A shed, in Newfoundland, is much more than a place to toss a few tools and the lawnmower. For many people it's a sacred refuge from the noise and chaos inside the house - an ideal escape when you need to get away from it all. "Shed culture" is so popular, in fact, that a St. John's radio station has dedicated an entire program to shed connoisseurs.
"Sheds are a huge deal in Newfoundland," says one man who knows from professional experience. Joel Stenabough is the supervisor in the seasonal department at The Home Depot on Kelsey Drive in St. John's. Every day, he meets people who want to talk about sheds. Here, he offers some expert tips on building the perfect shed for you.
Know the code
Before you get started on an outbuilding for your property, Joel says the most important thing to do first is to check with your municipal office about building codes in your neighbourhood. "You don't want to get into a situation where you build your shed and the city or town tells you to take it down," he says.
Design meets purpose
Once you have the go-ahead from council, then you can decide what type of shed you want. The Home Depot stocks a range of ready-to-assemble sheds made from durable UV protected plastics and vinyls that won't rust or fade. The length of time required to assemble your shed varies, depending on the size and the accessories that you have chosen. Pre-fabricated designs include windows, double doors, extension kits, storage systems and skylights. Doors are heavily constructed so they won't blow off in the wind.
Wood is also good
In addition to the plastic and vinyl designs, The Home Depot offers wooden shed packages. This year Home Depot has begun selling two new wooden sheds: one is an 8'x8' (similar to a "baby barn"), the other a 6'x6'. The wood is pre-cut, and everything is labelled according to step-by-step instructions. Even nails are included - the only extras are the plywood floor and the shingles for the roof. Two people can put up a packaged wooden shed in one day. The wood is pre-treated to protect against insects and fungal rot; the sheds are ready to paint, and come with a 10-year warranty.
Finding a size that fits
Do you want a place to protect your car, or do you want a sturdy place to organize your tools and store your lawnmower? Or do you simply want a party shed? Joel helps us examine those three examples.
The storage shed
This type of shed is probably the best choice for most people. Joel says the Rubbermaid brand storage sheds carried by The Home Depot are popular, and offer "the best bang for your buck."
The 3'x7' Rubbermaid Big Max Junior shed has 130 cubic feet of storage space - plenty of room to store a lawnmower, garden hoses and tools. The 7'x7' Rubbermaid Big Max Storage shed has 271 cubic feet of storage space, which is big enough for bikes, ladders, toys - even a lawn tractor - plus space for shelving. The Home Depot also sells a 4'x7' utility shed made by Royal Outdoor Products that is ideal for people who own a snowblower, but don't have an area to store it. "It's a perfect size for a snowblower, so it's really popular here," explains Joel.
These sheds are lightweight and once built, it is important to weigh them down to avoid damage by high winds. A few patio blocks in each corner should do the trick. Designed to sit on top of and area of lawn, Joel says people living in suburbs find these sheds convenient - especially when they're positioned close to the house. "You can put them up and take them down easily, and move them if you want to," he says.
The garage-size shed
If you are in the market for a large shed where you can tinker on your ride, there are many factors to be considered: Finding a flat, level, dry piece of land on your property; excavating; putting down crushed stone; and pouring concrete. Joel explains that while there is no packaged kit for such an elaborate shed, The Home Depot carries all the tools and supplies needed to build one. Just bring in your materials list and the folks at The Home Depot's Pro-Desk can help you find everything you need for the job.
The socializing shed
The Home Depot recommends consulting its Pro-Desk to help you plan and build a customized "party shed," complete with benches for your buddies, a bar area or anything else you want. "The Pro-Desk staff can draw up a design to your specifications, and recommend the right materials, to help you create the ultimate party shed," says Joel.
Mistakes to avoid
Joel describes three crucial things to remember when building a shed:
• Location. Do not build your shed in an open space where there is lots of wind. If you live somewhere extremely windy - the ocean's edge, for example - avoid lightweight plastic sheds, since they may take flight! Opt for a heavier vinyl or wooden shed.
• Level. Make sure to put your shed in a level area that is easily accessible.
• Legalese. Do not forget to check with your city or town about building regulations before you put up your shed.