Have You Trained Your Kids To Work? What Will They Do When A SHTF Happens?

Kids are natural helpers. Especially when they are younger and they want to “help” with everything. Many parents take advantage of that help and let the kids help them. That is the start of training your kids to be good helpers and workers around the house and the yard.

Doing chores and being expected to help inside and outside the house helps develop skills. Kids become contributing members of the household which helps lighten the load for the parents. Kids who are expected to help and do chores learn a better work ethic and become valuable members of the workforce and society after they leave home. They also learn responsibility and manage their home and work lives better.

However, there are parents who believe “that kids should be kids”. They have no chores, no responsibilities beyond school, and no expectations besides getting good grades and being a good person. They are coddled and spoiled. They do not learn responsibility beyond school. They do not learn skills or accountability. The parents do everything for them.

What is going to happen to those households when the SHTF happens?

They are going to self-implode. The parents will be doing everything they can to survive and their dependent children will not know what to do. Instead of pitching in and helping to clean the mess or secure food and water, they will want to know why they can’t eat right now! Instead of working to make the situation better or at least tolerable, they will be in a tizzy because their cellphones and smart devices are not entertaining them!

We would all like to believe that kids will naturally just step in and help because the need has arose. We would like to believe that they will just instinctively know that they are needed and will rise to the occasion. Some kids will do this, I am sure. However, in this day and age, I do not believe that most will do anything. That would be work and they know nothing of work.

We are seeing a rise in an entitled, selfish culture that is being fostered by parents who believe that their precious darlings should have and do whatever they want. They are overly involved at school, not involved at all, or they are considered special because they are really smart. They go to college and think they are special because they are enlightened with their college education. They get degrees in areas that will not really transfer into a career that will actually support them. And, for some reason, they get some really crazy ideas about life while they are in college.

Can you imagine what will happen when a SHTF happens to them?

I am not saying all kids and young adults are like this, but I am seeing a really disturbing trend. This trend that says this kids do not know any life skills, were taught very little responsibility, and would not survive at all when a SHTF happens. They will expect and demand that someone else takes care of them and this situation. They will be crazy when they find out no help may be coming.

That is why kids need to be trained to work. This training starts early when they want to “help”. You are teaching them early that their help is a valuable contribution to the household. When they get a little older, daily and weekly chores teaches them responsibility and accountability. When they are preteens, they should be expected to help whenever asked in addition to their regular chores. By the time they are teenagers, they know what needs to be done inside and outside the home.

You are teaching your kids to work. You are teaching them to be valuable, contributing members of the family. Kids are not perfect. They may need reminders and lists about what needs to be done. You will have to teach them what to do and how to do it. There is always going to be a right way and a wrong way to do things. You will have to teach them safety. You will have to teach them the skills they need to know like cooking, gardening, keeping a home, and taking care of animals.

However, when a SHTF happens, the kids will know that they are expected to help you. They may not know exactly what to do, but they know to listen to you and to take your direction. When you ask them to grab a broom or shovel to clean up the mess, they will do it. When you tell them to cook supper, they will do it.

Should kids still have fun? You bet, but you are teaching them that life is about getting the necessary things done so they can have fun. Parents should not be shouldering the burden by themselves. Kids need to learn that they are living under the roof provided by the parents and can help to take care of the house. Sometimes they will argue and whine, but you as parents need to be firm, insist on the chore being done right, and not to be afraid to give consequences if not done.

You are raising adults. They may be kids now, but they will be adults that the rest of the world will have to deal with later. Just like they need to be trained to work now, they will be ready to work later as an adult because they know that is expected of them. So whether they are living at home or on their own, when a SHTF hits, they will be ready to help in anyway they can and they can take care of themselves.

Situational Awareness

I have spent a fair amount of time over the past several years trying to define and refine my understanding of the term “Situational Awareness.”

Most of the written material deals with very technical definitions, that for me hold little real world application. As I tried to make them fit my own experience with awareness, I realized that the academic approach was impractical.

So here’s how I defined “situational awareness.” It is: “paying attention to what is going on around you.” How’s that for practical? It’s more than that, but the basic definition is the ability to scan the environment and sense danger, challenges and opportunities, while maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities. In other words, to pay attention to your surroundings while not appearing to be paying attention.

