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Question DetailsAsked on 7/24/2014


Person building a lean-to shed against my house wants to put the 2x4 wall studs the opposite way than they're supPosed to go to "give more room" on the inside. Will this support the shed (4x16 ft) adequately?

Lean-to shed is basically you cut a shed (with 2 side peak roof) in half and attach to the wall of the house. So 3 sides are wall (front and 2 ends) and 4th wall is the actual house itself. One end will have a 3 ft door and the long side will have 2 two foot doors for a 4 ft wide opening. Will be shingled to match the house. I'm concerned they're doing it wrong and it may not hold up. Any help appreciated.

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8 Answers


Since your shed is only 4 feet wide (assuming this runs parallel to the house rather than teeing out from it), the outer wall is only carrying a 2 foot width of roof load, so sideways 2x4's will support the roof OK - same vertical load capacity, and if tied to the house well the lateral load carrying capacity of a normal stud wall is not really needed. However, the wall will have a lot less rigidity, so in heavy winds it will flex and bow more and may pop shingles off. Personally, for the extra 2 inches in width you are going to gain I would require they build the wall the normal way. I would also question how they are going to gain the 2 inches - unless they mean except at the slab level, because you will still need a 2x4 bottom plate - the certainly are not going to use a 2x2 there for that. One other factor - assuming this will be enclosed but uninsulated - with the sideways 2x4's you will lose the between-stud storage space for tools and such you would have if you had standard studwall with blocking or inserted shelf and bin units and hangers to store stuff on.
And technically, since tied to the house so part of the house structure and not a "shed" or "outbuilding", should have standard stud walls by code in most but not all areas. Bottom line - probably not technically to code, would lose some storage space many people want in their sheds, but will probably stand up fine due to its narrow width - unless you are prone to strong windstorms or to hurricanes, in which I would definitely require a standard wall construction.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thanks, LCD, for the reply. You apparently also answered my "Concrete Pad Done Wrong?" questions.

This shed will be built on that pad, and I'm really worried now. Everything you say/assume is correct - runs parallel to the house, does not T off it. I thought the same thing as far as using a 2x4 going the wrong way.

Can you tell me what normal/typical wall construction would be, or to code wall construction, so I can watch what he's doing and if it's not that, insist it is? I assume that's every 16 inches on center (had some remodeling done - watched them build the walls, that's what they did). Anything I need to watch that they're doing as far as building it correctly? What should the roof trusses(?) be spaced at? I'm sure the won't use tongue and groove sheathing for the roof, but is there a particular type that should be used? Thickness - 3/4" ? Then tar paper? Felt? Then shingles? In trying to research I find different things, a little confusing as to why.

This guy's coming tomorrow, Friday, early morn, and I would like to be somewhat prepared in case I have to tell him to stop and leave because he's not doing it right. This guy I realize now is cheaping out and cutting corners wherever he can to save money for himself. I've had comments like: "we'll do it however you want it." I told him how I wanted that concrete pad done, but I couldn't watch because I had to go out, and when I came back it was already done - and not the way I told him it should be done. Problem with this shed is, never having done it or seen one done, I don't know how to tell him how to build it.

Feel between a rock and hard place. Gut says I know I should get rid of him, but no one will build this shed and want well over the $3k he's charging (for 2 pads and shed) for just the pads. no shed, because they're small jobs no one wants. Don't think anyone I had give an estimate would be willing to come redo the pads. Husband wants to see if the guy will actually do things right, but this pad is already wrong and now to let him build the shed on it worries me. I KNOW he won't give me any money back. Yeah, sue in small claims, but how to collect? Notorious for not being able to..........

So, do I let him go ahead with the shed anyway on this pad alredy done? I'm gonna tell him unless he does the other pad (just started) to my specs, he's not gonna do it at all. He could walk and leave all materials (or try to take them) and keep 3/4 of the money .........Seriously upset.

Answered 3 years ago by AMH


I think your husband may be walking you into a trap with this contractor, but c'est la vie.

From what you say, and realizing I misplaced my thousand-mile glasses so I can't see your job well from here -

Google roof and walland such with Inspectopedia for short articles on typical construction - also a word like studwall or roof combined with images to get typical details.

