Monthly Archives: August 2015

Get Off The Shed!! Keeping Garden Tools and Kitties Warm and Dry With a Backyard Shed

One of my favorite SNL sketches is the one where Will Farrell is yelling at his kids to GET OFF THE SHED!!

So we’re building a shed. I don’t think my kids will be on it, but you never know.

The shed is mainly for gardening storage: lawn mower, blower, weed wacker, tools, etc. We will also be able to store bins of outdoor stuff like camping supplies (in bins), stacked lawn chairs, etc.

The other purpose of the shed is to create a “barn” for my outdoor cats. The climate in the Pacific Northwest for most of the year is very mild, so they are fine on the covered patio on their own kitty cushions, in their cat tree or inside their “kitty hut” (small cedar dog house furnished with a cushion, blanket and outdoor pet heating pad.) But I wanted to give them more of a loft where they can escape winter weather and feel safe being high up.

So we are going with this little number:

It’s the Heartland Belmont, 8’x8′ gabled two-door shed.  Base price at our local Lowes is $538 for the kit which includes everything but the flooring, foundation materials, and roof shingles. There is also an option to have the shed professionally installed (which includes the omitted materials in the DIY kit) but it’s about $1200. So even with the additional materials I’ll need (masonary blocks, 4×4 posts for the skids, OSB sheets for floor, roofing material) I’m still up about $400. Plus it gives me something to write about!!

The Heartland website offers fairly good Youtube tutorials about how to level, build and roof your shed. We’ve built decks in the past, so the leveling and squaring is not much different. We also had a Better Built Barns shed installed at a previous home (for use as a music studio), 10×20 with windows, and we watched them install it just like these videos show. That shed was actually finished like a tiny house, since it was meant for occupancy: insulation, sound board, pine tounge-and-groove paneling, electrical and lighting. I’ll go through that on another post.

Our local building codes allow for a structure that is unattached and under 200 ftsq to be built without a permit. It must nut be considered living space. Since our shed did not contain environmental mechanics such as HVAC nor plumbing it qualified. So I will not need a permit for this one. Your local codes may vary so check it out before you build as it may become a problem if you sell your home and have an unpermitted structure.

We are considering installing metal roofing rather than asphalt shingles. Metal roofing will be easier to maintain as we are located in a “tree bowl” which causes moss to grow on our shingle roof, whereas metal roofing just needs to be hosed off. Installation also looks easier than the 3-tab shingle affair, but I guess “easy” is probably just a relative term in this case.

For the cat house: critters are a problem in our woodsy area, there are many large trees and run off creeks to attract raccoons, opossums, and skunks. So the object of the kitty entrance is to make it unavailable for marauding ‘coons. So I am going to design an entry this is combination of this:

Kitty stairs

And this

Raccoon-proof cat feeder platform

The theory is, raccoons can climb and they can leap horizontally but they can’t jump straight up like a cat. So as long as the initial platform (or perhaps cat-form) is located at height that is inaccessible to them, we should be able to keep them out. Having said this, I did a search and there is some video footage of raccoons jumping up onto a feeding platform like the one shown above, about 4 feet. However my cat can jump onto the top of a 6′ fence easily and my roof, so I think 4 1/2′ for the initial pad should be sufficient. We’ll see!

I actually purchased one of those RFID cat doors where a special tag is necessary to get the door to open, but this requires that the cat wear a collar. Mine won’t. If all else fails, I can purchase a newer pet door with a reader that will sense an implanted microchip. I think we’ll try this first.

The actual entry will be in the gable end opposite the doors, where a small loft will be built for a cozy kitty nest. I suspects the cats will also be “on the shed”, particularly when it’s first built as they will need to closely inspect “the new thing”. Kitty steps projecting from the end wall will lead up to the entry door (in theory!!)

So! Project kickoff date is TBD, likely in September when it’s cooler but not yet raining.

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Let The Sun Shine In..or NOT- Installing A Patio Sun Shade

Our bedroom slider (out to balcony) faces nearly due east. Which is great if you are a “get up with the sun” type, and not really a problem on work days when I get up early. But on a weekend, I need the sun to LEAVE ME ALONE until I’m ready for it. It’s not too much of a problem in Northwest Oregon where a lot of our mornings start with clouds, but the clear summer days and heat waves have been causing our bedroom to heat up significantly during the morning hours, making it at least 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the house.

So we purchased a Cooleroo outdoor sunshade:

Coolaroo Cordless Shade

Ours is 96″x96″. The balcony is actually 15 feet, but the sun only comes in right in the middle so we thought this would work.

We started by marking 96″ approximately in the middle of the laminate beam on the patio cover. Then we held up the shade with brackets attached and marked where the brackets would go. Held up brackets and drilled pilot holes for the screws, then installed brackets, leaving screws slightly loose on one side for adjustment.



You can see the brackets have a long hole for adjustment. Personally, I prefer the keyhole style holes, where you can install the screw first (with a drill) and then attach and adjust the bracket. This particular set up made it difficult to fit the drill around the mounting hardware. So as usual, we had to wing it (and use man-power, literally, my husband had to tighten screws with a hand screw driver. Hooray for burly-men!!)

We mounted the shade and then adjusted the left bracket and tightened the screws. You could check for level, but we measured 1″ from the bottom of the beam.



Here’s what it looks like from inside the room


It took us about 20 minutes to put up, including the tie downs to keep the shade from moving in the wind.


The length is adjusted by rotating a rod which hook onto a loop on the right side (so there is no inner spring involved).

I’m not sure how much wind this shade can take, even while fastened to the deck rail, but we will probably be rolling it up and tying it if there are going to be gusty winds.

But it should keep us cooler on the next hot sunny day:)

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