Understanding the Baseline

Awareness is a choice. One has to choose to pay attention. But once that choice is made, the part of the brain responsible for monitoring the senses, known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS) takes over. It switches filters on and off that will fulfill your subconscious desire to pay attention. By simply telling yourself to pay attention to certain things, the RAS will scan for and acknowledge those things when it encounters them.

I have found three main obstacles to developing awareness. To understand the obstacles with awareness, lets define the most basic tenant of awareness: BASELINE. The concept of baseline states that our environment has a baseline, a homeostatic state of what things look like, sound like and feel like when nothing much is going on.

In the woods, this is reflective of the noise and activity level of the area when nothing much is happening. The normal state. For example, in the late afternoon, things are normally pretty quiet. The baseline is pretty flat. As we move into evening, the baseline changes a bit. Night feeding animals are coming out, day feeders are going in.

The increase in noise and activity is still the norm. It is louder and yet still within the realm of normal. Suddenly a predator appears. All the prey animals react. Alarm calls go out and the noise level suddenly spikes. This is referred to as a concentric ring of disturbance because it radiates out from the source.

In the city, each neighborhood has its own baseline. In one area, people move at a certain pace, talk at a certain volume, stand at a certain socially acceptable distance from one another, gesture in a certain way. This combination of noise and activity constitutes that area’s baseline. Depending on cultural or ethnic norms, it will be different in various neighborhoods.

Being able to develop awareness is dependent upon first knowing the baseline for the area you are in and recognizing any variations to the baseline. These changes in baseline are learned from observation. One must know the baseline. One must recognize disturbances to the baseline and one must recognize if those disturbances represent a specific threat or opportunity.

This requires knowledge of the environment, knowledge of terrain. It requires that one recognizes predator behavior. It requires one to see well beyond normal sight. For example, an aware person will notice things others may miss: a youth in a hoodie across the street whose movements mimic yours. Or a dumpster set in such a way that requires you to pass close to it. It can be threats or potential threats. You must constantly monitor and assess. Over time, this becomes almost a background activity, requiring little conscious thought.

The key to great situational awareness is the ability to monitor the baseline and recognize changes.

Three Obstacles in Situational Awareness

1. Not Monitoring the Baseline. If you are not monitoring the baseline, you will not recognize the presence of predators that cause a disturbance. Other events can cause concentric rings as well. Any unusual occurrence from a car accident to a street fight can create a concentric ring. One of the keys to personal security is learning to look for and recognize these disturbances. Some disturbances are dangerous, some are just entertaining.

2. Normalcy Bias. Even though we may sense a concentric ring that could be alerting us of danger, many times we will ignore the alert due to the desire for it NOT to be a danger. We want things to be OK, so we don’t accept that the stimulus we’re receiving represents a threat. We have a bias towards the status quo. Nothing has ever happened when I do this, so nothing is likely to happen.

3. The third interrupter of awareness is what we define as a Focus Lock. This is some form of distraction that is so engaging, that it focuses all of our awareness on one thing and by default, blocks all the other stimulus in our environment. This is when someone is texting and walks into a fountain. The smartphone is the single most effective focus lock ever invented. It robs us of our awareness in times and places where it’s needed most.

Three Effective Techniques to Stay Aware

1. Monitor the Baseline. At first, this will require conscious effort. But after a while, I find that I can monitor the baseline subconsciously.

2. Fight Normalcy Bias. This requires you to be paranoid for a while as you develop your ability. Look at every disturbance to the baseline as a potential threat. This will allow you to stop ignoring or discounting concentric rings and begin making assessments of the actual risk. But as you learn, people will think you are jumpy or paranoid. That is OK. It’s a skill that will save your life.

3. Avoid using the obvious focus locks in transition areas. It is ok to text while you are sitting at your desk or laying in bed. But it’s NOT ok to text as you walk from your office to the parking garage.

Any time you’re drawn to a concentric ring event, do a quick assessment of that ring, then stop looking at it (the event) and scan the rest of your environment to see what you’re missing.

Developing awareness is a skill. At first it will seem very awkward and self-conscious, but with practice, it will become seamless and subconscious. You will start to pick up on more and more subtle rings of disturbance and more complex stimuli. Eventually, people may think you are psychic as they notice how you seem to sense events before they unfold.

