Author Topic: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin  (Read 4619 times)

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Offline drifter54

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16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« on: November 10, 2012, 01:50:57 AM »
Hi everyone,
I've been following this forum for a while now; lots of great information here. I'm hoping some of you can give me advice for my conversion.
I bought 10 acres in Monroe, MA 2 years ago. It has a saltbox 16X24 shed on it. Metal roof, rough sawn lumber construction. The 2X4 walls are built on 6"x6"X8' PT timbers that are resting on gravel with what looks like 2"X6"x8" blocks on the corners and joints. There is no floor in this at this time. I'd like to convert this to a cabin. So my questions are:
1. How do I raise this up to get it 18" or so above grade?
2. What do I rest this on after I get it up?
3. Do I have to go down below the frost line for this or can I put someting above ground?
Thanks for any input.

 

 

Offline DirtyLittleSecret

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 12:02:21 PM »
Welcome!  Im sure that some pictures would definitely help the online work crew sort out some of your questions.
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Offline Native_NM

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 12:03:24 PM »
Raising it should be pretty easy.  Find a scrap yard and pick up a couple really big I-beams.  Slide them under and jack it up.  We did this with a mobile office building and four Harbor Freight 80-ton jacks.  Make sure to use jack pads.  It took four people; everyone lifted
 at the same time.  When we reached the limit of the jack, we placed cribs underneath and started over.  We had to get it high enough to get some drilling and testing equipment underneath.

The I-beams actually came from an old mobile home frame, and were cut to 16' with an oxy torch.  The building was 12' wide and 60' long, and was lightly furnished.  The jacks had no problem.   When we were done, we repeated the process and lowered it down. 

The foundation depends on the area and purpose as well as the original construction.   PT timbers are not always the strongest lumber and you may need to add additional beams.  If you want to live in it and get a CO and permits, a block stem wall is an easy choice.  You can make temporary cribs and build right around them.  After the stem is completed lower it down.  Depending on the structure and construction, you might be able to dig footings for concrete forms and set it on piers.    For anything permanent, you pretty much have to go beneath the frost line.

My advice is spend a bit on a structural engineer who knows the local codes.  Explain what you are trying to accomplish and ask him to assist with a foundation plan.  He can also look at the construction and determine if it meets code.  It might cost $3000 but would ensure you won't have problems with the zoning officials.  Once you have a good plan, decide if it's within the realm of your ability and proceed as needed.  There are too many variables at this point based on your one post. 

Maybe post some additional info on what your intent is, a pic or two of the shed, and your skill and experience level.



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Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2012, 03:01:11 PM »
Here are some pics of the shed so you can see what I'm talking about.











Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2012, 03:10:25 PM »
So, my plan is to make this into something I can stay in for 3 seasons. There is no electricity or water here. I'm not planning on insulating it(I think). I'll use a wood stove for heat when I need it. Rainwater will be used for daily needs. I'll bring in water for cooking and drinking. I'll probably do something with solar down the road. Hopes this helps in trying to assist me with raising/or not raising this shed.

Offline Native_NM

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16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2012, 04:22:55 PM »
The inside is wide open.  You could pour concrete sonotubes easily and then drop two large beams underneath after jacking it up.  Hang a floor with hardware.   
New Mexico.  Better than regular Mexico.

Offline markert2523

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 05:17:48 PM »
Does the floor stay dry or does water infiltrate under the timbers?  And how much headroom is there?  I think I may be tempted to install ledger boards along the bottom of the 24' sides (just above the timbers) and run 16' joists for a semi-raised floor.  You would need to run a support timber along the middle to support the 16' spans.  Sure, it's not technically far enough off the ground and it may shift some--but hey--it's a rough shed.

If you can get concrete trucks to it, I might also be tempted to drive horizontal pins into the timbers and just pour a slab over the gravel. 

Many flaws in the above ideas, but, once again---it's a shed.

Offline hpinson

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2012, 05:19:50 PM »
It looks like a well built shell, and seems well worth taking on. A lovely location too, in a hidden and not well know part of MA.  I know Monroe a little but have not been there in years.  When did the windfarm go in?

