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Fence o' Crates

Combined storage and fencing
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Picture a large, robustly built, free-standing shelving unit, with a solid back. It could be 6' to 7' tall, and 3' to 4' in depth and width.

Materials and methods could vary, but for argument's sake, it is made from 1' thick boards, screwed or nailed to a wooden top and bottom and to 2 or 3 shelves, the whole thing painted with exterior paint. The shelves contribute to its strength and rigidity. A hinged door on the (otherwise open) front is optional.

Now line up a series of these, backs to the road, along your boundary. They could be supported on two continuous parallel footings, or a series of pads.

From the street, it would resemble an ordinary, though well-built and gapless, timber paling fence. From the property, you would have access to a large number of convenient storage bays.

This may provide storage and fencing in a way that's cheaper, more convenient, and on less total land area, than a conventional fence and a garden shed. It should also provide excellent insulation from road noise, especially when full of stuff.

Gaps would obviously be left for access, and a simple sheet or tile roof might be useful. For added stability and security, adjacent units could be bolted together.

I'm seriously considering doing this, and would value your opinions first.

spidermother, Jan 13 2012

[link]






       ... you live in a desert ? or at least a very dry climate.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       pretty much the exact opposite of what [21Quest] said:   

       Who's going to go through the trouble of looking over, then scalling back and forth a 7' fence for a bunch of rakes and stuff ? High explosives and laminated emergency-ammunition boxes behind a stout locked door of course.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       Bit'o'barbed-wire across the top then, hidden from view by the inwards sloping roof, should keep opportunists out. Free cat jerky too.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       Thanks for your comments.   

       I was thinking that the boards, at least on the back and the top, would be tightly butted (and perhaps even glued together edge-to-edge), then painted with a modern flexible acrylic. I've made some large (4' long) top-bar beehives like this. The best-constructed ones are quite* free of gaps, and weather-resistant, but will probable need repainting about every 2 years.   

       Yes, rain is an issue. A roof that projects 3' or so into the yard would help, and would also create a convenient sheltered walkway; one should be able to patrol one's borders in comfort!   

       Theft prevention measures could include:
- Secure the entire front yard, by including a stout gate with a bell.
- Only store stuff that isn't really worth stealing.
- Put lockable doors on some or all of the units.
  

       A strong wooden wall is not necessarily easier to break through than the metal of a cheap shed. They could be clad in steel if desired, but I like the aesthetics of neat, painted wood.   

       I don't find small storage sheds to be the best solution; either you leave some floor space free (wasting a significant proportion of the total space), or you cram them full (making it difficult to get to things at the back). Proper, big sheds, and small non-walk-in storage units, both seem to use space better. And sheds jammed up against a fence create an irksome, inaccessible gap, and a redundancy of materials; it's more satisfying when the back wall of the shed etc. _is_ the fence.   

       *Quite in the old-fashioned sense, i.e. no gaps at all.
spidermother, Jan 13 2012
  

       yes and no: while having the fence be a shed seems to give more room, you still need an access area... in fact since a fence-shed is by nature one-sided, you're actually having to use more room compared to a walk-in model with shelves on either side of a central path.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       The way I see it, the access area is simply the area of front yard adjacent to the storage fence. Since it remains contiguous with the rest of the yard, rather than being enclosed as a passage within a shed, it retains its full utility as open space; it is dual-purpose, and thus gives better overall land use. The built-up area is all storage, rather than (say) 2/3 storage, assuming the path to be about the same width as each of the shelves. (Some supposedly walk-in sheds are so narrow that a usable path leaves at best half the total space for storage, but that's just bad design.)
spidermother, Jan 13 2012
  

       Perhaps you could purchase a number of traditional English phone-boxes, and place them side by side.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 13 2012
  

       I'm rather culturally unable to see a front yard as being useful in any manner save a parkette sort of thing: table, benches, landscaping, fountain. Well... maybe one or two small cannons.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       In order to avoid ugliness, you could clad the whole thing with artificial stone. A 3ft-thick wooden wall looks odd, but an appropriately castellated Stonique-effect wall would give your house a pleasant medaeiaeval look.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 13 2012
  

       as long as enough room is left for the moat.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       One English phone box should do it. Don't you know how large they are on the inside?
RayfordSteele, Jan 13 2012
  

       [Rayford] That's only the police boxes.
MechE, Jan 13 2012
  

       I like it! Both the original idea and the addition of a stone facade.   