Survival Cache

A survival cache is a container of some sort which contains essential survival supplies that you would hide in a secret location.  What you store in them is entirely up to you but most people will store extra ammunition and guns, food, first aid kits, tarps, tools, and anything else they think will be of use during an emergency or shtf scenario.  It should basically contain the same type of items that you would place in your main bug out bag.  Some people who have a bug out location selected have gone out and hid several survival caches along a secret and random path.  They stock these caches with essential supplies that will help them along the way to get to their destination.

It’s extremely important to have survival caches in place and why you should have one should be pretty obvious by now. Lets say a disaster of some sort has occurred and you are unable to get home where your main bug out bag is located.  Instead, it might make more sense to go to your secret location and retrieve your cache of supplies.  Another example could be that society has completely broken down and a group of vigilantes break into your home and demand you hand over your remaining emergency supplies.  Instead of confronting them it would probably be easier and safer to just hand over what they want and chances are they will leave you alone.

By having a survival cache in place you are guaranteeing yourself that you will have a backup of essential supplies in the event that you use up your main stockpile, it has been stolen or in case you are not able to get to it safely.  By having the mentality that a well stocked bug out bag is all you’ll need, please think about this again and consider your family’s well being in the event that a disaster does strike. Perhaps you will be spared and a disaster will never directly affect you in your lifetime, but simply coming to the conclusion that you have enough stuff prepared could prove to be a costly or even fatal mistake.  When it comes to preparedness, you’re never finished.

Some Unusual Items to Have in Your First Aid Kit

The first thing to know about first aid kits is don’t buy one at the local department store or pharmacy. Those first aid kits are mostly for minor injuries: band-aids, ointments, and not much else. If you want a real SHTF first aid kit, buy one from a specialty company that sells prepping and survival supplies, or build one yourself.  I’d like to focus on items that are not commonly found in most first aid kits, and which might be useful if the S really hits the F.

1. Celox Gauze (Z-Fold)

This gauze is used by the U.S. military for treating severe wounds. The gauze is folded like an accordion, so it can be divided into a few thick sections, to pack a large open wound. Or you can cut off smaller segments for smaller/shallower wounds. The gauze is impregnated with kaolin (a type of clay) to aid in clotting. The gauze also has an x-ray detectible strip so that doctors at the ER will not overlook a section of this gauze in a deep wound.

If your wound only needs a band-aid, that’s nice for you. But if you have a serious injury and can’t get to medical care right away, this is the stuff you want. It’s vacuum packed, for compact storage. And unlike most gauze you might buy, it’s sterile.

2. HALO Chest Seal

This device seals a chest wound in cases of severe trauma. The dressing sticks despite blood or water around the wound, and works in a wide range of temperatures. It provides a completely water-proof seal, preventing contamination of the wound by dirt or bacteria.

Another option in this category of wound care is the SAM Vented Chest Seal. It seals the wound like the HALO, but it also has a one-way valve. Remove the cap and air can exit the wound, but it cannot enter. This type of device is used for chest wounds which have penetrated the lungs. Again, it takes some first aid training to know when to use it.

3. CPR Mask

Speaking of one-way valves, if you ever have to perform CPR someone, a “pocket resuscitator” is invaluable. It allows you to give breaths to the patient who is no longer breathing with some protection from bacterial/viral contamination. The valve allows your breath into the patient, but prevents flow in the reverse direction.

More importantly, if you have to do CPR with chest compressions on someone, and they have eaten recently, they may vomit. I’ve been told by more than one EMT that vomiting is not at all unusual when giving CPR. You will be happy you chose to use the one-way valve mask, if that happens. Inexpensive and worth every penny.

4. Suture Kit

This is one of those first aid kit items that preppers and survivalists favor, despite the fact that these kits are only intended for use by medical professionals. So, I can’t tell you to go out and buy a suture kit, and then learn how to use it. Non-medical personnel shouldn’t be suturing wounds. But in extraordinary circumstances, sometimes extraordinary measures are called for.

No wound should be sutured, unless it has first been debrided (remove dirt and debris) and washed with copious amounts of clean (preferably sterile) water. You don’t want to seal bacteria and debris inside a wound. And if you really don’t know how to use a suture kit, you really shouldn’t guess. Bandaging the wound without closing it is better than harming someone by playing doctor. Learn what to do, before the SHTF.

