Building a Little Building

August 11th, 2009

One thing I found out about beekeeping- you need lots of storage space for woodenware, and all the other stuff that goes along with it. Our garage and other places are filling up with frames, supers and various boxes, so I decided to invest in a little storage building or shed to help keep things organized, and dedicated to beekeeping (yeah right…). I don’t ever intend to have hundreds of hives of bees, but a few more would be nice. Taking advantage of a special sale this summer, I’ve ordered an 8 x 12 building kit for about the same cost as doing it yourself, and it’s being shipped as we speak. Well, the company called and said it was “damaged in shipping… did I still want it delivered?”  “Ah… no, thanks I’ll wait for one that’s not damaged thank-you-very-much.” Anyway, it’s going to arrive in a big pile of pieces that shouldn’t be too hard to put together.

The first challenge has been deciding where to put it.  Much of our land is sloped, and the level areas are just too far away for convenience.  So it looks like this open area in the foreground, and along the treeline may be the winner.


Our gravel drive is to the left out of view, going back to that brown building we call the barn.  It’s really a big machine shed filled with equipment- tractors, mowers and other motorized stuff and tools for taking care of the place.  But near the top and right side of the picture is our property line- an unkempt tree and brush line with our neighbor’s pasture behind it. We like it brushy to act as a screen along the property line. The outbuilding/shed will probably go just before that oak tree on the right, and extend out, down the slope towards the gravel drive, leaving room for trucks to get to the propane tank, etc.

Which brings me to the more challenging part- how to dig out a level foundation properly with the sloping land, making sure to support the building without too much of a grade for a ramp, stairs, etc?   I’m envisioning a little gravel drive/ramp up to it, but we’ll see. That’s the big project for now, among the seeming dozens of other ones…  when it’s finished it’s going to be pretty cool.

17 Responses to “Building a Little Building”

  1. Hhhmmm, you could use a machine like I have, couldn’t you? You could rent a skid steer for half a day at not too bad a cost. I think most places might let you do that. It wouldn’t take long with one to scratch out a spot. Looks like you have a fair amount of fall there too so if you take much out you might need a little retaining wall behind it. Good luck. Wish I could offer you more assistance.

  2. Not sure how your kit is designed but I would pour a pad at a height so that you don’t have much of a ramp downhill and a 12 inch or so concrete wall around three sides (and front based on door opening size) so that the curve of the land rests against the concrete and not the building. That makes your roof 12 inches higher than the slab which probably won’t be a problem but your door in the front might be too short. As expensive as concrete is these days, it might be cheaper just to regrade the area behind the shed to allow water to drain around the sides of it.

    I built a 12 x 20 foot building on skids for my parents to use as a beekeeping storage building. When they got out of the business, an amishman about four miles away bought it and drug it up to his place with a team of horses. It sits there to this day. We used pea gravel to make a level pad for the building to sit on and then built steps.

  3. Annie- Yes! :) I have a smaller loader bucket and a box blade that might do the trick- much more slowly of course, but renting is a great idea. I had not thought about taking too much in back, but you’re right- I’ll need to be aware of that and consider a retaining wall. Thanks for coming by!
    Ed- Hmm… the concrete suggestion would be perfect, but probably a little more than I bargained for as you said in terms of cost. Sounds like the right way to do it though. I suspect I’ll work towards the re-grade idea for drainage around it, and was thinking of using gravel and draintile? I love the skids idea if it was more level, but maybe after packing with gravel I could still do that… your building must have been really nice- I can’t think of a nicer compliment than an Amishman taking it home!

  4. If you lived out here and offered your services, you’d make a mint. NO ONE here seems to know how to do any of those things — not to mention beekeeping.

    Not that I know anything about it either!

  5. pamela

    I’m always happiest when I’m working on a major project and have an excuse to skip around the everyday tasks. As a bonus, the neglect turns my daily chores into a new major project All of this happiness might be leading me to the funny farm.

  6. Vincent

    It depends how big this thing is. Shed is a bit of a movable feast. As to the slope I would not worry overmuch, If it was me I would build across the slope as it would give the ease of filling the pickup from above. In my younger days I would have built into the slope but nowadays my back is more important, nor am I getting any younger. On the foundations, you can get those cardboard models for concrete and rods, they are about a foot in diameter and you could sink the holes with a post-hole auger. Of course this presumes a raised floor.

  7. Vincent

    Why not hire one of those baby excavators. It is truly amasing how much fun/damage you can have/do with one of those things. Also given that God put the slope in, one of those loaders which are ideal for sand and other loose stuff, might not be so useful.

    Bye Vince

  8. If you move the entrance to the building from the downhill side to one of the “side” sides, that would mean less of a ramp for getting in.

  9. Bobcat!

    If nothing else, you’ll have some fun pushing over stuff you don’t want anymore.


  10. Edelweiss- I think what you’ve said is so true for rural folks, farmers, etc. Most of them just take for granted the knowledge and skills they have- which are tremendous. Me? I’m just a transplant, do-it-myselfer who enjoys learning and independence… Fortunately I’m at that age where I’m realizing how little I really know about anything!
    Pamela- You know I think I have that problem too- and beekeeping is a pretty good diversion! I love multiple projects and stuff going on… Of course in the winter I need to find something else…. like maybe Australia? That would be a really good diversion :)
    Vincent- Interesting idea on the slope, and I like that foundation idea. I’ll have to compare costs. My small tractor/loader may be able to do it if I don’t get ambitious… but I may rent a backhoe/excavator yet- that would be a lot of fun. I should make a wish list of ideas for the thing and get them all done at once!
    Pablo- That sure would, and a gentle ramp would be so much better; I had not considered it before as you guys have described, but I’ll be out there today trying to visualize it in various directions!
    Randall- I would love to run a Bobcat around for a week! That would make short order for most of anything I need. My stubborn side (I call it being determined!) will probably lead me to use my small loader and shovel/rake/push dirt around for hours… :)

  11. Vincent

    Beau, I had to look up backhoe. We call it a JCB. Years ago at a ploughing championship I saw one of them dig a hole its own size and drop down inside it below the top of the cab, then to get itself out again. Over the years I’ve seen many things, Red Arrows and the like, but I do not think I’ve been quite so impressed since that day.
    Costs should be about 20%, for the tubes. And I see you can get them 8 inch and 48. The 12 inch diameter is only slightly less than is used for a highrise building. And 48inches into the ground where is it going to go, unless the entire slope goes also.

  12. Vincent- Wow, that must have been incredible to watch. I’ll bet those tubes would work pretty well- I’ll definitely check into them. Thanks!

  13. Oh, ya’ll are talking about SonaTube, right? If you use the Sonatube for pouring piers, go to a construction supply to get it before you go to Lowe’s or similar. I almost guarantee the supply house will be cheaper. In fact, if you’re nice to them and ask if they happen to have some drop (sometimes they cut the stuff because it comes in real long sections) they may just give it to you or sell it really cheap. Lowe’s has the precut 4′ sections and they will rip you a new one on that stuff. You only need a pier about 18″ deep (if that), for your little building.

  14. Annie- Great idea… Thinking of the concrete for the tubes has me debating on just pouring an 8×12 slab!

  15. Vincent

    Sorry Beau, my fault for not reading the dimensions properly. Can you get railway sleepers out your way. why not bed them into the ground and whack some rods through the ready made holes. Then put the shed on top.

  16. Vincent- That’s a darn good idea too. Once I level the site it would make it simple to lay them across. Hmmm… I’ll have to look around a bit as I’m not sure where to find them! Thanks too :)

  17. Sallie Herbig

    I love your article.

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