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Saint Albans, city, seat of Franklin county, northwestern Vermont, U.S., 24 miles (39 km) north of Burlington. St. Albans town (township), surrounding the city, is on St. Albans Bay of Lake Champlain. The area was part of the French seigniory of La Douville from 1664 to 1763. The town was chartered in 1763 and organized in 1788. St. Albans village, set off and incorporated in 1859, became a city in 1897. Its location near the Canadian border made it popular with smugglers, who used it as a base between 1807 and 1812. The town was also a station on the Underground Railroad. It was the site of the St. Albans Raid, the northernmost engagement of the American Civil War, when on October 19, 1864, a small force of Confederate soldiers looted the town's banks. In 1866 the Fenians, an Irish nationalist secret society, pledged to invade Canada and made St. Albans their headquarters prior to an abortive raid across the border. Maple sugar production is the major industry; tourists visit the city for the annual Maple Festival in April. Dairying and ice cream making also are important. Pop. (2000) 7, 650; (2010) 6, 918.Downtown Saint Albans, Vermont. Mfwills
How to Buy a Shed the Smart Way (8 Things to Look For)
I promised in my shed delivery article that I'd be sharing a brief buying guide a week later. I didn't make good on the timeline, but I didn't forget the commitment.
In order to produce a buying guide, we needed some additional pictures of a substandard shed to highlight the quality differences between sheds that are built 'up to a standard' (like the one we purchased) vs. those that are built 'down to a price.' We've also been well distracted by the workshop drywall project.
Excuses aside, I think this is an important topic to cover, because I'm sure many of you will be building or buying a shed in the next few years. Ethan took some time earlier this week to head to a local (purposefully unnamed) big box store to snap some pics of a low quality model. Now we've got everything we need for the comparison.
Before I get started, it's worth noting that it is our firm opinion that buying (or building) a shed that meets a high quality specification is worth the additional cost. The shed will last longer and look better than cheaper alternatives. When you're looking to purchase a shed, make sure to really examine the build quality and compare prices. We found that our local, privately-held shed company was able to build and deliver a shed for nearly the same price as the big box home improvement stores, but with a much higher quality build.
For this buying guide, we'll be comparing features of our 8x12 custom-built shed with an 8x12 model available at the big box store. Our shed cost us approximately $2,700 with all the options, while the low quality shed costs approximately $1,900. The big ticket items that made our shed more expensive included vinyl siding (about $400) and architectural shingles (about $100). Subtract those, and the price for these models gets within 15% of each other.
While not the subject of this guide, we were able to find a shed that was a near exact match to ours at the big box. The price: a whopping $4,000 delivered and installed. This would be about $1,300 more than we paid.
Factor 1: Floor Material
Our shed floor is built with 3/4" pressure treated plywood over 12" o.c. joists. The low quality shed is built with 5/8" untreated oriented strand board (OSB) over 16" o.c. joists. OSB is particularly susceptible to buckling and warping when exposed to high moisture levels. This is especially the case at the edges/joints. Pressure treated plywood, on the other hand, is a much more durable surface that will handle moderate moisture very well, and could be sealed for additional protection. For the best surface, 3/4" tongue-and-groove plywood could be used to further abate buckling.
Factor 2: Wall Studs and Sheathing
Our shed is constructed with uniform 2x4 studs spaced 16" o.c. covered with 1/2" plywood walls. The low quality shed is build with 2x3 lumber spaced 24" o.c. (and nearly 4" o.c. on the side walls) with 1/2" OSB for walls. The walls of the low quality shed are much more likely to buckle over time, especially if the 2x3s and OSB are subject to high moisture. High quality 2x4 lumber provides significantly more structural rigidity in the build.
Factor 3: Roof Rafters & Roof Sheathing
Our shed is constructed with 2x4 roof rafters spaced 16" o.c. with a 1/2" plywood sheathing. The low quality shed uses the same 2x3 as are used on its walls, spaced 24" o.c. with 1/2" OSB on top. Over time, the roof of the low quality shed is much more likely to sag, especially in a high-moisture environment.
Factor 4: Roofing Shingles
Our shed has 30-year architectural shingles. The low quality shed has 3-tab shingles that don't look like they're wearing well even while the shed sits on the lot. Our guess is that those shingles are not rated for installation over OSB and likely have a 15 year warranty, max.
Factor 5: Siding
One of the major reasons our shed is more expensive than the low quality version is that we opted for vinyl siding (a $400 upgrade). Vinyl siding is virtually maintenance-free, and with a 2x4-over-plywood substructure, it will last for at least 20 years. The wood siding on the low-quality shed will require painting and will wear out far more quickly. We think vinyl looks much better, too.
Factor 6: Shelving / Work Space Materials
We built three shelves in our shed using 2x4s and 1/2" plywood at a cost of about $100. Our shelves will last for the life of the shed.The materials used for shelving in the low quality shed are the same as those used for the walls (2x3s, 1/2" OSB). You can see from the pictures below that these shelves are already warping. Any weight placed on the large shelf will cause it to buckle over time.
Factor 7: Door Quality
Our shed sports all metal door construction that isn't likely to sag. The low quality shed includes wood doors that will bend and warp over time. The one drawback for our shed is that metal doors are more likely to dent under abuse. However, we would far prefer to have metal doors over wood ones.
Factor 8: Trim Components
Our shed features window boxes made from rot-proof composite materials. The low quality shed doesn't have window boxes, but if it did, they would likely be painted wood with plastic inserts (or worse, wood alone, which will rot after just a few years). The trim components this shed does have are already looking worn.
If you're in the market for a new shed, shop around. The big home improvement stores especially seem to be selling sheds with substandard materials. This is one area where a little bit of legwork can make a huge difference in your return on investment.
Summary of Shed Buying Tips
Avoid oriented strand board, especially for roofing and sub flooring. Look for plywood construction, and especially 3/4" pressure treated, tongue-and-groove plywood for the floor.
Avoid 2x3s, especially if they are spaced far apart. Look for 2x4s no more than 16" on center.
Consider roofing and siding materials. Look for shingles with at least a 25 year life.
Look for rot-proof composite materials.
Look for quality doors that won't sag over time.
Above all, don't sacrifice quality to save a few bucks. If you're going to spend $1,900 on a shed, spend $500 more and get something worthwhile.
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