5. Butterfly Bandages

The best example of which is the 3M Steri-Strip “reinforced skin closures”. This type of bandage is for closing a wound, without sutures. It is not for covering the wound. They look like thin plastic strips. Sometimes the middle part is even thinner than both ends, giving rise to the term “butterfly” bandage. In some cases, butterfly bandages can be used instead of sutures if the wound is not particularly deep or wide. After closing the wound, you can place gauze and then medical tape over it all, to protect the wound further.

6. An N95 mask

Surgical masks are soft with a loop to go around each ear. They protect the patient from germs on your breath. They do little or nothing to protect you from a patient who might have an infectious airborne disease. The N95 surgical mask is a hard cup that fits over the nose and mouth. It protect you from the patient and the patient from you. In other words, it intercepts viruses and bacteria going in either direction. They are less comfortable and more difficult to wear for long periods. But the protection is invaluable.

Finally and I can’t stress this enough take an advanced first aid course, so that you have the knowledge needed to use whatever first aid supplies you have on-hand. Knowledge is the number one resource that you can store up so as to be well-prepared.

Survival Skills you should know or learn

Disasters and emergency situations are an inevitable part of our life. It is how we respond to such situations that plays a major factor on our survival. You may have all the knowledge about prepping but as we all know a disaster can change everything in an instant and you may be forced to survive without your emergency survival kits. Without the right skills for survival your chances of surviving a disaster or emergency situation will be greatly affected. It is important to understand that because of modern commodities our knowledge for basic survival has greatly diminished.  This will basically have a negative effect to us in an extended disaster survival situation and can mean the difference between life and death. Here are the basic survival skills that you need to know or learn in order to ensure you and your family’s chances of survival:

Learn how to grow food and or find it.

Disasters can change everything in an instant. You may be well prepared to survive indoors but what if you are forced to survive outdoors without any supplies? This is where self sufficiency with acquiring food becomes a necessity. Growing food for your family as well as the hunting and gathering approach are the best skills to learn to keep you and your family from starving when surviving outdoors.

  • Grow your own survival food.
  • Know what wild plants and insects are edible.
  • Ways to fish without the tradition equipment.
  • Hunting with trap and snares.

How to find water and purify it.

This is the most important skill everyone should learn in order to survive. As we all know it is impossible for us to survive without water so it is important to understand the importance of knowing how to get and purify water. You need to realize that unless your water source is a spring chances are your water supply will run out and you need to find an alternative source. Knowing how to purify your drinking water is also very important to ensure that it is clean and potable.

Learn about clothing repair.

You need to master this skill as clothing is one of the most important elements when surviving. From basic sewing to making clothes from bolts of cloths or leather it is important to master this skill to help ensure your chances of survival.

Learn basic grooming skills.

Basic grooming skills are very important to learn to keep your family clean and healthy in a survival situation. Keep in mind that being healthy is one of the most important factors in ensuring you and your family’s survival.

Learn first aid.

During a disaster situation you cannot expect to get medical professional help so it is important to know how to treat yourself and others as it will be your only chance in a emergency situation. Every household or group should have a good first aid manual and kit before and during a disaster situation.

How to start and maintain a fire.

This is one of the most essential skills you need to learn in order to ensure your survival either indoors or outdoors. Learning how to start a fire and have it going when you need it can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Fire can be used to cook food and purify water not to mention keep you and your family warm ensuring your chances of survival.

Learn how to defend yourself and be willing to do it.

Owning a firearm and knowing how to use it is one of the most basic things to learn to ensure that you are able to protect yourself and your family in a emergency situation. It is important to understand that during a disaster or emergency situation there will be a lot of desperate people who will not think twice in harming you and your family just to get to your supplies. Defending yourselves with clubs, knives, and basic hand to hand combat are also necessary skills to learn.

Learn and train your mind to expect the totally unexpected.

Disaster situations can change everything in an instant, but no matter how much we know this actual disaster and survival events will surely freak us out. Training ourselves to prepare and practice all sorts of drills for various horrors is great way to prepare us for such situations. You also have to keep in mind that there will always be a big possibility of something strange, weird, and frightening things to happen when in a survival situation. By doing this you will eventually condition your mind to accept such scenarios.

