Ig­nor­ing garages, sheds cost more long-term

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - By Mike Holmes

MOST peo­ple don’t re­al­ize main­tain­ing out­door struc­tures — such as barns, garages, sheds and pool sheds — is im­por­tant. Proper main­te­nance on th­ese struc­tures is cru­cial to pro­tect­ing what­ever is in­side them.

I was on a job where we needed to save hay that was stored in a barn. A leak in the roof wasn’t just im­por­tant, it meant the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death for an­i­mals on the farm.

And let’s not for­get that a shab­by­look­ing shed can re­ally down­grade your home’s curb ap­peal.

And if you haven’t kept up with the main­te­nance on a shed — which is usu­ally much eas­ier than main­tain­ing a house — most peo­ple will as­sume the main­te­nance on your home hasn’t been kept up ei­ther. If you’re think­ing of sell­ing your house, re­pair­ing any struc­tures on your prop­erty can be a good sell­ing tool.

When it comes to win­ter­iz­ing out­door struc­tures, it’s not all that dif­fer­ent from win­ter­iz­ing your home. The main dif­fer­ence is that most out­door struc­tures aren’t in­su­lated, so we don’t have to worry about keep­ing heat in.

But we do need to make sure they keep pre­cip­i­ta­tion out. If pre­cip­i­ta­tion gets in, it can dam­age what­ever is in the shed. You can usu­ally tell if mois­ture is com­ing in by look­ing on the in­side of the struc­ture. If it’s made of wood look for wa­ter dam­age on the ceil­ing and in cor­ners; if the roof is metal, check for rust around nails.

You can also do a wa­ter test by spray­ing the roof with wa­ter and then check­ing in­side for any wa­ter.

When you’re check­ing around the ex­te­rior of your struc­ture, look for peel­ing paint and in­sect dam­age. Get rid of any wasp nests. Also check for an­i­mals that could have made a den un­der­neath the shed. The bur­row­ing can un­der­mine the soil and cause the struc­ture to tip or slant.

Also check the doors, and re­place any that are fall­ing apart. And check the hinges too — make sure they’re tight. You don’t want the doors fling­ing open dur­ing a storm. If the shed has win­dows, check for loose panes and gaps in the win­dow frame.

Any gaps should be sealed with caulk­ing, and rub­ber­ized is best be­cause it lasts longer and it’s flex­i­ble. Just like we check the caulk­ing around our homes ev­ery year, we should be do­ing the same with our sheds. Also seal around the bot­tom edge of the struc­ture, where the sid­ing meets the con­crete pad.

Don’t for­get to check the roof. If the roof has shin­gles, they need to be se­cured. And I would trim any over­hang­ing trees. Too much shade can lead to things like mould, rot and al­gae. Also, over­hang­ing branches can cause ex­tra pre­cip­i­ta­tion to run off onto the roof, or if they break they can dam­age the roof.

Most out­door struc­tures don’t have run­ning wa­ter, but if they do, the pipes need to be drained be­fore tem­per­a­tures drop be­low freez­ing.

Nowa­days you can get hot wa­ter tanks made specif­i­cally for out­door struc­tures such as barns. Th­ese have a su­per thick layer of in­su­la­tion, so the wa­ter will not freeze. There are also frost-free hose bibs you can have in­stalled. But most peo­ple don’t need ac­cess to an out­door wa­ter source year­round, so it’s not nec­es­sary. Wood woes If your out­door struc­ture is made of wood, it needs more main­te­nance. Cedar is very weather-re­sis­tant, so it’s usu­ally a top choice when it comes to out­door struc­tures, as is pres­sure­treated wood. But no mat­ter what kind of wood your struc­ture is made from, al­ways look for signs of wa­ter dam­age such as mould and rot. If any of the wood has started to rot, it must be re­placed. If not, you could be look­ing at re­plac­ing the en­tire struc­ture. Re­place­ment re­al­ity check Are sheds and out­door struc­tures re­place­able? To some de­gree.

If it’s some­thing as big as a barn, re­plac­ing it will be very ex­pen­sive, whereas some­thing like a shed can cost a cou­ple thou­sand dol­lars, which is a lot for most peo­ple. I can think of bet­ter ways to spend that money.

Just be­cause some­thing can be re­placed doesn’t mean we build it to be re­placed — that’s wast­ing ma­te­ri­als, time and money. To me, any­thing worth do­ing is worth mak­ing it right. Catch Mike Holmes in an all-new sea­son of Holmes Makes It Right, Tues­days at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more

in­for­ma­tion, visit hgtv.ca. For more in­for­ma­tion on home ren­o­va­tions, visit


Peel­ing paint and in­sect nests are signs that your out­door struc­ture needs main­te­nance.

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