Old Shed, New Shed

Before embarking on any Money Pit remodeling tales of woe, I’d like to share a tale that had a happy ending (with apologies to Dr. Seuss for the title, even though the sheds in question are neither red nor blue.)

Old Shed

This 8’x12’ shed came with the house and had been passed down as a “freebie” by at least two owners – perhaps more. Because whoever erected it failed to get any permits, it’s impossible to know when it was built. 1980s perhaps?

These two shots of the interior give a pretty accurate idea of the condition.

The interior ivy came mostly from the shed’s south side where it invaded my yard from the next door neighbor’s property. Notice that a prior owner didn’t even bother to remove the ivy in order to paint the shed green! Only the front and the north shed side was painted.

The shed was #2 on my December 2017 to-do list after I made the commitment to stay at the Money Pit rather than sell it. The first order of business was to get rid of the rest of the oak trees; that was Mission Accomplished during the first week. Then I spent several weeks researching the merits and costs of various shed materials: metal (quickly eliminated), vinyl sided (maintenance free but I hate that horizontal-plastic look), #1 red cedar shakes (gorgeous but very expensive and would require yearly maintenance in order to keep the “brown-new” look I wanted, instead of weathering to gray), and engineered-wood siding.  The “SmartSide” material from LP (Louisiana Pacific) won out, even though I’d begun by swearing up and down that I did not want anything requiring paint.

The problem with that stance was that I also wanted the shed to either match or closely approximate the color of my house’s eventual new siding which I’d decided would be Sable Brown… the darkest brown that CertainTeed offers in a cedar-look vinyl. (I do flatly refuse to have to paint the house.) Absolutely NO shed companies offer vinyl sided models in dark brown, and to have a shed custom made was totally out of the budget. The current prices had already reduced the size of the shed to 6’x8’. If I’d been able to afford to turn the garage into a car-usable space I’d have needed a bigger shed, but under the circumstances a 6’x8’ would do fine. Plus, I couldn’t afford a larger one, LOL

I found a great local company called Ready Shed who installs LP Smartside sheds exclusively. [There is a shed kit brand called Readyshed which has absolutely no connection.] They are several steps above the usual construction, such as using 2×6 floor joists (most shed companies use 2x4s) and Royal PVC trim that does not require painting. LP Smartside panels come in a light tan primer from the factory but Ready Shed offers custom painting at a reasonable upcharge. I took advantage of this and chose Benjamin Moore’s luscious “Dark Chocolate” color in their High Build exterior paint. Best of all, their price for demolishing and carting away the old shed was half the price of any other demo bid I had gotten. A few emails later, we were set with an early February installation date.

Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas and decided to frustrate us with weekly (yes, weekly) snowstorms throughout the winter. This is not the usual for my area, so my shed project was undoubtedly to blame. But finally She relented and on April 19th we were ready to go!

New Shed

The old shed was gone at last! That was on Day One. I’d made sure to clear out all of that ivy from the side area.

John and Rob, the owners of Ready Shed, paint the panels with two coats before bringing the materials to the installation site.

Just look at that nice clean dry interior. Not an ivy tendril or black mold in sight!

Quite the difference from the first picture in this post!

We agreed that the new shed should be higher off the ground than usual, both for better air circulation and to discourage critters from nesting underneath it (a huge rodentious-type nest was discovered under the old shed) since predators such as cats and foxes could reach them.  Hence the double row of cinderblocks. The old shed had only been sitting six inches from the ground!

I wanted to make sure that all sides of the new shed remained dry and clear of encroaching weeds and ivy. This is a view of the back side with the ivy gone, but the first rain would send mud splashing up over my nice new paint and white trim. Can’t have that!

While clearing the ivy from the sides I noticed a pile of ivy-covered bluestone pieces along an adjacent fence. It looked to be enough to create a dry-ish area of “crazy paving” along the side and back of the shed where there wasn’t already a brick area from the old shed’s footprint. These shots show the south side before and after I removed the weeds that had sprung up since yanking out the ivy.