Understand the world and potential disasters that await.

Keep in mind that timing is everything and knowing how to react and respond properly to disaster or pending disasters can mean the difference between life and death. This can be done by monitoring world and local news and be informed and aware to see a situation developing and act on it before it actually occurs. It is important to understand that knowledge plays a vital part in ensuring your survival.

Learn and condition yourself into a survival mentality.

Everyone has to learn the skill of scrounging around and finding what they need. You must learn to see in your mind that certain items can be very useful for your survival. Having a survival mentality will greatly increase your chances in finding solutions to problems that will surely occur in a survival situation.

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 2

In this part, we will look at some other things to consider before you install your storage shed.  And some general lessons learned to keep in mind through the process.

Storage Shed Kit Sources

Doing an online search seems to be an effective method.  Doing a search for “shed kit” on eBay gave me an idea of what was available.  Searching for the top brands found companies specializing in shed kits such as ShedsForLess.com.  Once I found the make and model I was looking for, more specific searches found the best price.  Prices seem fairly universal, although I did happen to find a sale on my choice.  A local source may be cheaper since delivery can be handled in house, but will be increased by sales tax, so the total price should be compared with companies which have to include freight in the cost but don’t have to charge tax.  It seems that shipping is usually “free” (more accurately, included in the cost) on some of the major brands.

Keep in mind that the floor is usually not part of the kit, although often can be ordered with the kit.  Often it is delivered first, from a local source, which means the quality might not be optimal.  On mine, most of the joists could be forced into place, but I had one beam which was warped at a knot, and attempting to force it straight caused the beam to snap.  Replacing it was not trivial, since the only receipt I had was the shipping order, and it took a long time for the local store to find it in their system, since it did not have my name on it or even the name of the company I ordered from.  It was under the name of the kit manufacturer.

There are kits which are material only, and those which are pre-cut.  The latter is easier to assemble and requires less equipment.

Also, when pricing a (wood) kit, keep in mind that hardware is often included, but paint and roofing are usually not, and these products are not cheap.  I could not believe they get over $30 a gallon for paint these days; fortunately Ace had a buy one gallon, get one gallon free sale.  For most (wood) sheds, the specified roofing is shingles, and those run about $1 a square foot.    Flooring, roofing and paint was about 1/4 of the total cost of my kit, and that did not include the roofing gun and scaffolding which will be used for other projects as well.

Options

Often a kit company will offer “options” such as additional or different doors, windows, a ramp, shelving/cabinets and various ventilation methods.  If offered by the kit company you pretty much have to order it with the kit.  Ventilation is good to prevent heat build-up; a “ridge vent” methodology is probably the best, but usually not available with the kit.  If you are going to use the shed strictly for storage, then windows would seem to be pretty silly since you lose wall space and reduce the security.  However, if you are going to be spending much time in there, a window or two will be quite helpful for light, ventilation and to reduce claustrophobia.

What to Have on Hand

The first thing to attempt to arrange is other people.  There are a couple of aspects of building the shed which will be very difficult for a single person to accomplish, without using “tricks” which need to be purchased or constructed.  More people not only allow completing these aspects in a “normal” manner, but will make things quicker and perhaps even “more fun”.  After all, if a single person needs to drive 1000 nails, two people only need to drive 500 each, and so on.  Plus, don’t discount the motivation having others involved provides.  If you can arrange for a person or group to help, that should be great.  If you don’t have people available or that you trust, it does not mean you are out of luck, just that you will need to approach the project differently.

There are certain basic tools you will need.  For a pre-cut wood building, that will be a hammer, drill (primarily for driving screws), tape measure (25′ may be adequate for medium sized buildings), level, framing square, carpenter’s pencil and a circular saw.  Having a cut-off saw was nice (more ergonomic and precise), but is not really needed by the pre-cut kit; the square and circular saw will suffice since there are not that many cuts left to be made.  A panel saw would have been handy, but for the one cut needed for the floor of my kit, a long straight edge, a pair of clamps, and the circular saw did just fine.  And you will need a ladder or two.  And, of course, don’t forget safety glasses and work gloves.  Plus arrange for the equipment for your preferred painting methodology.

