Bite the hand that bores you

Wikihouse and the Tragedy of Rome

Books on timber framing breathlessly extoll the virtues of huge timbers, while modern timber framing books gloss over the mounting shortage of real timbers and simply lament ‘stick’ building with 2x4s as though it had happened in a vacuum.

But while it may be the case that, once upon a time, when you cleared land for a barn, the trees you took down were all old-growth and ready to support thousands of pounds for a century, that’s simply not the world we live in any more. Stick building is not a choice but an expedient; we build with sticks because the giants are nearly gone.

We’re like the barbarians using marble pediments as foundation or the rubble of statues as infill.

Ideabook 2

Things to love: post-and-beam construction, natural wood, and all that glass. The platform steps blur the line between deck and stairs. This is in Bolinas, of course. That custom-made folding front wall may be just the thing. The standard shed roof is oriented 90º to the main entrance. On my site, a north-facing clerestory is better for light most likely.

Ideabook #1

These windows are the kind of thing you base an entire design around. Also, this shed is bigger inside than out, which is a plus.

Legalities & Permits

Building anything in an incorporated city brings with it the obligation to not do anything dumb and thereby endanger your house or your neighbor’s. The constraints on sheds are pretty light, though. Here’s what I have learned.

Building the Backyard Office

I’ve never built a shed. I’m moderately handy; I’ve framed a wall, and I’ve run electricity; I can hang drywall, and use a level. I’m going to keep a log of what I decide while learning how to build a shed that won’t fall down in my back yard. Perhaps it will be of use to someone other than me. I’ll write about the design process, build-or-buy, legal and technical issues I run into, and if appropriate the whole build process. There are scads of interesting books on this subject, and I’ll include my notes on them as well, and annotated links to building sites and other blogs.

Why build a shed? Our house is small enough that I have to give change back from the cost of the nickel tour. With my wife and I both working at home and a baby napping, building an office shed/greenhouse in the yard is a dream come true.