Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Metal Building

If you've been following the blog you've heard me mention, several times, the metal building which I recently assembled. I've been waiting to do a post about the building until I was completely finished. I am now finally to the point that I am considering the building complete.

The building is an Arrow SR1011 10' x 11' Shed. Overall I am impressed with the quality of construction. The building contains several braces, which make it stronger than I expected. My only real complaint is with the height, as I have to duck to go through the door. I also have to duck to walk beneath the roof beams other than the one in the center. This is something I was aware of when we purchased the building, however, so I can't really complain.

We actually purchased this building two to three years ago, before we even moved to our current location. Our idea was that we would need some storage here at the property before and during the move, so we thought this would be a good option. We later realized, however, that there was nowhere to locate the building that would be out of the way while the bulldozer was working, while still being conveniently located once we moved here. For that reason, the building remained in its box in storage that whole time. It was moved a few times during that period, and did sustain some light damage. I was surprised, though, at how well the pieces held up to the multiple moves and long term storage. The biggest issue caused by the long term storage was that a family of mice had moved into the box, which resulted in some of the pieces getting covered in mouse droppings.

When we purchased the building, it came with a free floor frame kit (the Arrow FB1014). I had initially planned to use the floor kit, since we already had it. When my Dad and I really looked at it, however, it quickly became apparent the the floor kit wasn't made to be used the way I had intended. While it appears that the kit would work well if installed on a concrete pad, or level gravel lot, that isn't what we had to work with. The spot where I was locating the building was not level. The plan was to construct a frame from treated 4x4s, which would be made level by putting posts under the front edge. The building would then be built on that 4x4 frame. I had hoped that the floor kit would span the gap between the edges of the frame and hold our flooring in place. What we found, though, was that the floor kit wasn't made to span the distance without added support. We ended up deciding that it was going to be best to just build a wooden platform onto which we could assemble the building.

Once we determined that the floor kit wasn't going to work, we were able to put together a material list and make a trip to the home improvement store. After acquiring the lumber our first step was to construct the wooden platform. The platform itself is fairly simple. We used 2x6 floor joists and OSB for the flooring. The instructions for the building gave dimensions for the platform, which would result in a platform measuring 9/16" larger on all sides than the building itself. We used the suggested dimensions, but in hindsight I wish we had not. I see no actual benefit from making the platform larger than needed. Doing this did, however, mean that we had to find a way of protecting the OSB that was protruding from beneath the building. The instructions suggested roofing cement, but we found a better solution, which I'll discuss later in this post.

Once the platform was completed, the assembly of the building went fairly well. I'm confident that Andrea and I could have completed the assembly without my Dad's help, although I'm very glad he was here. Progress was consistent, but slow. It took us approximately 16 hours to assemble the shed, which was spread over three days. There is a lot of prep work in the early steps of the instructions. We did the prep work as instructed, which I was glad for, even though at the time it seemed strange. Once the bottom rail was assembled, and the prep work done, the instructions warned to not proceed any further unless the rest of the building could be completed the same day. We completed the wall assembly, but did not install the roof before stopping for the day. I see no issue with the way in which we left the building, but do agree that it would not have been wise to leave the walls only partially assembled.

I did learn a few things during the process which I feel obligated to pass on. First is that assembling the building definitely requires two people. There were steps which I think would be impossible with only one person. Also, we found that having two drills was very useful. The job could certainly be done with a single drill, but it would take much longer as it would be necessary to change bits very often. 

Knowing what I know now there are a couple of things I would have done differently. The first is to make sure we had a taller step ladder. My 10' step ladder was difficult to get to at the time, so we used a 6' ladder instead. There were a few situations where the ladder we used was not really tall enough, and actually resulted in some fairly dangerous situations that could have been avoided with a taller ladder. The other thing I would have done differently is to attach the bottom rails to the wooden platform once we knew it was square. The instructions were clear that it should not be attached until the end, but that made it difficult to keep the building square when installing the wall panels.

My Dad left before we were able to apply the finishing touches to the building. Andrea helped me install the door, which was a fairly easy process. She also helped me re-position the building on the platform, as it wasn't centered like I wanted. The last task that she helped me with was replacing some screws in the roof, which seemed to be causing the roof to leak. I don't think we were completely successful, however, as I found water standing in the floor today, presumably from the rain yesterday.

As mentioned earlier, there was a need to apply some type of waterproofing to the edge of the wooden platform that is not covered by the building. My Dad and I talked about a few options, before finally deciding on drip edge. I was able to slide the drip edge under the edge of the building, which helps to hold it in place as well as ensuring that water doesn't damage the platform. I later applied roofing cement where the drip edge goes under the building to prevent water from running beneath the building. In hindsight I wished I had used clear silicone instead of the black roofing cement. I don't think it would work any better, but would likely have looked better.

Since I am going to be storing a lawn mower, tiller, and possibly wood chipper in the building I wanted a ramp to make it easier to get them inside. My Dad helped me to build the ramp, which actually took much less time than I expected. We used three 8' treated 2x6s for the runners and 5/4" decking for the top. The 8' runners resulted in a ramp that is a bit steep, but is a good compromise. Had I gone with 10' or 12' I am afraid that the ramp would have extended so far as to be in the way. I do need to put something down to improve traction when the ramp is wet. I'll most likely uses pieces of old shingles for this. I did this for the back porch steps and it worked well. One thing I hadn't considered is the extra time required to walk the length of an 8' ramp. I wish I had installed the ramp on one side of the door opening, and steps on the other side, since the majority of the time I will just be walking into the building, not pushing a piece of equipment. 

I still plan to add one last finishing touch to the building. When reading reviews of similar buildings someone suggested filling the openings between the wall panels and roof to prevent wasps from entering and making a nests. I have been saving old pieces of landscape fabric for this. The theory behind using landscape fabric is that it should keep insects out, while still allowing ventilation. I'm not in a big hurry to do this, but would like to finish it before spring.

I think the metal building is going to work out well. However, if we had not already purchased it, I definitely would not have bought it now. It would have been easier to build a building completely from wood, and would probably have cost no more. Of course this would only be an option because my Dad could have helped me build a wooden shed. If Andrea and I were going to have to build it alone, I would prefer the metal building.


  1. Hey, we had a brief conversation about obtaining wood chips on permies. I finally got the contractors doing line work to start dropping them off. They asked how much I wanted, I told them, "I will tell you when to stop". As of now I got three truck loads. So in the nature of being a good neighbor I would offer you some wood chips, if you were still in need.


    1. Thanks for checking out the blog, and for the offer. I'll shoot you an email if I decide to take you up on the offer.