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[OT]Ideas for split-level shed/workshop built into hill

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  • [OT]Ideas for split-level shed/workshop built into hill

    I recently dismantled my old 10'x8' metal shed,which was erected on the foundation of an even older wooden shed, next to my house, and built into a hill.




    It might be difficult to excavate much of the existing foundation, although much of it appears to have been roughly slapped together when the original shed was demolished and the metal shed built on the wood platform you can see, which was made from 4x6 PT timbers and plywood. I want to be able to roll my mowers and garden tractors into the shed at or near ground level, but inside I am thinking about having a second level about 18-24" above that. It would not be hard to use a ramp to move the machines to the higher level, and may even make it easier to work on them. Here are my preliminary plans, for a structure about 12 feet wide and 13-14 feet deep. The walls are 8 feet high in front, and the cross-braces on the roof trusses are about 10 feet above the lower floor, and 8 feet above the upper level. The old metal shed had 5 foot walls and about 6 foot peak.





    The grey walls are the rough stone foundation, and the brick walls may actually be done with concrete block. The actual construction will be adjusted as needed for the site. Suggestions and comments are welcome. Thanks!
    http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
    Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
    USA Maryland 21030

  • #2
    I recommend that you at least double the area enclosed by the brick walls. You might have to make the ceiling higher if the ground slopes away. Some sort of rail attached to the ceiling could carry a hoist and permit you to move stuff up and back to the original level. A ramp would take up space. With increased floor length, you could pull a vehicle in and pull an engine, then put it on the upper level.

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    • #3
      Paul,

      The land to the right of the platform in pic 1 looks relatively well sloped to the shed, what about a walkway to the side of the building for the upper level and there would be no need for the ramp inside which will take up good floor space.
      Just me thinking outside of the box as I often do!

      TX
      Mr fixit for the family
      Chris

      Comment


      • #4
        You don't show the stairs in the new CAD rendering. But I can't help but think that the stairs or ramp would take up a LOT of the usable area. Not to mention the PITA it would be to move the stuff that goes into a shed up and down between levels.

        How the old shed was built on the raised rock foundation was likely to avoid ground water from wet earth while using what was on hand. Nothing wrong with that. But it led to a shed with stairs up to the floor. And that's a totally silly idea for getting stuff in and out of the shed.

        Personally you're looking at a lot of effort to build the new upper structure. Why not take the time and do it right and give yourself a flat floor throughout the whole shed. Namely dig out the old floor and rock foundation and lay in a new semi foundation. To keep out water this would need to be a concrete floor pad. But from there you could erect construction block walls, fill them with concrete including a top run of the "U" section block used to make cast concrete tie runs and finally coat the outer surface with waterproofing emulsion before backfilling with some drain rock along the outer layer. THEN build your upper side.

        I know this would mean some nasty jack hammering work and some rubble removal. The larger rocks used in the original foundation could perhaps be repurposed for fill or something decorative if you wish. Or used in the back wall that cuts back into the bank instead of construction blocks for the first course or two with suitable mortar and wire "ladder" runs added to mortar lines. That way you only need to move the rock around instead of transport it away. And using the rock for the back and side walls that are into the earth would give a nice nod to the original sheds.

        But to try to build something new onto what is there just seems like a lot of work added to a bad original concept. Oh sure, at the time that the metal was put up it likely seemed like a good idea. Or perhaps it was just a quick and dirty solution to store stuff that was intended to be used only very occasionally. But if you're going to do any sort of work on things in this space it seems like it would be far more usable if the floor was all on one level. And it would not be THAT much more effort to dig into the bank to get a flat floor.
        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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        • #5
          I think it is folly to build onto an old foundation. Dig it out, build a proper single level foundation and be proud of your work for the rest of your life, rather than wondering if the old stuff is going to crumble or watching it crumble and trying to fix it.

          Good luck

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BCRider View Post
            ...Why not take the time and do it right and give yourself a flat floor throughout the whole shed....
            My thoughts exactly--requires that you move more dirt but the end result will be a much more usable building when you're done.
            Were I in your shoes I wouldn't even consider making it two levels...
            Keith
            __________________________
            Just one project too many--that's what finally got him...

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            • #7
              My dad’s garage had a second level. The walk up stairs had a pivot at the top and a large concrete counterweight along the wall behind the oil fired heater. One hand pulled the stairs down. No lost floor space and it closed off the stair well keeping the heat in during the winter. There was a fire wood storage box on one wall with locking cabinets above. You put firewood in from the garage and the side facing into the house had a door to retrieve the wood right along side the fireplace. He was a master of efficiency!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the ideas. I am somewhat limited as to the size of the shed, so I think the maximum would be about 12'x16'. That is still too small for a car, and it would be difficult to maneuver a vehicle to get it into the shed/garage. Here is a photo of the houses from 1977, when I bought the first house, and it just barely shows the original shed:



                There is about 8 feet from the left side of the foundation (about 12 ft wide) to the house at 715, and about 8 feet from the right side to the deck on 713. So, I would not be able to make it much wider - perhaps 16 feet at most. The front yard is only about 24 feet deep, which is really not enough to turn a vehicle around, and there are also trees to contend with. I don't want to make this too much of a major project, as I can't really afford to hire a contractor to do the work, although I might get someone to help with the brute work. My back has been giving me problems lately, and although I enjoy strenuous exercise, heavy work like I have been doing lately (mowing, tree cleanup, kitchen renovations, etc.) seems to be causing peripheral neuropathy in my feet and legs.