Offline archimedes

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2012, 06:06:16 AM »
It's hard to imagine how this structure would pass todays code requirements - esp. in MA.

Why do you want to raise it 18" ?  To meet code?  If that's why it's probably not worth the effort, since the rest of the structure probably would not meet code.

I've seen many small houses on Cape Cod's sandy soil with nothing more than a 6" slab under them and they never move.  Don't know what the soil is like where you are.

Is there any evidence of prior movement from frost heave?

Nice building and land though.   d*
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Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2012, 01:48:20 PM »
Thanks for your comments everyone!! It's appreciated. To follow up:

Native_NM, the sonotubes are a good idea and that was my original thought. It's just so much work digging up there. I'd have to dig 12 for the perimeter alone. Ugh! It's still a possibilty though.

markert2523, The floor does stay dry. I have 10' ceiling there. I'm liking the idea about just pouring a slab. You said there are flaws with that idea. Can you elaborate?

hpinson, Monroe's population is about 226 last census, I believe. What I like about it the most is the quiet. I've been a teacher for 25 years now, prior to that a Navy submariner. I just want a peaceful, quiet place to relax and putter around and not a lot of people. (hahaha) The windfarm you saw in the picture just went up this summer. There are 10 to the right of the shed and in front of the shed, on a distant mountain are 10 more. They're in the town of Florida, MA.

archimedes, It was originally built as a shed. I'm not even sure it had any permits. The thing is solid as a rock, though. If it weren't for the foundation it'd be perfect. I thought 18" to get some air flow underneath. What would be a good height? There doesn't seem to be any evidence of any prior movement with it, either.

Is there anything else besides sonotubes or a slab I could do?

Thanks again to everyone. You've given me alot to think about and a lot more questions.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2012, 03:29:00 PM »
Herte's a photo of how one house was lifted to provide adequate space to dig and install a proper foundation...



This one was not a DIY proposition, I'm sure
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline markert2523

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2012, 03:33:03 PM »
Drifter,

I guess my worry with the slab would be that the actual structure might heave a bit separate from the slab.  But pinning the slab into the timbers may take care of that.  Seems like the easiest solution IF you can get concrete trucks there.  Otherwise it would take a whole lot of manual mixing.  Back of the envelope calcs show something like 100 bags of 80lb redi-mix for a 3" slab--more if you want it thicker.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2012, 03:37:08 PM »
I'd think twice about not bothering with insulation. Even for three seasons use it makes it much easier to be comfortable.  But that may just be me.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline MountainDon

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2012, 03:41:09 PM »
But if you're thinking of no insulation to save money, then why bother with anything much in the way of foundation work. If a floor is wanted, and you have 10 foor ceilings, perhaps simply installing floor joists and a floor will suffice. It won't be code but then much of the present structure is not anyways. That close to the ground PT should be used for joists and subfloor. 16 foot 2x10 on 16" centers just make it on the joist calc without requiring a center support.. #2 grade.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline hpinson

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2012, 03:47:36 PM »
I know that digging in that area can be sheer hell. Are you on ledge, or in alluvium- mostly boulders and some dirt?  How deep does code say that your foundations need to be? You are high in the mountains, and it gets quite cold, so I'm guessing 3 or 4 feet?  Would the sheer difficulty of digging under a perched structure be an argument for piers as opposed to stem walls?

For all you Westerners-- 'high' in the western highland Appalaichians of Massachusetts is about 2000 feet. -20 in the winter is not uncommon.

Offline Native_NM

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2012, 04:04:42 PM »
Herte's a photo of how one house was lifted to provide adequate space to dig and install a proper foundation...



This one was not a DIY proposition, I'm sure

That looks like our building did on a larger scale.
New Mexico.  Better than regular Mexico.

