Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Top 10 Shed Improvements, pt. 2

The Final Five of the Top Ten Shed Improvements are:

5.  Wood Burning Stove.  This was a wedding gift from my good neighbor Geoff.  Did I mention I got remarried a few years ago?  Not everyone was pleased, but Geoff was absolutely delighted for me.  A few years back his wife rose up from the breakfast table one morning as Geoff was drinking his tea and said, "Goodbye.  I'm leaving.  For good."  And that was that.  The first and last conversation they had about it.  He was seventy years old.  He spent three years in a depression, barely getting out of bed.  Then one day a dumb clueless American guy started trying to build an impossible shed on the block over the road from him.  This guy needed all the help he could get, and now Geoff had a reason to get up in the morning.  And that American certainly learned a thing or two about how we do things in Australia.  Sadly, Geoff isn't around any longer.  Last year his ex forced the sale of the property to finalize the division of assets, and now Geoff travels the world with a beautiful, rich widow.  (What?  Did you think I was going to say he'd fallen off the perch?  Geoff has still got more fizz than many men half his age.)

4.  The Dunny.  The jakes, the john, the bog, the thunderbox, the commode, the crapper, the head, The outhouse, the privy, the loo, the latrine, the WC, the reading room, the throne room, the porcelain bus stop, the necessary place.  Building this essential addition deserves a post all its own, and will be appearing soon. 

3.  Insulation.  I was told it couldn't be done: "You have to install insulation BEFORE putting the roof and walls on a shed.  The only way to insulate it now is to remove the roof."  Here's a tip:  never tell an engineer he can't do something!  I actually did it, with the help of my wife who is very handy, smart, practical and excellent in every way.  And with a scissors-platform lift that we hired for the day.

2.  Rainwater Tank.   There is no other source or supply of water at the Shed other than what I can carry with me.  The roof, being 100 square meters, collects 100 litres of water for every millimeter of rain that falls.  This part of Western Australia can get 400 to 600 mm of rain in a good winter (nothing the rest of the year), and so I can collect up to 60,000 litres (16,000 US gallons) a year.  This tanks' capacity is (surprise surprise) 65,000 litres.  In 2010 we had about 200 mm of rain all year, and I was so low on water I had to bring it with me up to the Shed in bottles.  This year (2011) is much better, and the tank is three quarters full as of the end of August.

Visible on right side: external depth
gauge, an ingenious and clever item.
For the first few years the water was always brown and odd-tasting due to a large Wandoo tree overhanging the Shed and forever depositing its leaves on the roof.  Rather than clearing the gutters every week, I decided that the tree had to go.  Because that would be less work in the long run, and I am essentially very lazy.  I am ambitious in my laziness, though, and will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid unnecessary work.  It's actually a lot of hard work to be this lazy.

And the most awesome Shed improvement to date is:

1.  Thermobond HRC Roof Paint.  I was still an ignorant foreigner when I ordered the material for the Shed.  I did not understand the consequences of roof color selection.  Even with insulation the shed was unbearably hot in the summer under its dark green roof.  Before insulation was added, it was 15 to 20 degrees C WARMER inside the shed than outside, meaning it could be 65 C or 150 F inside.  The insulation knocked about 10 degrees off that figure, but the roller door could not be insulated and was a major source of heat with the afternoon sun bearing directly onto it. It became so hot you could not touch it.  I would say 80 C or 175 F easily.  You could feel the radiant heat from it anywhere in the shed.  The size of the roller door meant that 5 to 6 kilowatts of heat was entering the Shed through it alone.  That is the equivalent of a large gas furnace, the last thing you want running full blast in the middle of summer.  After painting the roof and roller door with this engineered paint, the steel was no warmer to the touch than ambient even in the full afternoon sun, and the shed's inside temperature was knocked right down to ambient temperatures.  This paint has made all the difference!  I strongly recommend it to anyone with a steel roof, whether it is on a house, a workshop, a patio awning, a travel trailer (caravan), a chook pen or anything that gets too hot in the sun.  

The paint's magic is that not only is it highly reflective (so bright you can't look directly at it in full sun), but it also has a high "emissivity" normally associated only with black or dark colors.  Emissivity means that when the surface is hot, it radiates the heat away from it easily, making things cool off faster. So not only does the painted roof reflect more of the sun's energy away in the first place, it also dissipates its own heat faster, and won't get hot no matter how long the sun beats down on it.  This was also one of the cheapest improvements I made to the shed, costing me about $200 in paint and $200 to rent an airless sprayer for 24 hours. I only wish my son were around to appreciate it.  He hasn't been back to Australia in more than a year.  I lost the court case of his mother's relocation application because the female judge regarded the mother's choice of where she prefers to live as vastly outweighing any benefits the child might derive from having a father, not to mention the father's laughable parental rights. As every feminist knows, fathers have nothing whatsoever to offer a child.  As everyone else in the known Universe knows, feminists are completely full of shit.

Playing video games at the Shed.
When a court-appointed psychologist visited the Shed to observe my son and me together in our natural habitat, he reported that the Shed was "better accommodation than some places I have paid money to stay."  Clearly the message is that  if you come to Australia, you should be prepared to rough it.


  1. i would love some more info on how you insulated the shed without taking roof off?

  2. 1. Get a scissor-lift platform.
    2. Put a tek-screw every few feet into the bottom of the roof purlins, and leave them sticking out a few mm.
    3. Push the roll of insulation up between the purlins, and hold it in place using some twine stretched between the tek screws.
    4. Once an entire section is done in this manner, go back over it (under it) with 150mm wire mesh, stretching the mesh taut over the tek screws and adding additional anchors besides these.
    5. Tension the wire further by kinking any slack segments of the mesh.

    But if I were to do it again, I would not waste my time laboriously insulating. I'd rip off the corrugated sheeting and replace them with fridge panel roofing. It will be a lot less work and provide better value in the long run. In 10 years you won't be worried about the additional cost either - it will seem minuscule.

  3. That was surely a nifty idea you had as a means to insulate this area! Then again, I'd have to agree that replacing that with fridge panel roofing might seem to be a good idea instead of going through all that work again.