Normally, ANY structure connected to the house (other than flexible sway-only bracing for decks) has to be on footings to below frost depth - strip footings to support the walls in your case poured separate first (minimum 6-8 inches thick and 12 inch high typically), then the slab would be poured inside and separate from that. In areas without frost penetration, a thickened edge slab can be used in most code areas - so your nominal 3-4 inch slab could have been thickened to no less than 6 and usually 8 inches for the outer 8-12 inches to support the wall bolts. In that strip footer or thickened edge slab bolts would have been embedded, which the treated 2x4 sill plate (bottom horizontal 2x4) would be bolted down to, securing the wall in place. Typical wall would be 2x4's at 16" on center with double 2x4 plates on top to support the roof, 90 degree angled and nailed 2x4's at corners, king (full height) and trimmer (up to bottom of header) studs at doorways with header appropriate to width across top - typically 4x6 for single door and 4x8 for double door, and on up in depth depending on opening width.

Roof would typically be 2x6 rafters (or equivalent trusses) at 24" on center unless you have very heavy snow loads - local building department probably has approved details for your area. Technically, for your 4' span, 2x4 at 16" spacing would probably suffice but would require an engineer's approval (not worth cost) because 2x6 is the minimum code roof rafter size regardless of span. Sheathing would NOT be T&G - jams up when it expands or gets wet and buckles - normally nominal 1/2 exterior sheathing rated plywood (actually 15/32" in most code areas allowed), then underlayment over that - 15# felt usually in snow free areas, 30# felt or synthetic underlayment in most snowy areas, plus in areas with iceing possibility ice and water shield for lowest 3 foot of roof - so in your case probably best to just go with ice and water shield on entire roof if in snow/icing area. For a "shed" installation roll granulated felt (tarpaper) roofing would commonly be used with tar paper (15# felt) underneath.

Roof would be fastened to wall with a ledger plate over ice and water shield typically, and flashing up under the siding (or a flashing board) and over lapping the roofing to protect the interface.

In your case, with the thin slab and presumably no emdedded bolts, I would guess he is planning on using concrete nails to fasten down the walls - which will most likely crack the edge of the concrete off with 1-1/2" slab thickness.

Also, with the thin slab and no apparent frost protection, if there is any frost heaving of the slab it will pry the roof against your wall, which could break the shed roof free, or damage your walls. That is why attached sheds and decks have to have frost-free footings.

This was sort of a thumbnail jumble - but check out deck and porch articles on This Old House and Inspectopedia and you should get the idea.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thanks LCD for your reply again. Husband has nothing to do with this - knows nothing about stuff like this. I know a little but not enough. And I DO go online, and talk to anyone who even LOOKS like they would know something about concrete and shed building, to find out how things should be done. That's how I knew about the concrete, for a floating pad to have minimum of 2" stone and 3" concrete. Argued with him about that to make sure that's what he did. As I said, he was supposed to - by the time I got back from an appintment it was already done - wrong. Although he still has to put that "top coat" on.

This is a handyman kind of guy - contractors wouldn't do it - job too small. Had 3-4 of them come to give an estimate. All said job was too small for them, too expensive for me (they'd have to charge me a lot) and I need a handyman. And that's just for the concrete work - no one knows what a lean-to shed is, apparently, and I can't find anyone to build that, either. This guy said he's built houses, does everythng from A-Z, and I thought was reasonable for everything. However, weather causing a lot of problems getting it done now, in addition to his not doing any of it the correct way.

So now that I read how you say the shed should be done, I'm worried about it failing, since not having footers it could do what you say - pop shingles, maybe screw up the actual house wall (outside garage wall) etc. Like I indicated, there's a maximum of 1 1/2 inches stone and maybe that much concrete. I would watch to see what kind of fasteners he would be using to attach to the concrete (watched online to see the different ones that can be used). If it cracks or breaks like you say it probably will, I'll halt it and not have him do it.

Is this a possibility?: Don't make the garage wall the 4th wall, but actually build a frame for the 4th wall and just put it up against the house wall without actually attaching it to the house/garage wall? Basically build a half a shed (lean-to) and put it as close to the house on the pad as it'll go. Either leave the gap that inevitably will be there, or fill it with expandable foam (that stuff in a can)? Whether that 4th wall - the 16 ft length - would or should have actual wood or drywall (I imagine not useable due to weather) is the other question. Can put the "wall" on the inside instead of outside, but that then would eliminate the use of between-the-stud space. Building a 16ft wall of just studs and whatever would be used for the "wall" and trying to put that in place against the house wall seems undoable - pretty heavy to try to move into position, then fill that gap that would be there...............wish I new of a way that could make this work.

