Place wall studs every two feet from the center line of the outer right and outer left faces of the posts. Secure them with 4-inch-long wood screws at a 45-degree angle through the wall plates and into the posts.
Lay the floor joists for the veranda floor. Cut one of the the 3/4-inch plywood sheets for the veranda floor in half. Screw the uncut sheet and one of the cut sheets into place on the veranda sub-floor you made with the floor joists, using 1 1/2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-diameter wood screws. Sand veranda floor using coarse, medium, fine and extra-fine sandpaper in that order.
Lay the trusses across the four rows of posts. Sheathe the roof with 1-inch-thick plywood, using 2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-diameter wood screws. Finish the roof with rolled rubber roofing. Attach the double doors using two butt hinges per door, as shown in the photo at the beginning of this article. Attach door handles and a hasp with padlock. Apply your choice of clear acrylic wood treatment or exterior paint.