Site Choice - Site Preparation - Foundation Options
Choose a site that is both level and accessible. Take into consideration water drainage from both the land and the building. Pitch the water away from the shed. Moisture will cause decay and rot, significantly reducing the life of the building.
A printable PDF of our recommendations can be downloaded here.
Will I need a permit?
Each town is different. Most do not require a permit for a building less than 150 square feet. A set back of 25 feet from the property line is common. Cottage Shop will help and advise but leaves all local and state requirements the responsibility of the client.
Site preparation varies from site to site. The goals in preparing your site are to make sure that your site is level and will drain properly. A building that is not level will cause the doors to function improperly and the ramp to not fit correctly. If the slope is greater than 6 inches, it is suggested to have the site leveled in advance. To get the surface as level as possible, remove any sod, soft dirt or weeds.
The area should be solid to minimize the chance of the building sinking out of level. We recommend using a transit when leveling your site. If one is not available you may also use a 8’ level. The dug out area may then be completed with a 3 to 4 inch compacted gravel bed. Digging out and leveling the area in which to place the gravel will leave you with a bed that is level and flush with the landscape, as opposed to appearing as a mound above the landscape.
When leveling your site, it is also important to take into consideration your shed entrance and ramp. The site must be level for approximately 5’ in front of your entrance door so that the ground your ramp sits on is level with the building. If this area is not level, your ramp may not fit properly or may be too steep for its intended use.
If using a gravel bed, we recommend compacted gravel as opposed to loose. This is, again, to minimize the chance of the building shifting or sinking out of level. The changes in the seasons can cause the earth to heave and give pushing the shed out of level. If this happens the building can be re-leveled by manipulating the site or using wood shims.
Poor drainage can be overcome by first laying a gravel bed regardless of the foundation options you choose. A 3 to 4 inch gravel bed is always encouraged. Poor drainage will result in a reduced building life. Proper site preparation is encouraged; hiring a professional excavator before the building arrives will prevent the cottage from being “perched”. An improperly prepared site will void our warranty.
It is economical and durable to have the small building sit on heavy skids and rest on cement blocks. This is the way the majority of our buildings are installed.
And yet another choice would be to lay a slab of concrete, brick or patio stone and build your walls off of it, eliminating the need for a wood floor. A 12″ thick compacted gravel pad should be in place before you lay your slab. The slab should be a minimum of 4″ thick in the center, reinforced with wire mesh, and at least 6″ thick on the edges where it will bear the weight. Our buildings weigh an average of between 3,000 and 6,000 lbs and are crafted with 6×6 pressure treated sill plates. Therefore, these buildings will not go anywhere unless you are in an area with extremely high winds. If you do find it necessary to fasten your building to your slab we suggest that you use metal strapping. When your slab is poured you can have flexible metal strapping installed to fasten the building to the concrete slab. If you have an existing concrete slab that you would like to attach your building to, we recommend attaching with a ramset, a high-powered nail gun.
Cement piers that reach below the frost line are fine for the foundation of your new shed. This choice requires playing with concrete and having the ability to square the tubes. A deck that is not square will cause the entire structure to be untrue. When placing an order ask for the dimensions for the concrete piers that will correctly fit your size building.
Proper Care and Maintenance
Protect your investment by preserving the building. Paint or stain to match your satisfaction. For a deep rich natural finish we recommend a clear coat preservative such as linseed oil that will enhance the rustic charm of the product. This will leave you with a fully protected building from moisture, decay and insect contamination. We suggest the cottage be left to cure for a season before treating and be maintained with a coat every five years. The materials we use are rot resistant, but wood is a natural substance that will fall prey to Mother Nature if not taken care of.
It is important to make sure that the trees, saplings and shrubbery do not overgrow your shed. You want your new cottage to maintain as much airflow as possible, so as to allow it ample ability to dry out. Also, if your building will be in a heavy snowfall area, such as Vermont, you should take into consideration the pine trees surrounding it. If your shed sits under pine trees, the sap from these trees will inhibit the roof from properly shedding the snow. This can cause serious damage to your shed if the snow gets too heavy and is not removed.
You should never stack firewood, or anything else that will prohibit airflow, up against your shed. Never leave your shed’s doors open in the rain. Also, do not allow debris such as mulch, grass cuttings, etc. to pile up in or around your building. Anything that holds moisture should be kept away from your cottage.
The cottage is strategically placed off the ground to prevent moisture build up and encourage air circulation. Many clients have opted to use lattice to shield the sight of the foundation supports, however we suggest a field stone foundation dry laid under the perimeter walls. This will enhance the aesthetics and give an impression of a much more substantial look. The false dry laid foundation will fit in with the décor and the authentication of the building materials. A true country charm is created.
Please visit the FAQ page on our website for more information.
Termite Protection and Pest Control
We recommend an aluminum termite shield for termite prone areas. The shield is installed between the cement blocks and the skids it should extend 2” out from the cement block on all sides and then descend on a 45 degree angle, extending another 2”. This forms a metal barrier that will prevent termites from building their mud tunnels up the foundation. In order to keep pests from making their homes in your new shed, Jamaica Cottage Shop suggests a solar powered pest repellent using ultra sonic sound. No maintenance required as with other pest controls such as changing batteries and or fooling around with poisons. Creepers, climbers, saplings, shrubbery and other vegetation should not be permitted to overgrow the building. Likewise pushing the cottage tight to a fence, building or tree will inhibit air circulation and or create a passage for insects. To prevent pests from finding a way into the building we have a few suggestions. Instead of strapping under the metal roof request a solid sheathed roof, or change the roofing material from corrugated metal to asphalt shingles.