Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dream it, Design it, Build it, Pallet!

We at Istockhouseplans have been a bit busy this last month exploring a new outlet. While designing standard homes is a lot of fun, we yearn to trade in our mouse and T-square for a hammer and framing square. For a long time we have been following Michael Janzen's Tiny Free House blog. Michael is attempting to (and succeeding at) building a tiny free house out of found materials. The main structure of the 96sf home is made out of pallets. Intriguing! And very sensible. After all, most pallets are already built with rigidity and rough handling in mind. He expanded this idea to a blog called the Tiny Pallet House. Then there's John in Nova Scotia who has built several outbuildings and a fence out of pallets. We've even seen a pallet fence in our own neighborhood.

Enter our food co-op. The co-op runs a garden that is in need of a shed. Initially we stepped up to help with it. The sheer number of other interested folks made us shy away because after all, no one else would understand or be willing to embark on a pallet shed. After a few weeks, the call was put out again as no one had actually done anything other than raise their hands. So we called dibs on the project and immediately started designing for pallet use.

The shed is to be about 8'x8' and not terribly tall. It was designed to use 20 standard 40"x48" size pallets. There would be 2 courses of pallets 48" wide and 40" tall. This results in a plate line of 80" tall, good for doors. The pallets on the front would be relieved of about 14" of material each, leaving space for a 28" window. This 14" would then stack on top of and tie into the front wall making it about 8' when plates are considered. The plan was then to tie 6 pallets together to create the shed roof. The roof includes a 24" overhang on the back side to hide garbage cans. The whole thing would rest on some reclaimed cedar fence boards on top of a packed gravel floor.

Pallet shed floor plan, rear wall, and front wall.

Pallet shed side view, roof plan

The door works well as it is about a 3' gap left after 48" of pallets is put in the 7.5' +/- space between the sides of the front and back pallets. The pallets on the roof are tied together with some 2x4x8 inside the pallets and some 2x6 on the outside for trim. Corrugated clear roof panels keep the rain out. We were going to plywood the sides but reclaimed fence board could be used as vertical batts between pallet boards, or lapped as desired.

What actually happened is something a little different. There were a handful of free pallet ads on Craigslist. By the time we showed up, there was nothing left of anything close to 40"x48" pallets. So we surveyed a few sites and found some great 8'x6'-4" ish sized ones. Perfect! This was better than tying four smaller pallets together. There was even one that was 7'-4"x6'-4" which means it would fit right between the front and rear pallets without cutting and maintain the 8'x8' footprint. We loaded them onto (mind you, not INTO) the truck and drove to the site where we started prepping the panels to tie together. Unfortunately we couldn't do much else since gravel had not arrived for the floor.

Since the whole project is being attempted for the princely sum of no money down, no payments ever, we are looking for free gravel on Craigslist. Hopefully we will be done within a month. As progress is made, we will keep you posted and throw up a few pictures.

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