       The other day I drove past a yard that had an immitation stone fence. On first glance it looked really nice, but from the angle I was at I could see that it was only 2 inches thick, which made it obvious that it was fake. Also, the gate was made of "stone" hanging on some really light-weight looking hinges. It looked rather silly actually.   

       Like [FlyingToaster], houses where I live don't typically have high fences in the front yard, but this idea works equally well with the fences in the back yard.   

       I would check with the building department before getting too invested in this. Structures are generally required to have a setback from the property line. They're usually pretty lenient about "temporary" structures like sheds, but the size of those is pretty limited, and the square footage of this "fence" could add up.   

       I assume concerns about fire might be a reason for the size limit. I've never heard of fire spreading along a fence line, but it could probably spread pretty well along the length of this storage unit. A wooden box burns much better than a wooden board. Mabe you could break the shed up with two 4 foot sheds followed by a 4 foot ordinary fence panel, etc.   

       I built a small shed that turned out to be very convenient. It is about 8'x8' square. From one side it has a fairly normal door to the bulk of the space where I store the lawn mower and the larger items. The unique part is that there is a wall that partitions off the left 2 feet of the shed. This is full of shelves and is accesible by a set of double doors that open up on that side of the shed. This makes it very convenient to store small tools since I don't actually have to go inside and climb over stuff to get them. So I completely agree with the philosophy of a large shed or a non-walk-in storage unit.
scad mientist, Jan 13 2012
  

       There does seem to be a bit of ambiguity though: in leftpondia a "shed" means "an outdoors walk-in tool closet", whereas in the UK it seems to mean "a small(ish) house we'd really rather not pay taxes on".
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2012
  

       // High explosives //   

       Immediate bun ...   

       // one or two small cannons. //   

       Extra bun, but "more is better".   

       // That's only the police boxes //   

       No, it isn't. It is a little known fact that Borg Cubes are bigger inside than outside. It's because we need the extra space for all the lawnmowers that we steal.   

       // concerns about fire //   

       Does Not Compute ...   

       // I've never heard of fire spreading along a fence line //   

       "Come, walk with us ... "   

       // in leftpondia a "shed" means "an outdoors walk-in tool closet", whereas in the UK it seems to mean "a small(ish) house we'd really rather not pay taxes on". //   

       One shed, or two ... ?   

       Is your name Arthur Jackson, by any chance ... ?
8th of 7, Jan 13 2012
  

       //to avoid ugliness, you could clad the whole thing with artificial stone.//   

       Is //avoid// really the word you're looking for?
mouseposture, Jan 13 2012
  

       While decreasing the attractiveness.
Alterother, Jan 14 2012
  

       For some reason I just can't not keep reading the title as the long lost brother of Socrates... Fenceocarates.   

       //Depends on what you're attracted to, doesn't it?// It does. I find 'honest' structures more aesthetically appealing than those that pretend to be something else by cladding; much as I find women more attractive without makeup. Eye of the beholder and all that.   

       [edit] Whoops, slightly cross porpoises there, but the point is the same.
spidermother, Jan 15 2012
  

       //slightly cross porpoises// oh, well there's your problem.
FlyingToaster, Jan 15 2012
  

       //I would check with the building department before getting too invested in this.//   

       Build it robust enough, utilizing some of the defensive accoutrements suggested by [21Q] and [FT] and others, and it won't matter what those petty-minded, nose-inserting, trumped-up, self-important bureaucratic shiny-arses at City Hall think about whether or not they should deign to 'give you permission' to do what you want on your own property.   

       Remember, that if someone ever asks you what you're going to do if the town ranger or inspector comes around to check out your property, the correct answer always is: "Gee, I haven't given it much thought, just bury him in the backyard with the rest I guess." (I don't like City Hall much).   

