What to consider when planning your outbuildings’s foundation.

A log garage to complement an Honest Abe log home is often requested by our customers. Some choose full log construction, while others decide on log siding or other construction types. The photos above illustrate three types of outbuildings. At the top of the page a timber frame home and the detached garage are covered in matching siding. On the left is a full-log two-car garage. One the right, the garage, carport and utility building is fashioned from wood siding.

Outbuildings create storage for equipment, riding mowers and pool supplies. It could also be that your outbuilding creates a private creative space for the “she-shed” escape or the “he-shed” spot to “work on stuff,” nap or watch a ballgame.

Whether your outbuilding is designed for organized storage or stay-cations, the shed needs to start with a carefully planned foundation.

There are many choices for building or buying charming and functional outbuildings. While some people will hire a contractor to build a customized outbuilding others will find that choices in manufactured outbuildings provide the “bones” and aesthetics to make the project install within a very short period of time. The foundation considerations for an outbuilding will be essentially the same whether your build from scratch or buy a building ready to use.

Keeping the building dry is the very first concern with any building but especially for an outbuilding. When working with a contractor to build a shed onsite, it will be important to look not just at the land that will go underneath the outbuilding but also at the general area around the building. Even inclines of 6 inches in gradual slope can cause chronic flooding or dampness to the floor joists that will eventually damage your entire outbuilding.

Creating the area for the outbuilding may mean grading areas of the property some distance from the actual shed, creating swales to help direct water away from the shed or installing rain gardens to absorb and redirect rainwater.

An additional concern with outbuildings is their appeal to critters looking for a safe and quiet home. To discourage wildlife from invading your outbuilding, foundations should extend at least 18 inches all around the base of the actual building. Foundations should be gravel, both to help with drainage and also to discourage home-seeking wildlife from attempting to burrow under the building and eventually claw/chew or find their way into the interior of the shed itself.

Once the ground is leveled and compacted, the area should be enclosed by a frame that will withstand the elements and supported at the corners with stainless steel bracketing. This framing can also assure that your final foundation will be leveled to a drop of not more than 6 inches at any point of the foundation.

Treated lumber or other framing materials can be used for framing. Honest Abe’s customer often choose to have the building construction type match their home.

Inside the frame, sheeting is laid to separate the graded ground from the gravel or concrete. This is also the stage in which the drainage system that will be under the building is engineered and at which point any electrical PVC pipes can be set that will allow you to install electrical outlets or lighting in the outbuilding. For concrete foundations, this is also the time to install rebar supports.

The site is now ready to be filled with gravel and then graded to make it level or concrete could be poured.

Whether you are purchasing a pre-made outbuilding, building one from a custom plan on site to match your home during home construction or waiting until after moving in to construct your building, let your sales rep or dealer know so that the designer can take your ideas into consideration when developing the plan.


Story courtesty of CSllc Consulting for Honest Abe Log Homes.


The Honest Abe homeowners who built this shop on their property made many of the finishing touches in their home, including architectural details and furnishings. Their shop, though not log like their house, enhances the look of their property.

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