Exterior Projects

Build this Cabin for Under $5,000

When I came across this article/guide, I knew that I had to share it.  Most of you probably don’t have a chunk of land to build something like this on, but for those who do, you will love this simple cabin plan.  The plans come for free from Mother Earth News.  I am not sure of the year that the $5,000 figure comes from, but hey, a simple cabin plan is always worth a look.  cabin assembly diagram

There are some construction techniques that are a little more old school that what you would typically see in new construction today.  The floor is tongue and groove (T&G) instead of plywood and many of the joints call for techniques that add a lot of strength, but can probably be sidestepped.  The top of the porch posts are notched, mitered, and lag bolted, the sill framework has a half lap joint at the corners and there are rafter supports that are notched in where you might see simple blocking today.{01269B31-2863-4866-913E-7147CF196A34}

The plan includes a complete material list that you can utilize to price your items and see how close you are able to get to the $5,000 figure.  There are areas where you can probably replace the material with other items to save a bit.  These areas will give you an opportunity to make this your own.

Good luck with this project should you choose to move forward.  If you don’t build with this, it couldn’t hurt to review the plans for future consideration.  A technique picked up here and there will often lead to a better project in the future and might even give you the knowledge to build something properly when the time comes.


Exterior Projects

Build an Amazing Shed. Free Plans from FH


If you are a homeowner who mows their own lawn and snow-blows their own driveway, you will probably have a need for a shed.   During the winter months, it is nice to stash the mower and garden implements away and make room for the snow removal equipment.  I do realize that half of the country might read this and wonder what we are talking about, but those in snow areas will understand.

Family Handyman is a fantastic magazine that I have enjoyed for years.  The following shed plan was featured in 2013 and is a perfect project for someone who doesn’t want the run of the mill, pre-built, shed that can be dropped on site.  Those are typically boring, vinyl sided, and nondescript.

The following shed is a real thing of beauty and includes custom windows and doors (site-built) along with features that make any structure jump out such as corbels/brackets.  Visit Family Handyman using the link below.  You will find the free construction drawings to build your own shed along with the complete material list.  If you want to purchase the back issue that includes the complete article to go along with the plans, you will find them in the July/August 2013 issue of The Family Handyman.


Dream Shed Made Easy: The Family Handyman.

Exterior Projects How To's

How to Build a Cheap, and Beautiful, Storage Shed – Step by Step

Just about everyone could use a storage she at some point in their life.  You could opt to purchase one that is a prefab vinyl job, buy one from a local shed company where they will drive up and drop it in your yard, or build one yourself.


If you are like me, you will probably build one yourself.  For many, this project will take weeks to complete.  Delays in outdoor building projects can come from your schedule or weather.  This shed will allow you to use inexpensive material and it will be something that you can build in your garage on rainy days.  The shed is essentially a series of panels that are then assembled.  I build a playhouse with my son many years ago with this technique.  It took up one side of the garage for a couple of weeks, but it was a fun (and dry) project that was built in a controlled environment.

This shed plan comes from The Family Handyman.  I love their projects since they are generally very thorough.  The plans come with a full material list and include an exploded view drawing (the most helpful part on a job site).

Good luck with your own shed.  Have fun and stay safe.

Full Plans: How to Build a Cheap Storage Shed – Step by Step | The Family Handyman.

Before and After Photos How To's

Simple Porch Column Plans – Wrap your ugly 4×4

Have you ever looked at a porch column that was nothing more than a 4×4 and thought it just didn’t fit the scale of the porch/house?   Even worse, you could have 2 2″ x 4″‘s sistered up to make the 4″x4″.  It isn’t too difficult to wrap your 4×4’s with some off the shelf lumber to give a look that will be more in scale with your porch/house.

I had a project a couple of years back and decided that I would simply wrap my columns with 1x pine.  Pine was used (rather than pressure treated) since this was a well protected corner of the house, the porch had a nice overhang and the wood was to be painted.