       A coarse steel mesh on the inside of the boards would take care of anyone cutting in from the outside while retaining the aesthetics of the wood - at least on those sections with lockable doors.   

       BTW, this is an excellent idea which I might incorporate someday. [+]
AusCan531, Jan 15 2012
  

       Thanks, [AusCan].   

       Pursuant to your rant of Jan 14, Whereas it might be true that "you can't fight city hall", it's worth remembering that some of the things they ask you to do/pay etc are pure bluff; they may threaten all sorts of consequences, but in the end, they just want you to consent, either explicitly by complying with their wishes, or implicitly by failing to challenge them.   

       A good strategy is to inform them (or better yet, the courts), politely, in writing, that you will comply as soon as they provide you with certified copies or originals of the documentation on which they act and rely in relation to their particular request. Carefully read what they give you (it's probably more bluff), and either inform them that they have not met your request, or just comply, if they've really got you over a barrel.   

       Been there, done that, so far so good. It's annoying to go through all that crap, but sometimes standing up to bullies is the right thing to do :-)   

       Oh, and do not accept anything from, or communicate with, any lawyers etc. that they send in your direction. The most they should ever get is RTS on their letters, or "Not at this address" (close door) if they visit. You have no contract with them, so don't walk into their web. Address any correspondence to the council etc. or to the courts.
spidermother, Jan 15 2012
  

       I think I'm being hoisted on somebody else's petard here: I haven't advocated using a front yard for home defense... but as long as we're on the subject, you people have no imagination.   

       A swimming pool not only gives one an excuse to put up a wall in the first place, but limits the avenues of attack in a frontal assault. Bird feeders, useless for cover but good ranging guides, hahas in the shadows, concertina in the garden; spotlighted motion-sensors on small areas only: why give them a good well-lit look at the place ?   

       Blah blah blah... very best defence would be a clearly lit "sorry, out of beer" sign with a frowny face.
FlyingToaster, Jan 15 2012
  

       Ah. What a satisfying post. Several excellent, on-topic comments, followed by a nice slide into wildly off topic rants and mutual misunderstandings. The halfbakery at its best.   

       ^ And no, I'm not being sarcastic.   

       ^ Nor here.   

       ^ Times infinity.
spidermother, Jan 15 2012
  

       Sounds like [spidermother] and I should exchange tips on fighting City Hall although this probably isn't the right forum. (A good way to reply to letters and demands is to wait several weeks then send a polite request for clarification. Then repeat as required. They've got hundreds of disputes to keep track of while I've only got dozens).   

       As for [FlyingToaster] and the //I haven't advocated using a front yard for home defense// statement. I take it the moat and cannons you mentioned in your annotations are purely decorative? Or perhaps they're only meant for the back and side yards?   

       My favourite sign is: "No Trespassing - Survivors will be Prosecuted."
AusCan531, Jan 15 2012
  

       //several weeks// Exactly 28 days is a good length, with particular significance to the courts; any longer and you may be asked to justify why you didn't act sooner.
spidermother, Jan 15 2012
  

       [bigsleep] Yes it would, but it would be expensive.   

       My parents once filled in a swimming pool, because it was no longer being used particularly well. I was shocked by the waste of such a huge, waterproof hole in the ground. It probably could have been converted into a storage cellar for a similar cost to removing it; otherwise, it was a HUGE WATERPROOF HOLE IN THE GROUND!!!. Sorry, got carried away there.
spidermother, Jan 15 2012
  

       ^commiseration: I spent a good portion of my childhood wondering why the people across the way had done that with an ornamental pond.   

       Meanwhile, while cannons could I suppose be considered weaponry, though if you've kept them in working order they make wonderful bases for setting of fireworks, I'm of the opinion that a moat has many more practical uses other than that of defence.
FlyingToaster, Jan 16 2012
  

       //although this probably isn't the right forum//   

       'Course 'tis.
Shoot, how else us dumbasses gonna learn to do it all propper n'such?
  

