A bunch of years ago my Dad bought my Mom a shed where she could put all of her storage stuff. It was a store bought metal shed of decent size, but it wasn’t quite water or weather proof, and it was on a wooden foundation that trapped water. So a few weeks ago he decided that he would build her a new shed from scratch that was bigger and sturdier. She was scheduled to be at a conference from Thursday through Saturday, so in those three days he was going to build that shed and have it be a surprise for when she came home. And I, of course, got the honor of helping him. Did I know what I was in for? Nope.
Somehow, Thursday literally started with him behind schedule. Not sure how that works, but it’s what he claimed. At about eleven in the morning he came home with a car load of lumber which we promptly rushed into the backyard. Then began the task of dismantling the old shed, which first required moving everything that was already inside out. She has a pretty decent amount of stuff. Most of it is a bunch of myself and my siblings’ toys that probably should have gone into donation a long time ago. Highlights include Barbies, my box of Dinosaurs, and my entire Hot Wheels collection (still in pristine condition and looking so cool). There were also some adorable Boyd Bears dressed like Wizard of Oz characters. But, most of all, there were boxes. Lots and lots of cardboard boxes that my Mom hoarded over the many years. What she wants them for I’m not sure. It wasn’t hard moving all this stuff, but I was surprised by how much there was.
The next step required dismantling the shed, which really just meant taking a bunch of screws and bolts off (PSA: your finger tips can hold a nut in place while you unscrew a bolt, but you will probably also tear apart said fingertip). It was kind of gross with how many spider webs and decayed leaves there were, but it pretty easy, especially when compared to the next step.
After dismantling came the hardest step: laying a concrete foundation. While I took a break, my Dad drove somewhere to retrieve a giant cement mixer, which was loud and obnoxious and probably angered the neighbors while we were pouring. It was so large that it had to stay parked in the street while my Dad wheelbarrowed cement back and forth. Naturally he was messy, and now we have remains of concrete splatter in front of our house as well as a stain of cement half way down the street’s gutter, created while trying to remove the aforementioned splatter. Oops. I also ended the day with concrete inside an open wound which probably isn't good for the body, but what can you do?
Anyway, when pouring concrete it’s good to have a few people who know what they’re doing. My Dad is one (or so he claims), but I’m clueless, and as such it was pretty slow going. Eventually one of our friends came by to help out (and to get his truck back which we borrowed), and by about 5:15 we were finished for the day, and topped it off with pizza.
Fortunately for me I worked my regular job that morning so that was part of the day I got off from this project. When I came back, my Dad had finished building a wooden foundation and it was time to start putting up walls. He mentioned that he arbitrarily decided to make it a foot higher, which didn’t register with me at the time. I just thought ‘cool’ and proceeded to help him cut.
A few hours later, and with help from the previously mentioned friend, the wall was nailed together, covered with tar paper and siding, painted, and slid into place. I have no idea why they made me paint it since this wall was facing a fence and literally no one would see it, but I guess that’s how you do a good project: you don’t half do any element of it. Once this was all done, it dawned on me: this thing was tall. Like really tall. My Dad intended for it to be tall enough to walk into without stooping, but he had gone well beyond that. The second wall went much faster, and we ended the day with two walls standing (the second one was only partially sided, though).
I lucked out again and worked my regular job in the morning. Our friend arrived early to help, and so once I got back from work it already had four walls and (most of) a roof. In fact it was so done that they decided it was time to move everything back in. I didn’t do anything, except go out to buy them burgers and move everything back in. Okay, sure my sister and I had to Russian-doll some of those boxes to make everything fit, but that’s easy compared to raising walls and laying cement. Everything went in rather nicely, with easy walk in access and plenty of room to spare.
But boy was it tall. We were all worried what my Mom would think of it, but we had to wait about twelve more hours for her to come home…
She likes to walk our dog stupid early so our Mom saw it before we could show it to her with a ‘surprise!’. What her initial reaction was I have no idea, but she did call it a ‘monstrosity’, which, yeah, it is. Unless she changes her mind, my Dad will probably try to lower it next month which will be a whole other challenge, as it certainly wasn’t built to be lowered. But as it stands (no pun intended), she likes it and has a strong appreciation for the storage space and the walk-in ability. So it seems the hard work paid off, which is good enough for me. It wasn’t a fun project, but it was an educational one. This was my first time participating in an architectural project so I learned a lot… especially how it’s not something I feel like doing again.
But I like to help out, so if my Dad tries something like this again I'll be there. But hopefully next time he'll give us more than three days and have things like height sorted out and discussed early.