DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

Fixing up old shack (roof, windows, doors, etc)

6562 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  joan smith
I hope this is in the right forum section...Warning this is going to be a broad question/probably broad answer type of post.

I have an old shack on some land I've been wanting to fix up for camping. No running water, no electricity. It is solid thanks to the masonry construction but needs some work. Attached is a photo.

I am pretty much a newbie when it comes to construction skills. With that said, I was a total newbie on cars a few years ago but a lot of reading, a lot of new tools, and forum advice helped me do a lot of work I didn't think I could on a car. So I'm down to try whatever on this shack, its just a shack after all, but if you think I am really getting over my head please let me know.

1. Roof - From what I heard this is a pretty hard job for a beginner. The roof does not leak in rain but a lot of the boards (including the framing) seems to have mold/mildew and/or wood damage - so I think an entire new roof with framing would be needed. Any estimate on cost and possible DIY? This is the one project that I am really hesitant to try to tackle by myself with one or two friends helping...I would love to put a metal roof on the shack but I would love to keep that old brick chimney up there too.
- By the way, if anyone knows about how much it would cost to redo that entire roof DIY and/or contractor price that would give me a ballpark starting point.

2. Windows and Door - The shack has 3 more windows like the one pictured and 1 door. Right now that wood just swings up to open up the window but I'd like to put real windows.
- Would I have to custom-make a frame to attach to the mason structure then put the window/door inside of it?
- Any good DIY with photos on how to frame? It doesn't look to hard for something basic like this shack, am I fooling myself?

I've read some books and some stuff online but it is not coming to me as easily as working on cars for some reason. Maybe I'm looking for some motivation or direction or someone to talk some sense into me here...thanks


See less See more
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Your ideas about reading are the right first step. There should be some good books at home store libraries.

Unless the roof has fallen in, which I don't see, the damage may just be to trim, and plywood, easy to replace. The only hard part of that roof is the chimney flashing..

Vinyl windows are inexpensive, can be ordered to fit the opening, and won't rot. Inexpensive steel door, directions are usually clear enough for a DIY to follow. But they come is basic standard sizes. You may need to modify the opening if not standard. Opening is usually 2" larger than the door slab, 36x80 door needs 38x82 openig.
Can you & friends DIY - that depends upon your experience, ambition, & research. But Yes - you can learn to do this

Roof - a test of the rafter wood is to take a screwdriver & see if you can poush it into the wood near the roof decking. If the wood is soft then you have a problem
Rot is more of a problem - this would need to be cut out if any exists
What size rafters are currently installed?
How far apart are they - 16" 24" ?
Where is the cabin located - snow load?
If the rafters are not that big, you want to add insulation - then you can add another bigger rafter next to the other rafter
My 1st roofs were on sheds - not critical

Can't even estimate cost without sizes, & prices vary anyways
What I do - calculate how many sheets of plywood would be needed to cover the whole roof
Rough estimate say it is 18' wide (wall in pic), by 14' with a 1' roof overhang on each side. so you would need 4.5 sheets per side = 9 sheets
each sheet = 4x8= 32 sq ft *9 = 288 sq ft of roofing
100 sq ft = 1 square in roofing terms, 3 bundles of shingles = 1 square
So you need approx 3 sq = 9 bundles of shingles

I add up all the supplies I need then vists a Lumber/box store to estimate my prices. Prices (and contract/labor rates) vary widely by area, so very hard for anyone to give you an estimate

You can get a window made to fit that opening
Measure the window & see what stores have in stock
You could enlarge the openings to install bigger windows
But I haven't worked on cement black walls before
Or go to & look at window sizes (or another window Mfg)
Or you could have a pement piece of glass cut & install that
You would then open the wood to see out, but no ventilation

Doors are usually a standard size & come pre-installed in the frame
Measure the door & see if it is a standard size

Are there wood walls inside? No insulation?
See less See more
Thanks for the replies so far.

So bascially: I would need to frame a frame for a door. I would probably need to reframe/redo the window trim that is already installed b/c it does have some rot. And then the roof...

I gutted the interior and interior roof last spring - it was super cheap, used some sort of corrugated cardboard attached to the rafters. There is no insulation inside, it is all masonry walls and concrete floors - but that is ok, I'll deal with fixing that up later. I use it as a shed right now, kind of camp-able but there are too many gaps in the doors and roof so I have too many spiders and woodland creatures that get in there to make me comfortable to sleep in just a sleeping bag so I have been sleeping in my tent instead. I saw a wolf spider that must have been 5" in there last weekend...

The wood and frame around the roof is not so as much rotted as possible termite damage in spots and/or mold/mildew. The chimney "flashing" is more just tar they stuck around it to seal it off around the roof - that is definitely the part where I am a little hesitant, not to mention it is not a straight-forward roof, it changes shape/style from front to back. There is no plywood, they are more along the lines of wood planks/beams nailed to the rafters and/or frame - this shack is pretty old but I do know it was lived in during the 1930s andf 1940s. Snow load is minimal, get 1-2 good snow storms (i.e. 3-6") a year, it would be a freak storm if we got dumped more than a foot.

I guess I'll go to the library to look up some more detailed things, hopefully they will have some good boosk. I am a very visual person, need to see photos and just need to get out there. I wish I had a smaller project (like a shed) to start with but you gotta start somewhere...thanks
See less See more
"Graphic Guide to Frame Construction" by Rob Thallon would be a good book to start with. Once you understand the framing, the rest starts making sense a lot quicker.
Don't worry about that big wolf spider, she's your friend. She won't mess with you and she eats all the things that will, including other spiders. Just chase her outside when you get things closed in.:thumbsup:
Thanks for all the replies - that is what I was looking for, a starting point. So if I learn framing everything else will start to make more sense it sounds like, going to check that book out - thanks.

By the way, yeah wolf spiders are not poisonous and do eat those bad things, but their bite still hurts like heck!
I just put windows in my basement on block construction and I used treated 2x's to make a frame. I put these on predrilling into a mortar joint of the block (never into block, always mortar joint) and attaching with blue Tapcon screws which are especially for masonary. Don't go hammering any concrete nails into your block as it will bust places out of it. Always predrill and use Tapcon screws to attach to the masonry. You may need a hammer drive drill. Good luck!
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.