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Project: Test Case MRO Shed Construction


Test Case

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I have a nickname for the sheds in my Hobby complex: I call them the Boxes.

I call them that because I don't see them as functional buildings in their own right, but building-sized toolboxes — each one having a very specific job. In this case, the Junk Box's job is to hold the extra equipment for building, repairing, maintaining, and operating the facilities in the future complex — as well as my as-yet non-existent house.

Because the Junk Box plays a critical role in doing everything for everything, it's the first building to go up, and that is where Project: Test Case comes in.


As I just mentioned above, Project: Test Case is the first building I'm putting up for the Hobby Complex — which I affectionately call the Car Lot — as such, it serves a secondary purpose as a test case for constructing the future buildings — which is where it gets its name.

That matters because this project will give me an idea of the challenges I'll be facing on the future builds as nearly all the buildings I have planned for the Car Lot will be sourced from VersaTube. Getting my feet wet with the Junk Box will give me an opportunity to plan for those challenges on the larger projects so that they go smoother, what with them being larger and more complex — a scenario which invites exponentially more problems to cope with.

As for its primary purpose as an overflow storage space for MRO equipment, due to the functional nature of the facilities (meaning the need for efficiency and productivity) and potential space constraints, it will need to be properly located in relation to every other building on the property so that it doesn't interrupt the feng shui (pronounced: fung shway).

No, really, I've had to dabble in understanding operations management, industrial engineering, civil engineering, architecture, and urban planning to understand how to set up my hobby facilities correctly — and that research has impressed upon me the importance of the building arrangement to the success of my hobby, as well as the overall ease, pleasantness, and ultimately personal fulfillment I will gain from engaging with it.

That location ends up being further away from both the house and the Workshop than I'd like, but ultimately works best for the overall arrangement of the Car Lot and my engagement with my hobby. In case you were curious, that location will be right behind the Wrench Works, and approximately equidistant to both the house and the Workshop.


The Junk Box is an off-the-shelf shed from VersaTube, a design they are calling a Summit Utility Building. Its size is 12'x9'x7' and, although it may become tight as the Garage Projects progress, it will hopefully get the job done.

Although the idea of utilizing a custom design to best meet my needs is tempting, I have to make compromises somewhere to save on cost, and this is one of the best places to do that.

As a pre-fab design, the color choices are limited, but there should be enough options to allow me to pick something that compliments both the rest of the facilities, and the house.

The frame is constructed of 2"x2" square steel tubing. The building is covered in painted, vertically corrugated steel panels to match the rest of the buildings in the facility. And like the rest of the buildings in the Car Lot, the Junk Box will be anchored to a concrete slab foundation. Unlike the other buildings, the slab necessary for this build won't be constructed to handle lifts and vehicles. So, it doesn't need to be as robust — which will help me further save on cost. It may be a two-part construction with a perimeter foundation (also called a T-shaped footing) and a pad poured separately. I simply don't know yet. Although it will take longer, a two-part pour may be easier for me to execute the first time considering all of the factors that have to be managed in a monolithic pour.

All of the Boxesthe Junk Box included — will have a 6'x6' garage-style door to match the larger buildings.

The lame part of this project comes from the fact that I have to physically lay out the entire campus on the property before I can build the Junk Box. And since it will require power, I'll also need to have the electrical service for the entire facility laid in prior to the construction of this one, tiny support building. However, I may stub the electrical into the foundation to hook up to the main service later or supply power to the building externally, through the wall instead — which will allow the Junk Box to be built prior to the electrical being laid for the entire Car Lot — we'll see.

You might be curious why a simple storage shed needs electrical service? In this case, light. This isn't just a hole I'm going to jam stuff into and forget about until I need to unbury it at some nebulous time in the future — I'll need efficient access to everything in it on a regular basis.


As I've already mentioned, the Junk Box serves to support the construction, repair, maintenance, and operation of the rest of the Car Lot. In order to keep costs down, I simply won't have the room to store the equipment and materials necessary to do that work, anywhere else.

A second reason for building this building — especially first — is that building the Workshop that will house the actual work being performed to support the Car Lot will be prohibitive and will slow down my timeframe for popping up the Warehouse — and I need that up as quickly as possible. I just need some sort of building to work out of as I don't foresee there being another place to store the stuff needed for Project: Big Top that will see the Warehouse constructed.