I have a book on building sheds that has an illustration of a small 79hx55wx18d shed that's built normally, then put on a base of pavers, and then the whole shed is screwed to the house. Here's how they did that: with long screws, but drilling the hole a little bigger than the screw, and using a washer at the head of the screw so the head doesn't go through into the hole, attach the shed in various places (don't remember how many) to the house.

Reasoning is, this gives the shed room to move independent of the house if it should move or shift in any way during the winter. Quoting: ".....can tip forward easily, so once you've applied your finish to the exterior, fasten it to wall studs with a couple of screws. An oversize hole and a fender washer on your screws will allow it to move up or down slightly with ground movement." Of course I'd use more than only 4 screws to attach to the garage wall, and they don't address any gap that would be there. Maybe they don't have snow where they are. Anyway, this is my thought/theory on how it can maybe work???? Use the magazine's concept, just expand on it a little.

SO........... kinda between a rock and a hard place. At the mercy of this guy's skill set. Knowing the way he's doing things - probably thinking I'm a dumb blonde who doesn't know how to do things so he can try to make me believe his way is right - and maybe cheaping out on stuff where he can, I'm just trying to think of ways this can be done without it falling apart in a couple years, and if I stop all work now, I still don't have anyone who will or knows how to build this shed. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't give me any of my money back if I stopped it all right now. I think I indicated before, smalls claims court is an option, but I probably wouldn't be able to collect, as you're on your own to get the money. Courts, police, no one will help you. That's what I'm told. So I'm trying to think out of the box and hopefully not throw a decent amount of money out the window.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!! He comes again on Wednesday. The one day it's supposed to be nice and sunny and dry - and rain the next 3 days or more with this storm system that's going on that they talk about on the news every night that's affecting the whole country.

I'm at a loss..................

Answered 3 years ago by AMH


UPDATE: Fired the guy today. Supposed to refund money - we have to agree on how much. Back to square one.......................sigh....................

Answered 3 years ago by AMH


Sorry to hear about your problem - hope the refund goes OK.

About the shed roof - for ways to connect it to the house in frost-free areas or with foundations below frost line look at typical elevated deck connections to houses. If not going below frost depth with the foundation (which would be the normal case with a shed) then you have a couple of viable non-rigid possibilities - independently support the roof on posts along but not connected to the foundation and tie the shed roof to the house only with moveable connections like your oversized hole loose bolts as wind sway bracing only but without vertical load carrying capacity, run a support beam (since you are only talking 4' wide roof load) from support at end wall to end wall with intermediate support post as necessary along the house wall but not connected to the house (plus have overhanging flashing to keep water out from the wall), or possibly (worst choice) connect to the house with rod and eyebolt hinged connection so the roof can tilt up and down if the shed walls move with frost heaving and it will therefore not "pry" against the ewall like a rigid bolted or nailed connection would - again, would need water shield and flashing from house to shed roof to provide a weatherproof junction there.

Good luck

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thanks again LCD. Had 3 people look at "completed" pad - needs to be ripped out and start from scratch. One described shed built like you first mention - build independent of and not connected to the house, with 4" PT posts dug below frost line (build kinda like a pole barn) with just flashing under house siding at roof so no water enters. Deciding what to do now, but have to wait to get refund from other guy........

Answered 3 years ago by AMH


It seems like you have your work cut out for you. I think from what you shared, it should stand just fine. The lean to shed design can be confusing to assemble and the confidence level when assembling is non existent.

My neighbor and I did not build from scratch. I purchased a 4x10 Arrow lean to storage shed from Original shelters...Thankfully, the shed was ready to assemble right from box. It didn't take a lot of building knowhow!

All the parts and pieces were already pre measured and cut to size. The assembly instructions were easy to follow and it took approx. 4 hrs from start to finish....see the set up lean to shed below. A picture is worth a thousand words...hopefully this helps! Good Luck Friend:)



Answered 2 years ago by outdoorstoragediy

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