We'll choose square -- a perfect square to be exact. I've mentioned probably close to a hundred times (maybe more?) that the only level land on our property is where the house and leach field for the septic system sit. Everything else is sloped, which is great for our view. No McMansion will ever steal our sweeping vista of the hills and Tahoe peaks beyond, but it sure makes for a challenge when it comes to usable space.
And usable space is desperately needed. We don't have a garage, so as our DIY skills -- and the needs of maintaining the house -- have grown, so has our tool collection. Our motley assortment has been living in my Charles' office. I don't think it's been a usable space for well over a year now, and something needed to be done. We finally committed to buying a shed, but where would we put it?
The very end of our driveway has a more level area than most of our property, so we chose there. As you can see, it's not really that level, but it was workable. We began by placing four cement blocks at each corner, measured out to be just wider than our shed. We dug until the land was mostly level, added sand, compacted it (and then a snow storm helped settle them even more), and checked for level with each block. Once they were perfectly adjusted, pressure treated 4X4 posts were added, and cut to the lengths required for the platform to be level. You can ascertain what's straight by using 2X4s. Use your level to see where everything is even, mark that, and get to cutting. As I go through this step-by-step, the word "level" is going to show up quite often. That's what needed for this sort of project, and your tools, squares and levels, will be essential to each part of the build.
Then it was time for our perfect square. At this point, the level no longer left our reach. Pressure treated 2X4s were cut to reach around the 4X4 posts, making a square. As each 2X4 was attached to the post, we made sure it was level. Then came the art of making the base a true square. Measuring on the diagonal, from corner to corner, we adjusted each cement block ever so slightly until the diagonal of one set of corners was exactly the same as the other set of corners. This step took about an hour, as it was adjust, check for level, adjust, check for level, and over and over again until it was perfect.
We decided to build a mini deck as our platform support. We've had a heck of a lot of practice with deck supports the last few years, so why not? Plus, we wanted something that would be as solid as possible. We don't want all of our tools someday rolling down the hill. We added more cement blocks, following the same leveling procedure we used for the four corners, until we ended up with nine supports.
We then cut more pressure treated 2X4s to fit the inside expanse of our square, screwed them in place, and got the hangers ready. I would squeeze each hanger so it fit snugly around each 2X4, holding it in place while Charles fastened it to the frame with deck screws. We repeated this step 11 more times and had ourselves a square mini deck.
The hard parts done, we were on to building the platform, which was a piece of plywood cut to the outside dimensions of the supports. Then everything was primed and painted. We flipped the plywood over so it was primed and painted on both sides for more weather resistance. The next step involves putting a shed on top of this, so weather exposure to the top of the plywood will be minimal, but it's still good to be thorough. That's a lesson we've had to learn the hard way a few times, and we want this shed to last for the long haul.
All in all, the platform build took most of the weekend, with lunch and water breaks and finishing a little early on Sunday in order to watch Game of Thrones. The weather was beautiful, and it was a pleasant way to spend a weekend -- especially when we factored in the excitement of finally attaining our dream of a shed.
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