Not only does this building support the Car Lot, it also assists the work needed around the house.

Lastly, a side benefit of doing this building first is that — as mentioned above — it will allow me to discover and plan for unexpected challenges I'll inevitably run across on the larger, more expensive Garage Projects in the future.


Like the goals for every other construction project for the Garage Projects, the primary goal is to build the Junk Box MRO Shed. Also, just like the other projects, there are three other goals to meet in order to consider Project: Test Case a success:

  • This building needs to be as inexpensive as I can build it and still meet my needs.
  • I need to gain the most functionality out of a limited space as I can, which will mean spending more in some areas to achieve greater versatility.
  • My hobby isn't constructing buildings, it's about dinking around with my cars. In order to do that, I need the other buildings completed as quickly as possible, so, since this one is first, it needs to be constructed lickety-split. While I have every intention of enjoying this project — after all, limited time to live and the value of that time and all that jazz — every day it isn't completed is a day lost because I'm not able to work on my project cars.

Here's the rub. I need to build this shed as quickly and inexpensively as possible to achieve the results I need while making a building that's got limited space work for me.


The scope for the Junk Box is limited to constructing the MRO Shed.

The walkway that provides access to it will be constructed at a later date. Why? Because that walkway is the main foot path that winds its way to every building in the Car Lot and needs to be constructed at a later time once every other building is complete. Also, it's slated to be a part of a project intended to complete the finish work for the Hobby Complex, so it'll be handled.

I've already discussed the challenges associated with running the utilities to this building, and they are currently part of Project: Plotting and Scheming, which covers the prep work for the entire Hobby Complex. The only utility being run to the Junk Box is electricity and it may or may not be done before the shed goes up — as already discussed.

This project also won't include outfitting or moving into the Junk Box. Those activities will be taken care of in one or more later projects.

So then, what exactly does that leave? Laying the foundation, constructing the actual building, and stubbing in the electrical.

Beyond that, cutting corners that impact the looks or usability are off the table, as well as those that effect fit and finish. Since I don't have plans to gold plate anything, there really isn't much to be saved by these kinds of measures on this project, and they would only serve to leave me with a sense of irritation I would need to manage every time I look at or use the MRO Shed once it's done — and that's just short sightedness.


Decades ago — when I was but a wee lad — I watched my Grandfather build a shed. He did it all himself. He laid the concrete foundation and built the structure. It was a simple do-it-yourself kit from a local hardware store.

I sorta remember him doing it.

I'm hoping that's like having some sort of experience.

If that is the case, then here's what I know:

The foundation he used was a simple 4"-6" pad, no footings. The building he constructed was steel, but of considerably cheaper materials and design than the VersaTube Summit Utility Building I'll be constructing for the Junk Box.

Here are my hopes:

Although I'm planning for footings, I'm hoping that a conversation with a VersaTube engineer brings good news that I can just put down a pad — which will save on time as well as cost. The construction process itself won't be much more difficult except for the added complication of stubbing in the power for the lighting.

If all that is true — and realize that this is my first attempt at anything like this — and I factor in a learning curve, this thing should take me a month. Most of the time concentrated on laying the foundation and hooking up the power. That works out to be about four weeks of time, working two days a week at five hours a day. All realistic expectations for me.

With that idea in place, here are the planned hours for this project:

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 40 40
Days 2 8 8
Weeks 4 4
Years 0


The other Garage Projects feature simple preliminary scheduled budgets evenly spaced over the time their individual projects will take.

It makes sense, I don't have enough details to work out an accurate financial expenditure over the life of the project.

In this case, however, while I lack the necessary information to put a more nuanced scheduled budget together, I know that with only four weeks of work, most of the cost is going to be front loaded, but again, I just don't know how much.

What that all means is that I'm fully aware that this preliminary evenly spaced scheduled budget I'm providing here is woefully inaccurate and that most — if not all — of the cost will be front loaded for Project: Test Case, so take it with a grain of salt.

I'll work out the particulars later.

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $7,000 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $500 $500 $500
Scheduled Cost -$2,250 -$2,250 -$2,250
TOTAL $5,250 $3,500 $1,750
4 Totals
$0 $7,000
$500 $2,000
-$2,250 -$9,000


Can you guess where Project: Test Case will take place?

It's in my back yard.

Okay, my future back yard.

