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Old 01-31-2010, 01:47 PM   #1
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


I'm building a shed/simple workshop (12'x16' or 16'x16') this spring, (I am in New England). The sight is slightly sloped and does not have a problem with standing water. We have no zoning rules here so that is not an issue. I am struggling to pick a foundation. I'm deciding between these basic options:

1. Concrete blocks at the corners and in the middle of the spans.
2. Concrete piers sunk ~4' in the ground using sonotubes and maybe bigfoot forms
3. Concrete pad

Option #1 has a lot of appeal due to its cost and simplicity. (I have an old outbuilding that was built on stacked stone and seems to have withstood the test of time.) Option #2 seems more rugged than #1, but is the extra effort worth it? Option #3 seems by far the most robust, but again is the extra effort worth it?

The building will be used mostly for storage and occassionally simple carpentry projects.

Thanks for any advice.

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Old 01-31-2010, 02:14 PM   #2
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


My pool cabana has a pad on the pre-existing part
I opted to pour a perimeter "foundation" 12" deep
Then I'm filling the area & putting down pavers

Main reason was to be able to pull the pavers up to access the pipes to & from the filter & pump
And I did not want critters using the space under a wood floor as a home

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Old 01-31-2010, 03:03 PM   #3
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


I would suggest to put in on a concrete pad - and make the building as large as is reasonable while you are doing it. This makes for the best use experience, longest lasting, and most value add to the property.
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:11 PM   #4
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


Ayuh,... I'd do a floating slab,... 12" deep x 12" wide footers, to a 4" slab...

That way, frost shouldn't be an issue,+ you'll have a "Nice" floor surface to work or store on...
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:19 PM   #5
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Does a floating slab mean it is not connected to the footers? I've read about putting in slabs and it shows how to do the footers but it always seems to be one piece.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:22 PM   #6
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A floating slab usually has a thicken edge which acts as a footing to carry the building's weight.
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Old 02-01-2010, 03:02 PM   #7
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http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-i...air/house4.htm

A nice diagram there on how a floating slab works.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:59 PM   #8
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


If you do a floating pad be sure to put a vapor barrier under the slab. If you don't you may have problems with rusting tools. I would prefer a wood frame floor for a shop if you will be using it daily. That said, the slab would be less maintenance and less of a problem with varmints.

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Old 02-01-2010, 05:46 PM   #9
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I have built many sheds and storage buildings for myself and relatives.

Just level off the ground and put in a 4" slab on grade , before the concrete starts to cure put hold down bolts around the perimeter, and be sure to use pressure treated lumber for your bottom plates.

Don't worry about frost if you are not connecting the shed to an existing building it will float by itself, " Keep it Simple"
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:49 PM   #10
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


Thanks for all of the good advice. It seem the consensus is to go with a concrete pad with footers. We have plenty of critters here so that would be a big concern if I built on blocks.

Now since the site is on a slope (unfortunately I don't know the grade), what is the best approach? Do I have to excavate the uphill side to make it level with the downhill side or can I do a sort of wedge to save myself some exacating?
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Old 02-02-2010, 12:06 AM   #11
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey in NE View Post
Thanks for all of the good advice. It seem the consensus is to go with a concrete pad with footers. We have plenty of critters here so that would be a big concern if I built on blocks.

Now since the site is on a slope (unfortunately I don't know the grade), what is the best approach? Do I have to excavate the uphill side to make it level with the downhill side or can I do a sort of wedge to save myself some exacating?
I would investigate to do a stem wall. You need to understand the grade to see how high the stem wall needs to be.

Here is a relavent thread:
Concrete Footings for a Detached Garage???

Last edited by vsheetz; 02-02-2010 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:32 AM   #12
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


You could add some fill to the low end and compact the bejeeses out of it.
If you do that, consider that the weight from the slab will require the dirt to be installed in 8" 'lifts' and compaction applied at each level.
Use good clean fill, not the topsoil or what you excavate for the slab. Gravel or road crush would be good.

I used 22 loads of pit run to level off my 24 x 26 shop and a 5 ft vibratory packer. I had to come up 6 feet at the back end and have a 4 ft wide walkway around the shop. The gravel also needs to slope away at its 'angle of repose, which means however it wants... The force of the slab will travel down at a 45 degree angle, and the gravel needs to placed and compacted so that the force is travelling along that slope line.
Do you need/want a picture?
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:11 PM   #13
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


No zoning codes! Sounds like heaven. Do you mind if I ask where you are? I would love to be able to build a cottage without dealing with the zoning man.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:41 PM   #14
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


ever consider a pole barn type of construction? cheap and easy to build. can either have concrete slab on a level site or on a slope you can frame the floor with wood joist and decking which keeps the moisture at bay. wood floor is 1/4 the cost of concrete/finishing.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:07 PM   #15
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Picking a foundation for shed/simple workshop


This covers a few people's comments:

"No zoning codes! Sounds like heaven. Do you mind if I ask where you are? I would love to be able to build a cottage without dealing with the zoning man."

I live in a small town (< 1000 people) in Orange County, Vermont. The only real town zoning/permitting we have is when people put in driveways since those connect to roads.

"ever consider a pole barn type of construction? cheap and easy to build. can either have concrete slab on a level site or on a slope you can frame the floor with wood joist and decking which keeps the moisture at bay. wood floor is 1/4 the cost of concrete/finishing."

This was my original plan and I even bought a book on it and actually read it. I got bogged down a bit in the load calculations (partially me over thinking it, partially the book's poor explanation). One thing I didn't understand was if a concrete slab is used, how is that different than traditional construction? The framing and such seemed to be the same.

"You could add some fill to the low end and compact the bejeeses out of it. If you do that, consider that the weight from the slab will require the dirt to be installed in 8" 'lifts' and compaction applied at each level.
Do you need/want a picture?"

I think I can picture what you are saying and it makes sense.

I did a rough check of my yard's slope (there's snow on the ground so it was very rough), and it seems to be well below 5 degrees. For the size building I am thinking of, this puts the extra excavating on the uphill side at less than 1 ft.


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