And I had just enough of the bluestone bits to do the same along the back wall. After three days of figuring out what pieces can fit where, I don’t think I want to see another jigsaw puzzle for about five years! I will be perpetually spraying this area but at least it will remain clear and dry underfoot along the entire shed perimeter. The bad news? I ended up with a nasty case of poison ivy because I had no clue there were roots among all that English-ivy-covered bluestone!! That was the tipoff that the property was infested. 😦

Finishing Touches

Now came the fun part: Deciding what goes into the shed, versus what will stay in the garage. I am philosophically opposed to having “stuff” stored on the floor of any shed or garage, so hooks and shelves are my best friends.

I’ve had this Rubbermaid potting station for almost 20 years. I like that it’s on wheels so that if I ever need to give the shed a good cleanout it’s easily moved, and it washes down with a hose. I bought an extra pair of watering cans so that I’ll have one set near the front yard and the other in the back; this pair lives in the shed.

Lee Valley Tools sells a great little shelf bracket set kit for situations like this. You do need to supply your own ½” thick shelf material of choice; I found mine in poplar at the local Lowes. One caveat that the Lee Valley page does not mention, but I found out firsthand: the screws supplied with this kit are square head screws, not your typical Phillips or slot head ones! So if you don’t have a square head screwdriver of the proper size (which most of us don’t, including me), you’ll need to buy your own screws. I found that drywall screws work fine. One kit supplies brackets for four shelves.

Of course we have to decorate the outside, right? I found this wrought iron “pretty” at a local nursery. They’d spray painted it a medium brown which was okay but not perfect. In order to decide whether I wanted it white or black, I sprayed it with (white) primer first. Nope, too busy-looking; so black it is. I know I could probably find a coconut fiber liner for it but I really do like the architectural effect of leaving it as is.

I’d already decided that I wanted the shed trimmings to be either white or black, so I spent several weeks poring over decorative window box websites. Wrought iron was the prettiest but ridulously heavy and expensive (at least the ones I liked were.) Some of the shipping charges were as much as the window box! The powder coated wire ones were either too plain or too flimsy looking, and the less said about the vinyl ones the better. Then I happened upon this one, which is made of fiberglass-reinforced resin that is very substantial and really does not look plastic-y at all. Made in England, naturally, where they do this sort of thing right. 🙂  It is sold by Lee Valley Tools in the USA and Canada, and a Google search for “Stratford window box” will also give retailer results in the UK.

The downside to this window box is that I haven’t been able to find a one-piece white plastic “liner” pot with straight sides. I can easily find one the right width and depth but they all have a flared top lip that is slightly bigger than the windowbox top edge. I was hoping to find one that would sit fully inside the box. But four individual white pots fit in there as well. There would be plants inside them, if I hadn’t dithered until July before buying said pots, lol. There’s always next year. The black wind chime is by Woodstock and is their “Gregorian”; it has a lovely rich tone.

The “Garden” sign with the bird is something I found on Etsy, from a delightful shop called Rusty Birds. They make marvelous metal garden pieces and can also supply any of them in raw (un-rusted) steel on request.

This is the link for the sign on my shed, shown in its rusted state. The signs mount in a unique way: With rare earth magnets, so that the sign can be removed if need be. Just put screws into your surface, snap the little magnets onto the screws, place the sign over the magnets, and voila! it’s done. This was perfect because I wanted mine to be (and stay) white, so I can repaint when I need to. I also ordered one of their painted rusty birds on a stake (Yellow Throated Warbler on Wild Iris) for elsewhere in the garden. Their work is truly unique; the sign was exactly what I was looking for in every way but never found anywhere else. Thanks, Jay and Madeleine!

My final finishing touch was a customer-appreciation gift sent to me about a year ago by the helpful staff at Rabbit Air (they make the best home air purifiers ever; at one time when the Money Pit air was almost toxic I bought several of their super quiet HEPA filters and boy did they work!) – a set of four wrought iron hooks in the form of decorative handles. The new shed was the perfect place for them. Two are mounted inside the shed, and the others are outside. The one near the windowbox is perfect for hanging a hat or jacket. The one near the door solves the problem of how to hold a shed door open on a breezy day. The solution? Hook one end of a bungee cord onto the outside door handle and the other end onto this hook at the shed corner; your shed door will never bang shut on you again!

No, I do not miss that old shed at all. 😊

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled Money Pit renovation debacle series, a/k/a Survivor: Home Renovation Edition. Which contractor will be voted off the island in the next episode? Stay tuned!)