As much as I’d like to have the stilt house floating in the air above the back yard, I really can’t afford the dead space in a yard so small. Every square foot has to pull it’s weight, really. Plus, there’s this ugly-ass metal shed in the yard that is pretty much an eyesore.
So, I’m tucking a little shed under the stilt house. In one iteration, I envisioned enclosing in the whole bottom story of the stilt house, but I’m glad I didn’t. Eliza even pointed out that it wouldn’t feel like a tree house if it was all filled in underneath. Hence, the shed is tucked in, filling less than half the area underneath, which hopefully keeps up the illusion of the house floating in air.
When you get right down to it, we’re talking about a 3′ x 7′ box. One thing I wanted, though, was a lot of doors… like 3 walls worth. I hate black holes where shit just lives because it’s too much trouble to drag it out and toss it, or worse, to bother getting it out to use it. I had a storage unit like that once… way in the back was an inflatable boat without a motor that I didn’t think I was going to use when I packed the storage. Then someone offered me a 9hp motor that would have made it a crab-catching machine… except I couldn’t actually get the boat without unloading an entire 10×15′ storage unit, so the crabs remained uneaten. Bummer (n.b. that same inflatable is living in the metal shed… I’ve moved it 3 times, I’ve stored it for 12 years. I’ve never once put it in the water. This has got to stop). But back to the shed… lots of doors, natch.
I decided I wanted this done, so I started looking for a handyman to build it instead of having to listen to myself dither. I found one, JR’s Handyman service in El Cerrito. He was great. He came by and we talked for an hour or so… at the end of that, I actually felt like I should just do it. He gave me great ideas about how to do it, and we agreed that I’d prep the site, frame it in, and then he’d do the rest. But by the time I was building it, I didn’t feel like I needed him for any of it… still, those couple of hours were worth the money because he gave me a lot of confidence that I was doing stuff right.
My plan had been to just set some concrete piers on the ground, but JR convinced me to sink some posts in the ground. I even had some nice scraps of the same 6×6’s that support the stilt house, so that’s all good. He gave me a great suggestion for setting up a frame off the main house supports to hold the little posts while I poured concrete. At the end of the day, it worked mostly awesome, though one of them ended up 1/4″ off…
Once the posts were set, I framed in the base with pressure treated. I made a lot of compromises, such as using 2×4 as floor supports and putting the joists really close to the ground. I know they’ll rot sooner, but I can’t afford 4 more inches to use 2×6 and giving them good clearance. We’ll see how it goes.
Once the floor was framed in, I put in one special stud. Because I used 2×4 for the base, JR suggested that I tie a stud from the house framing above into the middle of the 2×4 to keep it from sagging. I then decked it with 3/4″ plywood. I splurged and got the smooth, sanded stuff. It’s not really necessary, but when I’m sliding boxes around in the shed, it’ll be nice to not have splinters tearing into things.
I put a header on the bottom of the floor joists for the house to tie the studs into the floor. I used the laser level to make sure it was lined up perfectly with the bottom of the frame. Then I put a sill on top of the shed floor. I made some mistakes here since I hadn’t worked out all the details of the wall framing. The upshot was that I later had to cut the header and sill to avoid some pieces that would be in the way of the doors.
Half of the shed will have shelves, so I put in a stud aligned with the front special stud. This will support the shelves. I then used the laser level to pencil in the shelves. I wanted the bottom one to have enough clearance for the table saw rails (so I can store it without removing the rails), so that was a design consideration. I used 2x4s and Simpson connectors to make the shelf brackets. This wastes some space, but it’s easy. I finally got the shelves in, though after a few hiccups of cutting out spaces where I didn’t need them. There is a 40″ span on the shelf that I know will sag, but I’m going to put a front piece of 1″ steel L… someday, when I get around to it… hopefully before I load the thing up!
Finally, sheathed it in T1-11… cheap and cheerful!
Next up, doors…