To build a storage shed in your backyard takes planning and creativity. Most sheds are constructed from wood when built from scratch, others are assembled from shed kits and are generally constructed with plywood or metal. Some sheds, however, are built using brick because the owner wants to match the construction of the house or because the owner believes he is adding strength to the structure.
Perhaps one remembers the story of the Three Little Pigs and fears the big bad wolf blowing down his outdoor shed. Nevertheless, a brick shed will outlast a more traditional wooden shed if neither structure is maintained.
Look, if you maintain your shed then either construction material is just fine. For this reason and this reason alone, I only recommend building a shed in from brick if, and only if, your decision is aesthetic and not structural. Any well-built shed will last several lifetimes if properly maintained.
That being said here is a brief five-step guide for building a brick storage building or shed in your backyard.
The first step in any construction project is to determine the location of the shed. Make sure you choose a location that is relatively flat, has good drainage, is not directly on any property line, is not too close to trees which may cause problems for your shed roof or foundation (remember trees have a large root system below the surface). Also make certain that your shed foundation is not interfering with any electrical, cable or water lines. Overlook any one of these and you’ll have a potentially costly problem on your hands.
One other thing to think about at this stage is to make absolutely certain that your shed design complies with local building codes and zoning ordinances. The best way to do this is to apply for a permit. In some cases, if you live in a planned community, you may need permission to build the shed from your Home Owner’s Association. Don’t make the mistake of not asking because the HOA has broad powers to make you comply with their decisions.
Once all approvals and permits are obtained it is time to clean the area where your shed will be built. Remove any debris, roots, weeds, rocks, and other hindrances. Level the ground if necessary. Using a chalk line or stakes, draw an outline of the shed’s footprint on the ground.
Now it is time to start digging. Your task is to create a foundation for your shed. Building a strong foundation determines the strength and stability of your shed and is a step that must not be taken lightly. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to dig to a depth that is just below the frost line. This will assure that your shed will not heave due to ground swells caused by expanding soil due to freezing. Your minimum depth for a solid foundation is eight inches and most areas require no more than thirty-six inches. It is best to check with your local building department to know the exact depth to dig. You can rent a small back hoe or trenching machine, or you can hire an experienced excavator to do this step for you. You want the bottom of your trench level all the way around.
The outside of the trench must be about one inch beyond the outline of your building and should be four to six inches wide. Now using 2×6 lumber and stakes, create a form extending above the level of the ground.
It’s time to pour concrete for your foundation. Pour the concrete to a level of about two to three inches above ground level. Unless you are a martyr call your local concrete supplier and order a truck with the right amount of yardage to fill the hole. Tell the company the dimensions and they’ll tell you just what you need. Ask for advice about the mix needed for strength and permanence for your area. Make sure the top of the foundation is relatively level though it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. Leave the concrete to set. In about 24 hours remove the forms but don’t toss the material away. You can reuse it for door frames and other things like ceiling joists. Normally this is the time to call for your first inspection. Do so before you proceed.
Now you may want to pour a concrete slab for the shed floor. Again call your concrete supplier and tell him your dimensions. A 3 to 4 inch slab is sufficient for your purposes. You’ll also want to buy some rebar or wire mesh to add strength and stability to the slab.
Now mark the foundation walls for rough door openings making sure you account for the finished size of the opening and go wide enough to accommodate that size. Also, if you are adding windows make sure you know where to leave openings for the rough opening as well.
Spread your bricks on the ground and set a level string around each wall of the shed. Mix a batch of mortar (rent a mortar mixer from your local home center) and apply a layer of mortar to the foundation to accommodate around 5 to 7 bricks. Lay bricks one at a time making sure they are level. Use the string as a guideline. Repeat all around the foundation wall. As you build layers repeat the same idea but place your bricks so they are centered over the space between the two bricks below. Repeat until you have reached the height of your building.
At the door and window openings you’ll need to place a header across the top of the opening so the bricks above will remain in place. You can use a thin steel header or a piece of 4×4 timber to act as a header. Don’t overlook this step.
The final step is to build your roof. This is a common shed building activity so I won’t go into that here. When you build a storage building from bricks you have to pay attention to the details of the construction process. Follow these steps and you’ll build a strong brick shed.