You might look at this plan/design and think that it was a waste of quite a bit of material and you could be correct.  However, pine boards are inexpensive.  If you are in the Buffalo or WNY area, check out LenCo Lumber (  LenCo has fantastic pricing on pine boards (side note… and MDF trim).  In our case, we had just torn out some pine storage shelves and had an abundance of free material that we were able to upcycle.

You could just wrap your column one time with pine and beef it up by 1 1/2 inches each way.  By following our plan you will be going one step further and giving your home a custom look with a raised panel style design.  Take a look below and take a look at the plan at Sketchup.  Keep in mind, this is not meant to be structural.  This is a decorative touch.

Tip: You should be sure to avoid direct ground, or flat surface contact with your pine.  The wood will wick up any water that it comes in contact with.  You can avoid (or delay) this by sealing the end of each board with a primer or sealer (I smear caulk on my end grain for protection).  In addition, you should elevate your bottoms by about 1/8″-3/16″ and then fill that gap with caulk.  This will add many years to the life of your porch columns.

You can find the full Sketchup Plan for the column here:

Take a look at the end result:

1-Search results for lombardy1-IMG_1050 2-IMG_1051 2-IMG_2351 3-IMG_1052

Exterior Projects

Build Your Own Rain Barrel

Many of us are doing everything we can to be “green”.  In my case, I am doing things that make sense financially, make sense for long term maintenance of my property, or make sense with regard to keeping the boss happy (The boss=my wife).

I have considered a rain barrel for a while.  However, I haven’t yet pulled the trigger on a purchase.   My wife has some plantings and water from a rain barrel would easily take care of those needs.  Will it make sense financially? No.  I live in the Northeast (NY) and the cost of water is nominal (about $60 per quarter).  This thing is not going to pay for itself.  Will it help with the maintenance of my property?  No.  This water heads straight into a drain that heads into the municipal storm sewer system.  Remember, I said maintenance of “my property”.

Will it keep my wife happy?  Probably.

Free rain barrel plans

When I saw this plan, It seemed so logical.  In many cases a traditional rain barrel, with the spigot on the bottom, won’t have the water pressure to get where you need it.  However, this elevated design will do the trick in adding a little extra pressure.  Keep in mind that this system will be heavy so you should NOT skimp on your base.  In fact, If I were to mimic this exact plan, I would probably place this on a cement pad, or if that wasn’t an option, I would lay down a packed bed of gravel and top that with some large pavers to spread the weight.   When all is said and done, this based will need to support about 900 pounds!

You might not want to used a trash can for this system and would like to opt for something a bit more attractive.   In many areas, there are companies that will sell food grade barrels for under $15 each.  In fact, in WNY, there is a seller who lists them for $12 on Craigslist. You could probably paint these to suit your own color scheme as long as you use a nice flexible paint (these suckers will expand and contract a lot).

If you are building your own rain barrel setup, this guide from The Family Handyman should help.  Click below to be linked to the full set of plans.  Good luck.

How to Build a Rain Barrel – Article | The Family Handyman.

How To's Interior Projects

Lakefront Cottage Projects

Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function fusion_get_option() in /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-content/plugins/fusion-builder/shortcodes/fusion-container.php:299 Stack trace: #0 /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-includes/shortcodes.php(343): fusion_builder_container(Array, '[fusion_builder...', 'fusion_builder_...') #1 [internal function]: do_shortcode_tag(Array) #2 /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-includes/shortcodes.php(218): preg_replace_callback('/\\[(\\[?)(captio...', 'do_shortcode_ta...', '<p>Update 8/15/...') #3 /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(287): do_shortcode('<p>Update 8/15/...') #4 /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-includes/plugin.php(206): WP_Hook->apply_filters('<p>Update 8/15/...', Array) #5 /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-includes/post-template.php(253): apply_filters('the_content', 'Update 8/15/201...') #6 /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-content/themes/twentytwenty/templa in /home/farberla/public_html/wnyhandyman/wny/wp-content/plugins/fusion-builder/shortcodes/fusion-container.php on line 299