Be sure to sign up for the weekly RV Travel Newsletter, published continuously every Saturday since 2001. Click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

No Cover This Winter - I Bought A Big Fabric Building! - Was It Worth It? Part - 1

Bleh.
    The main bummer of living in the North East is having to put the RV away for the Winter season. I do have a cover, which is a bit of a P.I.T.A. to put on, but does the job of weather protection decently. I had looked into building a pole type building and even priced out a 30 x 60 foot one. Not bad all in (including the concrete pad) at around $15,000. Still a bit too rich for my blood. Not to mention that my taxes would go up pretty significantly! That route was out. While I was researching steel buildings, I came across a couple of companies that made fabric ones. Basically, they are a galvanized steel frame with 10 oz (or higher) vinyl layered fabric covers. They have zippered roll up doors and are designed for storage. Seemed like a good idea....they came in all sizes. I was mainly interested in the 24' x 22' x 12' or as they call it, "2 car garage."

Example!
Right away, I knew there was a risk involved. It is NOT rated for snow loading. In fact the manufacturer recommends you push snow off by lifting sections of the roof from the inside with a broom or something similar to reduce problems. They DO sell them all over the North East including Maine and Massachusetts, so if there was a bad review to be found regarding snow, I couldn't find one that pointed at manufacturing rather than improper installation. The one I was interested in (24'x22'x12') was under $2000.00 delivered! I am about 100 miles from the factory, so shipping, while high...was manageable. If I had picked it up it would have been less expensive, but you then have to pay sales tax so it was about $100.00 extra to have it delivered. Gas would have cost that much! So I ordered one.

Pre Site Prep
You have to prepare the installation site. Since I was installing it on pavement, it was mostly cleaning up and making sure I had the correct anchors for the frame. I did have to cut back some tree limbs, but I was going to do that anyway since that particular tree had broken my skylight a few years back. Bad tree!Once clean and ready, the frame is laid out in separate "arches." Each of those is comprised of 7 pieces. Once each arch is ground assembled and loosely bolted together with the supplied carriage bolts, nuts and curved washers, each is lifted into place and the horizontal rails attached. The first two are the most difficult as they won't stand up by themselves until the cross-members are bolted in place. Once that's done on the first two, it has four legs and can stand on its own for each of the subsequent arches to be attached. When all of them are assembled you have to attach the pipe sections at the peak of the roof between each arch. Have a big ladder handy! They are over 12 feet in the air.

Leveled And Squared!
Now that the frame is all put together it has to be leveled and squared so that all the sides are equal. If you skip this step, the cover will not fit properly. Begin by aligning one side with a string pulled taught at the base. That will get you one side straight. Make sure the whole thing is in the position you want it when you are done!! Once that was complete, I held them down with sandbags so I could go on to the next step. Each side has to be 22 ft. from the bottom of the verticals on one long side to the verticals on the other. Once that measurement is done I placed more sandbags to hold it in place so I could measure diagonally from one corner to the other to make sure it was square. It's finicky and takes a while to get it right. Once it's all level and square it has to be anchored to the ground.

Re-Used Dirt Anchor Cable
The kit comes with dirt anchors, so I had to source some that would work on pavement, blacktop specifically, without cutting really big holes in the surface. I could re-use the cable tie downs as the loops would fit over the anchors, even with the "duck-bills" attached. I found some at Tractor Supply that would work, sort of. The anchors I found require a 1/2" hole to be hammer drilled into the blacktop and then they are set in the hole, up to the threads with a hammer. Once set, the washer and nut are screwed on pulling the bottom of the anchor up and expanding to hold fast in the hole. Sounded easy enough. In practice, drilling the holes was easy. Getting the anchors to expand without turning was not. My pavement is a bit brittle in spots and it isn't all that deep. The requirement for holding down the building meant I needed relatively large 1/2" anchors so they were also pretty long. Eventually, I got them all to expand enough to stay in the ground. I will be filling in the holes and adding threaded female ends into the pavement for threaded eyelets in the spring!

Once the anchors are in, you have to pull everything tight so it stays firmly on the ground. Believe me, doing this alone is a real challenge. Better to have two (or more!) folks to assist. It would have gone MUCH faster! Eventually (in the dark) the frame was up and ready for the end and main covers.

Next week, we'll get the covers on and everything tightened up. I had to split this operation up because it was snowing when I stopped building the frame! Stay tuned for the completion of this project and my honest opinion on the building itself.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

10 comments:

  1. Before you buy, be sure this type of building is permitted in the jurisdiction in which you live. My city does not allow them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George,
      Absolutely.. That's why I had to use the fabric one since codes prohibited a air/sea/land container and a regular building would boost my taxes a lot. Your locality may have other rules.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. I put the quonset hut style up to shelter my boat and a few other things a couple years ago. We're fulltime in our motorhome, and have a piece of property in north central MN.
    I expected the shape to shed snow. First snowstorm of the season took it down, breaking the windshield on the boat. Costly mistake. My son lives next door but he doesn't check on my property much. My other neighbor emailed me. And,it's true the company said too bad,so sad. Acts of God aren't covered.
    I now have an all steel carport, and we have a garden shed, my wood shop shed and a very rustic shed I built years ago for my sized wood for projects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan,
      Sorry about your damage. Yup.. as always, YMMV...The manufacturer of these shelters does NOT snow rate them, in fact states plainly that snow damage is NOT covered. They recommend clearing it from the roof before too much accumulates. Since I can see it from across the street, I will be keeping an eye on it during storms.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  3. So glad you took the initiative to put one of these coverings up. Something I have been "wanting" to do" for too long now. I hope it works out for you, and look forward to hearing your opinion(s) on the building, pro & con. Might spur me into action !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave,
      I will be reporting on it once I get it finished! Hopefully by next week!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  4. My landlady in Yuma AZ has a lean-to at the back of her house. Code says she needs to reinforce it or tear it down before she sells the house as it doesn't meet the snow load requirements. I hasn't snowed in Yuma since 1934. I guess the rule covers state wide and Yuma just got caught in the red tape.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George,
      Crazy rules! Did you know you cannot sell chickens in NYC on a Sunday? Or that it is illegal to have an ice cream cone in your pocket there?

      Weird!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  5. Rich can appreciate this one. In the EAA museum's Eagle Hangar the Ready-Room hut on the upper level had to meet snow load requirements even though it is completely inside the hangar. We live and learn so when the replica of Ernie Gann's writing shack was built we left a large hole in the center of the roof - problem solved at no cost!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RT,
      A big hole in the roof. Hmmm...work INSIDE a hangar...out in the open...probably not so much!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

Thank you for your comment. Our moderator checks each one to make sure we keep the Spammers away. So the comment will likely not appear immediately.