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bbrooks107 08-28-2012 06:52 PM

Garden Shed Rafters
I am currently planning on building the Family Handyman Magazine 2011 Garden Shed... or I should say a scaled down version of it. The original plans are for a 12' x 16' shed but my HOA will only allow an 8' x 10' shed.

For anyone who wants to see the original plans, they can be seen at this link:

I suppose I could have chosen a simpler design but I liked this one and I believe with some guidance I can build this without great difficulty.

The original plans have two roof slopes, i.e. 9" in 12" and 4" in 12". I am primarily concerned with the 9" in 12" slope rafters right now. It also calls for an overhang of 16 1/4".

On page 11, the plans call for 2" x 4" rafters with a birdsmouth heel cut of 1 7/8" deep. I believe the purpose of this is to get a seat cut that will sit completely on the top plate. I have read that the heel cut should not exceed 1/3 of the rafter thickness.

Should I cut the heel cut more shallow, i.e. 7/8" - 1 1/8"? Or should I consider increasing the rafter thickness to 2" x 6"?

I live in the Indianapolis area. I don't think there would be a problem with a load on the roof; however, we do get some serious winds so I plan on using the sheet metal fasteners to ensure the rafters stay in place.

Also, what is the easiest way to determine what the Building Code requires?

Thank you in advance for your willingness to assist.

md2lgyk 08-29-2012 06:30 AM

You should check with your local building department. Many places (including where I live) require a building permit and approved plans for a shed, no matter what size it is. Even premanufactured sheds are not exempt. The concern, as it was explained to me, is adherence to property line setback requirements.

Hammer450R 08-29-2012 07:07 AM

The deeper the birdsmouth has no effect on rafter strength as long as it doesnt exceed full bearing on top of the wall. The only thing it effects is the strength of the overhang. 1 7/8" should be fine as long as your birdsmouths are cut nice and installed tight. I would cut to the line and use a jig saw or saw zaw to finish the cuts.

bbrooks107 08-29-2012 08:23 PM

Thank you for your responses.

I have contacted the City Building/Planning department and the Garden Shed does require a building permit. But before I can get the building permit, the HOA where I live must approve it. I want to make sure the rafter thickness is up to Code before I submit the plans for approval. I also must submit a plot map showing the location of the shed to ensure it is not in the drainage easement, etc.

The overhang is 16 1/4" which means I have about 20 5/16" beyond the wall on the roof. I am concerned that with a 2" x 4" it will cause the roof to flex if it is necessary to get up on the roof for some reason. If the heel cut is 1 7/8", doesn't that only leave 2 1/2" from the seat cut to the top of the rafter?

Thank you for the advice regarding cutting the birdsmouth. I will remember it when the time comes to make the cuts.

Hammer450R 08-29-2012 08:35 PM

If it were my shed i would go with 2x6's

bbrooks107 08-29-2012 10:49 PM

Thank you for your response.

I have sent an email to the local Building and Planning department to find out what the local code requires. I will confess that I am leaning heavily towards upgrading the rafters to 2" x 6" to ensure there will not be any issues with the roof after it is constructed. Since we live near tornado alley, I am thinking of using hurricane fasteners to secure the rafters to the top plate.

Any other suggestions you might have to improve the safety of the shed roof system will be welcomed.

allthumbsdiy 09-03-2012 11:47 PM

The plan doesn't show blocking for barge rafters (rafters beyond side walls) but maybe because the shed is relatively small?

Also, if you live near tornado alley, I would imagine there are special requirements to secure your shed to the ground (which I am sure your building department will let you know).

One last thing to remember is the total height of your shed. My zoning guy specifically told me I could not exceed 9' 6". Your plan is approximately 12' in height.

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