How to Build a Portable Shed on Skids


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There are many reasons for building your shed on skids, the main one is it means you won’t need a foundation and in most areas a shed built on skids will not require a building permit.

Building a shed on skids is a popular way of building them. It is much less involved than pouring a concrete pad or piers, and the skids permit airflow under the shed to keep moisture away from your wood while it evaporates. It also keeps the shed from acting as a dam in case of heavy rain flowing to the shed.

Does a Shed Built on Skids Require a Permit?

Building a shed on skids makes the shed portable, and so does not usually require a building permit. If you intend to run electricity to the shed, you will almost certainly need a permit. You should check with your local building and zoning authorities on what is permitted and what you’ll need. A good idea would be to have your plans ready when you contact them.

If you do need a permit, you’ll have the plans ready to submit, avoiding delays in the process. Some areas that experience frequent storms may insist that your shed be anchored in some way. Zoning codes may or may not permit your building a shed. Usage plays a part as well. If you plan to use your shed as a workshop at least part of the time, you may need a permit to build it.

Codes may dictate how close your shed is permitted to be to your house, trees, fences, property lines or other buildings that may be on the property. The codes may also limit what percentage of your yard may be used for the shed. If you live in an HOA, you may run into other restrictions as well. For more information on permits read my article Do You Require a Building Permit For a Storage Shed?

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Portable Shed?

Pros: Portable sheds usually cost less than building a permanent shed. They also take less time to build and usually don’t require much of a foundation. Some people don’t even bother with a foundation for them. A portable shed means that it can be transported to a new home when you move.

It can also be relocated to another spot in your yard if the first placement ends up being less convenient than you had thought or if it turns out to be an unexpected place where water flows. Construction or landscaping by a neighbor can change the landscape to the point that water starts running off toward your shed.

Cons: Since portable sheds don’t require a solid foundation, they can be affected by ground freezing and thawing, causing movement. Portable buildings may tend to settle, which puts the doors and windows out of plumb, leading to sticking when opening and closing. You can read my article How Do I Keep My Shed from Sinking? for more information on preventing your shed from sinking.

A good foundation can prevent this problem. If your area tends to have weather problems such as strong storms or winds it will need to be tied down. Fortunately, there are kits intended to tie down mobile homes which will work for a shed as well. Being built on skids your shed will be higher off the ground if you need more information on dealing with this read my article How to Build a Ramp to a Shed.

What Do I Use for Skids Under My Shed?

Skids for a shed are usually lumber cut 4×4, 4×6 or 6×6 as long as the shed. The ends are usually tapered at a 45-degree angle. How many you will need will depend on the size of your shed. The floor joists are nailed to the skids underneath.

How Do You Add Anchor Points to Pull Skids?

You can attach long lag bolts or carriage bolts to the outer skids. These bolts will have to be long as the outer skids are not placed on the edge of the shed frame, but 12 to 16 inches away from the edge. You can also drill 1-inch to 11/2-inch holes on both ends of the skids about 4 inches deep for attaching a pull chain.

There are other ways to move a shed. If it is a smaller shed, you can attach a length of 2×4 to either end of both long sides to form handles for you and three friends to pick up the shed and move it. You can also use several pieces of pipe to form rollers. Lay out several pipes along the path to the place you want to move the shed.

You’ll need a way to pick up the front end to slide pipes underneath at least past the halfway point of the shed length. Then pick up the other end of the shed and push it along the rollers. You’ll need one person to move the pipes as you go along, picking up each pipe as it clears the bottom of the shed and moving it ahead of the shed.

How to Build a Portable Shed on Skids?

Your floor joist and skid plan will depend on the size of your shed. The heavier your shed and the things you plan to store there, the heavier the skids should be. Whatever size lumber you plan to use for skids, it should be pressure treated or cedar. Cut each end at a 45-degree angle and paint the cut ends with a wood preservative.

Consider your ground space, allowing about a foot of extra space all the way around to handle roof runoff. Make sure it’s level and smooth. Most sources advocate a slight slope to facilitate drainage. While some choose to stand the shed directly on the ground, it’s better not to take a chance with moisture or mold problems, which can happen even with treated lumber.

Install landscape fabric over this space, then spread about 4 to 6 inches of gravel. One-inch crusher-run gravel is better at compacting. After compacting the gravel, make sure it’s level. Layout the skids in place, putting the outer ones 12 – 16 inches from the sides. The maximum distance between skids is six feet, so your width will determine the number of skids needed. Make sure all the skids are level and even with each other.

Temporarily tack planks across both ends and the middle to steady them. Cut pressure-treated 4x4s for cross braces and attach them between skids in the middle and both with lag screws. Only stainless-steel screws should be used, as the chemicals in pressure-treated lumber will corrode galvanized screws. If you need more information read my article How to Build Your Shed Floor on Skids where I go into detail on layout and construction of the floor to the skids.

Conclusion

If you plan to tie down your shed, this is the time to do it, anchoring the skids. From here on in, building the rest of the shed continues as with building any shed, starting with assembling the floor joists on the skids.

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