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The Third Place: Building an open-sided shed extension

Defining spaces with salvaged materials

Last week I finished (more or less) the frame for an extension on the shed which already existed on the property.

The materials are 100% salvaged from an old interior chicken coop and exterior run which had been set up over the course of 3 years previously. It took a lot of time to disassemble, but yielded a good quantity of still decent quality wood of serviceable lengths.

I spent only $15.15 (CAD) for the two 4"x4" upright beams in the center. Everything else, from the fasteners (deck screws), wood and windowed panels was recovered from previous projects and installations.

Side views:

The windows came from an old greenhouse I’d installed a few summers ago, which was itself made of recovered windows assembled into framed modular panels. If there’s one thing you learn in theatrical carpentry, it’s the importance of building reusable modular panels. You can kind of reconfigure them infinitely as the demands of the show(s) change.

This particular performance centers around a pre-existing slab of concrete which had obvious formed slots to accept a probably 2"x4" footer frame, and indentations to hold vertical 4"x4"s.

You can *sort of* see the state of it here in this before shot:

Anyway, I didn’t know exactly the shape and dimension of the structure which had originally been fitted to this slab of concrete. But I used what was there to extrapolate a form and size which could fit for the use I had in mind: an open-sided shed extension. A place to come in and work out of the rain. Something which I could wrap up in winter as an antechamber to the laying hens whose coop rests within. A third place between inside and outside.

Partially-panelling it with windows will help raise temps a little in winter (hopefully), as, I’m told, adding plywood before putting my aluminum roofing sheets (also reclaimed). I don’t want it to be too hot in summer though. Maybe there could be a short period of usage as a greenhouse at top of summer, but which can be broken down and re-staged as the season warms up.

I got really into knee braces while I was building this. I’ve never built an exterior structure like this for snow-load, and I only have the two 4"x4"s in the middle for support of 12' DIY composite rafters I put together out of lathe. Hopefully it’s going to be strong enough — and it’s exposed to wind off a field, which might help minimize snow building up on top of it.

Knee braces galore

But it’s all pretty experimental. If it falls down, I’ll have to rebuild it — maybe with proper 12 footer beams, and a stronger frame. But for year one, this is a strong beach-head to claim for supporting a multitude of outdoor operations and giving myself a semi-all weather outdoor work set-up.

View looking out — will probably keep some of these walls open for modular uses as the season changes.

Now I have to cover it — which is another story entirely. And check if wifi from the house can reach, or if I need a range extender…

But there’s something very elemental about the moment when you finish framing. An interior and exterior exists where before there was just air. There’s a purity about a frame too. You want to be around it, to linger. Part of me always wants to keep framing exposed forever.



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