Building a Drive-Thru Backyard Shed
If on a sloping lot, position the lowest-to-ground-level, bottom side girt in place. Make sure it is level. Install the end girts, positioning them flush with the ends of the side girts and then positioning them level. Note; the girts are installed in place and the siding added, then the door openings cut out. Finally, install the next lower side girt. Once the bottom girts are in place, install the “skirting” boards of treated materials. On a sloping lot this may entail cutting some bottom edges of the skirting boards at an angle. Leave off the end skirt board until the siding is installed and doors are cut out.
Measure up from the bottom girts, and mark the locations of the top side girts on each end post and the center side posts. Make sure the girts are level. A string level and line can be used for establishing these final pole heights, or you can use a girt, held in place and level, to mark the locations. Square around the posts and cut them to the correct height. Fasten the top side girts in place. These will protrude 1-1/2 inches past each post end. Then position a top side plate flush with the outside edges of the top girt and fasten it down on the top side girts and to the tops of the posts. Add the middle girts. Fasten a girt to the end, starting at the top side girt, and fasten to the opposite corner post. Make sure it is level. Repeat for the opposite end. Then locate and position the middle end girts. Finally, position and anchor the opposite top side girt and the middle girt.
Measure the height needed for the over-the-door girt on the door posts. Make sure this is level and then cut each door post off to the correct height. Fasten the girt in place, then again nail a top plate down on each and flush with the outside edge of the girt. Repeat for the opposite end. Pole barns are typically braced with 45-degree angle braces anchored to each post and toe-nailed or screwed to the underside of the top girts. This creates the “wind-bracing” needed.
The roof is constructed of trusses. A miter saw makes cutting the angles precise and easy.
Make a master truss and try-fit in place. Then build the remaining trusses by laying the pieces of another truss on top of the master truss and using it as a pattern.
The next step is to build the trusses for the roof. Although construction is fairly simple, properly laying out the trusses and making the cuts at the proper angles is extremely important. Make a “try-fit” truss. Cut each piece to the correct size and angle. A radial arm or miter saw is excellent for this as the angles can be set precisely. Or you can use a bevel square set to the proper angles and make the cuts with a portable circular saw. Lay the pieces on a flat, smooth surface and fasten together with metal truss plates or hardboard plywood braces. Make sure the outside bottom corners are at 8 feet. Do not add the 2-by-4 braces at this time.
Install the siding
Try-fit the sample truss on both ends as well as in the middle of the building. You’ll need a helper for this chore. Adjust any angles or lengths as needed. Once you’re satisfied with the fit, lay the sample truss on a smooth, flat surface. To speed up the process and provide more accurate truss construction, set up the saw and make all same-angle cuts. Then set up for the next angle and make all those cuts. Once all pieces are cut, position them down on the “master” truss and fasten together with truss plates on both sides, as well as with the 2-by-4 braces. Note the two end trusses do not have the 2-by-4 braces.
Mark the angles cuts and door openings from the inside using a small drill bit. Use a straight edge between the holes on the outside to mark the cuts.
With a helper, erect one end truss. Toe-nail it to the top plate. Use a 2-by-4 end brace temporarily nailed to the end girts and to the top corner of the truss, to hold the truss in place. For additional strength, nail short blocks down on the top side plates and nail the trusses into the blocks. Position two more trusses in place, making sure they are located in the proper position. Then tack-nail a temporary 2-by-4 brace across their tops, again making sure they are positioned properly. Repeat for the opposite side. Then erect and install the remaining trusses, anchoring the end truss again with a temporary 2-by-4 brace to the end girts.
Now you’re ready to install the siding. Position the end siding panels in place and anchor them solidly. Locate the corners of the door openings and the roof truss angles by boring small holes through the siding at the proper locations from the inside. Use a straight edge to mark between the holes. A portable circular saw, saber saw or even a reciprocating saw can then be used to cut off the excess plywood at the top ends and to make the door cut-outs. Once the door openings have been made, use 2-by-4 blocking flush with the outside edges of the posts, between the girts and between the posts and the siding. Cut the siding for the sides and install it 1/2 inch lower than the top edge of the top side plates.
Final construction step is to assemble the doors and hang them in place. The doors are constructed using the siding cut-outs from the ends. 2-by-2 backing is used for strength and 1-by-3 trim boards are added to the door fronts. The building can now be painted in traditional “barn-red” and white trim, or painted or stained any color pattern desired to match or complement existing buildings.
Editor’s Note: For additional pole-building plans and information, Monte Burch‘s Pole Building Projects book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.