The Older Shed, Part I

TWO OLD SHEDS SIT back of the house, clearly built at different times, but both in terrible shape. The roof of the older, smaller one is falling in and the foundation of the larger one (perhaps a horse barn at some point?) has broken apart and lies scattered on the ground. The walls are bowing out, but the timbers inside are solid. In the photograph below, the dilapidated roof of the smaller shed is clearly visible.

The sagging roof makes the shed dangerous, but the boards, at least some of them, are in good shape and worth reusing.

The Veterans Administration (from whom I bought the property) apparently constructed a brace inside the smaller shed that holds the outside walls together and prevents the shed from collapsing in on itself. I decided to start dismantling the smaller structure; it seemed more manageable. I have the idea that I can reuse most of the lumber. My original idea was to reconstruct a similar shed out of the materials, but once I started taking the boards off the sides, it was clear that they aren’t in good enough shape to do that. Also, they seem to be from different time periods. The shed has a board-and-batten construction, typical of “rustic” buildings, I’ve recently learned. On the back wall, the battens had slightly rounded edges and each one ran the entire length of the boards they joined, but on the side walls, the battens had squared edges and several had been pieced together to create the length needed to cover the space between the boards. I suppose this means that the squared battens were added later, perhaps when the shed was reworked.

This is what the shed looked like when I left it after the first day of demolition (Sunday, May 29, 2016).

I started by removing the battens on the back wall, which has a tall center point. I didn’t have a ladder, but fortunately, there were two “homemade wooden ladders” in the sheds, and they were just tall enough (two steps) for me to reach the top sections of the wall. It took me a couple of hours working with a hammer and crowbar to get off most of the battens; then I started on the boards. I had thought that because the building is essentially falling down that the boards would likely be loose and come off easily. That wasn’t the case. The nails are still strong and a lot of the boards cracked on the ends as I tugged and twisted them. This discouraged me at first, and I almost gave up the idea of taking them off one by one, but I kept at it.

Now, a few days later, I’m glad I did. When I was working, the chore felt big and tedious and time-consuming. I considered just pushing the building over and throwing everything IMG_2673.jpgin a dumpster. I was in New York this week though, and I saw lots of wooden planters made of small boards. I’m fairly certain that I can use the scraps to make planters for the house, and I love the idea of recycling as much of the wood as possible.

I didn’t get very far in the three hours I spent ripping off the boards, but I have a big pile of boards already, and I have a sense of the scope of the commitment. I may try to round up some helpers when I’m ready to work on the project again next week. I think IMG_2671three or four folks could get it down in half a day. I’m a bit concerned about the roof, as I’m sure it will cave in once more of the boards are taken down. The plan for now is to let that happen and just stay out of the way. There might be a better plan, of course! More to think about.


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