On Sheds

California homes are usually storage challenged. Basements generally don’t exist here, and attics are typically useless. Garages are most often outfitted as man-caves or warehouses. But I’ve noticed that my garage is actually attached to the driveway, and is a convenient place to store our cars when they are not being driven around. So for as long as I’ve lived in this house, the lawnmower, edger, rakes, shovels, and their kin have been trashily resting in a heap on the side of the house. This year, I finally broke down, and decided to buy a shed.

Shed Decision Tree

I found that there are three types of sheds in the universe: Expensive, Cheap, and Very Cheap. It should be noted that all three of these are actually expensive, just to varying degrees. In my case, I was in the market for something about 8 feet by 8 feet in size. So to elaborate… Expensive style sheds are fabricated from actual wood, and assembled like actual buildings, but smaller. Cheap Sheds are, as best as I can tell, pre-fabricated from high-fructose wood-flavored particle fibers, packaged into transportable bundles, and then assembled on site. Very Cheap sheds are fabricated from simulated plastic, and assembled like simulated garbage cans, but larger and more rectangular.

So, considering my personal circumstances, I quickly decided that I was in the market for a Cheap shed. Naturally, I then visited both purveyors of such outdoor storage solutions: orange and blue. Home Depot has aligned itself with an outfit called Tuff Shed. You can specify and buy your Cheap Shed from Home Depot or from Tuff Shed directly. The results are exactly the same in either case. Expensive. The “Garden Ranch” 8×8 shed with shingles and some shelves quoted out at $1,600, delivered and assembled. Seems steep. Over at Lowes, you can buy a Heartland Liberty 8×8 shed for $749 plus shipping, unassembled. Sounds better, but what about my shelves? And assembly? And what if I want a window and weather vane on top? Their website was much less versatile than the Home Depot / Tuff Shed site, so I decided to go to the source. But it didn’t exist.

“Heartland”, it seems, is just a thinly disguised rebranding of the pre-fab sheds sold by “Backyard Buildings & More” aka Backyard Products LLC, which seems to be located somewhere in Michigan. Or, more conveniently, on the interweb at http://backyardbuildings.com. So I dialed them up, found that the Lowes “Heartland Liberty” is suspiciously identical to their “Value Line Seneca” shed, and it can be customized as desired (just the shelves in my case), equipped with shingles, shipped, and assembled for about $1,000. Now that’s the Cheap Shed I was looking for.

I placed the order online, and forgot about it for a week. When I noticed that a shed failed to materialized anywhere in the vicinity of my home or back yard, I became a bit concerned. Checking the email confirmation, they should have called me to schedule delivery within 48 hours. Uh oh. So I called the distributor at the number listed on the invoice, and talked with someone who seemed a bit confused. Eventually, he admitted to finding my order, and asked when I wanted it. Well, how about Monday? No problem. They’ll call in the morning.

On Monday, I got a call from the driver, who wanted to confirm my street address, which he correctly identified. Except he thought it was in Sacramento. Which is about an hour and a half away. Remarkably, though, he and his able assistant actually arrived at the correct location eventually, sporting their “Lowes” shirts. While they seemed a bit put off about having to drive to Pleasanton, they did successfully assemble the thing in about four hours.

Backyard Buildings seemed a bit shady to me when I was considering what to buy, but all and all, everything worked out OK. I would say that the Tuff Shed model that I checked out at the Orange store seemed to have a bit high build quality, but I think that can be attributed almost entirely to the door latch / handle which was much more substantial on the Tuff Shed. Otherwise, they seems to be built from the same particle fiberboard stuff, and both have that weird smell inside. Backyard Buildings doesn’t offer an option for painting, which was available for $131 from Tuff Shed. But I bought some paint for about $30 and did it myself in a couple of hours.

In my research, I found The Internets seemed to be sadly lacking in rambling essays on applied shed research and procurement practices. This unfortunate void has now been filled, as has my freshly painted and still weirdly smelling shed.

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