Remember those 1000 nails?  I’ve used a nail gun for construction and it is very helpful indeed.  However, since the kit came with all the correct nails, I did not bother getting the pneumatic equivalents.  However, roofing nails were NOT included, and roofing is enough of a pain; I got a roofing nail gun and the nails for it.  Some kits say that “felt” under the shingles is “optional”.  I disagree.  Not only does it provide protection from a small leak in the shingles, but it protects the shingles from the roof panels and vice versa.  For the felt, you will need a hammer stapler and staples (no, a pneumatic stapler won’t do; it goes right through the felt, and your hands will hate you if you try using a standard squeeze stapler).  For the shingles, a utility knife and a bunch of hook blades for it, and a pair of tin snips (for the edging).  Be sure the hook blades fit your utility knife; my knife had a couple of extra pins which match up holes only in the same brand’s (much more expensive) blades.

This list assumes that everything goes perfectly, which it sometimes does not.  For instance, if there is a warped or twisted board, it can often be forced into position using a pipe wrench.  Or a twisted beam can be encouraged to stay in place with a long bolt and nut, tightened with a wrench and socket wrench.  Some places get rain, and getting raw wood wet is not wise.  A tarp big enough to completely cover the roof (and bungee cords to fasten it down with) can be a great help.  Things sometimes don’t fit quite right; I found a package of composite (not wood) shims (from Timberwolf) to be of great help in these cases.  If you end up with a crack or hole that insects can get through, some spray foam like “Great Stuff” can help.  Although roofing CAN be done with ladders, it is a tedious, slightly more dangerous process.  Buying or renting scaffolding can make it go quicker and is a bit safer to boot.  Of course, it might be easier and not much more expensive just to hire someone to do the roofing.

I used several other tools which I had on hand, to overcome problems and make “enhancements” to the shed.  These should not be normally needed.

Caveats

It is tempting to just order the kit and work on the site when the floor kit arrives.  This can be problematical; it took me over a month to get the floor flat and level (since the ground was very much neither).  Yet, the shed kit arrived only a few days after the floor kit.  Be aware of what the relative weather is between the source and your location.  My kit came from Pennsylvania when it was cold and wet, and arrived in Arizona where it was warm and dry, and sat in that wildly different environment for over a month.  It is not surprising that I had more warping and twisting than expected.  Two lessons learned.  Prepare site before ordering, and be aware of relative weather between source and destination.

The floor kit is often delivered by a local lumber outfit, who may have a trailer and fork-lift, and can put the pile in a relatively out of the way location.  The shed kit may be shipped by a standard shipper who has nothing other than pallet jacks to move things around with.  Pallet jacks require a smooth, solid surface, so they had to leave my kit in the road and I had to quickly and manually move it into my pickup.  The total kit weight is a bit over a ton, so to move it from curb to site will take more than one trip with a “1/2 ton” pickup.  When you get to the site, have something for the materials to sit on to keep them off the ground, sort the parts by size, and then stack them with the last needed pieces on the bottom and the first needed pieces on top.  I had two stacks, one of boards and one of sheets.  Cover with tarps if precipitation is expected.

Find the inventory list before you start unpacking and use it to verify the contents as you unpack.  I did a manual inventory, and matching it with the official one I found later was a bit of a challenge, since my descriptions did not match theirs.  There were a couple of pieces missing and a couple which were unusable; a call to the company got replacements sent right out.  Read the manual from cover to cover before you start, then follow it “exactly” (except for any typos) unless you are doing the build by yourself.

It was annoying that the 16′ shed floor kit came with 8′ runners; it was a challenge to keep them together and straight; I eventually gave up and used “StrongTie” connectors to hold them together end-to-end.

Standard felt is very easily torn.  It usually takes two people to install, and after we got one side up and took a break; the wind, more accurately a gentle breeze, ripped most of it off.  I finally had success with double thickness felt which is somewhat stronger, a “tool” I built which allowed me to put it up by myself, and putting on the edging as quickly as possible to prevent  wind from getting under the felt edges.  Yes, you need more rolls (being thicker, there is less length in each roll), but in climates such as ours, you generally put on two layers of standard felt anyway.

