Two Letters Re: Prefabricated Garden Sheds as Instant Shelters and Storage Spaces for Retreats

Just a comment on the bit about the sheds for bug-out retreats.
I have designed plans for a number of such shed sizes, as well as living quarters for larger barns.

A couple things to mention, one, is that if you do a sloped shed roof on your shed instead of a peaked roof…from the air, it looks like a loafing shed for your critters, this is in case it is in a
more rural farm like area, instead of timber country. Another thing, the window problem: On our barn (which we are building living quarters in right now) the front door and a nice sized window can be covered by using a large barn-type slider that covers the [man] door and window. And or you can use regular dutch doors or livestock slider doors to make it look like an outbuilding. We have two windows, one for the bathroom that is actually behind the top half of a dutch door and then the front door and window that is covered, when need be, by the barn slider.
I actually designed a 16′ x 24′ shed, that is really nice We hope to build it out in the middle of our fields. With a simple livestock water trough at the back of the roof line to catch run off, from a distance it will look very much like a livestock shelter. [A “loafing shed.”]

And if you know someone who has a portable mill, you can have boards cut that are actually 2″ or 3″ thick to use like board and batten. This will help to make your shed look simple but pretty safe from bullets. At least if they are coming at you from a distance. You can go another step further and build this shed over a concrete root cellar or a square concrete cistern that can be accessed through the floor of the shed. A ladder down through the top and with all the options they build in them for knock outs for pipes (in this case vents) they can be a pretty nice underground bunker of sorts.

We read your site regularly to keep up on what is being written but hidden in obscure papers. You guys are providing a great service. Keep it up! – Toni in the state of Washington

James Wesley:
I built many quality sheds (for my business) years ago. It is much easier to build a shed in four foot (or less) panels in your shop and then transport the panels to your retreat. It takes a little planning to do this, but in this way just two people can assemble the whole thing in a day, and transporting the shed usually takes just a 3/4 ton, long bed pickup [rather than a large truck.]

In many states you can build a shed up to 200 square feet without a permit. 12’x16′ is a common larger size, but 10’x20′ is much simpler to build (that 2 extra feet wider is a pain with roof and trusses). I recommend that you use deck screws to screw the panels together, including the cap plate. Build your roof trusses in your shop too. See Backwoods Home magazine for a really excellent article on how to build trusses and a really strong building.

Build the floor system on site, not as panels. Build the wall panels so that your full 4×8 sheets overhang on floor system by 4″ and 1.5″ on the top for your cap plate (ties it all together for strength). Offset your 4×8 panel 3/4″ to the left side to keep the seams centered on a stud. This keeps it weather tight, if you caulk. Make sure your roof overhangs at least 6″ (12″ is better) on all 4 sides or rainwater will get in.

Cut your studs to 87.5″. The 96″ stud minus 4″ (bottom overhang) minus 1.5″ (bottom plate) minus 1.5″ top plate minus 1.5″ cap plate = 87.5″. Make sure your cap plate is one piece of lumber for each side to tie the panels together on top. Take the scraps with you to your retreat, they will be handy.

Every panel uses one extra stud. It is well worth it. For Heaven’s sake, make sure the floor is level and square, and that every panel is square on its own! This is the difference between a lot of fun building, and a disaster. – Brian W.