Work Requirements

As with the other Garage Projects, I've broken down the work requirements by building section.


  • Foundation design
  • Site prep and excavation
  • Form construction and teardown
  • Concrete pouring and screeding


  • Frame construction
  • Sheet metal fitting and installation
  • Insulation installation
  • Garage door installation
  • Walk door installation


  • Electrical service hook-up
  • Electrical panel installation
  • Electrical rough-in
  • Lighting and electrical outlet installation


This is a precursory look at the most significant milestones needed to complete Project: Test Case. From what I know of the steps needed to construct the Junk Box, they're in sequence. However, I'll have a better idea once I'm able to assess the actual site, confer with building contractors, and work out a detailed plan.

Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go

The title for this section does a good job of describing what will go on here. What it doesn't say is that the assessment can't occur until I have a site to assess. When I do get to that point, I'll have a better idea of my ability to execute this project.

As far as project launch goes, I should have a pretty good idea of whether or not I can start planning the project by the time I've assessed the individual site for the Junk Box because, quite frankly, I'll already have decided whether or not the site is in a condition that I can succeed with the complex once I've laid out the Car Lot, which will have occurred prior to starting this project. There's only a formality of making sure the financing is lined up before I pull the trigger. After all, this is a pretty basic project.


Writing up this charter his given me a very rough idea of what I'm going to need to achieve the goals of Project: Test Case, but not the details. In order to get those details, I'm going to need to engage whatever contractors or advisors I'll need to help guide me. From there I can finalize the sequence of events, and nail down the costs with more precision.

Preparation and Coordination

Other than the possibility of needing to consult with a contractor to build the Junk Box and possibly perform the wiring, I don't foresee much coordination going on. This is a pretty simple project and the materials list as well as the equipment list, should be relatively short — at least in relation to many of the projects needed to build the other buildings in the Car Lot — making this milestone one of the easier ones to complete.


Unlike the larger, more complex buildings like the Warehouse and the Wrench Works, I don't have any intention of using a contractor to lay the foundation for the Junk Box. That means that once all the preparations are taken care of and any needed consulting work has been dealt with, I'll set up the forms, bring in the equipment, and lay the foundation for the MRO Shed.

For this project charter, I haven't worked out whether or not I'll use a two-part T-footing foundation, a turndown monolithic foundation, or a simple pad — all of which have been mentioned above. If it's a simple pad, this should go fairly quickly, even for me.

Building Structure Construction

I've never built a VersaTube building before — but I've done significant research and it all appears to be pretty straight forward. In fact, because of the size of the Summit Utility Building I'm using for the Junk Box, this should actually be pretty fun and easy — much like an adult erector set. The only downside I can see at the moment is that due to a lack of experience, there will inevitably be pitfalls I haven't or can't predict.

The only thing that may throw a wrench in the works is the door — which I may need to bring a contractor out for. It's small, so I'm hoping I'll be able to pull it off myself, but we'll have to wait and see what the planning uncovers.

Utility Installation and Hook-Up

I'm familiar with building wiring.

I've dealt with a lot of vehicle wiring.

I've never actually done any building wiring, however.

This may be a situation where my lack of experience means bringing in a contractor is to my benefit. Even if I don't have the contractor do the actual wiring him or herself, having someone with experience look over my work may be beneficial. Especially if I have to have an inspection done before the project is complete. Although the wiring in the Junk Box is pretty simple, I'd hate to have to redo it because an inspector has an issue with some creative solution I've come up with.

Close Out

This is likely my most significant close out.

Since this is the first building erected in the Hobby Complex, every lesson I'll learn on this project will be put to use on every building hereafter.

So, after tying up any loose ends, I'll take special care to review the lessons I'll learn and apply them to the subsequent Garage Projects.


Although small in stature, the Junk Box MRO Shed is incredibly significant as it's the first building to go up in my Hobby Complex, the Car Lot. It will provide experience for constructing the other buildings going forward and more importantly, provide a space to work from when constructing the all-important Warehouse Storage Garage.


One of the best things about my hobby right now is its consistency.

It consistently goes nowhere.

The same thing is true for Project: Test Case.

I need a big chunk of change in order to make my Hobby Complex a reality and until I've made all that happen, the Junk Box remains but a pipe dream.

Does anyone know where the phrase "pipe dream" comes from? I need to research that...

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