Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Overcome the obstacles

By Justin Newcombe

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Justin Newcombe turns an unused patch of grass into a garden hold-all.

An outdoor storage unit is a great way to make use of extra space. Photo / Sarah Ivey
An outdoor storage unit is a great way to make use of extra space. Photo / Sarah Ivey

You can never have enough outdoor storage but access can be problematic, especially with the shrinking size of land packages due to the intensification of housing in cities. I've found trying to get large objects out from under the deck or around corners can be a struggle. For lots of us that large object is a kayak, surfboard, or kid's sailboat, in my case it's a waka ama or outrigger canoe. Bikes are another thing which are used regularly and are difficult to store as they take up a lot of space. Building materials from a half a bag of cement or a length of left over timber can need a home and before you know it the garage has turned into an obstacle course - wipe-ouuuut. Most of the time I'm trying to get those large objects to and from the same place: the car.

The thing I've noticed when I'm designing a garden is that there is usually a small green strip between the driveway and boundary which is hard to maintain or do anything productive with. In fact it can be a nuisance when you're trying to load and unload the car.

So I've decided to kill two birds with one stone. I'm building a basic storage unit in this unused strip which will house all the things I regularly put in and out of the car or that go up and down the driveway, like bikes.

I'm using an existing fence as my starting point. If you share a boundary fence you need to check with your neighbour before you start.

My fence is just on my side of the boundary which means I don't "share" it.

The first step is to install a floor, roof structure and some channels to control the water run-off. I've recycled old concrete for the floor, so the amount of fresh concrete under each piece varies with the thickness of the recycled concrete pieces and pavers. The object is to make the floor flat on top.

Next week I'll show you how to finish with doors and customise storage for the bike, kayaks and more.

Step 1

Dig out the existing plants and soil to a depth of between 75mm and 100mm. If you are installing pavers or another specialist surface this may need to be a bit deeper. I'm using leftover pavers and recycled concrete plus any old builder's mix I've got lying around. Depending on what floor you intend to install your preparation may vary. For example if you are using pavers you will need to install a base course, then sand and then the pavers which will need to be compacted.

Step 2

Dig out post holes (300mm wide and 600mm deep) for the front of the storage area and install the posts. My posts are 2 metres apart.

Step 3

Install the floor, making sure it slopes toward the driveway slightly. I've gone with a hard surface because I don't want the mess of loose aggregate. I've placed my leftover concrete pavers and recycled concrete pieces on fresh concrete made from BM20 and cement mixed with water. I have grouted the storage area floor using a four parts sand and one part cement mix with 200g of black oxide per wheelbarrow of grout. Make sure the floor is slightly higher on the fence side and slopes toward the driveway so the water can get away and won't puddle in front of your storage area.

Step 4

Once the posts are dry attach a bearer across the top of the posts, using coach screws. This is what the roof will sit on. My bearers are 200x50mm, dressed timber. Cut the driveway posts higher than the fence (without breaking any council regulations, mine are 300mm higher) so water runs away from the driveway and towards the fence. On the fence side, the bearer needs a fall to allow the water in the guttering to run off. The guttering is attached to the fence bearer.

Step 5

Measure and cut joists to run between the bearers. I'm installing an internal channel to collect the water from the roof and have cut a cavity for it to slot into at the lowest point of each joist.

Step 6

Nail joists (one per metre) between the driveway bearer and fence bearer. On the fence side I've cut a notch in each joist to allow for a piece of internal channel on the fence side of the roof which is the lowest side. The joists are installed to follow the profile of the bearers which means any water that hits the roof will run off the roof and then follow the fall of the bearer on the fence side to a downpipe where it can be collected in a drum or run off to an adjoining garden or driveway.

Step 7

Nail three sets of runners, 90 degrees to the joists. These are to attach the roofing material to.

Step 8

If you want to paint the internal timbers of the storage unit, now is a good time to start.

Step 9

Install the channel guttering into the slot cut in the joists, then screw to the bearer on the fence side. If necessary join the guttering using the appropriate joiners available at Bunnings.

Step 10

Mark the corrugated roofing plastic into sections and cut with tin snips. Screw into place using the screws recommended by the manufacturer.

- NZ Herald

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