Offline Native_NM

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2012, 04:05:49 PM »
Thanks for your comments everyone!! It's appreciated. To follow up:

Native_NM, the sonotubes are a good idea and that was my original thought. It's just so much work digging up there. I'd have to dig 12 for the perimeter alone. Ugh! It's still a possibilty though.

markert2523, The floor does stay dry. I have 10' ceiling there. I'm liking the idea about just pouring a slab. You said there are flaws with that idea. Can you elaborate?

hpinson, Monroe's population is about 226 last census, I believe. What I like about it the most is the quiet. I've been a teacher for 25 years now, prior to that a Navy submariner. I just want a peaceful, quiet place to relax and putter around and not a lot of people. (hahaha) The windfarm you saw in the picture just went up this summer. There are 10 to the right of the shed and in front of the shed, on a distant mountain are 10 more. They're in the town of Florida, MA.

archimedes, It was originally built as a shed. I'm not even sure it had any permits. The thing is solid as a rock, though. If it weren't for the foundation it'd be perfect. I thought 18" to get some air flow underneath. What would be a good height? There doesn't seem to be any evidence of any prior movement with it, either.

Is there anything else besides sonotubes or a slab I could do?

Thanks again to everyone. You've given me alot to think about and a lot more questions.

You do get to dig inside!   ;D ;D
New Mexico.  Better than regular Mexico.

Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2012, 01:19:05 AM »
Hey all,
Thanks again for the input. Looks like I'll be digging a bunch of holes. I figure sonotubes is probably my best option. I'm wondering if someone could walk me through the steps with this process. I got the digging down 4' part. Also, I'm assuming 8" tubes would allow me to catch both ends of the 6"X6" timbers? or would 10" be better? I can dig the holes without raising it up, correct? Before pouring would I then raise it up to allow for some height off the ground? Or, should I just leave it where it is? And how much height? After I have the piers in what is my next step? 

You're right, MountainDon. I think having it insulated would be the best way to go. I can deal with that after the foundation gets taken care of.

Other than the foundation can you tell me what else doesn't look up to code ?Maybe there's a way I can fix it. I certainly don't want this falling down around me when I'm living in it. I'm going to upload some more pics to give you an idea of the place. Thanks again everyone!!

Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2012, 01:39:49 AM »
Here are some pics. Hope they help.










Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2012, 02:45:27 PM »
Well, I think I figured out what I'm going to do with this shed. First, I'll secure the 6X6's by drilling through them verically and putting rebar directly into the ground. Then I'll level off the ground inside flush with the bottom of the 6X6's, will probably need to add some gravel. Compact that. Then I'll put down a 6mil vapor barrier, stone dust, then 8"X16"X2" patio blocks. Basically, just put a patio inside. Just to be safe I'll put a french drain in on the side closest to the mountain. Still going to insulate and put in a wood stove. We're only going to use this for the best parts of three seasons. What do you think?

Offline Native_NM

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16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2012, 07:12:22 PM »
Rebar might pin it but won't secure it to the ground.

That seems like a lot of work.  I would almost think you could pour a slab for less and incorporate some type of footer.
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Offline drifter54

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2012, 02:36:16 PM »
Well, we've made another change. Is this plan #2 or is it #3 now? We're decided to go with Mountain Don's recommendation. We'll put joists and a subfloor in, all PT. Insulate and put paneling on the walls. I'm still curious about other things not up to code. I'm figuring windows not the right size, but I'm putting 2 sliders in the front facing the mountain (removing the 2 windows), replacing the two windows shown on the side, 2 doors (one on each side), a new storage area door, wind turbine on roof. I'm thinking I need to do some in-bracing on the walls. I guess I have to do that on the inside walls, right? I've been looking through that awc.org manual lately, trying to compare what I have with what is correct. I'd really appreciate anything you notice that stands out as being messed up. Thanks everyone!

Oh, and I've been spending way too much time on here at night going through post after post. It's almost addictive. So much great information here. I hate to say it, but I've gotten a little behind on my schoolwork lately. Oh well.

Offline Don_P

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Re: 16X24 shed conversion to cabin
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2012, 07:55:36 PM »
If you don't lift it, the siding and studs aren't going to last very long. Before adding much to the structure think carefully about whether it is a long term or a short term thing. What would a frost protected shallow foundation entail there? Take some pics of the roof framing  ;)