       I did this in my yard, almost by accident, and it works fabulously. It came about a few months ago in a last-minute effort at winterizing various stuff/junk in my yard. One of the items being a potter's kickwheel, a very bulky and heavy thing with a wide and square wooden frame. Aha, I thought, it will make a perfect base for a snow-roof frame, and shelves just naturally worked themselves in along the way. And so it shelters a various collection of other junk along with my kickwheel. My yard isn't walled in with narrow shacks (yet), but in the interim, I am not worried about theft because my place is rural, the neighbors are nosy (in a standoffish way), and my junk, is, well.. junk. Maybe one of you hb'ers will track me down and steal my hibachi just to prove me wrong, but here's a hint: it's not worth it.
afinehowdoyoudo, Jan 16 2012
  

       I already have a hibachi in my rural junkwall, so no, it isn't worth it. Especially since, as everyone knows, I don't cook meat, preferring instead to consume it raw and steaming directly after the kill. I have recently discoverd knapped- flint tools, however, so the taming of fire can't be far behind.
Alterother, Jan 16 2012
  

       // My favorite sign is: "Warning: Trespassers will be shot." //   

       "Trespassers admitted free. Bull will charge later."
8th of 7, Jan 16 2012
  

       To avoid gaps, you could use tongue and groove floorboards.   

       I think this would work best as a side fence in the back garden between you and your neighbour. If you are friendly with them, you could make it cheaper by having 2 shences sharing the same backboard.   

       To deter thieves, you could make one or more sections into bee hives and maybe add a warning sign. It would also be a good place to store your jam and banjo.
marklar, Jan 18 2012
  

       Hmm, yeah, just put locks on the door of the fence of crates.   

       I was pondering the one big shed, with a everything on a rotating carousel..so even if the diamanté encrusted strigils do end up at the back, it's still possible to get at them.   

       And you can let small children ride on it, as a cheap alternative to going to Disneyland...
not_morrison_rm, Jan 19 2012
  

       Not bad, [nmr]. The shed could then be perfectly circular. A re-purposed revolving door would be a good start. You'd have to make sure it's safe to use while you're oiled and naked, though.
spidermother, Jan 20 2012
  

       This idea could be combined with [vernon]'s 'Shelvator'. A yard-encompassing outdoor Shelvator and/or revolving hillbilly lawn-ornament display.
Alterother, Jan 20 2012
  

       Wood if it stays wet, rots. Use an air gap. Or remove or raise some of the "floor" boards of the crate. And the top board if they stay wet. Or drain holes.   

       You don't have to build the entire fence, put up a few crates - see what happens.
popbottle, Jun 12 2013
  

       Last time I thought about this I had worked my way up to turrets at the corners, a slate pathway inside the wall, a roofed bistro area, etc.   

       //pondering the one big shed, with a everything on a rotating carousel//
//The shed could then be perfectly circular//
Good lord, how did I miss that first time'round ? Brilliant.
  

       [edit: and baked: Rotoshed by American Deck; it looks like they've gone for a circular track variant rather than the stripper pole merry-go-round. I'm quite surprised only one company offers it]   

       //You'd have to make sure it's safe to use while you're oiled and naked, though.//
That's so true of many things.
FlyingToaster, Jun 12 2013
  

       Wish I could bun this idea again. It floated to the top of my consciousness just a few days ago and won't go down no matter how many times I flush.
AusCan531, Jun 12 2013
  

       //You'd have to make sure it's safe to use while you're oiled and naked, though.// It took me a while to remember what that was about. It is, off course, a strigil reference.   

       //put up a few crates - see what happens.// I just might. I'm still fence poor and clutter rich.   

       Thanks, [ AusCan531].   

       I agree about the risk of rotting, especially as I would use free but rot-prone packing crate timber (mostly Pinus radiata). I was thinking of raising them slightly on bricks or short creosoted or galvanised steel legs. They certainly wouldn't last long sitting directly on the ground.
spidermother, Jun 12 2013
  

       //I agree about the risk of rotting//   

       Sand down rough surfaces and treat all surfaces of each piece with water-repellent wood preservative, paint after construction. Or use wood preservative on all surfaces and out-door varnish after assembly.
Raising the wood off the ground should help too.
Loris, Jun 12 2013
  
      
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