High Desert Permaculture and Natural Building

The new shed foundation and plan


The foundation and lumber were ready in October.

But between farm surfers and weather, nothing got done.

In the back is the larger camper, we started painting a year ago.

Next to it is the storage carport

And right behind the shed is the walapini.

As we prepped a lot of new grow areas in the orchard garden last spring, we ended up with lots of extra dirt, already 1/2″ screened and it’s good quality, good for cob.

We just need to 1/4″ screen it and with my oh-so-perfect planning, it’s right at the building site! Tada!

Originally I had planned on using the recycled lumber along the fence, but lumber prices have come down, hope they still are down from $6+ for a stud.    At the new lots I’ll need lumber for fencing and paths, so I’ll will probably use it there if I can’t use it here.

Those old concrete blocks have been an eyesore for many years.   We were so poor, we took a lot of crap off others’ hands and built a lot with recycled materials and pallets.  So the current plan is to put the level side of the blocks as the top of the foundation for the sill plates to sit on.

Have a bunch of Quikcrete in the garage (really need that space!) to somehow anchor the J-bolts to hold the sill plates.  Our adobe structures are just rubble covered with Portland fortified cob, much easier.

I spent HOURS squaring my lines for the foundation and a helper pulled them all out last fall.  He thought they were no longer needed.  I could have cried.

New shed looking south

New shed looking south

North of the foundation are a bunch of rocks for the foundation and a pile of small gravel from screening dirt.  Very handy when we mix our own cement with Portland and for fill when we have heavy rains and it gets muddy.

And more old lumber and crap.

New shed looking north

New shed looking north

West of the shed is this odd-shaped area to the fence.  Originally we had started the foundation 10 ft from the fence (setback) and parallel to the fence to maximize our building size (300 sqft), planned on a round wall on the south and eventually it seemed too complicated and not enough space, have to get between the shed and the tree to the walapini for repairs.

I also realized that I could use the space to the west of the shed to store the “stuff”, wheelbarrows, fencing, lumber, buckets, etc.  I’m constantly cleaning up after the countless wind days and dust devils.   Note the buckets that blew into the foundation.

Would be nice to attach a shade cover for the storage area to the shed.  Could use some of the 70% shade cloth I already have and my “stuff” would last a lot longer and the whole place will look a lot better.

Hopefully next week I’ll get to cleaning out the foundation AGAIN.   Must be animals running through it.  And then I’ll start filling with rubble and set the J-bolts.   But, need to square again.

Been contemplating whether to skip squaring since I don’t plan on using 4 x 8′ sheetrock or boards, but, I’m a perfectionist and would hate to have a crooked roofline.  Well, I could trim it to fit the overhang, but still.  Might be a lot less work to just square it.

Plan on 2 x 6 x 10s for the walls.    Instead of the top plates, I’ll stabilize the walls with 2 x 4s on the sides and then snap a line to cut the boards so the roof slopes at least 5″ over the 20 ft run to the south side.

Originally I was going to drain to the west and have the water run down along the fence to water willows and other native / drought tolerant bushes and trees we’ll plant.  It’s actually going to work out better since I want to store stuff on the west side.

Instead of parapets, I planned on an about 1 ft overhang on all sides, although I’m still not sure about it.  It would definitely protect the cob walls much better.  But then there’s STYLE.  So I don’t know yet.

Between the Joshua tree and the shed will be an artificial wash that also serves as path to the fence so the water drains away from the road and then down along the fence.

The bushes and trees will be deciduous so the cob walls will warm up in winter and be shaded in summer.

The solar panels on the roof will power the walapini for fans, water pumps, etc., and probably the big camper.

The battery bank will be on the west side too, somehow protected from the elements.  Batteries don’t like to be very hot or cold.

The entry door will be on the east side and on the north and south sides I need 4 – 5′ for the mushroom grows.

Since the shed will be taller than originally planned, I’d also like lofts at about 7′ for lots of extra storage and to climate control the mushroom grow areas.

I really want to stay away from OSB and plywood (toxic chemicals) and hope that my plan to use 3 x 5 backer board for the ceiling and roof is feasible.   Hoping it’s less toxic and won’t rot or get termite damage.  But I have to remember to use different elastomeric and the screws are very expensive.

Initially, I was going to use recycled corrugated sheet metal, but with the solar panels and now doing the 20 ft run, it’s better to use a flat surface and use elastomeric.  I could use sheet metal to cover the storage area instead of shade cloth.

I have several old doors and a bunch of windows.  Unfortunately, the windows are white or aluminum, again, it’s a matter of style.  Why build a beautiful building to ruin it with crappy windows?  I have some that would work well, but they don’t open.  Have various sizes.

Definitely want to incorporate glass bottles in the cob walls for decoration and lighting.

But need ventilation in the center of the shed.   I don’t want the dust blowing into the mushrooms and it’ll be nice to have some CLEAN space.

On Friday I’m picking up a helper and we’ve had mid-70s this week, but next week it’ll be much colder and windy again.  We’ll see what we get done, have so much transplanting and propagating to do, decide where to clear at the new lots so we can get some stuff out of here and clean up AGAIN.

It never ends.

I forgot about the floor.  Have plenty of 4 x 8 strong floorboards.   Would have to attach joists to the foundation.   Or, could pour a concrete slab, or use fortified cob.

West of shed

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