Architecture/Shed base


QUESTION: Hello Richard, first off, i'd like to say thanks for your time.
I am planning on building a shed in my backyard, ground is all dirt and very far from leveled. I am confused as to how to go about leveling ; the most important part. I've done some research and chose the gravel rocks under the concrete blocks technique. I'm just confused. My dimensions are quite big, 16x16. So for example, say I have one end leveled, and go to the opposite end, and get that leveled as well, how do I know if it is the same height as the opposite side??? This would result in a tilted shed!!! Right? Can you please help me out on this? Any help greatly appreciated! Thanks.

Using a transit and pole
Using a transit and po  
ANSWER: There may be more than one way to ensure that everything is level around the perimeter, but I would recommend that you rent a transit and transit pole.  Or you could do what I recently did and purchase a rotary laser level for only $65 from Harbor Freight.  It is fairly inexpensive and fun to use but the laser is not the brightest and is best used before the sun rise and soon after the sun sets.  You could also make your own transit pole by simply painting a wood stud black and white every 8 inch increments for use with a gravel bed 8 inches deep followed by four or five courses of 8 inch high CMU blocks - depending on how severe the slope is that you are dealing with.  I have created an animated GIF to illustrate how I interpret your question and my solution.  But it appears that I can not load animated GIF images within All Experts.  Try using this link to load the animated GIF:

Please let me know if I misunderstood your question.  Considering that you are in Hawaii, I would be happy to build it for you.  All you need to do is send me a plane ticket and have the materials ready when I arrive. ;)

Richard Burton, AIA
Registered Architect
ICC Certified Plan Reviewer

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QUESTION: Hahaha man....if I was rich, which I am very very far from, i'd send a ticket and have all the material ready in no time. I don't quite understand the transit pole technique. Would this work? Say I get one side leveled, then the opposite side, then run a wooden beam across so it touches both sides and just keep adjusting the height until the beam is leveled??

Side View of Shed
Side View of Shed  
Sounds like you already have a plan.  

Did you say that your building is 16 feet in length?  Then all you need is a beam 16 feet long and then lay your level on top of that super straight beam.  And that level should be the longest level you can find (6 ft long would be reasonable).  The problem is that I can not find an 8 ft long 2 x 4 stud that is perfectly straight.  With that being said, I am uncertain where I can find something that is 16 feet in length and straight unless it is a big square tube of aluminum.

Good luck,

Richard Burton, AIA
Registered Architect
ICC Certified Plan Reviewer


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Richard Burton AIA


A combined total of 25 years experience with construction, architecture, and building code enforcement. Ask me about residential and commercial design. Ask me about design aesthetics, structural methods, and building something that will withstand severe weather conditions. Ask me my opinion about YOUR design ideas and I will tell you the merits of good design and challenge your thinking about practical issues. Ask me how to best find and work with your local architect and approach general contractors to get the most value for the least amount of headaches. You can ask me about improving your energy efficiency and things that are both green and practical. But don't ask me about solar panels and wind turbines unless you are currently paying your utility company 35 cents per Kilowatt. Otherwise the math does not justify the initial cost and return on investment. Ask me any building code question and how to get a building permit from the most difficult enforcement agencies.


Here in the midwest, we design and build "green" in ways that make sense. My construction methods prioritize weather resistance, ease of maintenance and durability. While a graduate student in San Diego, I taught drafting and history of architecture. After working ten years for other architecture firms, I have started my firm Arrow Architecture in 2008. More than half of my work involves commercial office buildings. But my portfolio of work also includes custom homes, residential additions, home remodels, and second story additions.

President-Elect of American Institute of Architects - Lincoln, NE

B.S. Architecture - (Interior Design) University of Nebraska Lincoln 1997 Master of Architecture - (Urban Design and Professional Practice) NewSchool of Architecture - San Diego 2004 Graduated Summa Cum Laude ICC Certified Building Plans Examiner

Awards and Honors
AIA Henry Adams Medal and Certificate

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