                Also, any structure over 100 square feet really requires a permit, although a shed without plumbing and electrical would probably be no problem. I am thinking that perhaps I should dig out the front part of the existing foundation as much as possible, to lower the floor level, and build a shed 12'x8' on that, with only about 18-24" of steps or a ramp from ground level. I also have a rough woodshed adjacent to this shed, and perhaps I could build another shed in that location, with easy access at ground level for mowers and tractors.

                In that case, perhaps a simple sloped roof would be easier to build, maybe using translucent plastic panels. The right side entrance with a more gentle slope is also a good idea.

                Thanks.
                Last edited by PStechPaul; 08-03-2018, 05:21 PM.
                http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                USA Maryland 21030

                Comment


                • #9
                  If you must have two levels, then separate them by function, and make the more easily accessible one larger.

                  Upper levels are fine for small stuff, workbenches for finer work, many sorts of storage, etc. Lower levels are for the bigger machinery. Even of you do not have bigger machinery, you might get some, and also, you will want room to roll in a mower etc and work on it out of the rain/cold/etc. So plan the easily accessible level to be larger. That way you have options, instead of regrets.
                  1601 2137 5683 1002 1437

                  Keep eye on ball.
                  Hashim Khan

                  If you look closely at a digital signal, you find out it is really analog......

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                  • #10
                    It is difficult without knowing the elevations but maybe you could consider a two story or a version of it with a gambrel roof. Access to the upper story would be from the back. It would be like a bank barn. From the picture of the original property it looks like there is a flat area behind the building from which a ramp could be made to the upper story.

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                    • #11
                      Here is a better image of the land behind the shed, before the large cherry tree was cut down:



                      The path starts at an elevation maybe 4 feet above the floor of the shed base, which in turn is about 3 feet above front yard ground level. Here are other images showing the existing foundation:





                      I should demolish and remove the wooden base and see what condition the foundation is in. It looks like it was originally made with random size rocks, as is the case for the foundations of the two houses. My brother built the wooden base, and it looks like he used some old bricks and concrete blocks roughly held together with cement.

                      It might be possible to build a ramp on the two rows of concrete block that I added for my added-on mower shed.

                      I also built a shed on the foundation of a duplex outhouse, further up the hill behind the house at 715, and about 16'x4'. It has a hinged door with counterweights that folds down to become a ramp, at one time intended to house my tractor. But it is not easily accessible, so it is just full of old lumber and stuff:

                      Last edited by PStechPaul; 08-03-2018, 08:10 PM.
                      http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                      Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                      USA Maryland 21030

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That "random stone and lump" foundation seems like nothing you want.

                        At best it will limit your choices, at worst it will crumble and be an endless source of trouble.
                        1601 2137 5683 1002 1437

                        Keep eye on ball.
                        Hashim Khan

                        If you look closely at a digital signal, you find out it is really analog......

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          In the short term, it will be easier/faster to do the 2-level shed, but over time I think you will find it very annoying and limiting. I would suggest digging it out/building it up to have the whole floor on the same level.

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                          • #14
                            I went out to start demolishing the wooden base, and I saw that one of the PT timbers is badly rotted. I guess that can be expected after 30 years. Then it started raining (again) and I had to come in. I really need to see just what I have before getting too deep into this project.

                            I think I want a concrete floor, so I looked into what it would take for the 8'x12' original foundation. That is 96 square feet, so for 3" thick (probably too thin), it is 24 cubic feet. An 80 lb bag of concrete mix is about 0.6 cu ft, so about 40 bags at $4.15 each or $166. An alternative method might be to use concrete blocks. An 8x8x16 block is 0.89 sf, so it would require 108 blocks at $1.21 each, or $130. They could be laid in a more open pattern with 4" space between them, so maybe 80 blocks. They can be stabilized by pouring some concrete into the spaces, and further anchoring them by driving pieces of rebar into the ground. Then 4x8x16 caps could be used to cover the floor and make it flat, or it could be covered with 2x4s and plywood, or maybe just the plywood for greater stiffness. Using blocks creates air space but also 8-12" of height, compared to 3"-6" for poured concrete.

                            To get an idea of material cost, the 12'x12' plan uses about 60 2x4s, which would be about $350 for pressure treated or $220 for standard lumber. It would need 6 pieces of sheathing for the roof, at $20 each for 19/32", and 10 pieces of T1-11 siding at $29 each. So lumber cost for the larger shed would be about $760.

                            Realistically, although I would enjoy doing the whole thing myself, with a little help, I probably should get a contractor to do the rough and heavy work, so it gets done in a reasonable time frame, and then I can have a place to protect my machines and work on them. But I have no idea what it might cost.
                            http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                            Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                            USA Maryland 21030

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                            • #15
                              Paul, isn't the 'second house' in rough shape and used for storage? Perhaps put a big door in a ground level room?
                              Location: North Central Texas

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