How to start

The first step is to figure out everything you want to accomplish with your shed, then find out any limitations on what you are “allowed” to put up and where you want to put it.  This includes finding out what is required by building codes.  Make sure you have plans for any alterations to be made to the shed; find the materials and figure out when in the build process you will need to diverge from the standard instructions.  Next, find the model or models of kits which you like, and get an idea of the pricing.  Arrange financing (cash or credit), prepare the site (marking and leveling for wood, forms. rebar and pouring for concrete), then order the kit.  Find out when it will be delivered and arrange to be available, with a truck or two to move the parts from where they deposit them to the construction site, and preferably people to help to load and unload.

 

John Hertig

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 1

Why would you want to do this?  Look at the name:  STORAGE Shed.  Most everybody “needs” more storage because they can’t bear to have less stuff.  And someone preparing for bad times probably has more stuff than a person who doesn’t believe anything bad can happen and expects their parents and/or government to take care of them no matter what.  Some of that extra stuff you really don’t have room for in your house, and some of your prepping supplies you REALLY don’t want to have IN your house.  Such as a generator and fuel, oil and vehicle parts, battery banks and so on so building a storage shed makes a lot of sense in some situations.  You can, of course, rent storage space; there is a large industry devoted to just that.

There are a few problems with that solution though.  One, you have to go there to get your stuff, and that assumes that you have a working transport AND that they can or will let you have access if they have no power or their computers don’t work or the people in charge are honesty challenged.  Two, you have signed your stuff over to them if they don’t receive payment for any reason (such as banks being closed).  Three, you are usually contractually obligated NOT to store some of the things you don’t want in your house.  And four, they can raise their rates whenever they please unless you have a long-term lease.  The place I am at currently is charging me TWICE what someone walking in off the street pays, and won’t reduce it.  I could rent another unit, move my stuff over, and cancel the first place, or move to another location, but I know the new price will just start moving up again.  The cost of a storage shed may seem large, but I did the math, and it will be paid off by two years of storage fees, and that is assuming they don’t raise the rate again, which is a very poor assumption.

Look at the other part of the name:  Storage SHED.  Do you have a “post Apocalypse” trade planned or set up; blacksmith, gunsmith, leather worker, seamstress/tailor, weaver, or the like?  This could be used for your business or the tools and supplies.  Plus, a shed looks like a shed, but it does not mean it must be ONLY a shed.  It could provide camouflage for an entrance or exit from an underground area.  It can be built with concealed areas.  Some sheds are designed as, or can be converted to, a green house, if you are interested in growing your own food and/or medicinal plants or setting up an aquaponics system.

Ok, let us assume you have decided you want a storage shed.   But can you have one?  Like it or not, there are a number of people or organizations who have control over what you put up.  Do you own the property?  If not, the owner has complete discretion over what you put up, if anything.  And if you don’t own the property, do you really want to make improvements to it?  An option in this case might be “portable” storage, like a trailer, or one of those transoceanic shipping containers.

Do you belong to a “Home Owners Association”?  If so, you have contractually agreed to give them complete control of the exterior of your property.  Read the bylaws to see what is currently allowed.  Figure out what you can do which abides by any restrictions.   And once you come to agreement on what they will accept “today”, get documentation which grandfathers your shed against any future changes to the bylaws.

How close are the neighbors, and are they reasonable?  If you follow all the legal requirements, they may not be able to prevent you from doing what you want, but if they get annoyed enough, they can still cause you plenty of grief.

Dealing with Governments

And then there is the city, town, township, parish and/or county.  Each level of government will have restrictions on what can be done, based on the “zoning” of the property in question.  The less remote the property is, the more stringent the restrictions are likely to be.  These include things like the percentage of the property which can be “covered”, height restrictions, required distances from property lines and other buildings, and many other things, collectively known as “Building Codes”.  Your safest bet is to get a “building permit”, but this has some downsides.  First of all, as a survivalist, you should attempt to stay “under the radar”.  You would be hard pressed to be more obvious than having your plans on public accessible file with the government, and having inspectors checking you out each step of the way.  Second of all, it will cost.  The building permit has a fee, often based on type of building and square feet.  I once wanted to put up a carport, and they told me I would have to pay $5 per square foot just for the permit.  For posts and an aluminum roof; the building permit would have cost more than the carport.  Not only that, but it is likely they will factor this “improvement” into your property value when computing future property taxes.

