A pilgrimage to resource efficiency 

Cheap, Easy, Basic Shed

Most homesteaders prefer to substitute labor for standard building materials as much as possible. The first place to try your hand at living off the land is to build an animal shed from natural materials on your property. Poles or logs are the most basic and easiest to use building materials. The simplest animal shelters can be made from poles lying horizontally to form three walls, with sod or straw around the structure for windproofing. Poles may be used to form a slightly sloping shed roof with branches, straw and earth on top to shed water.

For northern climates, enclose the shed with a fourth side and a doorway opening. The doorway can remain open during the day to a run and shut at night to protect your animals from predators.
To improve the shed for cold months, double pole walls so straw or other fill can be used for insulation and remain protected. Trimming logs so that they lay relatively flat on the top and bottom offers even greater resistance to air movement. If available, slabs make excellent siding for a pole structure insulated with straw. Slabs are the bark-covered outside portion of logs which are generally discarded while the inner part is cut up for lumber. Sometimes mills will edge the better slabs so they are smooth on three sides and have bark only on the one curved side.

These three sided slabs can be used for almost any rough project, even rafters and roofs. Sod roofs are surprisingly waterproof when built up over shingles of birch bark that would otherwise blow away. The best way to waterproof your sod roof is with polyethylene film aka visqueen between the roofing slabs and the sod. Visqueen is about the best multi-purpose material as it is vapor proof, windproof, rot proof, slow to photodecay and when protected from wind and sun, lasts almost indefinitely.

Keep your eyes open for any chance to salvage building materials such as plywood, roll roofing, corrugated sheet metal, windproofing or insulation material and wire fencing.
Last but not least, know your building codes and improvement tax liabilities. In some places, if your shed is small enough and without electricity, you won’t need a building permit and the impact on your property tax will be minimal.

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