By all means, find out all the restrictions on what you can put up; violating restrictions has potential for serious annoyances if the government wants to raise a fuss (and they usually do if violations are brought to their attention).  However, if you can avoid getting a building permit, that might be a good path.  For instance, here, if the shed is less than 200 square feet, you don’t need a permit.  That means a 12′ by 16′ shed (192 square feet) can be put up without a permit being required.  Just because a permit is not required, does not mean the restrictions can be ignored; you just won’t have the public records and government monitoring.

Ways to Get a Storage Shed

The “easiest” way is to have someone build it for you.  This will not be the cheapest option, and a competent builder will likely insist on a building permit, meaning not only public records and government monitoring, but the builder and perhaps others will know all about your shed.  The incompetent builder will refuse the permit and perhaps build something which violates code, with potential for eventual legal challenges or structural problems.  For smaller sheds, you might be able to have it pre-built and delivered.  You could build it yourself, which means you have to come up with a viable design (not that hard) and get the materials, which may be a challenge.  I don’t know about your location, but the lumber here is crap; warped, twisted, split, insufficiently dried.  As my dad said when we were trying to get lumber to replace a rotted porch, “I wouldn’t use this stuff for firewood”.  The remaining option is a “kit”.  This has the advantage that the design, acquisition of materials and much of the cutting are already done for you.  A good kit will have better quality material than you may find locally and instructions which most everyone should be able to follow.

Types of Storage Sheds

There are a number of architectural shed types.  Chose what you like, and what fits your landscape and restrictions.  I’m partial to the “barn” style, because it gives you more height, and even “lofts” in some models.  Possible materials include wood, steel, aluminum and various “plastics”.  Plastic and aluminum tend to be the hallmark of cheap “department store” sheds, great for lawnmowers and garden tools, but not what you would call “durable” or “secure”, and usually limited in size.  For a substantial shed, wood or steel is usually the way to go.  I’m more comfortable working with wood, so that is the path I chose, although steel seems like it might have some advantages.

Modifications

Depending on what you will use the shed for, you may want to make modifications or additions.  For instance, wiring it for electricity may be useful.  But since there is no guarantee electricity will always be available, make sure you have the ability to plug-in a generator (via a transfer switch), or add solar or wind generation capability.  In some cases, you may want to add plumbing.  Note that no matter how much of the electrical or plumbing work you are willing and able to do yourself, you should consider getting a permit for this work and having it inspected.  Unlike the structure, which is hard to mess up (especially if professionally designed), a mistake in the design OR execution of electric or plumbing can cause fire, electrocution, leaks, odors or rot/rust.  And if not up to code, an insurance company may refuse to pay off on a claim.  Wherever practical, have the shed “completed” so it looks like you are “adding” the electrical or plumbing and follow all requirements for what must be visible to the inspector(s).  Of course, if you got the permit for the shed in the first place, follow their instructions on when in the process the various inspections should be scheduled.  If temperature control is a concern, you may want to add insulation, cooling or heating.

Flooring

This foundation (literally) of a shed is an important decision.  The common choices are concrete, or joists with flooring panels.  Concrete may be “better” and in some cases easier; pick your location, set up forms and rebar, and have it poured.  It may be more expensive, and less versatile (it is kind of hard to dig through concrete if you decide a partial “basement” would be handy), and “impossible” to move.  Joists are likely to be less expensive and more versatile, and if the ground is not even, may even be more practical.  There will be beams running the length of the building, with the joists running across the building between the beams.  Flooring panels are laid across the joists and fastened in place.  Note that the beams and joists are in contact with the ground and so are at risk for rotting and/or insects.  Thus pressure treated lumber or corrosion resistant metal is critical here.

Site preparation is highly important, since in order for the floor to be flat and level, and stay that way, the ground must be flat, level and stable.  If it is not, you may be able to compensate by having a variable thickness concrete floor, or building a foundation or partial foundation for your beams out of blocks and concrete.  A “better” floor system is to have runners the length of the building, on which the beams and joists sit.  As long as the runners are flat and level (and adequately supported), it does not matter if the ground is, plus it also allows ventilation below the shed, which can help with cooling and reduction of condensation inside.  It also puts the flooring higher, which may make entry more difficult, but on the other hand, gives more protection against minor flooding.  The runners, of course, must also be pressure treated wood, corrosion resistant metal, or even concrete and/or blocks, and a ramp can compensate for the step up.

 

John Hertig